Christmas is just a few days away; I can’t believe how fast this year has gone by…not my best year I might add; I am so looking forward to a new and improved one!!! This year the Kass family has decided to spend christmas at my mom’s home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Cuernavaca was the hub if the international jet set in the 60′ & 70′, for its beautiful climate, hence the nick name: “The city of eternal spring”, and it’s lavish tropical scenery. Poor little rich girl Barbara Hutton, built an amazing estate with on the world’s best Japanese gardens and a bunch of European royals, like the Savoia’s of Italy and a slew of international celebrities also made it their winter escape. Sadly, in the early 80′, a member of the Italian royal family was killed by a local, a few others got kidnapped, and that was the end of Cuernavaca…at least for the jet setters. Today it is mostly occupied by wealthy Mexicans from Mexico City, that use it as a weekend retreat, considering it is only one and a half hour drive from the city. I love visiting this tranquil city, it is definitely a welcomed pause from my hectic life and having Mom’ spoil me to tears also adds to the whole experience.
One of my favorite traditions for the last 5-6 years, is going to Mexico on the 22nd of December with one of my favorite and dearest friend in the world, the visionary art collector: Eugenio Lopez! Around midnight, just like Cinderella…sans crystal shoes, we board his jet and off we go to Mexico city where we both reunite with our parents for Christmas dinner. The late departure allowed me to squeeze in one last christmas party, this one at the home of the very talented, handsome and hysterically funny star of NCIS: Michael Weatherly and his stunning wife Bojana. It was such a beautiful event, catered by one of my favs: Ammo (www.ammocafe.com). All of TV’s elite was present, considering that NCSI has been the #1 show on TV for almost 10 years; but my early Christmas present was definitely running into Robert Wagner, who’ve I known since i was 5 or 6 years old, with the lovely Jill St. John. This man is in his early eighties now and he is as handsome, sharp and charismatic as ever! So after a dozen glasses of “plonk”, my good friend James Moore (www.cookslikejames.com), drives me to Eugenio’s home where a fleet of SUV’s are awaiting to take us to LAX for our journey to Mexico City.
Jill St. John, Robert Wagner & me.
Once in Mexico, we board a helicopter to the center of the city, more precisely, the roof top of my friend’s skyscraper…as one does! But before we land we are given an amazing areal tour of Eugenio’s new contemporary art museum, right next to Carlo Slim’s, due to open in the fall. Eugenio has amassed one of the most important contemporary art collections in the world and soon the public will be able to see it at this amazing new location.
On the tarmac with the naughty Mauricio, ready to board the jet to Mexico city.
The “3 Amigos” getting off the heli on top of a skyscraper in the center of Mexico…scary!
An aerial view from our helicopter of Eugenio’s museum under construction right next to Carlos Slim’s.
After having my favorite “Chilaquiles” in the world at Eugenio’s penthouse apartment for breakfast, it’s off to Cuernavaca in a bullet proof Cadillac Escalade! Finally I arrive at my Mom’s home where all my brothers, nephews and nice are awaiting for my arrival…having a suitcase full of presents doesn’t hurt! The next 5 days are spent fighting with mosquitos and enjoying family life, food and the amazing local eateries that deliver the most incredible Mexican food you will ever have. One of my favorites is the legendary: Las Mañanitas Hotel & restaurant (www.lasmananitas.com.mx). This place has been around for a long time and rightfully so; it was originally a private estate with the most incredible tropical gardens with flamingos and peacocks strutting around like at a Paris fashion show. The restaurant is spectacular with a traditional and new mexican cuisine; my favorite dish here is the “Sopa de tortillas” which makes me drool just thinking about it!
Las Mañanitas at dusk
One of the peacocks parading around the gardens
My nephew’s mini pancakes with scrambled eggs and maple syrup…sooo cute!
With my brother David and the two “Nippets” at Las Mañanitas
This place is at the high-end of the spectrum, on the other end are a slew of street taco stands everywhere that offer fresh corn tortillas made on the spot with an infinite selection of fillings that leave you begging for more! Probably not the kind of places Westerners might stop for a meal, but this “foodie” enjoys every minute of it! What’s the worst that can happen… Montezuma’s revenge? I’m prepared for that too…an iPad and lots of magazines!
To counter act the fastly expanding waist side, I even joined a local gym where you can really witness the American health craze influence very clearly. Life in Cuernavaca is vibrant and colorful; every evening, the square in the center of town, is full of life with Mariachi live music coming from every direction and cafés bustling with people who seem to enjoy life more, with little or no money, than their first-world counterparts who have lots and lots more….things that make you go hummmm! My brother David loves taking me to the huge local market place where you can find everything and anything your little heart desires, all for just a few “pesos” and all “fake”, of course! So if Santa didn’t bring that Luis Vuitton bag you so wanted…no worries, you can buy it here for 200 “pesos”.
Of course, like most third world countries, this place has its setbacks: water might not always be available, electricity and phones might go down in a storm and WiFi tends to take many “siestas”. The bugs are quite big and scary and the mosquitoes in the summer are brutal (can’t travel without “Off” in your bag); but if you can’t deal with this kind of situations, you should stay home. But I will tell you…you are missing out!!!!
Alright, family time in Cuernavaca has come to a close, it’s time for grown up time, so I’m off to Acapulco to join my “amigos” for the New Year’s celebrations…God help me!!!! If I make it through you will hear from me next year!!!
Happy new year everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!