Thursday, April 5, 2012

Accra Dream

One of the most popular destinations in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, is the Labadi Beach Hotel. It boasts a gourmet restaurant, stunning views, 5-star service and a central location. As a jumping off point for your exploration of the wonders of Accra, Labadi Beach is unrivaled. After a late night and, perhaps, an early morning flight from Lagos, you will be comforted by the calming surrounds of the lobby.

Once you check into your well appointed room,

 complete with stunning views from the terrace,

feel free to take a dip in the magnificent pool,

or just lounge on the tranquil veranda.

If 5-star luxury is not your thing, try the quaint and homey Headlines Guest House in Labone for a change.

This humble abode boasts its own night club,

in town access,

and some of the best Ghanaian food around.

Once you find your spot, you can then venture out into Accra proper.

 Maybe grab some fruit and veggies,

or stop at a local cafe.

If you venture further downtown, northeast of the ocean,

You will find street sellers offering up their handmade camel-skin bags,

As well as shops like Global Mamas, whose sales of shea butters and batiks support indigenous craftswomen.

To round out the day, you might spend some time at Artists Alliance, a beautiful gallery hosting artists' work from all over the country.

The view from inside, alone, is astounding.

But the food, oh yes, the food...

is out of this world.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lagosian Cuisine

Yes, you can find fresh local and organic produce in Lagos, Nigeria! And with this good stuff, you can prepare all the wonderful dishes that are native to the region. At the Life House on Victoria Island, there are monthly Souks where all kinds of delicacies are sold - like Ofada rice, for instance! During other times of the month, numerous road-side stands abound where all manner of fresh fruit and veggies can be found.

If you're not to keen on road-side produce and don't mind paying substantially more, a nice place to shop is L'epicerie, also in V.I. The shelves are well stocked with myriad choices, though not all local. The quality is consistent, however.

Here you can also get all the unique spices, seeds, grains and beans that go into Nigerian cuisine. Everything is artfully displayed in bins and you can buy in bulk. Ogbono, Egusi, you name it!

Perhaps, you don't feel like slaving over a hot stove in the Lagos heat or are lacking in the culinary skills department. Not to worry, the options for eating out in Lagos are many. To start, if you are new to Nigerian food, you might try the Sunday buffet at the Eko Hotel. Here you will find a variety of options; traditional, Chinese and what is known here as Continental cuisine.

Here you can pick and choose and create a medley of sorts, all on one plate. I put together a heady mix of Fish Stew, Ewedu Soup, Curry Salmon, Spinach Salad, Lentils, Rice, Potatoes and Fried Plantain. Whew, I know!

For a pure experience of Nigerian food, check out Bogobiri House, an outstanding restaurant, hotel, music venue, and art gallery in Ikoyi. Enjoy a delicious plate of Stewed Red Snapper with Couscous and Dodo (fried plantain).

If you're lucky, you'll get invited to one of the ubiquitious and grand Lagos parties, where food is served up in royal style. This amazing plate of Ofada Rice, Jollof Rice, Boiled Plantain, Moi Moi (a steamed bean cake), Efo (a spinach-like dish), Grilled Fish and Dodo, was actually made right on-site in traditional pots over an open fire!

Smoking pots of delectable food!

Eating outdoors has a way of making the food taste even better than it already does and this next event was no different. With a buffet of traditional soups and stews (including snail)!, different types of rice dishes and of course, Moi Moi and Dodo, even without the open fire, the food rocked!

Lagosians love to celebrate in grand form and the food rarely disappoints.

So, please do come hungry!

If you are not lucky enough to be a VIP at some gala event, again, not to worry. There is plenty of excellent food for the taking at B-Jays Restaurant and Bar just off the main road in Victoria Island. A tasty meal of Efo and Fish Stew can be made to your order.

At TerraKulture, you can even eat Fish Stew with Beans and Dodo before checking out a Seun Kuti live performance in their on-site theatre.

Whoever said that Lagos was not a food mecca, was clearly mistaken. This is a place you can eat and eat well! The food is exceptionally delicious, healthy and fresh if you know where to go. And now that you do, don't waste time. Come to Lagos and eat with me!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Lake Placid Spring

The Alpine village of Lake Placid, NY is stunning in its natural majesty. In simply taking a walk around the quaint downtown, one can become mesmerized by the astounding beauty of the place.

It is a true dream. The juxtaposition of the mountains and the still waters is almost too much for the eyes to behold. I found a great peace just being in the presence of such supreme artistry and elegance.

There are many wonderful places to stay while here, from rugged hotels right in the mix of things downtown,

To cozy cottages a few steps up the hill.

Everywhere seems to have awesome views and the Lake poses for you at every turn.

There are actually two Lakes in town, Lake Placid proper and Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake gets its name from the cool reflection it captures of the mountains and sky that surround it.

The food here is outstanding, too. You can buy ready made organic and delicious meals, or ingredients to prepare it yourself at Green Goddess Natural Foods.

Or you can take a drive down the mountain to nearby Keene

And sample the artfully prepared food at ADK Cafe.

I relished in their special Spinach with Hummous, Taboulleh and Quinoa salad!

For freshly made organic hot soups and sandwiches, check out Green Point Foods.

Shopping apres-ski is a big pastime here in Lake Placid and the boutiques are quite eclectic and unique.

 I just loved the DartBrook Rustic Goods shop.

Even better, head to the local library and take in this view while perusing their curated selection of books, magazines and films.

The cool, clear mountain air is excellent for your skin. To help it along have a nice European facial at Martina's.

And if you love Ben and Jerry's ice cream which comes from just up the road in Vermont. Here, you can have your fill.

Take it back to your hotel and watch the sky light up just after sunset.


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