The Rain In Spain Stays Mainly In The Plain… Rain In May?

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own”
A recent jaunt to the city for lunch with a very dear friend, sitting outside at Rose’s Cafe under overhead heaters, we shivered as rain dripped down the canvas awnings…Rain in May? Our corner table did afford us a ringside seat to greet all the friends who passed by; we held court and ignored the dreary rain, dreaming we were really in Paris! One of my best memories of a rainy lunch is of cuddling under an awning at a café in Paris; thunder reverberating off the classic masonry buildings, lightening illuminating the black sky, it was magnificent! Who was that man who took me to Paris? I will never forget the storm and the divine lunch.
I’m still enjoying my recent hues of RED phase; grief creates odd behavior; when I lost my parents in the recent months, I was inspired to paint the dining room and living room bright RED, with glossy black trim…my African art pops in the new environment. My painter’s impression of the first coat of RED: it’s panoramic, Spanish translation: she’s nuts! The RED movement migrated to one of my ‘outdoor rooms’ oversize comfy teak chairs overlooking the white rose garden- RED cushions, the Plaza Athenee RED afternoon sunspot. California living inspires hours in the garden, hours reading in the hammock, hours dining alfresco. I’m ready for patio dinners, reading the Times in the chaise, morning sunshine…
My recent picnic efforts have been hampered by the unusual rainy and cold weather. I vaguely remember one ‘summer’ picnic served in my bedroom with a colorful outdoor umbrella planted in the center of the room, overlooking another white rose garden, a rained out summer picnic…another El Nino spring?
Yummy homemade strawberry ice cream, grilled Argentine steak with Chimichurri sauce, 40 heads of Romaine lettuce sprouting in my summer garden have already provided several delicious Caesar salads; Amangiri chef served a spicy HOT HOT grilled Caesar salad, it will need to be served in the Gaucho Bodega, if the rain continues.
Evocative memories of meals served in outdoor settings: African bush breakfast – divine warm muffins, nuts, fruit and cheese, Kenyan coffee, listening to hippos bellowing from a pond. An Argentine picnic at a lookout at 12,000 feet, latte and petite sweets at The Ritz in Paris, a cold Coke and a bread snack after meeting the women of Langata prison in Nairobi. Sipping Champagne after hitting the ground hard in a hot air balloon, a well-deserved toast to the captain who avoided the herd of elephants and the small lake! Serving vessels and locations are as important as the food. Amangiri meals are delivered in three-tiered Indian baskets- perfect and dramatic – the opening act for the homemade pastries and granola. Set the stage! A late afternoon Tusker and chips in the bush, sundowner cocktails, speeding across the bay in a Venezia water taxi, English wicker basket with china in tow; mint tea and dates in a Moroccan oasis, white tablecloth dinner in a tree house high above the jungle floor, breakfast with the rising sun at the end of a wooden pier on Lake Victoria, monitor lizards swimming nearby…wherever you are, pause and linger and make each and every meal a moment to treasure.
To tempt you and remind you that spring is here and summer really is around the corner, photos of memorable alfresco meals.

From Tanzania

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
Henry Miller

FROM AFRICA: Many of you share my deep love of Africa. One visit usually results in a malady known well to all African visitors; for generations, it has afflicted British explorers, writers, doctors, hunters, and ordinary tourists. The disease is incurable. The characteristic symptom is a compulsion to return to the magnificent continent year after year. Tanzania hosts the great migration of the shy zebras and the curious looking wildebeests across the vast and endless plains of the Serengeti. There is no sight more awe inspiring than seeing thousands of animals crossing the Mara, 20 foot long crocodiles, jaws snapping, waiting for the slow or small to fall behind. Portable safari in luxurious tents can be combined with lodges making for an authentic African bush experience.

In Tanzania, one can travel a safari circuit to visit Grumeti River Camp, Klein’s Camp, Lake Maynara Tree Lodge and of course, the very over the top Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. If one visits Tanzania, one must visit the crater, and that means Crater Lodge is your only choice! It is spendy, but as they say: location is everything. Intimate lodge, lovely suites, all wildly ornate, a sensory overload; however, it is perched on the edge of the crater-prime viewing real estate! The animals don’t migrate from the floor of the caldera, so one can easily see the Big Five on a drive, including some of Tanzania’s last black rhinos.

Grumeti is a whimsical inspired camp, overlooking a bywater of the Grumeti River and situated in a remote valley in the western corridor of the Serengeti National Park, east of Lake Victoria. Grumeti is a very comfortable haven in which to experience the wild pulse of Africa.

A lovely couple, Alistair and Petro Kilpin, who share a love of African adventure and excel in safari hospitality, manage Klein’s Camp. Intimate accommodations, it features just 10 cottages of local rock and thatch with rich wooden floors and classic interiors. Klein’s Camp is situated deep in the heart of the game-rich northern Serengeti in Tanzania, off the beaten tourist track. Its 24,800-acre private wildlife concession is leased from their Maasai landlords and is allotted for the exclusive use of the camp’s 20 guests, offering you the ultimate personal Tanzanian safari.

Of course the Maasai children are the heart stealers; some cling to you, others back away shyly, but most are eager to see themselves on your digital camera. I always carry hundreds of balloons, pens and paper to share with these engaging children. I believe it is of paramount importance for my clients to meet the local villagers, to visit the schools, and the AIDS orphanages in Africa- we are neighbors living on this fragile planet. Experiencing layers of culture and understanding the distinctive social traditions adds significant value to your visit and your children will never forget their encounter.

My very favorite in this circuit is Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Set in the heart of a mahogany forest, the soda lake teeming with thousands of flamingos and herds of elephants, it is the only lodge in the diverse Lake Manyara National Park in northern Tanzania. Ten luxurious stilted safari tree house suites, each tree house features large screen ‘windows’ inviting the lush forest inside, the animals peer at you through the sheer screen ‘windows’, including the rare tree-climbing lions known in this area. With 387 different bird species recorded here, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge offers abundant bird watching opportunities; guests can experience incredible night drives as well. Or just sit and chill beside the pool in the middle of the forest teeming with exotic jungle chirps and deep growls, a cacophony of wild sounds, which is exactly what I frequently do!

Elegant lodges and tents or portable safari- hundreds of lodging options, exotic, wild and untamed.

Africa is as boundless as my affection for it’s people, the endless vistas, and the wonderful wildlife.

A visit to Africa is always a life altering experience.