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Friday, March 13, 2015

Unusual Dining Spots of a Lifetime

I’m preparing to take a group of Wine-Knows to Savannah and Charleston.  I typically ask trip participants to write in advance of the tour an introduction about themselves for others.  In this “dossier” I ask them to answer a cluster of questions such as their favorite travel spot or what food would be in their last meal.   One question I’ve never asked (but shall for the next group) is what is the most unusual place they have dined.  Here are mine…

Submarine in San Francisco Bay
Looking for a unique dinner experience in the Bay Area?  If so, you should consider this one.  You’ll be picked up at one of the piers along the waterfront in a small boat and then wisked off to a venue not far from shore.  Technically a “floating island,” this amazing nautical experience allows you to choose a submerged dining room with port holes, or dine alfresco upstairs on its dec overlooking incredible views of the city of San Francisco, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay.

                                         Dining below the surface of the water...

Bedouin Tent in the Sahara Dessert
I love my creature comforts but I couldn’t resist the romance of an overnight excursion to the Sahara to stay in a Bedouin tent.  Just getting there was priceless…we rode several hours on the back of camels across miles of dessert.  Arriving just in time for a glorious sunset over a vast sea of sand dunes, we first refreshed in our own private tent, then had a Moroccan dinner in a large community tent right out of a Hollywood movie set.   Glorious.

                                        A fantasy spot in the middle of the Sahara

Grotto on Italy’s Adriatic Sea
I first dined in this special spot >25 years ago but I can still recall my amazement when the elevator door opened into the restaurant.  Twenty years later I returned and the thrill was just as compelling.  The enchanting candle-lit grotto has tables placed to take advantage of the sea rushing in meters away.  On this last visit I was surprised to learn that the restaurant had become very famous and now has a world-class chef, with world-class prices.  Personally, I would be happy eating just a panini here, but I have to admit that my latest upscale dinner and a bottle of exquisite Barolo could not have been more magnifico.

                                              Super romantic dining in a grotto                                           

Costa Rican Rain Forest

Twenty-something years ago one of the globe’s first eco-tourism inns was featured on the cover of Travel & Leisure.  It so took my breath away that I vowed without even opening the magazine to journey to this piece of paradise---regardless of where it was located.  The following year I packed my bags for Costa Rica.  As the inn’s remote area was not served by commercial flights, it necessitated a private plane from the capital city…but I was on a mission.   The individual bungalows were as gorgeous as the magazine’s cover.  The dining room was surrounded by a verdant forest, including a canopy of wild orchids in every color of the rainbow.  One dined to the melodies of parrots and cockatoos as wild monkeys skirted from tree to tree.  The menu was all uber fresh items grown at the lodge, hunted locally, or fished from the nearby streams.  Pure magic.

Let it rain, let it rain!

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