Tripel: A Gregarious Gastropub

I wonder how I'll do tonight. I win a great parking spot near the beach and walk to the nearby bar. A star shoots over the Pacific Ocean. I have a good feeling. I'm here to get lucky. 

Entering Tripel, the quiet of the Playa del Rey night is switched off like a light. My eyes adjust to the dark and I scan the room. I stride to the bar and squint to read the blackboard, hoping to look cool and not like I need glasses. I want to recognize a beer like a familiar face, but these are fun beers with long, clever names, crafted by thinkers. I worry I've stepped into an inside club.

Then buzzing patrons provide an electrifying amuse bouche. I smell garlic and sense comfort. 

Town Restaurant: Ottawa's Prince Charming

Delicious smells in a warm room make you realize that you're already in your Happily Ever After … welcome to Town.

Once upon a time in castle-laden Ottawa, Canada, lived fair maiden Lori Wojcik and her charming prince chef of a husband, Marc Doiron.

"Darling, I've got a bun in the oven," Marc announced. She widened her pretty eyes and agreed, "Of course, honey. You're a baker."

"No -- I have a dream. I want to open a full restaurant where I create the most delightful food in all of our Canadian capital's land."

And so it began. . .  after ten years of saving ducats, nigh on three years ago, they flung open the doors of their Bistronomy demi-castle.

Chef Marc is the stuff of which legendary cooks are made.

Acabar: Behold The Beauty With A Brain

I pull open the glitzy golden doors of the restaurant and her beauty takes my breath away.  But I want brains behind the blonde. The exotic seductress pulls me in close. Her luscious lips brush against my ear, making me tingle as she whispers, The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

Her name . . .  Acabar.

After spending some time together she proved that she can carry on a conversation as brilliantly as her gleaming shell.

I hope she has stamina, because I can dine all night.

My Favorite Dish: Duck Gnocchi, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

If you have one night in Bangkok, do yourself a favor and toss your passport in the Chao Phraya River. It takes about a week to get a replacement, use that time to explore.

Ever wonder what Versailles would look like if they had money and the good taste to hire interior designers? Visit Thailand.

Some gorgeous madman with a color wheel danced into the palaces and threw passion and style around with wild abandon and expert skill. They cook like that too.

Hyatt Regency Indian Wells: Escape to A Desert Oasis

Flowering bush
I needed a getaway plan. I had to go somewhere posh and private, but close. One minute I was watching the Pacific's waves crash endlessly onto the sand and the next, a blur of clothes flew into a small bag and I sped off to crawl down the traffic jam-packed I-10.

Once past downtown Los Angeles, the mind-cluttering skyscrapers shrunk to track houses which dwindled down to ratty industrial parks. My black car was a magician's cape waving over buildings, making them disappear as I passed. Then civilization dropped out of sight and out of my mind.
Soon on the horizon, degrees of heat rising from the sand hypnotized me. Rows of towering white windmills waved a welcome into Palm Springs but I blew past my usual exit and kept driving. It was going to take more than the limited amenities of my usual boutique hotel to melt me down -- I needed a resort. I needed the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa.

Nobu Malibu: Life's A Beach

Menu wiht chopsticks sticking out
I look good wet.

Just before reaching shore I dove underwater, then arched my back and exhaled up out of the chilly Pacific, getting my land legs back as I walked a bit unsteadily out of the surf. I wiped the sea water off my face before it could sting my eyes, pushed my open palms across my forehead, and used my fingers to comb my hair back.

My tanned body carried some of the glisten from the sea. I glanced over my shoulder at my beautiful boat, happy to have it but hungry for the food of the sushi gods, Nobu.

Large blue ship at sea

Approaching Nobu Malibu was like walking up to a venerable fortress. By the time I swung the wide wooden door open on its pivot, I'd slipped off my backpack and into a tight t-shirt and loose pants.