Dining Journeys (part 3 of 3)
A private cook for one week in our villa in Montego Bay
We went to Jamaica before the high season. Round Hill in Montego Bay was not yet open, except for villas occupied by permanent residents. General Manager Michael Kemp gave us a two-bedroom villa, with its own pool, for seven days. Because its restaurants were not yet operating, he arranged for us to have a cook who made family-style Jamaican meals. We had cocktails with a very proper British resident, served by his uniformed butler.
Monria cooked dinners of baked chicken, sea bass, lobster, red snapper, and pork steak. She and Mr. Palmer, our gardener, were so delightful that we invited them to visit us in San Francisco. We also ate at the Town House by the Sea and an outdoor Jamaican musical banquet. Years earlier Rose went to the Bahamas, escorted by local Anglo twins who were seminarians in Minnesota.
Dinner at an 18th century hacienda in the colonial San Ángel area
On a business trip to Mexico City we were hosted by the Hotel Camino Real, across from Chapultepec Park. We went to the San Ángel Inn, a beautifully restored 18th century hacienda. Its dining rooms surround a flower-filled courtyard and specialties included pepper steak, roast duck and a Bavarian cream. It is in the colonial area to the south, where many diplomats and executives reside. We visited the Museo Nacional de Antropología and attended the Ballet Folklórico.
We had a lunch at Prendes downtown, founded in 1892 and popular with businessmen. The menu was in Spanish and Ron again mistakenly ordered tripe (which he didn't eat). On Rose's first trip to Mexico City she “bounced” on a local bus to Acapulco. During a stop to change a tire, a Mexican doctor befriended her. Rose stayed at a small inn which he recommended, but used the facilities of oceanfront El Mirador across the street.
Lunch with a JAL rep at El Charro “tipico” restaurant
In Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and other cities we visited, all of the better restaurants served Continental cuisine. For burritos, tacos or enchiladas you had to go to a 'tipico' restaurant. A Japan Airlines representative, a Mexican woman engaged to a Japanese, took us to El Charro...an attractive little place preparing remarkable traditional food. We had a scrumptious Sunday brunch at Mesón de Castellano, with European dishes only. Hotels and restaurants catering to tourists serve some 'tipico' dishes to keep gringos happy.
Dinner at a romantic hillside restaurant in Puerto Vallarta
Sitting on a hillside overlooking downtown and the Pacific coast, El Palomar de los González was built by a Spanish couple who moved to Puerto Vallarta in the 1960’s. Tables on the terrace had fresh flowers and candles, the seafood was superb, and the service was wonderful. We stayed in a suite at the Hotel Rosita downtown. Built on the beach in 1948 in traditional Mexican style, it was close to many shops, restaurants and galleries.
We took a sail boat to a deserted beach a few miles from our hotel, where the movie "Night of the Iguana" was filmed. Our five sailing companions met us at Carlos O'Brian's for dinner. We ate - and drank too much - at that popular nightspot until it closed.
Driving to the “lobster village” in Baja California
Baja California is the westernmost Mexican state. We drove our own car one hour south of San Diego to a golf resort just outside of Rosarito Beach. Its dining room served European food amid pleasant decor. We most enjoyed our lunch in the tiny fishing village of Puerto Nuevo, with only 135 residents yet 30 seafood restaurants. At La Ponderosa the lobsters were freshly caught, nicely prepared, and inexpensive.
24 years earlier we went to Guatemala on a short Pan Am interline tour. We stayed at the Camino Real in Guatemala City and made an excursion to Chichicastenango, but don't remember anything about our meals. Before our marriage Rose also went to Cuernavaca and Taxco in Mexico. We made four trips to Mexico together.
Wonderful Italian food at Gambrinus in Old Quebec City
In Old Québec City (est. 1608) we had wonderful Italian food at Gambrinus, just off the Terrace Dufferin, between the Château Frontenac and the St. Lawrence River. Their carpaccio was perfect and the veal scaloppine were even better. Brass railings, beam ceilings, brocade upholstery, lush plants, and table flowers provided a stylish setting. We also ate at popular Café de Ia Paix, a French seafood restaurant with sinful deserts.
On Rue du Petit-Champlain, the narrow shopping street of Old Québec City, Rose posed for a photo with nine Pomeranians - Lady Grace, Gibraltar, Michpou, et al - who jumped up on her lap. Lunch was at La Vièlle Maison du Spaghetti (long name for a pasta place). We also visited Musée de la Place Royale.
Lunch at historic Aux Vieux Canons
In downtown Québec City, near the Parliament Building, we had lunch at historic Aux Vieux Canons. Its 21 fireplaces were handcrafted in the 17th century, when the French army occupied the quarter. We dined on the patio, fronted by the antique cannons. Earlier we went by horse-drawn carriage to the Parade of the Royal Regiment at La Citadelle.
During our ride the horse stopped to drink from a fountain. A majestic white mountain goat was mascot of the Royal 22nd Regiment, celebrated for bravery in World War II and Korea. The people of Québec speak perfect English with Americans, but sometimes revert to French with visitors from English-speaking Canada. Many residents want to form their own country.
The charming proprietress at Les Filles du Roy in Old Montreal
We traveled on Canada's excellent railroads between Québec City and Montreal (whose Metro subway is superb). In Old Montréal we ate at Les Filles du Roy, which served Québecois cuisine - the hearty food of French explorers – amid 18th century decor. The charming proprietress dressed in period costume and took an immediate liking to Rose.
When a porter took our luggage before we boarded, he did not give us a receipt. Rose asked "how do we know our bags will get on the train?" He smiled and said, "You must be an American. A Canadian would never have to ask that question." The Metro subway is immaculate, rather quiet (rubber wheels) and stations are architecturally distinctive. We saw a Chinese wedding party at the Botanical Gardens, across from Olympic Stadium.
Canadian corned beef – the best – at Katz Deli
At Katz Deli downtown we had our first sample of Canadian corned beef – actually a smoked meat unique to Montréal. It was the best we had ever tasted and we ate it again at Dorval Airport before our departure. Soleil, a French Canadian restaurant in West Los Angeles, now imports it...it is still so good.
Rose found shopping in Montréal a delight. Grand downtown malls: underground Place Ville-Marie housed Holt Renfrew (once affiliated with Neiman Marcus), the elegant Les Cours Mont-Royal had crystal chandeliers, and Place Montréal Trust was a maze of glass and steel. We both liked the marketplace on rue Faubourg Sainte-Catherine...good pastries.
Flavorful scalloped veal at William Tell in Montreal
We had a dinner at William Tell, a Swiss restaurant with rough stone walls and heavy wood beams. They served a flavorful scalloped veal, cooked in white wine with creamed mushrooms, and spatzle. The seafood was terrific at Chez Pauzé, founded in 1862. We stayed at the small Château Versailles and the (Fairmont) Queen Elizabeth, large and impressive.
We hiked up Mount Royal Park - designed by the architect of New York's Central Park - for magnificent views of the city and St. Lawrence River. Montréal is one of the few cities with a mountain in the center of town. Not quite Paris, but less expensive and closer.
A harvest moon on a dinner cruise of Vancouver Harbor
On our first two trips to Vancouver we were hosted by the Westin Bayshore and the (Fairmont) Hotel Vancouver and went to a barbecue at the home of American Express' Manager. On our last visit together we stayed at a small hotel two blocks from Stanley Park, the largest city park in North America. Three blocks east, we boarded the Constitution, a paddlewheel boat, for a dinner cruise of Vancouver Harbor. On its deck we looked at a huge harvest moon.
We also took a carriage tour of Stanley Park, pulled by two Clydesdales. After being left behind taking photos, an older man drove us to catch up to the carriage; none of us realized it was a one way road and he had to drive 17 miles around the park to pick up his wife. Walking back to our hotel after dinner, a skunk was coming toward us on the sidewalk; a local assured us it was too young to spray (then it looked cute).
A pleasant Sunday brunch in Stanley Park at The Fish House
On the southwest corner of Stanley Park, overlooking English Bay, was the Fish House - a simple name for a fine restaurant. Its tiered dining rooms had brass railings, tasteful maritime decor, comfortable booths and tables, and friendly service. We had one dinner inside and returned for a pleasant Sunday brunch on the terrace. Our first trip 'abroad' together was to nearby Victoria, when Rose was based in Seattle for Northwest Airlines. Earlier, Rose had been to Winnipeg and Ron to Toronto.
Ron fed Canadian geese on the park's lawn and a black squirrel made us laugh with his antics in front of the Fish House. So many American movies and television shows are filmed in Vancouver that it is sometimes called “Hollywood North.” Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and very British. We sailed there by ferry from Seattle. We had high tea at The (Fairmont) Empress, an imposing mid-size hotel built in 1908. Canadians were always polite.
Lunch on Granville Island and dinner in the Gastown District
Neither had outstanding restaurants, but sometimes the place is more important than the food. Granville Island is filled with cafés, theaters, galleries, studios, unique shops, and a large fresh food market. We had lunch on the patio of the Dockside Restaurant with good food and great views of the harbor. Adjacent to downtown and Chinatown, Gastown is a national historic site with cobblestone streets, nine-globe gas lamps and a steam clock. It has many interesting shops, pubs and nightclubs. We had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory: pasta cooked in browned butter and Mizithra cheese; the decor included an old-fashioned trolley car and stained glass lamps.
We made five trips to Canada together. For business travel Ron rented cars because Vancouver is an easy city to navigate. Our last trip was on holiday and we walked or used public transportation. In the taxi back to the airport, the driver suggested we see Queen Elizabeth Park which was on the way. He turned off his meter and gave us a 20-minute tour of the beautiful floral gardens.
Most of our travel together outside the U.S. was between 1967 and 1997, before widespread use of digital photography. See our photos in Guatemala, Jamaica, Canada, and Mexico at http://www.tripatini.com/photo/rose-and-ron-krumpos-in-north-america?context=user
Rose made more than 100 trips to Asia or Europe, and Ron 46, but only 19 together. Our flights, except three, were complimentary, as were most of our hotels. Of our 17 trips in North America - outside the U.S. - 11 were together, four at our expense. We enjoyed the benefits of working for and with international airlines and luxury hotels for 30 years. Our biggest travel cost was usually food - the most important 'ingredient' of our trips. For us, sightseeing (or business meetings) just filled in time between meals. Bon appétit!
Significant separate trips
In Japan, Rose went with her mother to the headquarters of Tenrikyo Church. They joined a Sakura tour, which visited villages from Nara to the Sea of Japan, just as the cherry blossoms opened. They stayed at ryokans, each with an onsen (communal hot bath); every room had a garden. The restaurants served kaiseki dinners (gourmet meals artistically presented). They visited mamma's brother in Nagoya and sister in Tokyo. On the Emperor's birthday, people were lined up for blocks to pay their respects. From the Palace Hotel, Rose cut thru the Ginza to the exit to take photos – and was stopped by a guard.
Ron was a tour manager for Travcoa one year before our marriage. Some countries he visited were wracked by war soon after: Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, and Cambodia. He arranged unique meals, like at a Hungarian restaurant in Beirut, a Russian tea room in Istanbul, a longhouse in Borneo's jungle, and a dinner dance at a U.S. Army Officers' Club near Seoul. They met Knesset members in Jerusalem, the Foreign Minister in Cairo, the King of Swat, and the Sultan of Brunei, among others. The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations had some features not on other Travcoa tours and the groups were younger. Ron took them to discos in Istanbul and Old Jerusalem.
For part 1 on Asia see http://www.tripatini.com/profiles/blogs/dining-around-asia
For part 2 on Europe see http://www.tripatini.com/profiles/blogs/rose-ron-krumpos-dining-europe
image | Kzenon/Shutterstock