budapest.jpgMy Hungarian grandma made the best apple strudel I've ever had. Here in Hungary it's apple season and apple strudel is showing up on many of the restaurant menus. Yesterday, on the Pest side of the Danube, I came upon the Strudel House. I ordered the sweet cottage cheese-filled strudel, mainly because it was served with a rosehip sauce, which I wanted to taste.

During my two days in the countryside, I saw rose bushes heavy with hips. This restaurant served sauce they had made with freshly harvested rosehips. The sauce had the fragrance of fermented grapes, and I think the little cottage I stayed in that was nestled in the middle of a vineyard in the countryside had bed linens sprayed with the fragrance of rosehips.

Well, the strudel had flakey layers surrounding the cottage cheese filling, the rosehip sauce was a delicious complement and one perfect scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream put the dessert over the top. It was a late-night treat. It wasn't as good as the one my grandma used to make, though.

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ranierkelly.jpg I have been a news junkie since I was a child, probably because we only had one TV with rabbit ears. Every night after supper, I sat with my dad and watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

The earliest memories I have of news stories are about Watergate, Patty Hearst and Princess Grace. I remember the debates and controversy about the first two, but the stories about Princess Grace were  just enchanting. She gave hope to little girls and women of all ages that you could grow up as a normal girl in Pennsylvania, move to Hollywood, become a movie star and marry a Prince.

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irelandlIt's no secret that my best friend, Missy and I love to travel. We met 25 years ago in the parking lot of a Winn Dixie grocery store in Valdosta, Georgia. I was in college there and she was home on Spring Break from Pepperdine in Malibu, CA. I thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen and never imagined that we'd grow up together and travel the world.

She put a damper on that for a few years when she got married and had 3 boys back to back. But I think we've pretty much made up for that in the last 6 months as we have been to Italy, Tuscany, Rome, the island of Capri, Spain, the South of France, Nice and Monaco. Tunisia is in Northern Africa. I hated it, she loved it. We spent a week in Paris in December, with 5 of our best girlfriends in a rented apartment on the Seine.

As many places as Missy and I have traveled to, we both have such a huge love for Ireland. Come Spring and Fall, we both feel a need to go there, to have some fish and chips and a pint of Guinness. Her middle child was doing his class project on Ireland and my 18 year old nephew, his Grandma's favorite child (my only nephew) is about to graduate from high school.

I talked my nephew into telling his grandma that he wanted nothing more than a trip to Ireland with his favorite aunt and Missy talked her son into telling his Dad that it would mean the world to him to go with his mom and me (his Godmother) to Ireland to complete his school project.

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burmatempleI'm just back from Myanmar and it is a jeweled kaleidoscope. Aung San Suu Kyi has finally been released from house arrest to accept her Nobel peace prize. The repressive Myanmar government has begun to open the doors and this corner of the wiggly third world is trying to hoist itself into the twenty first century.

I had timed my arrival for a full moon Buddha night and as soon as I had settled into the hotel I headed straight to the mother of all temples, the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. I'm sure someone said it first, but its true that some metaphors just can't be improved upon. Time really IS like a river, and life is like a dream.

On this particular night the moon was a golden orange in the sky. I had a gentle rain to set the mood as I climbed the staircase to the temple with the monks in saffron robes. I got that familiar little rush of anticipation as I entered the magical world of spirits and wishes and prayers. There were candles and chanting and bells to ring and the aroma of incense perfumed the air.

It’s funny that a kid from the suburbs should feel most at home in the temples of Asia, but it’s true for me. The rain washed my sins away and left me feeling immaculate. I lingered a long time in the temple and all its little golden niches, savoring the heady atmosphere. I descended the stairway behind a group of monks in the amber light and stopped at the bottom for a coconut on my way home.

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santefe.jpg A trip to Santa Fe is at once exhilarating and embarrassing.  You say to yourself, “how can I be so corny and fall in love with the food, the shopping, the art, and the physical beauty all over again?”. And yet, you do, embracing it all as you roll your eyes at your own enthusiasm.  The food, of course, is of superior class with an emphasis on how we want to eat today: local and seasonal.  And each Santa Fe friend has their own passionate reason why their favorite restaurant has the best green chili.  But there is more to the palette of Santa Fe food than traditional Northern New Mexico cuisine, as good as that is.  Here are a half dozen of my personal favorites.  One of the great things about them all is their unique points of view on feeding you. Unique, like Santa Fe itself. 

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