What's Cooking in...

Chef Keshab Ram Shrestha, executive chef at Hotel Shanker in Kathmandu, presenting a dish of Chicken Choyala in the dining room. Photos by Sandra Scott

Kathmandu has been on my “wanna visit” list for years. The perfect opportunity arose in March 2017 when my husband, John, and I were in Kuala Lumpur (better known as KL), Malaysia. AirAsia (airasia.com), an excellent budget airline, was flying from KL to Kathmandu, Nepal, for $169. Perfect!

For $83, we booked a room at Hotel Shanker (Lazimpat, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal; phone +977 1 4410151, www.shankerhotel.com.np) because it was a family-owned heritage hotel. The location...

Maria Luisa Guzman with the fish balls mixture. Photos by Sandra Scott

In December 2017, several members of our family decided to spend Christmas in San Felipe, where our oldest son has a vacation house. San Felipe is a small, sleepy fishing village on the east coast of the Baja Peninsula, 125 miles south of Calexico. 

The area had changed from the one and only other time my husband, John, and I had visited, 20 years earlier. At that time, we stayed at the only motel in the area. (Interestingly, there was a sign in our room that said, “Do not...

An osechi-ryōri meal for New Year’s Day. Photo courtesy of ANA Crowne Plaza Narita

In Japan on the first day of the New Year, having a dream that includes either Mt. Fuji, a hawk, an eggplant or all three portends a prosperous and happy year.

The last days of 2016, my husband, John, and I had a 24-hour stopover in Narita, Japan, so, for $129 and complimentary round-trip transfer from and to the airport, I booked a stay for us at the ANA Crowne Plaza Narita (68 Horinouchi, Narita-shi, Chiba; phone, in the US, 877/227-6963, crowneplaza.com).

A flier in our room...

Chef Stefan Hogan with the rabbit pie sliced in half.

Located between Sicily and North Africa, Malta is an archipelago in the Mediterranean that has been influenced by the cultures of a variety of peoples, including the Romans, Moors, French and British. 

While visiting Malta in October 2016, my husband, John, and I stayed at the luxurious Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa (de Paule Avenue, San Anton, Malta; phone +356 21 440301, www.corinthia.com/en/hotels/palace-hotel-and-spa), where we paid $133 per night, including taxes....

 Cubes of Green Bean Cake being made — Hai Duong province, Vietnam.

In March 2017, my husband, John, and I enjoyed the 10-night “Halong Bay & Red River” cruise offered by Pandaw Cruises (based in Southeast Asia; phone, toll-free in the US and Canada, 844/361-6281, www.pandaw.com). We paid $2,925 per person, double occupancy, inclusive of all shore trips, local beverages and tips.

Ha Long Bay is the highlight of northern Vietnam and of the cruise, and, yes, it’s beautiful, but I really enjoyed the shore trips along the Red River...

The architecturally fascinating Pena Palace in Sintra. Photos by Sandra Scott

Twenty years ago, my husband, John, and I explored the west coast of Portugal by car. There were amazing sights to see along the way, including Sintra’s Pena Palace with its unique mixture of neo-Manueline, neo-Gothic, neo-Islamic and neo-Renaissance architecture. It looked like a page out of a fairy tale. 

Besides the Pena Palace, what stuck in my memory were the pousadas (historic places, including castles, that are now hotels) and the subject of this month’s...

Chef Laxman with the ingredients for Jhinga Masala — Holiday Inn Resort Penang. Photos by Sandra Scott


The Malaysian island of Penang is on many travelers’ lists of great places to visit during one’s lifetime, and it is second on CNN’s list of “17 Best Places to Visit in 2017.” It is easy to see why. The island has myriad things to do, including exploring the UNESCO World Heritage City of Georgetown, taking a walking tour through the new Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm and parasailing over the Strait of Malacca.

I found the island’s...

Ingredients laid out for qarnit moqli (pan-seared octopus). Photos by Sandra Scott

Malta is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. 

The Maltese Archipelago is located south of Sicily, which means it is blessed with a Mediterranean climate. (Think ‘no snow.’) 

And there are many wonderful places to visit. In fact, Malta has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the City of Valletta, the Megalithic Temples and the H¯al Saflieni Hypogeum, with several other sites on UNESCO’s tentative list, awaiting inclusion —...