My December Favorites 🎄

See what has made my December favorites (and which eastern European country is my pick of the month).

Each month I’ll be showcasing what I’m reading, where I’m planning to go, what has me intrigued etc.

I thought this was a good opportunity for you to learn a little more about me behind the scenes.


Destination of the Month

The destination I have been thinking most about this month is Romania.

I have not been yet but I’ve been reading up on it and it sounds beautiful.

Some are saying it is the next Tuscany for the fraction of the price.

Not far from Jordan, and easy to get to from here, I am looking at planning something for the coming summer.

Exploring Transylvania will be especially fun given all the stories about Dracula and vampires.

I look forward to seeing the castles in the region and sampling the local cuisine.

Hotel of the Month

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about the Hotel Arts Barcelona.

This month I have been thinking about revisiting Barcelona, a city I love, and one I used to travel frequently to.

I always stayed at the iconic 5 star Hotel Arts, located just yards from the beachfront and all that has to offer.

The rooms and the views were spectacular and one of a kind in that breathtaking city. 

The thing I appreciated most about this hotel is the outstanding service it provides its guests.

There is nothing in my opinion that leaves a more lasting impression than great service when visiting a hotel.

When all your needs are catered to, and all your desires are anticipated, you can let go and just enjoy the experience.

One of my favorite memories at the Hotel Arts was when I got back to the hotel in the very late afternoon and decided to get lunch.

I had the place to myself and enjoyed one of the very best meals of my life as the chef made me a personalized tasting menu.

It was incredible.

I’m looking forward to going back!

Restaurant of the Month

I have always enjoyed dining at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon that was located in Covent Garden area of London.

I have had some very memorable meals in the restaurant created by Joel Robuchon, named the chef of the century in 1989, he was the most awarded chef in Michelin history.

Sadly, this incomparable chef died in 2018 after a long battle with cancer.

However, he did leave us with a legacy of the finest dining you can imagine. A

nother sad bit of news is that the restaurant at West Street closed for good.

The good news is that a new one has opened in Mayfair, and from what I understand is every bit as good as L’Atelier was. 

I have not dined at the new restaurant yet, but I am looking forward to it during one of my next visits to London.

One of my favorite cities in the world, London has so many choices when it comes to amazing food experiences.

I remember when I was in university and living in London how poor choices for food were in the UK.

Thankfully the food scene in the city now rivals any in the world.

I will be sure to report back when I’ve had a chance to eat at the new Le Comptoir Robuchon.

Book of the Month

I tend to be somebody who reads mostly nonfiction, a lot of it about food in fact.

I do enjoy fiction now and then, but it really has to grab me.

This month I started reading such a book.

Intrigued by the description, and written by the bestselling author Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow, has been a joy to get into.

It’s a book with a bit of everything from romance, espionage, politics and even poetry.

About a wealthy count in Russia who is sentenced to house arrest.

His life is turned upside down, and he soon has to experience what it is like not to lead a luxurious life.

The book asks, “Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?” 

What do you think?

Kitchen Gadget of the Month

One of the very best things I have in my kitchen that I rely on heavily is my KitchenAid mixer.

Especially last month with Thanksgiving and this month with Christmas!

Lots of baking to be done.

It is my workhorse, whether I am making bread, cakes, cookies, or grinding meat, or rolling pasta it is solidly doing its job over and over again.

At this time of year when you think about gifting the serious cook in your life, or yourself with something, you can’t go wrong with the KitchenAid mixer.

Travel Accessory of the Month

The Canvas Toiletry Bag from Saddleback Leather Company.

I find fewer things useful when I travel, other than a good toiletry bag.

I always carry this in my carry on luggage, with all the things I could need on any trip.

From medications, band aides, earplugs, toothpaste, toothbrush, to shaving accessories, creams and lotions, I like to have it all close at hand when I travel.

This bag is super compact and sturdy, making it perfect for my needs.


Hello! I'm Chef Tariq.

I’m a food, travel & lifestyle blogger who is passionate about creating recipes from my Arab American background. I love to travel and share my experiences and top tips along the way.

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Hello! I’m Chef Tariq.

I’m a food, travel & lifestyle blogger who is passionate about creating recipes from my Arab American background. I love to travel and share my experiences and top tips along the way.