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My February Favorites 🙌🏼

As we are heading out of winter, it’s got me thinking about the year ahead and all of the places I want to visit.

As we are heading out of winter, it’s got me thinking about the year ahead and all of the places I want to visit.

This month, I discuss one of my must-visit destinations that I still haven’t gotten around to going to yet.

I also have a surprising recommendation for my hotel of the month.

Destination of the Month

Abruzzo, Italy

Abruzzo is an area of Italy that has been calling me for a while.

It’s an area east of Rome that spans from mountains to the sea.

Something for winter and something for summer.

This area has often been referred to as ‘Italy as it used to be’. 

And one of the greatest traditions of Abruzzo is its cuisine.

Italy in general is a foodie country but Abruzzo really takes it to the max.

The regional food is meant to be exquisite.

It’s always been a dream of mine to live in Italy one day and I’m wondering if this region is the place to go.

Hotel of the Month

Courtyard by Marriott Benton Harbour

courtyard marriott benton harbour

This is an unusual one to add in but hear me out.

We stayed at this hotel last month when we visited my Mom and Sister in Michigan.

I’ve stayed in many different kinds of Marriott hotels over the years whilst travelling for work.

And I’ve never been that impressed with the Courtyard brand and have considered it on the lower end of Marriotts hotels.

However, I was more than pleasantly surprised with the Courtyard in Benton Harbour.

It absolutely deserves someone to shout about it.

From the service, to the quality of rooms and the restaurant, it really is a gem.

I’m sure most of you won’t be frequenting through Benton Harbour anytime soon.

But I would encourage you to try the newer and updated Courtyard by Marriott hotels.

I especially want to give a special mention to the quality of food produced here.

I was able to have a good chat with the chef, Billy, who you can tell really cares about the food he produces here.

He spoke about sourcing the best ingredients and it really showed in his dishes.

Our favorite was the fried brussel sprouts with a garlic aioli. 

A shining example of what a chain hotel can do with a little heart and autonomy.

You can book your stay via Marriott for $113 a night.

Restaurant of the Month

Bar Taco

When I was in Chapel Hill last month, we took my son out for lunch at Bar Taco.

Everytime we come here, we always make an effort to visit a handful of places.

Bar Taco is always one of our favorites.

Their food is wonderful because every small bite is full of flavor.

The prices are a little steep but the quality shines through in each dish.

In particular, the Glazed Pork Belly taco and the Baja Fish taco are incredible.

They have locations in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Book of the Month

Japan: The Cookbook

japan the cookbook

This cookbook was written by a woman who married a Japanese man and lived in Japan for 30 years.

I have a particular affinity for Japanese food and this is a comprehensive guide of authentic recipes.

One of my favorite recipes in it is the Chrysanthemum Petal Steamed Fish Balls.

If you like to experiment with your cooking and like Asian food, I recommend you try this one.

You can buy a copy on Amazon for $33.99.

Kitchen Gadget of the Month

Pizza Peel

pizza peel

If you love to make bread and pizzas, then you need a pizza peel.

We finally finished our bread oven this month and having a pizza peel has been a necessity for getting my creations in and out in one piece.

You can buy this on Amazon for $29.99.

Travel Accessory of the Month

Etekcity Luggage Scale

etekcity luggage scale

Whenever we travel to America or the UK, we always take an extra suitcase (or two!) to bring back any supplies that we can’t easily get in Jordan.

For our last trip to America, this was vital for us to pack our bags correctly and know how much we had.

There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport and having to open bags to shirt weight around!

When we moved to Amman a year ago, we took 9 suitcases that all needed to be under 32kg each.

This little tool is worth its weight in gold in terms of convenience.

Even if you’re just travelling with 1 bag, it’s a better (and more accurate) alternative to standing on your scale.

You can buy this on Amazon for $10.99.

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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.

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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.