Italian Restaurant Galileo at the La Cittadella near Kawasaki Station

My College Room Mate and fellow Football Team Mate Brian Konar visited Japan on business last week.  He’s in the food business and agrees that opportunities for great dining experiences are endless in Tokyo.

Another interesting dining option at the La Cittadella District near Kawasaki Station is the Italian Restaurant Osteria Galileo.  Visit Galileo on the “right night” (we did) and you’ll enjoy the service and attention of Maestro Galileo Savastano.  He’s a Native of Napoli and has worked and lived in Japan for over a decade as an Italian Food Importer and Restaurateur.  The Restaurant Galileo is his Passion if not a show room for the various wines, Limoncello Liquor, foods and spices imported from Italy.  Italian and Japanese Wait Staff are employed at the Galileo and lovely young lady from Rome greeted us and took our first beverage order.

We followed Chef Savastano’s kind direction and enjoyed a nice mixed Antipasto Plate that included cheese, nuts, Prosciutto  & fresh Seafood.  The Maestro followed with a Seafood Pesto Linguini served Al Dente.   Our Main Course of the Evening was a mixed Grill of Lamb Chicken and Pork prepared with Herbs and Olive Oil. (It will bring us back to the Restaurant Galileo.)

The Galileo is well represented by their wine list.  We tried the Zaccora Capvto and found the Ruby Red Product of the Aglianco Grape (pronounced "ah-LYAH-nee-koe") balanced, medium bodied with tastes of Cherry and traces of Chocolate. 

 We finished the Evening with Limoncello di Capri Liquor and Espresso Coffee.  (Here's Maestro with the liquor.)

Caveat:  Our research thru the Japanese Restaurant Critique Tabelog warns of slow service and inconsistent product.  This wasn’t our experience but Maestro Galileo’s Restaurant might be better when he’s at the Helm of the Ship.  We’ll call ahead and visit the Restaurant Galileo another night when Galileo Savastano is passionately at work in his kitchen.
 Osteria Galileo     www.restaurantgalileo.com/about.html


Cape Town and South Africa’s Wine Country: Final Segment of the African Experience Series

Cape Town and the Historical Mount Nelson Hotel are on the Top of the List if you’re looking for Beaches, Mountain Views, World Class Restaurants and Five Star Services. 
The Nelson employs Guides specialized in Wine Tours and recommended their best for our tour.  Mr. Darrol Lee was Professional, Knowledgeable, Enthusiastic and Passionate about Cape Town, the Wine Country and South Africa.  He made our trip.  In one day Darrol steered us thru three Wine Tastings, showed us incredible scenery in the Stellenbosch Region and the Franschhoek Valley 86 K from Cape Town.

We also stopped at the Gates of Victor Verster where Living Legend Nelson Mandela exited to Freedom on February 11th, 1990. (President Mandela spent his last 18 months of captivity at Victor Verster after spending most of his 27 Years of incarceration at Robben Island Prison & Pollsmoor Prison.)

SEIDELBERG Vineyard (Stellenbosch)
This beautiful Vineyard was established in 1692 under the Dutch Name of De Leuwen Jagt (The Lion Hunt).  It was purchased by the German Roland Seidel Family 13 years ago and continues to produce sensational wines.  We tasted Chardonnay, Sparkling Rose, Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (that we also purchased).  The Tasting Room is a brick situated below ground level making a cool and comfortable atmosphere.  Our host introduced a Seidelberg Wine Maker who graciously answered questions.  The Vineyard also offers a Guest House, Restaurant and Bakery. 

BOEKENHOUTSKLOOF  (Franschhoek – Cape of Good Hope)
The Franschhoek Valley (Dutch for French Corner) was Pioneered by French Huguenot Refugees in 1688 and covered with Pine Trees and is simply beautiful.  The Boeknehoutskloof Vineyard takes full advantage of its location and a visit to its tasting room was a highlight of our trip.  We tried their staple Wolftrap Label named after a 250 device placed on the property to protect the workers.  (The staff enjoy the fact that wolves never inhabited the region and the trap remains useless to this day.)  It’s a delicious blend of Syrah/Mourvedre/Viognier and we enjoyed it thoroughly at the Sevruga Restaurant located at Cape Town’s Marina Waterfront.  We also purchased a bottle of  THE CHOCOLATE BLOCK which is a fine combination of Syrah (69%), Grenache (12%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Cinsault (7%) and Viognier (2%), respectively.  This wine is delicious and went well with very Fresh Seafood and Sushi eaten at the Codfather Restaurant located on THE DRIVE at Camps Bay.


The Waterford Estate is a Majestic Piece of Property with Architecture equal to the Natural Beauty of the Blaauwklippen (Blue Stone) Valley encompassing the Vineyard.  Our very knowledgeable Host for the Wine Tasting “Marvin” grew up on the property and looks forward to designing wines for the Waterford Estate in the near future.  We purchased a 2006 Bottle of the JEM. (Flag ship wine named after the Estate Owner Jeremy “Jem” Ord.)  The Estate also produces Chocolates designed to be enjoyed with specific wines.  This was an new experience and we enjoyed it thoroughly.  (We brought a box home to sample with wines in our home cellar.)  We’d like to return to the Waterford Estate and enjoy time in their Guest House with tours focused on their wine craft.

-Oprah Winfrey selected the Kevin Arnold Shiraz (Waterford Estate) for her 50th Birthday Party.
-Each Vineyard visited had a beautiful and large canine mascot that inevitably joined our tasting session.

-A Victor Verster Prison Guard greeted us and joined us for Photos in front of its Gates.

-The Franschhoek Region also offers French History Museums, Monuments to the Huguenots and hosts Celebrations including Bastille Day.
-Our Guide Darrol Lee has guided the likes of Pro Golfer Ernie Ells who owns a Winery in Stellenbosch.  Success breeds success:  Darrol’s  contagious enthusiasm inspired a New York Financial Mogul to fly him and his wife to New York for a Home Stay and City Tour.
-The Route to the Wine Tour passes about 10 Kilometers of Cape Town’s “Townships”.  Africa’s dichotomy never failed to make us aware of the opportunities and life enjoyed in Japan and North America.


African Experience Series III: Mama Mia’s in Lilongwe, Malawi, East Africa

Looking for fine Italian Cuisine and Great Service while visiting Malawi, Africa?  One option and a pleasant surprise was Mama Mias. It’s the choice of Expatriates, local Gentry and knowledgeable travelers passing thru Malawi’s Capital.  (This includes Actor Ewan McGregor who has been spotted Carbo Loading at the local hot spot several times while on his “Long Way Around” Cross Africa Tours.)

Our dinner started with Antipasto selected by the Restaurant’s Maestro Paulo who opened the operation in 1999.  We ventured on to Seafood Spaghetti, Penne Arrabiata, Pizza, Roasted Prawns, and Calamari.  The Pasta was served Al Dente, the wood oven baked pizza was delicious and Seafood was fresh & carefully prepared.  Paolo’s sources produce locally and imports from South Africa.  The Wine list included Italian options at a Premium but the fine South African Vintages were reasonably priced and could not be ignored.  A great Italian Dining Experience in the Warm Heart of Africa?  Who would have thought?


http://wikitravel.org/en/Lilongwe (Refer to ‘Eat’ Section

African Experience Series II: Running thru Lilongwe’s Area 9 and the Villages of Salima & Mangoch

My litmus test for Communities is simply a Morning Run. Reactions to my presence & greetings as I stride thru a Town Center allows for a quick and hopefully accurate look at the Heart of Town. (Kyoto residents cheer & smile as opposed to Down Town Osaka People who growl and glare.)
On several runs around the affluent Lilongwe Area 9 (home of former President Bakili Muluzi) the Gate Guards, Commuters, Road Side Vendors, Field Workers and Local Villagers proved very friendly. “Good mornings” were returned, waves exchanged, some encouragement and smiles, and the ever popular thumbs up was well exercised. (An Indian Couple, American Christian Missionary and a Blonde Woman on a Racing Bike were the only Expatriates witnessed outside their gates and they were friendly too.)
A run in poor rural area of Salima was much the same with the exception of English Language Competence. (Smiles and thumbs up are alive and well in Salima.) Warmest salutations were received from the Mangochi Villagers by South Lake Malawi. The only runners other runners observed anywhere in Malawi were usually barefoot and they moved with urgent necessity towards their place of employment. Clothed in slacks and long sleeve shirts they glided along and frankly as athletes kicked my ass”.

Some observations and notes:

-Most Malawans travel on foot, by bicycle, or in very crowded trucks. The few wealthy individuals drive motor vehicles thru the community at dangerously excessive speeds.(Most goods seemed to be transported to and from Villages by foot and loads were carefully balanced on the individuals head. We saw laundry, bundles of fire wood and jars of food carried in this fashion.)

-Expect herds of goats, cattle, donkeys, chickens , Ox Carts and the odd dog to slow traffic.(Drivers also dodge intrepid (foolish) individuals on foot crossing roads at inopportune times and children who play on highways.)

-Village Homes are made from a lime, straw and mud mix and covered by thatched roofs. The more wealthy build with red brick, wood and corrugated iron sheeting. Glass windows are rare.

-Men work in the fields bare-chested and wear slacks; women wear long skirts, short sleeve shirts and wrap their head and often carry their infants on their backs. Women seem to do more work planting and harvesting the core crop of “Maize” while their children watch or assist. Tools of choice are the “Kasu” African Hoe & “Panga” African Machete. Most work shoeless in spite of scorpions, snakes and other creatures unfriendly to human skin.

-Several children ranging in age from four to twelve carried tiny infants on their back. With one of three Malawians testing positively for HIV the burden of child care is falling to the very young and ancient.

-A young Labrador joined my run thru a Village in Mangochi (South of Lake Malawi) and the young children’s smiles faded. (Wild dogs, rabid animals and Hyenas prey on Village Children.)

-Animals have No Rights in Malawi: goats and chickens are tied and bound to bicycles for transport to slaughter. Cattle are transported in frightening conditions; we witnessed a truck empty at least 20 people followed by the removal of a cow that had been tied and placed on the floor and used as a chair. Guard dogs are muzzled, work in the sun and are rarely given water.

-Lake Malawi and its green hilly and sometimes mountainous shores offer some of the most beautiful scenery in the World. The Lake is one of the Earth’s deepest and teams with fish that we’ve enjoyed throughout our time in this beautiful country. (Cichlids, Kamphango (Cat fish), Chambo (white fish) and Ncheni (white fish with a blue shiny skin and succulent flavor).

-Dug Out Canoes are sold for 8000 Kwatcha ($50.00 American) and are used by fishermen. The boats are temperamental and require extreme skill and balance to maneuver. Fishing is done at night as fish are attracted by torches. Few fisherman know how to swim and often the sudden storms of Lake Malawi widow the poor women waiting in the Village.

-We ran past families walking to Church on Sunday Morning, past small windowless Churches and more exotic Mosques. Religion is alive in Malawi & doesn’t seem to be an issue.

-Capitalism: Road Side Entrepreneurs outside Trading Centers sell carved toys ( Land Rovers) and Traditional Masks, fruit, vegetables, fish and hats weaved from flat elephant grass. They hold up their harvest, catch or craft to catch the eye of drivers passing by.

Executive Summary

The Malawi I witnessed while running is beautiful. The rich/poor dichotomy is constantly in your face and can be unnerving. The People are generally happy and industrious. Living is a struggle for the poor.

Malawi (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malawi

African Experience Series I: Robin Pope Safaris Nkwali Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

At the Wedding of my sister in 1996, we promised to visit relatives in Malawi, Africa and finally completed the Mission last month. It was a Trip of a Life Time thanks to support and planning of my sister Karen and her Husband Andrew. We’re posting articles to share a portion of our African Experience and encourage anyone who’s considered the journey to accelerate their plans and visit the most exciting and wild real-estate left on the planet.

South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is the African Wild Life Sanctuary and one of our Planet’s finest destinations for activities associated with an African Safari. It is 9050 Square Kilometers of untamed wild life well visited for Safaris by car, horse and on foot. Accommodations range from Camp Sites to 5 Star Hotels and an equally wide range of services relative to Animal Site Seeing is available thru Agencies and the Internet. We were gratified for the opportunity to visit this incredible location while the forests and animals exist in the Pristine State. Poachers have eliminated the Rhino Population and animals such as Leopards remain endangered.

We elected to travel from Lilongwe, Malawi by car to the Nkwali Camp located in the Southern tip of the Luangwa Valley. The ride to Zambian Border was uneventful on paved roads and took about 70 minutes at speeds comfortable to African Drivers.

Crossing the Border was hard work. Exit passes for vehicles, conformation of insurance, yellow fever inoculations certificate review, Zambian Tourist Visas and other related bureaucracy took about 90 minutes to complete. (It helps to complete as many forms in advance and by all means get your visa the nearest Zambian Embassy or Consulate.)

Once on our way thru the Border Town of Chipata, Zambia the ride got fun. (Make sure to review maps as land marks referred to in “fool proof directions” often disappear and routes to the Park are not marked well.) Roads graduated from “sealed” technology to dirt and rock surfaces and heavy rain added to the treacherous course. (Our Toyota Hilux had brand new Firestone 4x4 Off Road Tires and Old Man Emu Suspensions that got us thru it.)

We passed several highly populated villages and stopped at one Trading Center to gather our bearings. We shared potato chips with local children. (It was a Mardi Gras and the young Zambians were natural photo models.)

Arriving at THE LODGE

We continued and swerved & bounced past large rocks and pot holes for four hours before finally reaching the Robin Pope Nkwali Camp Lodge located in the Luangwa Valley. We wouldn’t do this trip at night. Add wild life to the equation and you would have far too much excitement. The road trip was worth the effort even though my wife said she “felt spanked”. Soon after arriving at our destination we were greeted by 6 men who were introduced as guides, cooks, waiters and coordinators.

They assisted with our luggage and made us a welcome cocktail from the fully stocked bar. Our Hosts gave a tour of an incredible four bedroom home designed to complement the surrounding environment. It was built with local materials including pillars made from tree trunks installed with natural bends, concrete, stone and a thatched roof. The concept maximizes open air exposure to African Wild Life and incorporates safety features crucial to repeat business. Each room had its own theme including sand, glass, copper and metal. Accommodations included King Beds covered by mosquito nets and a spacious bathroom inclusive of large walk in showers and vanity. A pool is situated at the front of the house and a walk way takes you to the river. The view rivals anything I ever witnessed on the big screen.

DINING: Meals were sensational. (Breakfasts as early as desired followed thru the day by lunch, high tea and dinner.) Each course presented was first rate. Breakfast included porridge, eggs cooked to order, toast, cereals, bacon, sausage, potatoes and tomatoes. Lunches served included Italian Breads, Pasta Salad, Tuna Pizza, Sandwiches and Cutlets. High Tea came with fresh pastries and cakes. Dinners featured roast chicken, beef steak, fish fillets and pork sauté inclusive of fresh vegetables, salads, breads and dessert. Fresh Coffee, tea and soft drinks were always available on demand. The whole experience was kicked off with a bottle of Champagne opened for our first lunch.

SAFARI: The Robin Pope Safaris use Open Air Land Cruisers which are the best four by four by far. These allowed transport thru rivers, muddy patches up to the bumpers and over consistently rough terrain.

Our Lodge was a 30 Minute ride from the Bridge that crosses the Luangwa River and leads to the Nature Preserves Front Gates. Ironically we saw more wild life and the most dangerous and exciting varieties of the same within 1 Kilometer of our Camp. This included the following:

-A Crocodile attack on a small reptile in the pond located 5 meters from the Lodge’s Deck. (Our daughter witnessed the National Geographic Performance from the swimming pool.)

-Two Evening Leopard Sightings; one in a tree which followed his graceful decent to the bush floor and departure;& later a dramatic chase that caused our guide to jam the breaks as an Impala Youngster bounded in front of the Land Cruiser followed by a Gorgeous Leopard in full stride. We subsequently watched stocking and chase until sight was lost in the dark foliage. We don’t know the outcome but grass was growing green and every animal caught on camera looks well fed.

-Meeting a 4 Lion Pride 400 Meters from the Lodge. This adrenaline rush sobered our party up as we were well lubricated from evening cocktails. The drama continued as early morning growls literally amounted to our final days wake up calls. (I looked out the window as tentative as a five year old child scared of the dark.)

-Stopping and waiting for herds of Elephants, Giraffe, Impala, and a families of Hippos & Baboon to leave the road way. (Don’t drive around the Elephants if you value your vehicle and personal welfare.)

Executive Summary: You can live the high life and witness the World’s Last Great Wilderness at the South Lilongwe Game Park. We’ll do it again and will certainly contract the Robin Pope Safaris Company to host and Coordinate another Life Time Experience. Take the path less traveled but remember your map.