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Four Destinations We’re Loving This Winter

A new standard for relaxation, AFAR’s catered itineraries, and the best place in the world for shrimp lovers: these are the four travel destinations were crushing on for the coming winter.

1. A New Temple for Bali
Located in Ubud, the new Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel, is a graceful reflection of its surroundings, a landscape of rice paddies and the sleepy Ayung River. Winding pathways lead to tropical gardens, intimate temples, and a series of low-slung suites and sprawling pool villas that face the terraced hills. And, like all Reserve hotels, Mandapa places a premium on relaxation: Opt for a padi massage—a Balinese technique that involves rice poultices and herbs—in the spa or do sun salutations in the yoga studio that looks out on the river. From $570. Jennifer Flowers

2. Dubai’s High
Events director Jill Greenwood spent a week scouting for AFAR’s next great adventure.
This was my first trip to Dubai (pictured) to research our upcoming AFAR Experiences event, and it felt like drinking from a fire hose. To focus my time, I set out to explore the classic side of this nation so rich in extremes. I joined Platinum Heritage’s desert safari, which transported me across a sea of sand to a Bedouin camp. There I sipped date juice while a falcon swooped close to our heads. I took an abra (water taxi) to the old town of Bur Dubai, where merchants sell aromatic spices and impossibly soft pashminas in the souks, and locals cool off with icy lemon sorbet. I flew high above the Persian Gulf on a seaplane tour that passed over the man-made islands known as The Palm and The World (which are, in fact, shaped like a tree and a globe). Before I left, I stopped by the spa at the One&Only Royal Mirage, an AFAR Collection hotel, where I was scrubbed and massaged until my skin felt smoother than one of those pashminas. In short, it was superlative, right up to the very end.
Come explore Dubai with Jill, February 4–7, 2016.

3. Switzerland, Unwrapped
AFAR Journeys offers a dream trip for every traveler.
To get a fresh look at the world, it helps to have an expert guiding the way. Enter AFAR Journeys, a collection of trips organized by our well-traveled advisors. For our first destination, Switzerland, they have created 3- to 10-day excursions that range from touring the country’s sweets-filled Christmas markets to tracing James Bond’s Goldfinger journey in an Aston Martin. And all trips are customizable, whether you want to add a day of cheese-tasting or get a peek at a famous watchmaker’s studio. From $1,000 per day. Sarah Purkrabek

4. Eating the Yucatán
When a chef says he has found shrimp nirvana, you listen. And according to Eric Werner, the chef behind Tulum’s rustic Hartwood restaurant, crustacean bliss can be found in Campeche, a port city on the Gulf of Mexico. “At stands along the waterfront,” he says, “you can eat just-caught shrimp as a ceviche mixed with chiles and a tomato-based sauce. It’s served in soda fountain−like glasses—it’s pretty special.” He loves the shrimp so much that they’re a fixture on his rotating menu, and they show up paired with mandarins and a chipotle mezcal sauce in his new book, Hartwood, out now. Read more about his travels here, or see the recipe below. Aislyn Greene

Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015.

Maya Prawns with Chipotle Mezcal Sauce

Serves 6

Although it’s hard to get super-fresh prawns or shrimp like the ones we use, get the biggest, freshest ones you can find. Try not to overcook them. Watch closely as they go from translucent to opaque, and touch them to make sure they’re just firm. There’s nothing sadder than rubbery shrimp.

The spicy beet greens are our Caribbean take on kimchi—and a delicious way to deal with the greens we end up with after roasting beets all day. Note that the spiced beet greens must be refrigerated overnight.

2 bunches beet greens, washed well
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup Chipotle Mezcal Sauce
2 pounds Maya prawns or extra-large head-on shrimp (U10 or U12), shells slit down the back but left on, veins removed
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
½ cup thinly sliced radishes
3 mandarin oranges or clementines, suprêmed (see Note)

  1. Remove the stems from 1 bunch of beet greens. Put the greens in a bowl, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the salt, and massage into the greens. Let sit for about 30 minutes, or until wilted.
  1. Drain the greens and place in a clean large bowl. Add the carrot, scallions, garlic, and ¾ cup of the chipotle mezcal sauce and mix well. Transfer to a nonreactive container, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  1. Prepare a grill for high heat. (Prawns should be cooked quickly, so you need to have the embers going.)
  1. Put the prawns in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and the chile powder, and mix well. Oil the grill grate and grill the prawns until the flesh is just opaque and nice grill marks have formed, about 1 minute per side. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  1. While the prawns cool, put the cucumbers in a small bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
  1. Remove the stems from the second bunch of beet greens and put the greens in a large bowl. Add the wilted beet greens and mix well.
  1. Divide the cucumber among six plates. Arrange the beet greens on top of the cucumber and scatter the radishes and mandarin oranges over them. Place the prawns on top and drizzle with the olive oil and the remaining ¼ cup of sauce.

Chipotle Mezcal Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup mezcal
⅓ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth, adding more water if needed.

Note: How to Suprême Citrus
This is a classic restaurant technique for trimming off all the peel and bitter pith and separating the sections from the membranes so that all that is left is fruit. The secret is to use a super-sharp knife, which will cut with little effort; if the knife is dull, you’ll need to apply some pressure, and that’s where you get into trouble.

First, slice off the top and bottom of the fruit so that you see two tiny circles of flesh. Then, slice off the skin, pith, and outer membrane, following the curvature of the fruit. Trim off any white patches left after you cut off all the peel.

Now you can either stop here and just cut the fruit into ½-inch slices, or you can follow this standard chef’s technique. Holding the fruit in one hand and the knife in the other, working over a small bowl, slice as close as possible to the membranes that separate the sections: Slice along one, then the other, and flick the loosened section into the bowl. When the entire fruit has been sectioned, squeeze the juice from the remaining membranes with your hand and reserve for another use.

Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.