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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

An amazing molecular gastronomy dinner in Ayala Alabang, Manila


After 24 hours of traveling halfway around the world, from my hotel in Paris right next to the original Chanel Boutique off the Rue St. Honore, to the rather chaotic city of Manila, I landed to an empty airport and to relatively empty streets.

It was my lucky day, and thankfully so, as I headed straight to Ayala Alabang to attend a fancy eight-course sit-down dinner hosted by the Liechtensteins for Ambassador Menashe Bar-on and his lovely wife Eti.


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50 FRIENDS, ONE AMAZING HOUSE
AND EIGHT AMAZING COURSES FOR DINNER

The farewell dinner was held at a residence called Casa Liechtenstein within the subdivision, that the Liechtensteins use just for entertaining. 

More on this amazing house in another blog entry.



For this very special dinner last night, the Bar-ons had gathered 50 of their closest friends in Manila. I was exhausted from my trip, but of course I had to be there.

Another incentive was the fact that Maimai Liechtenstein hosts the most incredible dinners.

I've been to several dinners at her home, and each one has left me open-mouthed at the end.

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THE WHO'S WHO OF MANILA SOCIETY

And when I walked into the house last night, late because I'd literally just come from Paris, I saw some of the most famous and prominent names in Philippine business, society and politics already starting on their first course.

Ambassador Bar-on and Madame Eti are among the most popular diplomatic couples in Manila so they have made many friends. 



And it's been one farewell event after another for them, in the run-up to their departure in a few days.

I hosted a farewell dinner for them as well, for 40 guests, on the eve of my departure for France earlier this month.

HELLO AFTER A VERY LONG TIME

The table nearest the entrance was full of friends, so I spent a good deal of time here saying hello to everyone, after being away so long on a series of trips.



A VERY NICE TABLE
AND EXCELLENT CONVERSATION
AT DINNER LAST NIGHT

Eventually, after greeting our hosts and the guests of honor, I found my designated seat at a table full of interesting people, most of whom I knew as well.

However, the two well-traveled and witty gentlemen seated nearest me were actually strangers until last night, in spite of Manila being quite a small town.



We had a very nice evening discussing everything under the sun, including the running of businesses and the idea of molecular gastronomy.

And, of course, we talked about Travel and Life.

There's always talk about Travel and Life, as long as I'm at the table.

THE PIECE DE RESISTANCE

The elaborate menu, however, was the star of the evening.

It was an eight-course exercise in molecular gastronomy, which was particularly interesting and enjoyable, especially as I'd just come from two weeks of almost non-stop molecular gastronomy in France and Spain.

So I had lots of good food to compare last night's meal with.

With Spain's most famous female chef
and Ireland's most famous chef,
in San Sebastian, Spain two weeks ago

I have to say, Maimai's dinner last night certainly held its own to what I ate in Europe -- and I'd eaten in some of the best restaurants on the planet in the last few weeks, living a never-ending Travelife.

More on this wonderful dinner of Maimai Liechtenstein in my next blog entry.

Good night for now, from Manila, staying put for once in quite a long time.



THE MENU

Dinner for
Ambassador and Madame Menashe Bar-on

ON THE WAY TO THE BALL
Toasted mini Brie 
topped with tamarind bagoong and garlic confit

*    *    *

DEEP IN THE FOREST, ONCE UPON A DREAM
Salad of blackberries, raspberries, 
carrots, mizunoi, tatsoi and garden soil

*    *    *

DRINK YOUR MEDICINE
Roasted strawberries 
with powdered Agrestic Fiore d'oro DOP

*    *    *

LOCKED AWAY IN AN APPLE RHUBARB
Pedro Ximenez-glazed foie gras 
and apple rhubarb

*    *    *

DO YOU WANNA BUILD A SNOWMAN?
Fresh lychee granita

*    *    *

WONDERLAND WONDERS
72-hour sous vide angus short ribs 
with king oyster mushrooms

*    *    *

WHO'S IT AND WHAT'S IT GALORE
Seabass and herbed Israeli couscous

*    *    *

THE SECRET DONE
Gjetost etke dipped in Amedei white chocolate
Jewelled wine tummies
Salted rose kiss
Deep dark chocolate cake

*    *    *

TOPSY TURVY DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
Caramel tea, Turkish coffee
Petit fours



Saturday, July 19, 2014

French use anti-stress coloring books for stress therapy


One of the things I like doing when I'm in another country, living a Travelife, is visiting bookstores.

I enjoy browsing through the shelves in a bookstore just in case I find a beautiful coffee table book for my collection of books on architecture and design around the world, or a very interesting cookbook.



AN INSTANT LESSON IN CULTURE

A bookstore visit is also a good way to get a feel of the local culture and psyche -- and this us something I consider very important in a never-ending Travelife.

It's not enough to see the sites or taste the best food



WHAT A TRAVELIFE IS REALLY ABOUT

A real traveler must learn about the history and culture of a destination, including what makes it's people tick and what they consider important in life.




So I was intrigued and very happy to stumble upon an entire large shelf of absolutely beautiful coloring books in a bookstore in the Champagne region of France, in between gastronomic meals and visits to champagne cellars.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT

These coloring books first drew my attention because of their intricate covers. 

I thought they were design books.




Then when I looked closely, most of them had the term "anti-stress" on the cover.



This was when I realized that these were actually purchased by people to color as a form of therapy to manage or reduce stress.

I don't have too much stress in my life, so fortunately this was not encouragement to buy, for me.

SUCH LOVELY COLORING BOOKS



But then I opened one book and it was a coloring book of the world's most famous and picturesque places

Of course, I just had to buy this, for my never-ending Travelife.

REMEMBERING OUR MOROCCO HOLIDAY 
JUST LAST MONTH


Then I spotted another book full of amazing design patterns. 

When I leafed through it, these designs reminded me so much of our last hotel in Morocco, on our two-week holiday last month.

It had the same engrossing and lovely designs.



Again, I never let go of this book.

I also got one on African animals, to remind me of all my wonderful trips to Africa, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

PS: If you find less blog entries here from now on, at least you know what I'm doing instead…

Friday, July 18, 2014

The best scrambled eggs in France are at the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux


We at Travelife Magazine join the rest of the world in offering our sympathies to the families of the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight, and in condemning this most senseless and unfortunate tragedy.

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THE BEST SCRAMBLED EGGS IN FRANCE

In the last 15 days, going around France and Spain, living a Travelife, I've eaten what are undoubtedly the best scrambled eggs in France.

If not in Europe.



The first place is at the breakfast buffet of one of my favorite hotels in France: the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux

This hotel also happens to be the best hotel in Bordeaux city, conveniently located to everything. 



IT'S ALL ABOUT LOCATION

When I'm in Bordeaux, I don't stay anywhere else. 

It's a grand and historic hotel with amazing service

And when I check in, we give the car to the valet and we don't have to get the car out again until it's time to drive out of Bordeaux.



A GREAT BREAKFAST

Another reason to stay here is their great breakfast.

The Grand Hotel de Bordeaux breakfast is not the grandest breakfast buffet I've ever seen, but the quantity us just right and the quality is wonderful. 



PLAYING FAVORITES

The other night, we took a poll among our group as to which was their favorite hotel on this trip. 

We have been staying in some of the most amazing places in this part of the world, after all. 

AND THE WINNER IS...



Well, the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux won by a margin. 

And those who picked it as their favorite (myself included) picked it because of the service and the breakfast.


THE RUNNERS-UP

The runners-up, by the way, were the Maria Cristina in San Sebasti├ín, a Luxury Collection hotel, and the Chateau D'Artigny in the Loire Valley, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels (SLH). 



Some people in the group also liked our stay at Michel Trama, which is a Relais & Chateaux member property with a restaurant run by the famous Michel Trama. 

It's in the tiny town of Puymirol, which has something like 100 inhabitants.

ONE OF THE GREAT CHEFS OF FRANCE




Mr. Trama is considered one of the top 5 chefs in France, as outlined in a foodie bible that everyone in France reads. 

This isn't my personal opinion, by the way, as I have my own list of great chefs of France.

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BACK TO SCRAMBLED EGGS

Anyway, the scrambled eggs at the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux is really divine. 

They probably mix it with lots of cream. 

And I like having it with slices of mozzarella cheese, which is another excellent offering in the breakfast buffet of the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux, and slices of wonderful smoked salmon.



I know mozzarella and salmon don't really go together, but this is my way of eating this. 

And I absolutely loved it.

THE 2ND BEST SCRAMBLED EGGS IN FRANCE



As for the 2nd place with the best scrambled eggs in France, I can't mention the place yet as I'm still here, living a Travelife.



But it's considered one of the finest chateau hotels in Europe, with one of the best fine dining restaurants in France. 

And that Michelin-starred restaurant has been making my delicious scrambled eggs every morning, on the last leg of my summer holiday in Europe, living a never-endingly eventful Travelife.