Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lunch with the Travel Companion in his private kitchen. And about memories of Morocco, a golden tea set, and an addicting macaroni and cheese dish.



Today in Manila, living a Travelife, the Travel Companion invited me to his newly-built private kitchen in his own office building.

Yes, he built his own private kitchen and dining room and hired four chefs to man the pretty large kitchen, so that he can have the kind of food he wants, when he wants it, without having to battle traffic in the city or even to get out of his office building in the CBD.

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A CRAZY IDEA
THAT BECAME A GREAT IDEA

He'd been talking to me for the longest time about creating his own private kitchen.

I remember him bringing this up when we were in the middle of nowhere in Tanzania one year ago, and I thought he was crazy to even think of doing so.

The lovely Hippo Point villa in Tanzania

His private kitchen is prime real estate, after all.

Also, it's so easy to get food in Manila or to have someone cook food for you. So I couldn't understand why he wanted his own chefs, his own kitchen, and his own dining room when there are so many restaurants outside his doorstep.

KEEPING QUIET ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE'S IDEA

A Hokkaido ryokan a few weeks ago

But it was his building, after all, and everyone is entitled to do what they want with their resources.

So I kept my mouth shut, even when he continued to talk about this little project of his and its development on our other trips, like to Morocco in June and to Hokkaido two weeks ago.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT

But today, I finally saw the results of his "crazy idea."

His private kitchen isn't quite finished yet and construction is still going on, so we had to pass the back door and walk through some building material.

But it was sufficiently decent so that his four chefs could cook us a proper meal, and we could sit down in a very large table made out of one piece of wood, and enjoy their cooking.

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BASICALLY, A PRIVATE RESTAURANT

All he has to do now is go down from his office on the top floor of his building, and he basically has his own restaurant.

How cool is that? There's even a menu board to indicate what dishes are going to be served on a certain day. Just like a restaurant -- except this one is only for himself, his family and friends.

I was quite impressed with the entire set-up, so I was smiling the whole time, as he gave me the grand tour today.

A SALTY ASPARAGUS SOUP



Then we sat down to eat.

We began with asparagus soup, which had just the right consistency, but it was quite salty -- even for me, who is always getting grief from him because I like my food salty.  Or at least saltier than him.

Sometimes, he even just sprinkles salt on my food when we're eating, and without me actually asking him to do so, just because he thinks I'd like whatever I'm eating to be saltier.

Today, he said to his chefs: "This is way too salty. Make a note of this."

SALMON SANDWICHES WITH ALFAFA SPROUTS



Then we had sandwiches filled with cured salmon and alfalfa sprouts. This was okay.

We were eating a hodgepodge of stuff because the food is still in the experimental phase and the chefs are focusing on comfort food, and he's giving them inputs on what he likes and what he doesn't like.

MY FAVORITE FOOD TODAY

But what I liked best today was the macaroni and cheese, which his chefs served in small cups.

It was crusty on top and creamy inside, with lots of cheese and a hint of chili. It was terribly good and also terribly addicting.

The Travel Companion said to me: "I gave my input on that already. That's why it's good."



It's true. He has very definite ideas about good food. Most of the time, too, he's right.

In fact, after eating my mac 'n cheese, I looked at his four chefs hard at work in the open kitchen next to us, and then I asked him: "Do they actually know what kind of person they're working for?"

The Travel Companion smiled and replied: "Probably not."

THIS IS HOW TO RUIN HIS DAY

In Rabat, Morocco last June,
living a Travelife

He is among the most serious foodies I know, and he has eaten everywhere in the world, bar none. He also is very critical of food placed in front of him.

On one of our trips, for instance, he had two lousy meals in a row. They were okay by my standards but not by his, and I swear he was in the worst mood possible because of these two inferior meals.

I took a walk in the hotel's garden after dinner that day, just to leave him alone for awhile.

Fortunately, the remedy to his bad mood is quite simple too, as he's really an inherently good guy. All I need to do is find him a really good meal to make up for this and to give him some time, and he usually gets out of this bad mood.

REALLY GOOD COMFORT FOOD

Anyway, the macaroni and cheese we had today was so good that I ate all of mine and half of his share as well.

And then I took home the remaining macaroni and cheese that was still in his kitchen.

THREE KINDS OF FISH AND CHIPS



Then, for a main course, we taste-tested all kinds of fish and chips.

Today's fish was sole, and we had it three ways -- meaning in three different kinds of batter, accompanied by double-fried French fries.

It was fun to sample everything.


MEMORIES OF MOROCCO

Afterwards, his waiter brought out some mint and green tea in the Moroccan tea pot set that the Travel Companion and I had bought together on our trip to Morocco.

That certainly brought back happy memories of an interesting adventure.

SHOPPING IN THE SOUK OF MARRAKECH

One afternoon in Marrakech last June, you see, living a Travelife, we'd walked from our hotel, the beautiful Villa des Orangers, to the souk to go souvenir shopping.

It was the one time we actually took a walk in Morocco outside of our hotel grounds without our guide or our driver.

In the souk, we ended up buying one tea set each in a store lined from floor to ceiling with teapots, just off the famous city square.


THE RIGHT DECISION

We'd actually hesitated for a long time about buying these tea sets in the souk, afraid that they would look too gaudy in an Asian setting.

However, in Morocco, with so much intricate design and gold, these tea pots looked wonderful, and we kept seeing them everywhere. So finally we just couldn't resist buying one tea set each, in spite of our doubts about actually being able to use these back in Asia.

So we brought our tea sets back home, packed among our combined 85 kilos of checked-in luggage. And today was the first time I saw this Morocco tea set again in an Asian setting, as I haven't had time to open mine at all, since returning from Morocco in June.


SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL


How beautiful and how perfect this Moroccan tea set looked in the Travel Companion's private kitchen, which is contemporary and industrial in feel.

His private kitchen is stylish, but it has quite a simple design; so this intricate Moroccan tea set was the perfect accent against the slightly stark background.

And how timely and memorable to see this tea set again, just before I fly back to Morocco this weekend, on just another adventure in my never-ending and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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