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Sunday, 16 November 2014

My Favourite Macaron



Not all macarons are created equal. That is why I always want mine from the best, Pierre Herme, the current undisputed master of macarons.
There is something magical about them. The medley of texture is like wonderful music playing in my mouth. My first taste of a macaron was at the Laduree salon in Harrods. From that very first bite, I developed a growing obsession. I thought Laduree was the be all and end all of all things macarons. I was wrong, there were many out there. I ventured and from then on I have been on a quest to find the best macaron.
A macaron is made with egg whites, sugar and almond flour. Early macarons were just made of one cookie but Laduree introduced the two cookie macaron with ganache or filling between them. This is the macaron that we know and love today.
Aside from Laduree and Pierre Herme, I have tried Angelina’s in Paris, PAUL in London, TWG in Singapore, Bouchon in New York, Pierre Marcolini, Marks and Spencer’s and more recently, from Joel Robuchon's 2 Michelin star restaurant in London. Any macaron can give me my macaron fix but only Pierre Herme macarons can fully satisfy my craving.




Pierre Herme macaron. Perfect!

Enjoying Pierre Herme in Paris, Summer 2014


For me, a perfect macaron starts with a perfectly shaped smooth dome with perfectly even ruffled edges, also known as feet.  When you bite into it, there is a little bit of crunch but should not crumble and not chewy either. The filling should not be too little or too much. Lastly, it should not be too sweet.  I have to say, Pierre Herme macarons have all that, the perfect balance of texture and taste. 


 And while I am still on this quest,  I am more than happy to call Pierre Herme my favourite for now.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Lunch At Gordon Ramsay's Maze





A while ago in early May of this year,  I had the pleasure of spending time with my friends over lunch at Gordon Ramsay's One Michelin star restaurant, Maze. Located in the posh area of Mayfair in London, the restaurant is being overseen by recently promoted head chef Alex Thiebaut. You cannot really expect less when it comes to Gordon Ramsay, who currently holds 14 Michelin stars in total. So we ventured into the threshold of Maze, preparing to be aMazed.


We waited at the bar for the rest of the group to arrive. My friend recommended that I try Peach Bellini. For someone who is not a lover of anything alcoholic, I was blown away by this one. I love that the Prosecco was not too strong for me. The sweetness of the peach makes up for the alcohol so I was fine. Later on I learned that Prosecco is actually low in alcohol at only 11 percent. 

There was unlimited bread basket being served while we were waiting for our orders to arrive. To say that the food was amazing would be an understatement.


 There were two that really stood out for me. Steamed Sea bream, enoki mushroom, dashi. This boneless fillet of fish was cooked to perfection. It was well infused with spices that worked well with the bed of mushrooms that accentuates its flavour.


Lamb belly with cauliflower and spice lentils. This was one of the best, if not the best on this meal. For someone who is not fond of lamb, this made me into a convert. The well seasoned meat was very tender and full of flavour. It was also very well presented and well garnished, the kind that teases and excites your palate way before the food lands in your mouth.



It was a four course meal. They were all delicious although I was on the fence with the duck and foie gras terrine (above). It was the  kind of taste that you would either love or hate. With me, it was the latter.

Maze
10 - 13 Grosvenor Square 
LONDON 
W1K 6JP 
T: 020 7107 0000 restaurant reservations

Monday, 27 October 2014

Five Faves

I can say that finally, Autumn has arrived. The air is crisp and the nights are longer. The leaves have turned a golden hue. My five current favourites does not only include items from my beauty cupboard but from my wardrobe as well. These I would say, would take me from Autumn through the winter. Here goes. 


Maybelline Color Drama Velvet Lip Pencil – When I saw this being tried on by one of the makeup gurus that I follow online, I could not wait to get my hands on it.  I liked how well pigmented it looked on her lips. Once I tried it myself, I was sold. It is very rich in colour and very creamy. The staying power is phenomenal that not even any of my high end lipsticks could beat and for only £4.99 a pop, I hoarded. My favourite shades at the moment are Light Up and Keep It Classy. Both perfect for Autumn.


Bioderma – My best buy from Paris did not come from a designer shop. It came from one of the French Pharmacies instead and it is Bioderma Crealine H20. This great makeup remover has a cult following from models to professional makeup artists. I developed a growing curiosity so I grabbed a bottle the moment I had the chance on my recent trip to Paris. True enough, it is a very good makeup remover. It removes even the most stubborn of eye makeup. I have used a few other brands before but nothing comes as good as Bioderma

Dior Inspired Earrings – I have to admit I was not quite sure when I saw Dior’s Mise En Dior Tribal earrings, even when celebrities started wearing them. Then a friend sent me a similar pair and surprise, surprise, I fell in love with them. And I love the mixed comments I hear whenever I wear them. 


Ripped Jeans – I can definitely say I have been living in them since I got them. I love how I can dress them up or down. I normally wear my pair with white shirt and black faux leather jacket and a pair of converse or ankle boots now that it is cooler but if I want to dress them up, I throw on a blazer and heels, put on some bold lips and I am good to go. 



Chanel Nail Polish in Accesoire – I have expressed my love for Chanel nail polish time and again and despite buying other brands, I keep coming back to my first love when it comes to my nails. The price could burn a hole in your pocket if you are not careful as you could easily get hooked. Though with the quality that you get, I say you are better off buying one good bottle of nail polish that stays on your nails for days, that does not chip easily than get several cheap alternatives that does not do the job which will end up forgotten at the back of your cupboard. I particularly love this particular nail colour for Autumn and I normally alternate it with the shade Black Pearl.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Singapore: Lovelier The Second Time Around




Our love affair with the Lion City started on our first stopover in 2011 (which I wrote about here)and we have been back since then. Singapore is a place that you never get tired of. There is so much to do. There is a wide selection of restaurants to choose from, be it Michelin starred or hole in the wall. The shopping is impressive with a wide array of designer brands in the countless shopping malls that abound in the city. Orchard Road (comparable to Oxford street in London and Champs Elysee in Paris) and Marina Bay Sands are your best bets if you are a shopping enthusiast.

Oh, how I love this city. I could go on and on but first, let me count the ways...

The Airport - Singapore's Changi airport has always been, time and again, on the list of the best airports in the world and for 2014, they topped the list of Skytrax World's Best Airport award. This is its second time in a row. There is no surprise there. Anybody who has been to Changi airport will agree. Aside from being spotlessly clean, there is so much to do that you would feel your holiday has started way before you boarded your flight or for those arriving, way before you even come out of immigration. There is so much greenery inside and it is the only airport in the world that houses a butterfly garden.For longer layovers, it has a cinema to while away your time, snooze lounges and of course, free Wifi.






The Airline - Singapore's flag carrier, Singapore Airlines is my favourite airline to fly with when going home for a holiday. Great in flight entertainment. The food and the service are flawless and  I could not recommend it enough.

The food - If you love your food (who doesn't) then Singapore for you is paradise. You are spoiled for choice from street vendors to fine dining. Considered as the food capital of Asia, Singapore's diverse cuisine caters very well to it's equally diverse residents and tourists. Joel Robuchon has already set up shop and so has Jaime Oliver and some of  America's celebrated chefs. But if you want a taste of the real Singapore, never leave without trying their famous signature dishes, Chili Crab and the Hainanese Chicken. One Michelin Star Din Tai Fung is also worth a visit for their famous Xiao Long Bao.













The shopping - Whether you want to hit the shops for a bargain or you want to score some of the most coveted designer pieces, Singapore is the right place for you. With international brands sprouting like mushrooms, the shopping scene is not at all behind. Orchard Road is an endless stretch of shops and shopping malls alike. Here you can find the likes of Abercrombie and Fitch, H&M, DKNY. If you want more upscale shopping, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands will do just the trick where the only floating Louis Vuitton shop in the world is located.








The City - Not only is Singapore great for food and shopping enthusiasts, it is also great for families. This city is very family friendly with a whole load of family activities and places to visit on offer. For movie buffs, there is Universal Studios where not only the kids will enjoy but also for the kids at heart. If your children love nature there is the Botanic Gardens, The Jurong Bird Park, Underwater World and of course, the Singapore Zoo.Singapore is also not short of museums with their National Museum, The Science Center Museum, The Maritime Experiential Museum and the Mint Museum of Toys to name a few. There is also the Big Splash water park for those who wants to get wet and wild. Lastly, the not to be missed, the spectacular Light and Water show at the Marina Bay Sands. "An amazing convergence of light, music and sound and giant water screens" as described by its website is a 10 minute long show involving light and water displays to the rhythm of a song. There are two shows at 8 pm and 10 pm so make sure to catch one or both. 





We are definitely not done with Singapore and for definite, we will keep coming back.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

My Special Birthday

All birthdays are special but when it is a milestone birthday, the more special it is. For my special milestone birthday last year, I knew what I wanted. I wanted it to be small and intimate with just a handful of close friends and since I love afternoon tea, it was a no brainer. No, I did not want an afternoon tea themed party but the real deal. I wanted to experience that quintessential British tradition but not in the comforts of my own home, where I usually have mine but in a quaint and elegant setting complete with pretty china and gleaming silverware. The Marriott's Hanbury Manor in Hertfordshire was the perfect choice.



Before going to the venue, I met up with my girl friends for brunch at home.


A simple meal was served at home to tie us up until our afternoon tea.



Afternoon Tea was served in the grand Oak Hall with views of the English countryside. The dark wood panelling and open fireplace added opulence to the already grand setting.


A harp was being played at one corner which made the experience heavenly.


A selection of finely cut sandwiches, dainty little pastries and cakes and freshly baked scones, the melt in your mouth variety, were served in beautiful layer trays.


There was a selection of tea to choose from but since I am a creature of habit, I always gladly stick with my English Breakfast tea.


The cakes and pastries were very well made and deliciously melts in your mouth and the scones were the best scones I have ever had. 

Service was flawless. 





It was a wonderful birthday spent with my favourite people in the world, in a place that that was perfect for me and nothing could be better than that.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Fifth Birthday Celebration: An Afternoon Tea For Four

As November draws nearer, it is time to plan the upcoming birthday celebration of the five year old. With this in mind, I realized that I have not done a blog post about her fifth birthday celebration from last year. So in a way, this is a very long overdue post.

A few months before her fifth birthday, she showed me this mood board saying it is what she wants for her birthday party. The stage mommy in  me interpreted it as an afternoon tea, which is perfect as I love afternoon tea. In fact, it was exactly the same plan I had for my big birthday which was a week before hers. A separate post on that will be up soon.


We only invited her closest friends as tea parties are meant to be cosy and intimate. They enjoyed taking turns in pouring their "tea" which was actually hot chocolate.




A cake buffet was set up to go with the afternoon tea theme.



There were games and colouring contests but the star of the show, aside from the birthday girl of course, is this beautiful ruffle rainbow cake that my friend's daughter made for her. Since the birthday girl loves everything that is My Little Pony, this perfectly fits the bill and our taste buds as well.


It was a simple but fun birthday celebration which was enjoyed by everyone but most especially by the birthday girl herself.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Angelina Tea House, Paris

From now on, a trip to Paris would not be complete without a meal at Angelina Tea House. A stone’s throw from the Louvre museum, we went there to try their famous hot chocolate and found that their  meals were also amazing. Here, you do not only pay for the food but the ambience as well and I can tell you it is definitely worth it.  

It was founded in 1903 by confectioner, Rumpelmayer  and for centuries has maintained its opulence that is evident on the beautiful interior of which grandeur resonates.



                                                  


As you walk in through the door, you are greeted by a sign that says you will be taken care of as soon as possible, which was in no time at all. Looking around, you know instantly that you are about to indulge yourself and throw caution to the wind, as far as your diet is concerned. It would be a shame not to indulge with the array of chocolates and pastries that abound.






The first order of the day was their signature and word famous hot chocolate,  L’ African, made from a luscious blend of four different cocoa beans from Africa.  Dubbed as the best hot chocolate in Paris, it is decadent and velvety. It was very delicious but too rich that a few sips would be enough to satisfy your chocolate craving. It did not disappoint, I have to say.



We also ordered some mains as it was lunch time and the egg omelette, for me, has the perfect texture as far as omelettes are concerned of which my five year old happily devoured.



The SuprĂȘme de Volaille was the best meal I had in Paris. The breast of chicken was so tasty and tender and the tarragon sauce was amazingly out of this world. I would not even start on the melt in your mouth goodness of the mashed potato.
Angelina Café is not to be missed when in Paris. Dining there is an experience in itself. The service is good and the food is great. There are six locations in Paris but I guess none compares to the opulence of its original location at Rue de Rivoli. So, if you happen to be in Paris, make Angelina one of your destinations as it will be definitely worth it.