Fantasy Fridays: Macau, China

For the benefit of those who are reading this blog for the first time, we had earlier decided to give ourselves another reason to look forward to Fridays 🙂  A holiday every Friday! Not exactly a real vacation every Friday but more of a photo re-cap of a trip we or either one of us have taken in order to re-live our past travels and all the related memories of each trip.

FANTASY FRIDAYS!

Destination – Macau, one of the two special administrative regions of China. Getting there is easy – about an hour by ferry from Hong Kong, but leaving Asia’s gaming capital can however be difficult for some…

Temptations abound in the tiny Macau territory of 29 km² (11 sq miles). Be seduced by the variety of Chinese delicacies…

The Macanese welcome. Here’s the contingent greeting you when you get off the ferry.  All ready to whisk you off to the hotels and *casinos*…

The must-see attraction in Macau, the 16th century ruins of a Portuguese cathedral, the Cathedral of Saint Paul…

Macau was the first and last European colony in Asia and remnants of Portugal are still visible in Macau…

BollyChees goofing around in Macau. To be exact, Bolly goofing around 😉 …

One of the 35 casinos present in this “sin city”…MGM Grand…

Enticing those keen on a quick buck with bright neon lights…

Bolly has good luck and Chee doesn’t. Bolly won, Chee lost in the casinos…

We celebrated the unexpected win with a fine meal at 2 Michelin star modern and luxurious Chinese restaurant, The Eight before calling it a night. Highly recommended!No harm placing a few bets for the fun of it.  Don’t forget though, the saying “The House Always Wins” is true…

Hope you enjoyed reading this week’s edition of “Fantasy Fridays” 🙂

Fantasy Fridays: Durbuy, Belgium

For the benefit of those who are reading this blog for the first time, we had earlier decided to give ourselves another reason to look forward to Fridays 🙂 A holiday every Friday! Not exactly a real vacation every Friday but more of a photo re-cap of a trip we or either one of us have taken in order to re-live our past travels and all the related memories of each trip.

FANTASY FRIDAYS!

Today, we head to Durbuy. Wait, Durbuy, where? Durbuy is a town located in the French-speaking southern region of Belgium (otherwise known as Wallonia) about 95 kilometres (59 miles) from Brussels, the capital city of Belgium and 33 kilometres (20 miles) from Liege. Its ‘claim to fame’ is its reputation as the smallest town on earth (le plus petite ville du monde) though with a surface area of 157,5 km² and about 11,000 habitants, I think this small town’s claim is somewhat stretched. Smallest or not, this town has a special place in our hearts…read on to find out 🙂

Perched on the banks of the River Ourthe, the charming medieval town dating back to the 17th century is quaint with winding and narrow pedestrian streets lined with old stone houses. Confiturerie Saint-Amour (bottom-right of photo) is an artisanal jam factory that shows how jam is made in large copper basins…

Stop in one of the cafés for a drink while walking through the old town…

The Château d’Ursel in Durbuy which dates back to the 11th century and refurbished by the d’Ursel family who became owners of Durbuy in the 17th century…

Small as it may be, there are a number of good restaurants in and around Durbuy.  Here we are at one-Michelin star restaurant Le Cor de Chasse celebrating Valentine’s Day…which brings me to why Durbuy will always hold a special place in our hearts… Bolly proposed 🙂

I should have seen it coming. Even the town was trying to drop a hint!

Chee said yes and us BollyChees have been married for 2, coming 3 years (in 5 days’ time 😉 )…

To many more days, months and years of walking down the path of life together

🙂

Fantasy Fridays: Edinburgh, Scotland

For the benefit of those who are reading this blog for the first time, we had earlier decided to give ourselves another reason to look forward to Fridays  🙂 A holiday every Friday! Not exactly a real vacation every Friday but more of a photo re-cap of a trip we or either one of us have taken in order to re-live our past travels and all the related memories of each trip.

FANTASY FRIDAYS!

On this 4th installment, we head to Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland in August. Why August? If you, like us, are keen on soaking in a buzzing atmosphere of art performances, cultural shows, visual arts exhibitions, comedy shows and other wide-ranging events, while mingling with people from all around the world (from what we understand, the population of Edinburgh doubles from about close to 500,000 to more than a million every August) as well as experience Scottish cuisine, August is the time of the year to visit Edinburgh as the Edinburgh Festival takes stage.  The Edinburgh Festival is not just a festival but a general term for the various festivals taking place in Edinburgh in summer, especially during August. Think of it this way, the price of a flight ticket to Edinburgh gets you ‘admitted’ to the Edinburgh Art Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and a whole load of side-events taking place in the city. Talk about getting your money’s worth 😉

We’re in the land of bagpipes, kilts and tartans 🙂

The Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of the city…Walk to discover the city as well as the numerous free street performances…

Our advice would be to book tickets early for performances you would like to watch before they sell out. No worries if you arrive without tickets though…there are plenty of choices…

Always up for new experiences, we experienced a theatre performance played out through our headphones while guided to different locations in the city…

Solemn grey buildings can be found everywhere in Edinburgh…

Not forgetting the fact that the world-famous series of Harry Potter books were created in Edinburgh by author J.K. Rowling in the cafe, the Elephant House in Edinburgh.  The George Heriot’s School below is reputed to be the inspiration for the Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Harry Potter…

Take a break and pub crawl through Edinburgh to taste Scottish ales…

What took us by surprise was how much we enjoyed Scottish cuisine. For some strange reason, we had initially anticipated rather bland cuisine but alas, the Scottish larder of quality beef, lamb, seafood and shellfish etc impressed us both and left us wanting more. Three of the restaurants we tried and highly recommend are the Castle Terrace (1 Michelin star, affordable £24 3-course lunch menu), Fishers (Make the trip out to the Fishers restaurant in Leith, the port of Edinburgh. The food and surroundings of Leith are worth the 3 mile/5km trip) and the Dogs (check out the pictures below!)…

The Edinburgh Festival was certainly an unforgettable experience for us.

If you had to choose one festival to head to in summer in Europe, this should be it! 🙂

Experiencing 3-Michelin Star Chef Alain Passard’s L’Arpège

I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to have lunch – a gargantuan one to boot! – with Mr Hugo Desnoyer and Mme Chris (hailing from one of, if not the best, butchery in Paris “Boucherie Hugo Desnoyer”) and Mr Inada Saburo (my ex-boss and owner of my favorite restaurant “Chez Inada” in Brussels) at Alain Passard’s 3 star Michelin restaurant, “L’Arpège” recently. Sadly, Chee couldn’t join us as she had work commitments.

First things first, many write off L’Arpège as an expensive 3 star restaurant serving only vegetables.  To be frank, I was somewhat apprehensive at first but went ahead with the choice made by Hugo and Inada. It was a “risk” worth taking.  The fact is that Alain Passard serves what he describes as “la cuisine legumiere” which is way beyond plain vegetarian dishes.  For one thing, Alain Passard only uses vegetables from his organic farm located just outside of Paris.  Furthermore, the white meat served in the restaurant comes from Hugo’s boucherie. Due to this special link, our lunch was nothing short of an exceptional menu. Since I was too caught up with the great company and fine cuisine, I must say I did not note down the names of the dishes but hopefully the photos will do the talking 😉

Our amuse bouche and first starter (tartlets and spinach, confit of shallots and puree of sweet potatoes with orange)…

Followed by a few more starters: sushi of vegetables, velouté of fresh peas with foam of speck (a type of Italian ham), lobster garnished with marinated radish, as well as one of L’Arpège’s signature dishes, fine ravioli in a hot broth of root vegetables…

Moving on to our main dishes: Roasted monkfish with smoked potato as well as 3 dishes of milk-fed veal (from Hugo nonetheless!) each cooked in a different style…

Hugo chose an incredible, exceptional, fantastic, wonderful (you get the idea…) assortment of wines from the wine list (which I may add has to be one of the best wine lists in a Parisian restaurant) to compliment our meal…

And to top it all off, our dessert was the signature dessert of L’Arpège, a beautiful creation of Tarte aux Pommes “Bouquet de Roses” (apple pie shaped into a bouquet of roses) which tasted like…pure bliss…

I’m indeed grateful to Hugo and Chris for this memorable lunch.  Without them, the experience and certainly the menu would not have been the same. With excellent food and great company, what more can one ask for? Yes, just one thing, the presence of Chee…

L’Arpège

84 Rue de Varenne  75007 Paris

+33 1 47 05 09 06

Boucherie Hugo Desnoyer

45, rue Boulard, 75014 Paris

+33 1 45 40 76 67

Chez Inada

Rue de la Source 73, 1060 Brussels, Belgium

+32  2 538 01 13

The Best Crêpes in Paris

I don’t know from where/when/how, but somehow the idea of buying a freshly made crêpe from a crêpe stand on a Parisian street, biting into it as I stroll along the River Seine seemed very Parisian/French to me when I used to visit Paris as a tourist.

When we moved to Paris, one of the ‘goals’ I had was to find the best crêpe in Paris. I’ve since come to realise that it’s quite a mean feat considering the panoply of choices here.

From what I’ve tried and have been recommended to, Breizh café in the yuppy Marais district in the 3rd arrondissement, Le Crêperie Bretonne Fleurie in the 11th arrondissement and Ty Breizh in the 15th arrondissement are worth a visit.  Many also flock to the crêperies along Rue du Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement (though I must honestly say I’m a sceptic as I visited one of the supposed standout crêperie of the street, the Crêperie de Josselin and found the restaurant way too crowded, noisy and the dishes were almost literally plonked down on the table as the waiters hurriedly rushed from one table to the other. From another perspective, some may actually enjoy the buzz of the place so I guess it’s quite subjective…) What I would recommend is to get a crêpe from the crêpe stand just across the street from the Eiffel Tower, walk towards the Champ de Mars Park behind the Eiffel Tower, sit down enjoy your crêpe while you people-watch and admire the Eiffel Tower.

Though truth be told, I’ve stopped searching for the best crêpe. Not that I’ve given up but I’ve actually found the best crêpe ………….

BOLLY’S HOMEMADE CREPE!

The fact that it’s home-made means that I know what exactly goes in, am assured of the hygene standards, pay a fraction from what I have to cough up at a crêperie and most importantly, Bolly’s home-made crêpes are lip-smacking good!

One particular recipe is the crêpe with ham, cheese, mushrooms with home-made béchamel sauce…

The mouth-watering ensemble of ham, cheese, mushroom and home-made béchamel sauce

Bolly makes it look so easy…

And here’s the BollyChee homemade crêpe – a joint production since Bolly cooked while Chee took photos 😛