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The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Cocktails @ The St. Regis Bar [The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central], Macau

Last month we flew my mum over to Hong Kong for a week, for a well-deserved break from caring for my dad full-time. We spent a weekend in Macau, because it had been her unfulfilled wish since she first visited us in HK about five years ago. We brought our capable nanny along to help with the kids, and each night after we put the kids the bed - a long process with three kids that involved older sibling(s) waiting for the younger sibling(s) to fall asleep before they could enter their room for their bedtime(s) - hubby and I would drop my mum off at a casino for a couple of hours while we enjoyed some drinks at a nearby bar. We were based in Cotai Central, and the first thing that I was surprised at was the lack of bars in the vicinity. On the first night, we went in search for The St. Regis Bar because I'd seen an advertisement card on the hotel room table, and it turned out to be a lovely experience. It was nicer than the only bar at The Venetian we went to on the following night. We liked the selection of cocktails available at The St. Regis Bar, and the atmosphere was more cozy and intimate than at Spirito Lounge in The Venetian. The drinks were delicious and beautifully presented, and the prices are far lower than in Hong Kong. Service was super-friendly too!

This was brought to our table shortly after we ordered, and it was unstacked to reveal more snacks:

How cool is that container!

St. Regis New York claims to have invented the Bloody Mary in 1934, and each St. Regis has its own version of the Bloody Mary. All versions are available here, and I ordered Macau's version, Maria do Leste (Mary of the East) which has tomato juice spiced with cinnamon, black vinegar, pink peppercorns and black pepper. Mini bottles of Grey Goose vodka, tabasco sauce, lemon and additional spices were served on the side to add your own touches. I loved it!

The Mario do Leste Bloody Mary also came with a chorizo and a savoury egg tart for a Macanese flair:

Hubby's first drink was the Ammolite - Scotch whisky , ginger liqueur, lemon juice, and homemade oolong syrup. Whipped cream and oolong tea leaves were served on the side:

Second drink was Citrine - gold rum infused with mints, fresh pineapple, pineapple juice. Such a bright and refreshing drink, and so easy to drink:

The St. Regis Bar is worth a visit if you're in the area in search for some evening drinks, especially for Bloody Mary fans.

The St. Regis Bar [The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central]
Level 1
The St. Regis Macao
Estrada Do Istmo. S/N, Cotai
Macau
Tel.: +853 8113 3700

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Sunday Brunch @ Clipper Lounge, Hong Kong

A couple of years ago, I read the book China Rich Girlfriend (sequel to Crazy Rich Asians) by Kevin Kwan, and one of the characters was first introduced waiting in the Clipper Lounge of the Mandarin for her clients for afternoon tea. This particular character was portrayed as a "special consultant for social climbers", and this is how she describes the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to her "new money clients who are looking to integrate into the billionaire class": "The Peninsula gets too many tourists, and the Four Seasons is where all the new people go. The Mandarin is where proper Hong Kong families have been coming to tea for generations... You must also leave out the 'Oriental'– we locals simply call it 'the Mandarin'." Well, I didn't know that! Of course, I knew that the Mandarin is one of the top five star hotels in Hong Kong, having had the opportunity to stay there for five days in 2010 a few months prior to our move to HK. The standard of quality of everything during our short stay - from the service (our family was personally escorted to our room by one of the staff!) to the decor - was exceptional. And we were fortunate enough to enjoy these at hubby's company's expense, because the Mandarin is not exactly the cheapest option.

Our table peered down into the hotel's lobby. Look at the massive crystal chandeliers:

The book was my first introduction to the Clipper Lounge, and I was happy when we were invited by hubby's relatives out to brunch at The Clipper Lounge. We catch up with hubby's aunt and her husband every few months, and we're always guaranteed a good feed whenever we meet up. Buffet is always a good choice with picky kids, and the Sunday Brunch at the Clipper Lounge offered a decent variety of good quality dishes. There were abundant seafood, sushi and sashimi, a roast carvery area, and cute little bamboo steamers filled single servings of various dim sum. The dessert spread of pastries, cakes, macarons, creams, puddings etc was beautifully presented in the center of the buffet area. We were asked if we wanted oysters, to which we said yes please, and a dozen fresh oysters were brought to our table!

Understated elegance:

Lobsters!

Various sushi:

Mini bamboo steamers holding single servings of various dim sum:

Hubby's first helping:

His second plate was a bit less full than his first:

A dozen delicious fresh raw oysters:

Pastries:

Various cup desserts:

Various cakes (and glass bottles of fresh milk - great for my baby!):

Hubby's choice of desserts:

I hear the afternoon tea at Clipper Lounge is excellent, and I hope to try it one day!

Clipper Lounge
5 Connaught Road Central
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +852 2825 4007

Monday, 16 October 2017

Easy brunch @ Le Pain Quotidien [Elements], Hong Kong

There's a new breakfast place that opened up in the mall downstairs from us, and we were pretty keen to try it out. Hubby and I are already familiar with the Le Pain Quotidien brand from our time in Japan and our trips to the United States, and it was interesting to observe how the brand altered its image to fit in the different cultures in the two countries. Now we have the opportunity to see it in a high end Hong Kong mall. We visited Le Pain Q twice soon after its opening, and we found the prices were affordable and the quality was good, presenting good value in such an expensive location. Service was friendly and efficient, and the food was delicious on both occasions. The menu had a wide variety, so there is something for everyone and every mood. The baguettes are really yum! The atmosphere is family-friendly, and we will one day soon have a family brunch with the kids at Le Pain Q.

Everything so bright, shiny and new:

Check out the size of our cappuccinos! Bigger than a soup bowl:

Frittata of the day (HK$115). Can't remember the specific ingredients, but it was delicious:

Spanish Omelette (HK$120) with chorizo, tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, onions and Spanish sauce:

Scrambled Eggs (HK$78), made with three eggs and done very nicely (soft, the way I like it):

Organic French Toast (HK$88) with maple syrup and crushed pistachios. I really liked this baguette version of the French Toast:

The Chocolate Bombe (HK$45) was so good, a must for chocolate lovers. The serving size is huge, even for hubby who has a big sweet tooth, but that's not a bad thing:

Le Pain Quotidien is an excellent option in Elements for breakfast/brunch/coffee!

[The prices quoted above do not include the 10% service charge.]

Le Pain Quotidien [Elements]
shop 1089C, 1st Floor
Elements Mall
1 Austin Road West
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2521 1377

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Brunch @ Gusto Food, Perth

When we were in Perth a few months ago, I escaped from the kids for a couple of hours and caught up with a dear friend over brunch at Gusto Food in South Perth. She'd warned me that the space was tiny, and she wasn't kidding. But the coffee and the food! So scrumptious with generous portion sizes. Plus, the service was friendly and efficient. I would love to come back to Gusto Food to try out other dishes!

Delicious cappuccino:

Potato Hot Cake, with poached eggs, oak smoked salmon, avocado salsa and hollandaise. This was really delicious, and I particularly enjoyed the avocado salsa:

House-made Crumpets with pear and berries, peanut gravel and yogurt. Very filling! The peanut, jam and yogurt made great accompaniments to the crumpets:

Gusto Food
86 Angelo St
South Perth WA 6151
Australia
+61 8 9367 3512

Gusto Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Anniversary lunch @ 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong

Hubby and I celebrated 13 years of marriage last month. 13 years! We celebrated in part with a delicious lunch at 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, a fine-dining Italian restaurant we first visited last year for dinner. The restaurant had a different atmosphere during the day, a more relaxed and laid back vibe, but the service was as attentive and the food as amazing as at dinner time. Our reservation was rather last minute, made the day before, and I was told there were no tables available, so I accepted the bar seating in the lounge. However when we arrived a little past 1pm, we were pleasantly surprised when we were shown to a table right by the window! We were presented with three menus, the a-la-carte, the Degustation 8½, and the Lunch 8½. Never one to shy from any degustation menu, hubby chose the Degustation 8½ (HK$1480), which contained five courses of deliciousness. The Lunch 8½ was more modestly priced at HK$480, for two courses, with a choice from three options for both courses, and an optional dessert or cheese course for an additional HK$100. The food were beautifully presented and had amazing flavours. Once again, an excellent experience at 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana.

Looks different in the daylight:

Delicious bread sticks, wafers and fresh focaccia, with fragrant organic extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar:

Amuse bouche of chilled sweet melon soup with melon balls and a slice of Iberico ham, a classic and safe pairing:

First course of the degustation menu, Marinated Tuna Tartare with citrus tofu emulsion and royal oscietra caviar. The tuna was smooth and silky, and the citrus tofu emulsion was a pleasant accompaniment:

For my first course, I chose the Marinated Snapper Tartare with seasonal salad, citrus oregano dressing and oscietra caviar. I loved the sliced fennel salad - the crunchy texture and aniseed flavour nicely complemented the tartare and salty caviar:

Second round of rye-type bread, warm and fresh out of the oven, and full of flavour:

We also enjoyed some delicious cocktails (HK$150 each) - Prelude (Plantation 2003 dark rum with passionfruit) for hubby, and the Negroni for myself:

Degustation second course was the Brittany Blue Lobster with braised matsutake salad and lobster jus. This was so rich in the umami fragrance of the ocean and the earthy flavours of the matsutake:

Truffle shaving right by our table for hubby's next course:

Third degustation course was Homemade Tagliolini, with butter, parmesan and "Melanosporum" black truffle fondue. Pasta doesn't get any better than this! It was simply adorned to allow each ingredient to shine:

Hubby's fourth course was the Short rib and beef tenderloin with whipped potato, red wine and plum sauce. The short rib had rich marbling with buttery flavours, and the tenderloin was tender and juicy:

My second course was Amberjack with clams, tomato and orange emulsion, and Jerusalem artichoke salad. I enjoyed the large juicy flakes, and the citrus emulsion brightened up the dish appropriately:

A surprise treat, our waiter whipped up Limoncello Sorbet right by our table:

It was so satisfying watching him serve up the sorbet:

I loved it! What a great palate cleanser before dessert:

Hubby's choice of dessert was a good one: Hazelnut and Chocolate - hazelnut crunch with warm chocolate mousse and hazelnut gelato. It tasted so good:

My dessert was the Tiramisu with mascarpone cream, coffee meringue and marsala gelato affogato. Enjoyed alongside another cocktail we shared, the Chocolate Martini:

Neither of us are fans of tiramisu (something about soggy cake, but ever since that awesome tiramisu we had in Venice six years ago, we've been searching for something like it. This was the closest version to that one (with a much more aesthetically pleasing presentation):

Petit fours! I love these cute little freebies at the end of the meal at fine dining restaurants, and I was sad to see many tables ignoring these gorgeous little bites:

Our waitress came by with a huge box of chocolates that were made in the kitchen, and basically told us to have as much as we wanted. And we would have, if we weren't already so full! I picked two pieces, and hubby tried a piece of all the types. So delicious:

8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
Shop 202
2nd Floor, Alexandra House
16-20 Chater Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2537 8859