Archive | October 2014

Michelin star dining: Alain Ducasse, London

Have a throwback Tuesday post for you.
Unforgiveably overdue.

Rewind 2 years back when I did the Trans-Siberian and ended up in London to visit my best friend.
A whirlwind 3-4 day stay in London which consisted of mostly just eating and not a lot of sightseeing. Granted, I have been to London before.

Best friend organised an awesome treat, knowing what a foodie I am, had booked lunch for us a the Michelin star restaurant of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. I actually visited The Dorchester two days in a row – once for high tea and again for the lunch.

The Alain Ducasse experience, as it is, is very impressive. Service was impeccable. Most of the waitstaff are actually from France.

Enjoy the photo journey below.

Hotel lobby – this shot (I took) is actually pretty similar to the one that is on their website. It’s incredibly hard to get a frame without anyone walking through it.

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

We are escorted to our table:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Wine is ordered, of course:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Yummy bread is served to whet the appetite:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

This was like mochi bread balls: super light and airy:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

And fancy butters:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

First up, is the cold soup (fret not, it’s meant to be cold). The soup dish (shaped like an egg) is pretty cool:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Fish and potatoes for main. But these ain’t your ordinary fish and chips.

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Besties enjoying good food:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

And this dish was yum:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

We were seated closest to the outdoor window area which gave a lot of natural light rather than indoors where the mood lighting is more dim.

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Food was excellent and service was amazing.
Dessert was plentiful.
We had chosen a dessert each but were also served a petit four arrangement – we didn’t really need to order dessert.

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Little gold nuggets:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Petit macaroons:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

And chocolates:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

I had to try a bite of everything!

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

And these as well. And these were all the desserts we didn’t actually order!

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

I went for the chocolate dessert:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

And Em went the berry dessert:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Teapot servings won my heart, as did the teacup design:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Good times. Hard to believe this was 2 years ago:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

The cutest teacups ever:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

The dining experience was pretty awesome. But the food wasn’t even the best part. The highlight was going backstage into the kitchen of a Michelin star restaurant. I’ve only had 2 Michelin dining experiences – one in Tokyo and this in London, and each time, I’ve been able to meet the chefs. In Tokyo, I got a snapshot with one of the chefs but no entry into the kitchen. Here, we got to go a little tour backstage. Felt like such a kitchen roadie/foodie(?). Was a huge expected delightful bonus.

The pastry corner:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Woohoo, backstage:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

As Em so eloquently phrased it, I was as happy as a pig in mud.
Also got a photo in the kitchen with the head maitre’d but I won’t post that up but everyone was super friendly and obliging.

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Whilst we were seated near the windows, this is what the inside main dining area looks like:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

The cordoned off, private table:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

And to top off this wonderful experience, we got a little goodie bag to take home. I wonder if this is standard at all Michelin restaurants, because I also received a goodie bag at Rabuchon in Tokyo as well.

Some sweets to take home:

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Wonderful experience shared with a great friend.

From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester
From Alain Ducasse, The Dorchester

Am very tempted to dine at his Tokyo restaurant now.

Swimming WITH dolphins in Japan

Swam with dolphins yesterday. Dolphinitely an amazing experience.

So many wild dolphins. I could have spent the whole day chasing after them.

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Travel notes:
Overnight ferry from Tokyo to Miyakejima. Join the dolphin swimming boat tour. Boat takes you out to Mikurajima where all the dolphins live. Swim with dolphins. Chase dolphins. Repeat several times. The water was deliciously warm at 27 degrees. Air temp was 21 degrees. It got quite cold in and out of the water and on the boat as we chased the dolphins. Actually did this same dolphin trip last year but was unable to swim with the dolphins due to my burn injury. Was so happy to have been able to go into the water this year and actually swim alongside them and get lots of underwater shots this time. Got quite close to them as well.

Afternoon tea in Yogyakarta: Phoenix Hotel

I’ve been a bit disappointed that I’ve done so few high teas this year, especially in Japan. Most of my afternoon teas have been overseas lately. I just haven’t gotten around to writing up reviews. I still have a few from a couple of years ago (gasp!) that I need to write about.

On my quest to do high teas around the world, I racked up another one in Indonesia way back in April/May this year during Golden Week. When one thinks of Indonesia, I’m sure one does not associate it with high tea, least of all in the city of Yogyakarta. Stayed one night at a fancy hotel where we didn’t leave it for the duration of our stay. We enjoyed the pool, room service and the afternoon tea spread.

Afternoon tea was at the Phoenix Hotel.

Nice courtyard views:

From Phoenix afternoon tea

Nothing more relaxing than afternoon tea.

From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea

Fancy sweeteners: an assortment of sugars.

From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea

Interior views:

From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea

What I liked about this, was that there were two plates of savoury foods:

From Phoenix afternoon tea

I loved the food in Indonesia. Up there with Thai food.

From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea

Yummy savoury morsels:

From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea

Portion servings were perfect.

From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea
From Phoenix afternoon tea

The perfect scene:

From Phoenix afternoon tea

All round a very good afternoon tea especially so by Indonesian standards. Pleasant surrounds, good food and customer service was satisfactory.

Seeing Red: Hitachinaka Seaside Park

Ticked off another thing on my Japan bucketlist and went to the Hitachinaka seaside park yesterday in Ibaraki prefecture. A nice way to enjoy the long weekend.
Had timed the visit so it fit in perfectly with the autumn kochia season. Last year, my autumn trip was to Oze. This time it was to the Hitachinaka flower park. A massive spanse of an area dedicated to flowers. Key times are spring and autumn where they plant seasonal flowers for en-masse viewing. There’s a 10km cycling route and a ride theme park area as well. You could spend the large part of a day there. Spent about 3 hours there and still didn’t see everything. I wouldn’t mind going back in spring.

I came for the red kochias there and they were pretty awesome. Cosmos flowers were also out. Lots of people on a long weekend though but still got to take lots of pretty pictures.
You’ll be seeing red. And lots of it!

From Hitachinaka seaside park

Brace yourself for the throngs of people:

From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park

These flowers are called cosmos:

From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
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From Hitachinaka seaside park
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From Hitachinaka seaside park
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From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
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From Hitachinaka seaside park

These burning bushes are kochia:

From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
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So that’s where my shoes went!

From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park
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From Hitachinaka seaside park

The saddest fountain ever:

From Hitachinaka seaside park
From Hitachinaka seaside park

After a day walking around, there’s only one thing for it – an onsen.
Highly recommend this one: http://www.ajigauraonsen.jp/

Ogasawara: Ohama beach

Continuing on from the Ogasawara trip a couple of months ago, I cycled around the whole island and beach hopped.
This was beach number 1 that I visited: Ohama beach. It was like my own little piece of paradise. White sand and beautiful pristine waters. The water clarity at the Ogasawara islands is unlike any other. Visited by few people, the water was amazingly clean.

From Ogasawara day 2 – beaches
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Swimming bliss:

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Chilling in paradise:

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From Ogasawara day 2 – beaches
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Crystal blue water:

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Check out the fish:

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Hard to believe that this is Japan. Albeit, 1000km away from Tokyo. Will eventually get around to posting up the beaches when I have time.

Lunar eclipse: October 2014

Here are some of my photos of the lunar eclipse “blood moon” that occurred on 8 October.

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