Category Archives: Birthday

JOGJAKARTA Day 2: Birthday Dinner at PAK BILAL’S

Candle-lit birthday dinner at Pak Bilal’s home

We spent the rest of the day in our room relaxing after our busy Borobudur morning.  That evening we were going back to Pak Bilal’s home for an Indonesian barbecue dinner for the eve of my birthday.  It was drizzling by the time we got there around half past seven and we were awed by the transformation that had taken place.

Candles lit the walkway and a gamelan player sat in one corner playing music for us.  We entered the hut which was also lit with oil lamps and many candles and were led to the same rough-hewn table where we had tea that same morning but this time, the table was covered with a batik tablecloth and set with simple china and cutlery.  There was a charcoal grill set up in the corner where the smell of sizzling meat and seafood beckoned.  On another corner, a small table was set up with an iced bucket of champagne.
Soto Ayam (chicken soup) then from the grill: mixed satay, chicken in coconut milk,
prawns and banana-leaf wrapped snapper

We were guests welcomed into Pak Bilal’s home and quietly conversed sipping champagne while we waited for dinner to be served.  Our first course was Soto Ayam – a clear chicken broth with pieces of chicken and diced spring onions – warm and comforting on that rainy evening.  Terancam was next, a bean sprouts and cucumbers mixed with shredded coconut, lime and chili which was a refreshing and spicy salad.  Then came the different grilled items: small skewers of beef, chicken and lamb satay served with peanut sauce and chili kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), river prawns, ikan pepes (spiced snapper fillet wrapped in a banana leaf) and ayam opor panggang (grilled chicken marinated in curry).  There was so much food that we had to go slowly and have a bit of the satay and prawns first before we tried the chicken and the snapper.  Nasi putih (basket-steamed white rice) was served with the main course dishes.  As much as we ate, we hardly made a dent as the portions were quite large.  Thankfully, dessert was just fresh fruit – two mangosteen.

My birthday cake

As we sat and sipped our Javanese tea, listening to the patter of rain on the tin roof, we spoke of other birthday dinners and reminisced about wheres we have both lived in the last ten years – Paris, Moscow and Napa valley for me, Lausanne, Boston and Jakarta for A then together in Manila, Santiago, Dubai, Montreal, Marbella and now Bali.  How lucky we have been to have traveled and lived in so many different countries!  The dinner was ending but before we left, they brought me a chocolate cake and sang Happy Birthday and before I blew the candles out, I made sure to make a wish.

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Filed under Barbeque, Birthday, Delicacies, Jogjakarta

Birthday Cake

My son celebrated his 7th birthday with a football party at the Villa Padierna Racquet Club. Luckily, it didn’t rain and although it was cold, the sun was out for most of the day. His friends came over for a few hours and played football (refereed by my husband), jumped around in the bouncy castle and ran around the playground while us mums huddled near the restaurant terrace. Hotdogs and hamburgers were served from the grill (proper football fare) and a fantastic birthday cake made by Mercedes (one of the mums) was enjoyed by all. J came in the football kit his favorite team, Boca Juniors, and his cake was Boca-themed as well. A fun afternoon was had by all.

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Birthday Lunch at the PALACIO DUHAU

The main reason for our surprise visit to Buenos Aires was my mother in-law’s 75th birthday which we celebrated at the Park Hyatt’s Restaurant Duhau. Family members and close friends were invited to an al fresco lunch starting off with some champagne and canapés at the Palacio Duhau’s aptly-named Crystal Room where impressive crystal chandeliers and candelabra complement the marble floors and high ceilings. Guests started trickling in at about half past twelve and were served chilled flutes of Chandon’s Baron B Brut Nature Millésimé along with delicious nibbles of mini scallops on skewers, leek quiches plus tomato chutney and thinly-sliced Camembert on crispy baguette.

After about half an hour, we all went downstairs to the terrace of the Restaurant Duhau where we had asked them to set up one rectangular table underneath several large umbrellas to accommodate all twenty-seven of us. A linen napkin rolled in a silver ring embossed with a D was placed on top of a square card commemorating A‘s birthday with a collage of four photos. At each place setting were dark pink tumblers that matched the fuchsia peonies, her favorite flower, which were displayed down the middle of the extra-long table.

The simple lunch offered a choice of a crisp salad of lettuce hearts, slivers of Grana Padano cheese and shallot vinaigrette or Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon for the first course. This was followed by either the Black Angus tenderloin with a sauce of Patagonian Morels or trout with sauce vierge (caper, lemon and olive oil) and wild arugula. Dessert was a trio of semi-dark chocolate parfait with slivers of candied orange peel, a dulce de leche frozen truffle and a tarte fine of Patagonian berries. The food was delicious and beautifully presented – I had the eggs Benedict and the tenderloin while my husband had the salad and trout so luckily, I had a chance to taste all the food. Wines to accompany our meal were from Mendoza, Argentina’s famed wine region – a Terrazas Chardonay Reserva and Terrazas Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva. Service throughout was courteous and unobtrusive – glasses were refilled and plates cleared immediately.

The younger guests had their own table set up on one of the sofas and they were served meat empanadas and chicken fingers with fries followed by three scoops of ice cream which they finished off quickly so they could spend the rest of the afternoon playing in the tiered gardens.

After our leisurely lunch, Nespressos and petits fours were served then most guests exchanged places to sit around and chat with each other. Cigarettes were lit and conversations started on both ends of the table with family members and friends catching up on each other’s news and reminiscing about past birthdays.

Soon after, the two-tiered birthday cake was wheeled out with the kids rushing over to help A blow out the candle while the rest of us gathered round to sing Happy Birthday. Endless photos were taken while slices of cake,either strawberry chiffon or chocolate-dulce de leche, were given out with more champagne and espressos. Despite the heat, everyone seemed to have had a good time and slowly, guests took their leave until finally there were only a handful of us left sitting in the shade, talking until it was our turn to go as well.

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Filed under Birthday, Buenos Aires, Hotels, Restaurants

Pirate party

The last party of the holiday season was my son’s 6th birthday celebration yesterday afternoon at the Hotel Villa Padierna. There were 24 children who attended and they had a blast with the bouncy castle and pirate Poppi, the entertainer, who played “pass the parcel”, “musical chairs” and “freeze dance” with them.

While the children were having fun, the mums had some snacks and drinks at the adjacent bar. We finished at 7:00 p.m. where my son played with his new toys while my husband and I escaped for a quiet dinner at the Thai Gallery in Nueva Andalucia. I was too tired to take photos but our meal was surprisingly very good. We had beef in red curry, prawn Pad Thai and sauteed chicken with ginger and spring onion which were all delicious so we’ll definitely be returning soon.

Today is another bright, clear sunny day and although it would be a perfect day to go to the beach, we’re staying home to relax, read the papers and take a break from the last few weeks of holidays and guest.

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Birthday Boy

It’s my son’s sixth birthday today and this time we didn’t make the cake but bought it from D’Alicia. It was a chocolate cake made with alternating layers of chocolate sponge, whipped cream and dulce de leche covered completely in dark chocolate and decorated with almond Florentine cookies.

He still has his pirate-themed birthday party on Friday to look forward to then we’re all done with the endless celebrations and preparations that have kept me busy since Christmas to New Year’s Eve to Reyes (Three Kings or Epiphany) which is celebrated in Spain. Isn’t that a great way to start the year?

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Fiesta Mexicana


On the day we arrived from Marbella, I received an invitation for a Mexican Fiesta to celebrate the birthday of my sister-in-law at her home. It was a ladies only lunch so my husband and son stayed behind in the city while I went with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to the residential neighborhood of San Isidro.

We arrived just before 1:00 p.m. and were greeted at the door by the birthday girl, Silvia. The front door was draped with a Mexican flag and red, green and white balloons filled the foyer. We went to the garden and were amazed at the wonderful set-up she had prepared. There were five tables set for ten with a centerpiece of mini-cactus and chilis. Each seat had a colorful sombrero and already on the table were terra-cotta containers of guacamole, salsa fresca, jalapeños, mole and chipotle plus baskets of tortilla chips. We were served our Mojito and were seated along with seven other women.

Silvia’s daughter, Cecilia, and two of her girlfriends were busy preparing all the Mexican food for the lunch. For starters, there were quesadillas which we ate with the guacamole and the other sauces on the table. Warm black bean nachos followed and were delicious. While we were waiting for the main course, a mariachi band arrived and started to serenade all the women present and even did a special song for the birthday celebrant and for the chef of the day, Cecilia, who was still hard at work in the kitchen.

The plat de resistance came after – chicken and beef fajitas, lime-flavored Mexican rice with corn and a mixed salad. The food was excellent and the drinks kept coming which made some of the women tipsy enough to sing along with the mariachis.

After the band finished their performance, we were treated to the sparkler-topped lemon-flavored birthday cake covered in white fondant and cheekily decorated with green and red fondant chili peppers. Amazingly enough, the delectable dessert still stuck to the day’s Mexican-theme.

It was a very entertaining and original al fresco lunch which ended after 4:00 p.m. with everyone taking their ssouvenir sombreros and humming mariachi tunes all the way home. Feliz Cumpleaños Silvia!!!

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Filed under Birthday, Buenos Aires, Theme party

SENDERENS

Our first dinner booking in Paris was at the former Lucas-Carton restaurant of chef Alain Senderens, renamed simply Senderens. In 2005, chef Senderens sparked a gastronomic controversy when he renounced his three Michelin stars especially since his restaurant Lucas-Carton had continuously been rated trois macarons for 28 years. He wanted a change from the formal luxurious surroundings expected of a classic Michelin-rated restaurant and create a simple yet modern temple to haute-cuisine without the frills and the fuss and he has successfully done just that in Senderens.

The national heritage building on the Place de Madeleine has retained its’ original facade with the addition of modern lighting and a new sign simply saying – Alain Senderens. The interiors on the other hand have undergone a face lift of sorts. The art-nouveau details have remained in the Majorelle wood-framed mirrors and whimsical sculptured lamps but the furniture and lighting are completely new. Tables are sans tablecloths and set simply with a wine glass, a tumbler (as is the fashion nowadays), cutlery, a linen napkin and a rectangular black stoneware plate making a very modern Asian tableau. Over the traditional mirrors, an abstract light design is etched on glass and is noticed because of the constantly changing colors. The ceiling has been covered in stretched material to make for even more subdued indirect lighting – the kind that makes everyone look good.

We were seated as soon as we arrived in the front room. There are two – the one we were seated in and another one set off to the side. The restaurant was full for a Wednesday evening with couples and a few businessmen but there was noticeably no dress code as some were in jeans while others were all dressed up.

We had a glass of rosé champagne to start while we perused the menu and a basket of wholewheat baguettines were served along with some cold unsalted butter. Menus are printed and placed in a simple cardboard cover. The menu has six appetizers, three fish and four meat main courses followed by a selection of cheese and an assortment of half a dozen desserts. There was also a five-course menu degustation for 110€ without wine and 150€ with every course paired with wine. Since we were celebrating, we opted for the latter and left ourselves in the able hands of the chef.

Our amuse-bouche was served immediately: a small shot-glass portion of warm leek soup accompanied by a twist of filo-pastry filled with melt-in-the-mouth ham and slivers of Parmesan.

First course was crispy langoustines tempura-style coated with crushed filo pastry with a soy sauce and coriander foam dip and sauteed baby pak-choi. This as accompanied by a chilled glass of Anjou “Bonnes Blanches” 2004, A. et R. Mosse. The langoustines were crispy on the outside and soft inside and the soy sauce reduction with the coriander was the perfect accompaniment.

Roasted foie gras of duck with a fig salad, liqourice powder and almonds followed paired with a Muscat Rivesaltes Ambré 1995, Domaine Cazes. The foie gras was lightly roasted and the rich flavor of the duck liver was offset by the sweet figs and the wine although neither of us could finish the whole glass of the Muscat, finding it cloying and too alcoholic since we still had three courses to go.

At this point, we took a little break and went outside so T could have a cigarette break. Surprisingly, Senderens restaurant is entirely smoke-free. Tant mieux! The mid-degustation pause was what we needed to continue on to the next course.

The plat principal was a roasted Castillian lamb, piquillo peppers, peeled aubergine and a hazelnut-curry paste along with a Coteaux du Languedoc “Aurel” 2001, Domaine les Aurelles. Lamb is traditionally accompanied by aubergine but in this case, the roasted peeled aubergine was given a twist with the addition of the curried hazelnut paste, both of which were excellent with the tender roasted meat. A palate cleanser came next – cold saffron cream, lemon marmalade and a sweet red pepper confit.


Finally dessert was served along with a candle, which was a pleasant surprise as neither of us mentioned it was a birthday, although the Maitre’d must have heard me toasting T “Happy Birthday” at the beginning of the meal (now, that’s what I call extra-special attention). It was a creamy old-fashioned pistachio ice cream with fresh raspberries and raspberry coulis with a La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti 2006.

Espressos and petits-fours finished off our meal. Soon after, we stepped outside onto the Place de Madeleine, hailed a taxi and enjoyed a quiet ride back to the left bank, admiring the Place de la Concorde and the views of the river Seine. It was nice to be able to accompany T on this special occasion, not only because it was her 45th birthday but also to toast her new life after a difficult two years and what better place to do that than Paris.

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