We spend most of our summers with my sisters in the U.S. and we try and get away for a girl’s weekend nearby (meaning a short flight away). In 2016, we spent a few nights in Austin, a city none of us had been to and one that we had hear was hip and happening with an interesting food scene. We took an early flight and arrived in Austin just in time of lunch which we had booked at Odd Duck. The menu at Odd Duck changes monthly with up to half a dozen starters, mains and desserts plus, on the day we went, a cheeky $1 charge of beer for the kitchen. They’re mostly little plates which can either be shared by the table or eaten alone and gobbled up in a few mouthfuls. We decided to do family-style (because that’s what sisters’ weekends are for). The standout dishes from those we ordered were the super sweet corn soup garnished with popcorn and the parker house pig face roll which was a slider filled with crispy pork and garnished with spicy mustard. The puffy taco salad was unique and not the usual overloaded taco salads in chain restaurants. Odd Duck’s version was simple an healthy with the addition of summer peaches, feta, avocado, pumpkin seeds and greens. The beef cracklin tater tots was a modern take on meat and mash – deep fried crispy beef and mushrooms on top of mash and foamy egg. It was a hot day so we ended with the light cucumber sorbet which was sandwiched between sesame crusted tuiles. We decided to walk back to the hotel thinking it was only several blocks away and forgetting that it was the height of summer. It turned out to be at least 5 kilometers with hardly any shade so we stopped and had a coffee break at Caffe Medici then dropped but Voodoo Doughnut to ogle their spinning display of doughnutsbefore collapsing at the hotel for a afternoon rest with the AC blasting.
The next morning, we just had a coffee then headed straight to Launderette for an early brunch
In the time my husband and I have been together, we have moved to eight countries in four continents and now, after almost four years in Singapore, we are moving once again. This time, it’s back to a place we lived for two years and a half in the early 2000s when our son was a few months old.
Dubai was already a bustling desert city then with the Burj Al Arab as its’ iconic super structure. Today, numerous skyscrapers dot the skyline with the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa at 828 m), the world’s tallest hotel (the JW Marriott Marquis at 355m) and the world’s tallest residential building (the Princess Tower at 413m) all located in Dubai. After several despedidas (farewell parties) and tearful goodbyes, we left Singapore yesterday and are now in our new home in Dubai.
What better way to spend our first day back than to go back to the year-old Burj Al Arab Terrace– a 10,000 square meter structure painstakingly built in Finland and shipped to Dubai in its’ entirety to create a stunning restaurant, pool, beach and cabaña space abutting the hotel with uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf.
We began with lunch at Scape with it’s seafood-centric California fusion menu – a perfect on this sunny 39C day. From the Crudo bar, we ordered two raw dishes: the Hamachi crudo with Ponzu, pistachio, olives and capers and the Corvina carpaccio with scallion, nori, ginger and truffle yuzu which we had with some salads; arugula, quinoa, pumpkin seed, Feta salad and the endive, grape, Gorgonzola, pecan as our starters. We then shared the wild mushroom pizza with goat’s cheese and the Baja style tacos. After our light and mostly cold lunch, we headed out to some sun loungers on the beach and enjoyed the cool saltwater infinity pool where I finally took the chance to take it easy and just relax after the hectic months of packing and moving. It was warm but not unbearable and armed with 50 SPF Sun Bum, my new Armani sunnies (which I got online from Smart Buy Glasses), and a stack of magazines, I happily spent the afternoon sitting in the shade catching up on my reading and just taking in the view. And what a view it was! Happy to be home at last.
Healthy and delicious food is sometimes contradictory. So many places promote wellness and health and actually don’t know how to make whole foods taste good. Publicusin downtown Las Vegas is one of those places that gets healthy and delicious right. Their daily changing specials and whatever they have on the counter (it could be a quinoa and roasted vegetable salad or an open faced toasted sourdough with cherry tomatoes cheese) is always fresh and flavorful. It has become a regular weekend place for us in Vegas that when we do go, the manager already knows what the kids want to eat. I’ve had a delicious spicy black rice and poached egg bowl with pickled ginger, a simple sourdough and avocado toast and filling brunch plates on the weekends.
Coffee is fantastic (none of those cappuccinos being served in gigantic cups that then makes the ratio of espresso and milk all wrong). Plus, Publicus is a really nice place to hang out and get a bite or a coffee during the day, be surrounded by mostly locals and feel so far away from the lights, bling and tourists of the Strip. When you’re done, head over to the newish Downtown Container Park – a complex of restaurants and shops made of colorfully painted shipping containers with a large playground deck in the middle for the kids to run around in.
On the rare occasions that I fly back home for a visit, I make sure to go to restaurants I haven’t been. It’s so easy to go back to my favorites again and again but it’s also fun to eat at the new restaurants that have opened up in Manila recently.
Wildflour actually isn’t new, they opened their first cafe and bakery in Bonifacio Global City in 2012. It’s new to me though since I had heard so much about it but had never been. I finally got my chance when my cool designer friend TC took me there for lunch. I was so pleasantly surprised and impressed that I went there twice more in the short week that I was home.
What’s great about Wildflour is that aside from their massive selection of fresh-baked breads, pastries and cakes, they also have a full all-day dining menu serving breakfasts, soups, sandwiches, salads, pastas and a few main courses. (The menu might be different in each outlet, I have only bent the one in Legaspi Village) For lunch, I’ve had the moulesfrites and a chocolate tart. The next time I went for breakfast and had the bagel and lox with a pot of filter coffee and another time, I stopped by for merienda (snack) of a sticky bun and a latte. I always think a place has made it when it becomes my go-to restaurant and Wildflour is just that – a cafe and bakery that is perfect for any time of the day. You’ll know what I mean when you go.
It’s been raining almost every day for a week here in Singapore and the dark, dreary weather reminds me of Paris in the winter, without the cold of course. This type of weather makes me feel like having hearty simple food that feeds the hunger and warms the body. Flashback then to a simple dinner we had in Paris at Cafe Constant – the casual neighborhood bistro on rue Saint Dominique, a mostly residential area in the 7th arrondissement. One of the restaurants owned by ex-Crillon chef Christian Constant and the most casual of the five.
Cafe Constant has a zinc-topped bar, mosaic floor, rickety wooden chairs and tables set elbow to elbow which makes for a typical Parisian dinner. There’s a selection of wines by the glass, a blackboard prix-fixe and a separate la carte menu of bistro classics which are all reasonably-priced and served with a smile. Convivial, cozy and delicious – the kind of place I wish we had here but seems to only work in Paris.
For all the bistros and scuffed tiles in the numerous bistros and cafes in Paris, therehas been a proliferation of non-hotel restaurants still serving bistro classics but in much more sophisticated setting yet still offering prix-fixe menus. One of these is the beautiful high-ceiling dining room of the Mini Palais, located in the back corner of the Grand Palais right smack in the middle of the famed triangle d’or (golden triangle) of the 8th arrondissement. Helmed by chef Eric Frechon (from the 3-star Michelin Hotel Bristol), the food is faultless, the atmosphere refined, the service unobtrusive and the crowd more bourgeois than bohemian.