So, who is the gourmet traveller? I was born in Manila. My food memories are vivid with most of them spent in my grandparents home – eating green mangoes off the tree, having fresh coconuts which we stuck straws into to sip the sweet juice, enjoying al fresco meals of grilled meat and fish by the pool. I also remember our Sunday lunches with the assortment of Filipino food prepared by my Lola’s (grandmother) cook Alice, from whom I learned many recipes that I still use today. After completing a journalism degree, I started taking French at the Alliance Francaise de Manille with the hopes of living in Paris one day. A year of French lessons later, I enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu Paris and left Manila in 1992. I haven’t stopped moving since.
Although I was already a passionate foodie before I left home, the three years I lived in Paris helped me appreciate good food and the good life. I completed the cuisine and pastry course at the school and earned my Grand Diploma. At the same time, I also did several internships, a month-long stay in Cognac, harvesting grapes and learning about eau-de-vie from Remy Martin, followed by several more weeks in Bordeaux learning about wines and in Reims learning about champagne from Krug and Piper Heidsieck. I also started working in the kitchens of Le Crillon (Christian Constant was the head chef at that time) and continued my French at the Sorbonne. I then moved to Napa for half a year to complete two internships at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville and another at the kitchen of Auberge du Soleil. Living in Napa brought the importance of farm-to-table eating with the abundance of fresh produce available making Napa, along with Paris, one of my favorite places in the world.
More travels followed after Napa – three years in post-perestroika Moscow when living there was still an adventure and finding fresh fruits and vegetables was still a challenge. There I learned, that one makes do with what one has and somehow I was able to create simple meals in my Russian-standard kitchen – homemade pizzas and even eggs Benedict with freshly-made Hollandaise. After several years in Moscow, I went back home to Manila and opened my restaurant – Beluga Bar and Bistro – with a chef friend who was at university with me and who had just come back home after finishing at the Culinary Institute of America. Beluga was the first restaurant in Manila that integrated fine wines with modern cuisine with a private cellar dining room, showcasing over 200 wines from all over the world (it helped that my mom was in the wine business and has been an importer of fine wines since 1979). It was a fantastic time and a great learning experience.
Soon after, I met my Argentine husband, who shared the same passion for food and wines. We traveled together to Bordeaux for the VinExpo and to Napa for the Mondavi Summer Jazz Festival. In 2000, we had a springtime wedding in Napa followed by a reception lunch at the Auberge de Soleil (back to where it all began for me as an intern) accompanied by more than a hundred family and friends from all over the world where we enjoyed Bollinger champagne and Robert Mondavi wines overlooking the vineyards.
Married life and more travel ensued. We spent a few years living in Santiago de Chile where our son was born, then my hotelier husband was posted to Dubai where we lived for a couple of years. Montreal followed where we spent a year and a bit, then it was off to southern Spain where we enjoyed the fantastic weather and laid-back lifestyle for four years (our longest posting so far). There, our family grew to include a daughter. After Marbella, we moved back to southeast Asia to Bali where we spent a couple of years living the island life. From the Island of the Gods, Bali, we moved to the Island of Enchantment, Puerto Rico, for another posting and an exciting luxury hotel opening on beautiful Dorado Beach. After a year and half in the Caribbean, we moved back to southeast Asia to the island city and bright lights of Singapore where we have been for the last two and a half years.
The constant traveling and relocating that comes with being an ex-pat encouraged me to start something I could bring with me whenever and wherever we packed up and moved to. In March 2007, I started chronicling my food and travel experiences with my blog Travels with a Gourmet. Since then, I’ve been writing about my travels, offering restaurant recommendations, sharing recipes and giving tips and tricks to settling in the many different countries we have lived and enjoying the many different places we have visited. Luckily, I made lots of friends from all over and hopefully inspired others to travel more, eat more and discover more places. Here’s hoping that your travels are always interesting and always filled with gourmet adventures.
N.B. Updated on 24 May 2016