quail egg breakfast

quail egg breakfast

For a special occasion such as New Years, or just for a lovely weekend brunch or breakfast, try quail eggs instead. Here a selection of breakfast favorites, just smaller and all on one plate:

eggs benedict with prosciutto and poached eggs

boiled eggs

omelette with mini porcini mushrooms and fresh herbs

fried egg

Enjoy!


baked goat cheese salad

baked goat cheese salad

An easy salad with great taste and quite the wow effect:

On lettuce with balsamic reduction, walnuts, cranberries and pink pepper serve a baked goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto, topped with a spoonful of cranberry marmalade.

Bake the cheese in the oven for about 3-5 minutes to warm it through, and then with top heat for a minute or two to let it bubble up a bit before serving it immediately.

Buon appetit!


Walnut Rosemary Bread


Walnut Rosemary Bread

Ingredients – makes 2 loaves:

325 grams bread flour
200 ml water
25 ml olive oil, extra virgin
16 grams dry yeast
30 grams chopped walnuts
2 – 3 teaspoons dried rosemary
sea salt & green and pink pepper

Instructions:

Knead all the ingredients together, let the dough rise for 2 hours and knead it through again; or put all the ingredients into a bread maker (setting artisan bread) for the knead, rise and knead, rise cycle.

Take the dough and put it in a lightly oiled bowl and (covered with plastic foil) let it rise in a warm place for another 10 – 12 hours.

Make 2 loaves (round or baguette shaped – slash the top, if desired) and bake in the oven with a bowl of water at 220 degrees Celsius for 35 – 40 minutes until the crust is crisp and golden. Let the breads cool down a bit and serve with fresh slightly salted butter, olive oil for dipping or cheese and cold cuts.

Enjoy!


gruyère thyme gougères


gruyère thyme gougères

Hot Gruyere Thyme Gougères

Ingredients for 24-28 gougères:

1 cup hot water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 Teaspoon of dried and finely ground Thyme

Instructions:

Combine the water, butter, salt and sugar, and heat until the butter is melted. Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a firm ball and breaks away from the edges of the pan. Remove the dough from the pan and beat in the eggs, one by one until the “pâte à choux”is  firm, smooth and waxy.

Add the cheese, mustard and the thyme to the pâte à choux and blend thoroughly. Butter a baking sheet and drop the dough by spoonfuls, or press through the plain tube of a pastry bag, making small round mounds on the sheets.

Sprinkle with a little additional cheese.

Bake in a 150°C oven for Abut 35 to 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the gougère to dry out in the oven for a few minutes before removing them to prevent them from weeping — that is, showing drops of moisture.

Serve the gougères hot – they are wonderful with a glass of champagne.


white poppy ice cream

white poppy ice cream

White Poppy Ice Cream:

For 8 servings:

¼ cup of paste of ground white poppy seeds
2 cups of milk
2/3 cups of heavy whipping cream
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup of sugar

Mix the poppy paste with the milk and the heavy cream. In a saucepan heat the mixture and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with a mixer mix egg yolks and sugar until fluffy. Add the poppy mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon. Return mixture to the saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the custard thickens and coats the spoon. Do not boil!

Strain custard into a clean bowl and refrigerate until cold. Process custard in ice cream maker or put in the freezer and stir every 30 minutes until frozen.


pate sablee cookies


pate sablee cookies

Pate Sablee Cookies

Ingredients:

125 grams of flour “00”
100 grams of butter, cut into small pieces, slightly softened
50 grams of icing sugar
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
dark chocolate, sugar and almond slivers for decorating

Instructions:

Mix the flour with the salt and icing sugar. Gently work in the butter and the egg yolk with your fingertips until completely smooth.

Wrapped in cling film, let rest in the refrigerator for an hour.

Roll out to 2mm thickness and create desired shapes. Set on a baking sheet or silpat. Bake in pre-heated oven at 170 degrees for 6 – 10 minutes until blond or lightly browned.

Decorate with dark chocolate, brulee-ed sugar or almonds.


Seafood Trio

Seafood Trio

Seafood Trio:

Mussels in Dijon-Mustard Saffron Broth
Garlic-Lime Shrimp with Parsley and Lime Dip
Scallops Seared in Duck Fat with Thyme and Tangerine Zest

And here the recipes:

Mussels in Dijon-Mustard Saffron Broth

Ingredients for 4 people:
1 kg mussels (250grams per person) in the shell, cleaned
50 grams of butter
3 cloves of garlic
1 medium sized shallot
1 teaspoon of pink pepper
good pinch of grey sea salt
1 cup of dry white wine
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
25 milligrams of saffron
2 – 3 teaspoons of starch for binding
Instructions:
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, pot or wok.
Sauté the garlic and the shallots until tender, but not browned.
Add the pepper, the salt and the mussels and sauté for about 1 minute.
Add the white wine and steam cook the mussels for about another 5 minutes, stir occasionally.
Take the mussels out of the liquid, discard any unopened mussels and de-shell the open ones. Distribute the mussels evenly in 4 pre-warmed bowls and cover.
Add the Dijon mustard to the cooking liquid and bring to a boil, add the starch for binding the broth.
Add the saffron.
Pour the broth over the mussels and serve immediately.

Garlic-Lime Shrimp with Parsley and Lime Dip

Ingredients for 4 people:
600 grams of large shrimp
¼ cup of olive oil
juice of 2 limes
5 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of ground pink and green pepper
small bunch of flat leave parsley (fresh) – chopped with 4 sprigs preserved for decorating.
pinch of grey sea salt
Instructions:
Make a marinade with 2/3 of the ¼ cup of olive oil, juice of 1 lime, the garlic (peeled, crushed and roughly chopped) and the teaspoon of pepper .
Marinade cleaned and de-veined shrimp for at least 1 hour, but no more than 3.
Heat the rest of the olive oil in a pan.
Sauté the shrimp until tender, about 2 minutes. Set on the plates for serving, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and decorate with the parsley sprigs.
Add the juice of the second lime and the sea salt to the pan and let it boil up for a few seconds. Pour in little dipping dishes with the shrimp and swerve immediately.

Scallops Seared in Duck Fat with Thyme and Tangerine Zest

Ingredients for 4 people:
3 – 4 tablespoons of duck fat
zest of 1 tangerine
1 teaspoon of chopped thyme (fresh)
12 medium-sized scallops, cleaned and out of the shell
Instructions:
Heat the duck fat in a medium size pan, large enough for all the scallops.
Sauté the scallops until tender and lightly browned on both sides, about 3 – 4 minutes depending on the size of the scallops.
Plate and sprinkle with the thyme and tangerine zest. Serve immediately.
Wine Pairing:
Use the same dry white wine used for the mussels, ideally a Soave or Sauvignon Blanc.

La Cucina di Cariya

I am cooking again – it was about time!

After having had a few too many bad dinners in Venice, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I invited friends over and cooked a nice 12-course dinner with wine pairing to find out, if I can compete. It seemed like I can (I am very happy and thrilled about the very positive feedback – thank you, Guys!)

To formalize things, I put some information together on facebook – please take a look and let me know if you “like” it! http://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Cucina-di-Cariya/116937698386078

Thank you and see you soon at my table!


il Ballo del Doge

palazzo Pisani Moretta

A lot has been written about il Ballo del Doge in Venice. It is put on by costume designer Antonia Sauter and was celebrated for the 18th time this year.

Pisani Moretta, the palace in which the event is taking place, is gorgeous and the costumes, worn by the guests and mostly created in Mrs. Sauter’s Atelier in Venice, are the best and most beautiful anywhere to be seen during Carnevale – no doubt!

The artists are also of high caliber and the performances well worth watching.

Now then, why am I not in complete awe like so many of my fellow reviewers?!

Maybe, because of the incredible high expectations, created by labels such as Vanity Fair’s “the most exclusive ball  in the world”. And indeed, my expectations were high, justifiably I think, for the price of 600 Euros for a few hours of a post-dinner event.

I decided to skip the dinner, which would have added another 600 Euros to the bill, and also the half hour VIP event prior, which came for the price of another 300 Euros. I am not sure, what could happen that would make 30 minutes worth 300 Euros – that is 10 Euros a minute – so I can’t comment if it would have been money well spent.

Either way, arriving at quarter past midnight – the post-dinner part was supposed to start at 11pm – we still found ourselves in the setting of the dinner debris as part of the stage for the post-dinner performance.

While not being able to comment on the quality of the food, seeing the labels of the wines, which were served, I can safely say that I don’t regret not having spent 600 Euros on the dinner though.

The performers were of really good quality, but the moderator, while definitely cute and dazzling, could have benefitted from a little more practice.

The other point of confusion for me was the arrangement of the performances. While good – I have to repeat myself again – I wasn’t sure, why people dressed to the nines want to stand around for 1.5 hours and watch 5 back to back performances covering opera, magic and burlesque.

Entertainment is a crucial part of any event, but to make the guests mere onlookers seemed to underutilize the tremendous effort people put into their appearances, clearly meant to be looked at, not just for only watching others.

Downstairs, where the actual party was supposed to happen, a very mediocre DJ was playing outdated music. And no, relabeling it retro or classic, wouldn’t do the trick here…

And this assessment is not just based on my opinion. The dance floor, while packed, wasn’t throbbing with happy dancers, but because there was no other place to stand. To be fair, the clothes require about 5 times more space per person than anyone usually would, and the lack of room is a natural side effect.

The animation dancers were ok, but the almost naked male unicorn on stilts with fur over the crucial parts got a little stale after crossing the dance floor for the 3rd time – some people did seem to enjoy the petting though…

Other challenges in my opinion were that certain drinks ran out at 1pm, the bathrooms were in pretty rough shape and had no attendants, and that the party was declared over by 3.15 instead of the advertised 4am.

All in all, it was a worthwhile experience though and the price is justified for what was on display. With some tweaking, good could also have been great – after 18 years smaller glitches should have been ironed out by now. Or maybe the attention to detail is getting lost after the initial excitement. Either way, while definitely an impressive show, I am not sure, if it is best in the world. I am glad, I went, but I don’t think I need to go back next year.

However, for amazingly stunning costumes, Antonia Sauter Atelier will definitely be my first choice! And please remember, this is just my assessment, I am incredible picky and even though, in my opinion not everything was perfect, il Ballo del Doge is worth a visit, at least once, to have seen it – I am glad I did!


the best hotel in the world?


the Vanya Vilas Resort in Ranthambhore

Well, what can I say…? Usually I only blog about the most amazing places that I completely love and the Vanya Vilas is certainly not a bad a hotel.

However, the best hotel in the world? I don’t quite think so!

Maybe due to the extra high expectations, the things that were not quite up to par were even more obvious. It certainly has some 5 star qualities, but a long way to go to claim the title of the best hotel.

Problem no. 1 is the location, which obviously can’t (and shouldn’t) be changed: tigers need to be where they have some peace and quiet and that most certainly can’t be next to a busy airport. However for the traveler, who needs to reach the resort, this means a flight to Jaipur and then a 3.5 hour drive to Ranthambhore.

El Bulli is not exactly easy to get to either and that therefore should not be held against any esteemed establishment. However bouncing around on Indian dirt roads for 160 kilometers is not necessarily adding to the fun.

Once arrived, the gates are inviting and gorgeous and the hotel main area is quite nice. Drop dead, “Oh my God!”, I never saw anything so beautiful in my life beautiful? No! But not bad either. It looks a lot like the Raj Vilas in Jaipur and was obviously designed by the same architect and interior designer.

the tent interior

The tents are lovely and add a very nice individual note to the experience. They are generously sized (a good 70 sqm) and scattered over the resort that there is a lot of privacy. I am not sure about the tiger fur inspired carpets and chair covers though…

The food is good, but the prices are ridiculous, as are the room rates. Even for half the price, still close to $550, it felt too much. I am not someone regretting spending money on something great, but if I would have to sign a bill for over a $1,000 a night without any food, I most certainly would have complained.

The staff is mostly attentive, but has its Indian moments. Sorry, not quite politically correct, but if certain things can’t be done (even though they surely could, if one tried) and it is then blamed on all kinds of other circumstances, I don’t feel I am in a 5 star experience. On the other hand certain things were made possible that created a top of the line specialness and that also needs to be pointed out!

Back to the food: Deep, the head chef is fabulous, but he only has one dining room and a lot of demanding customers and unfortunately a lot of screaming children to please. He is extremely flexible, caters happily to his guests’ wishes and gladly goes out of his way to make people happy. Hats off to Deep – I would have happily wrapped him up, take him to Bombay and have him cook in a restaurant close by that I can enjoy his lovely creations more often!

The breakfast is mediocre though and a selection of 4 processed cheeses and 3 different fruits for INR1,000 (about $23) is a joke. That is the “buffet”, which also has slices of salami and salmon and 2 types of cereal, and in addition to the breakfast menu, which in total after a coffee, juice, some eggs and said “fruit cheese platter” sets you back a good $100, there is nothing special to say about that.

The massages are lovely and comparably cheap. A couple’s massage with milk rose bath afterwards is to be head for around $275 and the spa staff is very experienced and deserves praise.

What can I say, all in all: not bad, but certainly not worth $1,500 a day. It was nice to go, but I am pretty sure I can think of many other places I would rather go for that kind of money that I enjoy a lot more!


the Venetian Alternative

Palazzo Abadessa

There are many beautiful hotels in Venice such as the Gritti, reviewed earlier in this blog. Unfortunately those beauties usually also come with a rather hefty price tag.

A great alternative, as beautiful and special as the big names, but definitely more reasonably priced, is the lovely palazzo Abadessa in Cannaregio, just off Strada Nuova.

The rooms are comfortable and very Venetian, the staff is delightful and the breakfast  (included in the price) delicious.

Unfortunately there is no room service or restaurant, but a daily happy hour in the grand foyer and the free mini bar make up for the lack of those conveniences.

The location is also wonderful: close to the Ca’d'Oro vaporetto stop and the Rialto Bridge, it is away from the masses, but still right in the middle of everything.

The next time you come to Venice, give the Abadessa a try, you won’t regret it!

a room at palazzo Abadessa


The Gritti Palace

the terrace overlooking the Grand Canal

There are hotels and then there are institutions and The Gritti definitely deserves a “The” in front of its name!

Not only is it outstandingly beautiful in its old world majestic charm, but also fabulously well run with friendly attentive staff, which is not always a given in beautiful Venice.

The rooms are to die for – here a picture of La Dogaressa Suite – and well worth the rather steep price tag:

La Dogaressa Suite

But nothing is cheap in Venice. So forget all about money and let yourself get swept away by the timeless beauty of this fabulous city and have a toast on the pleasures of life at Bar Longhi or celebrate with a nice Michelin star dinner at Club del Doge!


The Pawn

The Pawn in Hong Kong

The Pawn in Hong Kong is a lovely gastro pub, set over three stories and featuring two distinct dining experiences:

There is the Living Room, the Dining Room and the Roof Terrace. The Pawn is located in Wan Chai at 62 Johnston Street and the place is definitely worth a visit.

While the Living Room has simpler and more casual fare, the Dining Room focuses on modern British cuisine with a daily changing menu, and both are absolutely delicious!

The design of the restaurant is very appealing in a “purposeful deconstructive” kind of way, which gives it a welcoming and cozy feel, but is still fresh and modern at the same time.

Check out their funky website for a taste of their style and feel: http://www.thepawn.com.hk/


back in Hong Kong

Conrad Hotel, Hong Kong

Thank you (and at the same time sorry) to my beautiful readers for sticking with me and for my absence recently! It’s not that I didn’t travel, or didn’t go out, but I had an unforgivable low, which I promise is over now!

Scusi, dear all – more to be coming soon on the beautiful things going on in this beautiful world:

As of now, I am in Hong Kong, back at the Conrad Hotel, which is part of Pacific Place, connected to the ShangriLa and JW Marriott, creating a fabulous starting point to experiencing this amazing city!

The advantage of staying here is that, if you book the executive level rooms, not only do you get your breakfast included, but also a 2-hour champagne (or whatever catches your fancy) after hour cocktail experience, including fresh sushi, nibbles and delectable desserts. All of it for free – or included in the price of the hotel, which I guess made you pay for it already… However, it still is really nice!

Plus, a gorgeous view of the harbor and the skyline of Kowloon!

Now, if you don’t know what do with your fall, book a ticket to Hong Kong and enjoy this most wonderful of cities at its best!