Highlights of PURE: Tiger Blue luxury cruising Indonesia

Organic Pumpkin Soup-yummmmm…

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Recipe- Organic Pumpkin Soup from Six Senses organic chef, Sebastiaan Seegers

From Six Senses Yao Noi, guests regularly comment on a dish they won’t let him take off the menu – Organic Pumpkin soup – the most frequent feedback asking “what do you put in it to get it to taste like that?!” – his answer……..”nothing – just pumpkin, but FRESH pumpkin, just picked”.
The difference is freshness….

Here follows Chef Sebastiaan Seegers pumpkin soup recipe
Pumpkins 1kg, peeled, seeded, cut in 1” cubes
Butter 70 g
Fresh thyme 1 g
Salt 8 g
Pink peppercorns 3 g
Gently sweat on moderate heat all the above ingredients until completely soft, covered with a lid (do not colour) This will take approximately 45 minutes – stir occasionally to ensure it does not burn.
Vegetable stock 1200 mls
Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 15 minutes
Blend will in liquidizer until completely smooth
Pass through a fine chinois
Check seasoning, add freshly ground black pepper, adjust consistency if necessary with more vegetable stock.

Bio- Six Senses Yao Noi’s fabulous Organic Chef Sebastiaan Seegers

Sebastiaan Seegers – European organic cuisine specialist – The Dining Room, Six Senses Koh Yao Noi
Six Senses Koh Yao Noi’s Dutch born Chef de Cuisine Sebastiaan Seegers showcases his unique signature “European Organic cuisine” at the open air over water Dining Room of the hotel. Surrounded by organic vegetable, fruit and herb gardens within view of the restaurants’ generously sized tables, Chef Sebastiaan has no shortage of fresh produce with which to work. Pumpkins (see recipe to follow), passionfruit, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, watercress, asparagus and okra are all close at hand and are picked daily, featuring on his menus as they become available.
Sebastiaan has built up a close relationship with the traditional local fisherman of this beautiful island and his menus change daily depending on what they bring him.
Hailing originally from Holland, Sebastiaan has an impressive pedigree, having worked with the top echelon of the emerging famous chefs of the Netherlands. From the beginning of his career in 1994 untl 2010 he has worked solely in Michelin starred restaurants, rising to the position of Chef de Cuisine at Restaurant Savelberg in Voorburg (ranked in the top 30 restaurants of the Netherlands)
The opportunity to spread his wings and travel arose in 2010 when he joined the famed Le Gray hotel in Beiruit as Chef de Cuisine of the Indigo restaurant, where he remained until joining Six Senses Koh Yao Noi. An engaging and passionate chef, Sebastiaan is frequently seen in the Dining Room taking orders and customizing dishes for guests – another signature of Six Senses and Sebastiaans style.

Thai Chef’s Table- Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

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Mandarin Oriental Bangkok launches Chef’s Table

MANDARIN ORIENTAL, BANGKOK LAUNCHES BANGKOK’S FIRST EVER THAI CHEF’S TABLE AT SALA RIM NAAM
February 2012 – Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok has launched an exclusive “Chef’s Table” at its’ iconic restaurant, Sala Rim Naam. The first time ever by a Thai restaurant in Bangkok, our 25 year hotel veteran Thai Executive Chef Vichit Mukura, also of the popular national TV program “Best Thai Chef”, will provide culinary connoisseurs or simply ‘food lovers’, a rare opportunity to experience first-hand the “inner” workings of one of the most dynamic gourmet kitchens in the world whilst indulging in first-class cuisine.
The Chef’s Table, set in the heart of the kitchen, allows diners a behind-the-scenes VIP pass to interact with award-winning Chef Vichit and watch the ‘Master’ in action as he prepares a bespoke, exclusive Thai menu based on the handpicked selection of the day’s freshest local and imported ingredients. “I personally select only the freshest produce for the enjoyment of guests. Quality is paramount and brings out the true flavours of Thai cuisine at their best,” said Chef Vichit.
Upon arrival, guests will be welcomed into the iconic, Grand Palace inspired decorative restaurant by Chef Vichit to enjoy a welcome cocktail and being personally escorted for a private tour of the kitchen before being seated at the Chef’s Table.
Throughout this unforgettable evening, Chef Vichit and his team of expert chefs will constantly interact with diners and present the assorted ingredients for guests to select and then gain their input into the planning of the evening’s custom crafted, personalised menu. Guests will enjoy informal master class style sessions throughout the duration of dinner, and watch and learn as Chef Vichit plates up deliciously prepared and authentic Thai fare right in front of diners.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok executive Thai Chef Vichit Mukura

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Mandarin Oriental Executive Thai Chef, Vichit Mukura

Vichit Mukura
Executive Thai Chef, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

Born in the seaside resort city of Pattaya in the province of Chonburi, Chef Vichit Mukura developed a passion for cooking at an early age.

His career in the culinary industry spans over two decades during which he has worked in various hotels around Thailand (plus a brief stint in Japan) working his way from a cook to Chef status.  Today, as Executive Thai Chef of The Oriental, Bangkok, he is in charge of the complete process from kitchen operations to menu selection of the hotel’s two Thai food restaurants, Sala Rim Nam (Thai lunch buffet and set Thai dinner) and Rim Nam Terrace (à la carte Thai dinner).  Moreover, Chef Vichit is an instructor at The Oriental Hotel Apprenticeship Programme (OHAP), as well as overseeing the Oriental Professional Thai Chef Programme (OPTC).  During his time at The Oriental, Bangkok, Chef Vichit has cooked for Royalty, Heads of State and celebrities.
 
In addition to his responsibilities as Executive Thai Chef of The Oriental, Bangkok, Chef Vichit is also a widely-respected authority on Thai cuisine and writes regularly for several food as well as lifestyle magazines (Thai food column).  Furthermore, he has appeared as a Guest Chef on many TV cooking programmes, both local as well as international.  Chef Vichit’s family owns and operates a very successful restaurant in Pattaya.

An interesting side note, the Mandarin Oriental is launching a new Chef’s Table. I will post the announcement and information in my next entry. 

Pomelo Salad

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Recipe from the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok- Pomelo Salad

YAAM SOM O GUB GOONG GAI
Herbed pomelo salad with prawns and chicken

Ingredients for dressing
50 g prawn, minced
25 g chicken, minced
200 g thick coconut milk
8 g chili paste oil
3 g chili paste
5 g salt
10 g lime juice
14 g white sugar
8 g coconut sugar

Method
In a sauce pan, heat 50 grams of the coconut milk over a medium heat then add the prawns and the chicken to stir-fry until cooked. Add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to the boil then mix in the chili paste and the chili paste oil. Season with the salt, white sugar, palm sugar and the lime juice to taste.

Ingredients for pomelo salad
300 g pomelo segment, flaked
200 g dressing (from above)
40 g chicken breast, boiled and shredded
70 g prawns, boiled
8 g shallots, deep-fried
4 g garlic, deep-fried
16 g peanuts, deep-fried
2 g coconut meat, shredded and roasted

Method
place the pomelo in a bowl; add in the prawns and chicken breast. Mix in the dressing and toss well. Then add in the shallots, garlic and peanuts. Toss lightly. Sprinkle with coconut meat and garnish with coriander leaves and shredded big red chilies.

Sticky Rice with Mango

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Fabulous new hotel in Bangkok- the Siam

The Siam, a spectacular luxury hotel that has just opened in Bangkok in June, lives up to all it’s abundant  hype.  A Bill Bensley design, it is a feast for the eyes. Owned by a prominent family in Bangkok, I heard Mr. Bensley was given carte blanche to do whatever he felt was appropriate. I have to say it is one of his best efforts. 
Mr. Bensley incorporated four of Jim Thompson’s houses with contemporary elements ( Jim Thompson – fascinating American character that single  handedly started the Thai Silk industry after World War 2 and disappeared in the 60′s after walking into the Malaysian jungle- www.jimthompson.com. A whole subject unto himself.) 
 One of the owners is a prolific antique collector; a popular actor and singer, his collection is seen everywhere.  As a former antique dealer, I was blown away with his enthusiastic , eclectic collection. The hotel even has a screening room.  On either side of the screen is a collage of old movie tickets on a pair of panels.  One of the restaurants, with highly regarded Thai cuisine, utilizes one of the  antique Thai houses. Food was excellent and the setting was delightful. Located on the Chao Praya, in the elegant Dusit neighborhood one is in a more peaceful part of the city.  The hotel is planning to take clients sightseeing by boat- the Grand Temple is nearby. Another interesting aspect of activities offered at the Siam is kickboxing. The hotel has a ring and lessons for guests in their ample, enormous gym.  As a  guest, one can take lessons, and if you stay long enough , you will become a proficient kick boxer!  Hmmm… 

Walkway Siam Bangkok

Screening room, Siam Bangkok

Note the “film” border on the floor and the collage of old theatre tickets on the sides of the screen.

Traditional side of the Siam Bangkok

Personal Plunge pool, Siam Hotel Bangkok

The Siam! Brand new luxurious hotel in Bangkok. Wow!!!

Walking to the Spa- Yao Noi

Beach overlooking Phang Nga Bay- Yao Noi

Part of the breakfast buffet- a gazillion jelly choices, all homemade! Yao Noi

View of Phang Nga Bay from the Hilltop Bar- Six Senses Yao Noi

Mesmerizing!!!!

Ocean View Villa with pool- Six Senses Yao Noi , Phang Nga Bay

Sunrise view from our villa – Six Senses Yao Noi, Phang Nga Bay Thailand

Six Senses Yao Noi- it’s about the view!!

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Cruising the Islands near Krabi Thailand

Cruising the islands near Krabi Thailand

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Entering a secret lagoon- Krabi Thailand

Khun Annie

Best Butler I have ever encountered – taking notes on our daily needs. Number 1!

Recipe from the Thai restaurant Ritz Phulay Bay – Krabi Thailand

The best Thai Soup -Chicken in Coconut milk, I have ever tasted.

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Ritz Carlton Phulay Bay – Krabi Thailand

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Ritz Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay- Krabi Thailand

A little slice of heaven, I think this is one of the most beautiful hotels and settings I have ever experienced.  It was filmed in the movie Hangover 2 as the destination for the “wedding”.  Service is far beyond anything I have encountered, and Asian service is legendary!
Our butler is Kun Annie( Kun is a reference of respect), and I would REALLY  like to take her home. She sees after our every wish, from laundry to boat tours of the islands, arranging transfers to our next destination, trips into the village,  and as insignificant as how to to how to operate the TV.  She appears at  our poolside sala with pen in hand to take notes for our latest wishes. Oh my gosh. 
The resort has three restaurants, a Thai, an International, and a Seafood restaurant. 
We dined in the Thai restaurant last night, and the Chicken soup in Coconut milk was the best I have ever tasted. Tonight will be the Seafood restaurant.  
One other observation: the music at the pool is outstanding sort of Buddha Bar- Cafe Costes compilations. Recipes are coming from Phulay Bay’s French chef and I will post them soon.

Ritz Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay- Krabi Thailand

Stunning resort! Ritz Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay – Krabi Thailand

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok- like coming home

It’s the little things: being welcomed with jasmine bracelets
Orchids all over the room 
The elevator attendant that punches your floor without being told.
Being called by name by everyone. 
Ice, our maitre’d at breakfast,  who always has a plate of mangosteens and fresh sliced  mangos at my place.
Eating breakfast on the river- watching the ever vibrant boat traffic.
600 count sheets
Local fruit placed in our room everyday.
The hall butler who runs to unlock our door before I can fumble for my key
The white chocolate elephant with candies and personally signed welcome notes.
The pool beverages constantly being refilled without being asked
Smiles on every employee 
The night note on our pillow with an orchid
Bright lights in the bathroom 
Unlimited refreshing bath salts

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Pool

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Welcome note from the Mandarin Oriental

White chocolate elephant- yum!!!

One of 8 buffet tables at the Mandarin Oriental breakfast

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I am fondly looking forward to my return to SE Asia.

I have started to plan my semiannual return to Bangkok, another visit to magical Myanmar, and site inspections in Krabi and Phuket Thailand.  Myanmar is a really hot travel destination and I want to do a run on the fabulous Road to Mandalay- the Orient Express cruise on the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar. I also want to check the iconic Strand Hotel  and Governor’s Residence in Yangon. I am so happy to see Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake again. The people of Myanmar are so dear, and so happy to have guests again visiting their country. I am including some pictures from my last visit. Visas are necessary for Myanmar so I have sent off my visa application. One has to apply 3 months out. Weather will be hot and humid- yay!

Trip Report Bali, Koh Samui 2010

 
 

I have pictures of every property, so if you need to see, just email me and I will send them over.

May 26th Singapore Raffles Hotel One of my favorite hotels in the world. Still gorgeous. Amazing gardens in the middle of Singapore. Rooms have 14F ceilings, old colonial feeling, white walls with dark wood floors. Favorite area is Palm Court suites- Sitting room separated by a wall with open windows. Bathrooms: double sinks in separate area. Be sure to see the Raffles Museum. Outdoor Mall is attached to the property.  

May 27th

  Carolyn Tyler’s FAB villa near Ubud

Carolyn Tyler’s Villa. Not completed, but will have  two pools, a second house on property, staff, and 4 bedrooms in the main house.  Property is beautiful. Gardens are

Complete. River running along the front of the property. Will be a great rental villa.

May 28th

Hotels visited:

Viceroy- 5* property, large villa like rooms with plunge pools, heli pad, Near Ubud, on Ayung river, view of grass rooftops of the villas

Amandari the queen in Ubud, glamorous, rooms are large, bright and perfect with plunge pools, restaurant is divine. Spa is small but good. Amandari Pool on a rainy day

 Chedi Club moderate alternative in Ubud, rooms were beautifully done, big, property has gorgeous gardens, Spa.

 Uma- another good moderate property, health oriented, rooms newly done very bright, pleasant, baths beautiful Spa

Begawan Giri, 4-5 bedroom villas that one shares with others, amazing gardens, situated in the Ayung valley looking down into the gorge. Stunning

Ubud Hanging Gardens about 20 minutes north of Ubud. Perched on a very steep mountain, so steep it has 2 funiculars( trains). Good for honeymooners who want to chill. Beautiful views. Moderate alternative. I liked it. Orient Express Hotel

Four Seasons Sayan – stayed there lively, beautiful. You descend to the entrance for you villa. 5* all the way , service is terrific. Restaurant and bar have stunning views of the river, rooms are large as are bathrooms. Very private.  Spa is beautiful. May 29th Four Seasons Sayan Fab suite

Bali  West coast and beaches

Hotel Tugu Dramatic lobby. Done by a collector of Indonesian, and Chinese Antiques.

Pieces everywhere. Rooms were a little dark, bathrooms were small, little room for toiletries on sinks. On the beach, you know you are in Bali, good moderate alternative for beach  on west coast. Near canguu. Cooking school is outstanding.

Bali Homes Management- visited two villas both reasonable – one near Ubud, other on the water near Sanur. Very good rates.

Legian Club Seminyak – on west side of  Bali, across street from the beach. Attached to Legian. 5* resort. Club has access to all Legian facilities. Another moderate alternative

Rooms were beautifully decorated. Clean and contempory.

Oberoi recently  renovated. Good alternative on the beach side of Bali. Great restaurant big beautiful pool, gorgeous gardens, service excellent. Near the hot restaurant KU DE TA. In Canguu.

Intercontinental Jimbaran Huge hotel, people milling everywhere. Looked like a convention facility to me. You could be anywhere, nothing special about the rooms.

St. Regis Nusa Dua, Nusa Dua is not Bali to me, but it certainly has a lot going on lately.

Lot’s of convention doings. Everyone on our flight seemed to be going to Nusa Dua.

The St. Regis came highly recommended by clients, They loved the rooms , dining and public areas. Brand new.

 Four Seasons Jimbaran. Still the queen in my book. Service is impeccable, villas have the perfect size plunge pools. Living area is open, and the bedroom is closed for airconditioning.  Gift shop is the best. Three restaurants PG/s by the water, the facility by the pool, and an Indonesian restaurant/cooking school. Spa is one of the best on the Island.

Four Seasons Jimbaran View and Plunge Pool- Feels like I'm home when there!

 

 

                      

Koh Samui

Visited:

Six Senses more oriented to the health crowd- rooms were small, but it was crowded, so someone loves it. Restaurant was delightful. Probably would not be my first choice

 

Napasai fabulous moderate alternative and a happy surprise. Jeremie, the GM, recently came from Le Residence in Laos. He is passionate about this property. You will get great service. The pool is gorgeous, he has made a huge beach out of thin air. I hear the largest on the Island. Rooms are smallish compared to FS, but there is a big  price difference. They are newly done, and very very comfortable. Redoing the Spa.

Pool at Napasai on Koh Samui  An Orient Express Hotel. 

Stayed at Four Seasons Koh Samui by far the most glamorous property on the island. No comparison if you have high end clients or honeymooners. Fabulous and beautiful. Service as with all FS impeccable, Everyone, says hello and wants you to be SO happy. Spa is expensive but awesome. Views  from the property are spectacular.  Not opened yet the W, and Banyan Tree both supposed to be wonderful.

 

Four Seasons Koh Samui Plunge Pool- Amazing view!

Unbelievable Elephant Experience!

Bangkok is back-Better than ever!

Now is probably the best time to travel to Thailand- maybe ever!  Crowds are down, you can get a reservation at any great restaurant – and there are so many –  security has never been higher and traffic is down. Everyone is so glad to see Americans, and bargains abound.  The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is still the Queen-unmatched service and such a warm welcome! One of their inhouse restaurants, Lord Jim’s continues to serve amazing seafood with a great view of the entertaining river traffic.
 Other good hotels are the Penninsula, Four Seasons, Sukothai, and a lovely new one- the Lebua. Rooms go up to the 62nd floor- incredible views! The Lebua has Mezzeluna and Sirroco restaurants. Two of BKK’s tops.
 If you are trying to figure out where to take your next trip, call you favorite consultant and book a trip with A&K Thailand.  Their planning is terrific. They are the only company that will meet you at the plane and get you through customs upon arrival. They have a marvelous ground operation. They know all the good spots, hotels, shopping, restaurants. They actually go out and personally visit sites, and hotels, so it is first hand knowledge.

More pictures from Asia!

Breakfast at the Chao Praya & Gerry’s favorite Maître d’ at the Oriental!

Exquisite Asian Flowers!

The flowers here are so exquisite that I am thinking of planning a Garden Tour!  Let me know if you are interested.