Studio at the Standard. A star in the making.

torsten vildgaard at studio

Studio at the Standard Copenhagen, is an exciting debutante in the vibrant Copenhagen culinary scene. Created by Noma co-owner Claus Meyer and Noma alum Torsten Vilgaard, Studio aims to reach for the lofty heights of Michelin Stars. And they have chosen a beautiful historic building – the old Custom House in Copenhagen – as a wonderful launching pad. After negotiating the stairs and a short walk along a beautiful hallway of the old Custom House, my wife and I found a warmly lit, open-concept restaurant with a beautiful view of the harbour. The vibe was great, everyone looked relaxed and determined to enjoy a great evening. Patrick, the affable restaurant manager and sommelier, promptly greeted us, and sat us in front of the open-concept kitchen. They were the best seats in the house, as we marvelled  at the creativity and energy that makes this 40-seater work. Chef and co-owner Torsten Vildgaard was right in the thick of the action— tasting, plating and directing. Continue Reading →

Noma. The definitive Nordic culinary experience

Noma's entrance

Noma represents the pinnacle of Nordic culinary expression.   The love child of René Redzepi and Claus Meyer, the restaurant has transformed into a creative hub of Nordic food exploration and creativity – attracting international attention and fame. We quickly entered the two Michelin star restaurant to escape the snow, and we were greeted by a hearty chorus of ‘welcome’ from a group of young international chefs. Continue Reading →

Amaz in Lima – Amazonian cuisine

churos pishpirones

To those familiar with the cuisine found in the South East Asian jungle, Amazonian cuisine may, or may not come as a surprise. It comprises similar preparation methods and ingredients, including grilled bananas, meats and seafoods. I had just come back from Tarapoto, a city in the San Martin region, and had sampled popular dishes such as tacacho, and patarascha, which involved the grilling of meats and seafoods on heliconia leaves.

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Food Porn: a seafood feast at Iggy’s, Singapore

Oysters with Gilardo Red Cabbage

Dining at Iggy’s – Singapore’s award-winning restaurant that is on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants – is always a luxurious pleasure. Especially more so when I have followed the growth of the restaurant from its beginning. Recently, I had the privilege of savouring four sumptuous seafood creations. The oyster in Gilardo red cabbage with Cabernet Sauvignon soup was really impressive in its creativity, presentation and taste balance. Could have easily consumed a dozen… but the C.F.O. – that is my wife -reminded me of our sizeable mortgage repayments. Continue Reading →

Understated flair, untamed fare – The Ledbury in London

The Ledbury cover photo

Experiencing The Ledbury in London is like taking a hike in the wild. For one, traveling there takes you out of Zone 1 and into raw Westbourne Park (or Notting Hill, depending on which line you’re taking), where the streets are mercifully quiet and the grass in the gardens of the low-rise housing developments is untrimmed. For another, the typically cheery London weather (read: rainy with biting winds) made my girlfriend K and I look like a pair of inept hipster hunter-gatherers after the brisk walk from the tube station to Ledbury Road. Then there was the food itself; each of the eight courses on our lunch tasting menu took us on a sojourn, past bubbling rivers, through pungent loam, into the very heart of some unnamed countryside. Continue Reading →

Enjoying extraordinary wines with sushi at Shinji by Kanesaka

Some things in life are a necessary indulgence. Shinji by Kanesaka (of famed two-Michelin starred chef Shinji Kanesaka) which exemplifies the best of Edomae-style sushi, essentially falls into this category. In particular, when one is bestowed the privilege of having Master Chef Koichiro Oshino cut for you. The evening was made even more special as some friends brought along some rare wine gems for us to pair with the sushi.

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The Noosa International Food & Wine Festival (part 2)

For our second night attending the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, S and I chose to attend a guest chef dinner at Embassy XO, a small but chic local East meets West restaurant. In addition to the one we went to, there were four other guest chef dinners happening in town, plus a massive eight course, eight (celebrity) chef Mediterranean Degustation experience held at Berardo’s restaurant and bar. S and I had chosen the Embassy XO dinner because the guest chef in question was Teage Ezard. Continue Reading →

The Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, the most joyous food festival we’ve ever visited (part 1)

appetizers at hinterland tour lunch, noosa international food and wine festival

My greedy, gorgeous wife S and I have been to many food and wine festivals, in many different places, over the last decade and a half. We’ve attended festivals as speakers, as working journalists and as members of the public. Some festivals are rather high-brow. Others try hard to connect with the everyman. Many others fall in between, offering a mix of small, exclusive (which means expensive) dinners coupled with affordable experiences that can accommodate large crowds. This can be a hard formula to get right, and many festivals are still struggling to find the right balance. A few others, however, seem to have discovered the magic formula for food festival success.

A few weeks ago, S and I found ourselves attending such a festival. Not only has the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival (held in the small holiday/retiree town of Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast) perfected the balance between luxury and accessibility, it’s done so with a laid-back sense of humour that is utterly infectious. Before Noosa, I had never attended a food and wine festival in which everyone–the chefs, producers, participants, even the festival staff–seemed to be having so much fun. And for that alone, I would definitely consider going back again and again.  Continue Reading →

Bo Innovation

On my recent trip to Hong Kong, my lovely wife S and I had what was easily one of my best meals this year. We had both heard a lot about Chef Alvin Leung from Bo Innovation over the years. Some good, some not so good. Some outstanding. Which is often the case with chefs trying to push the envelope, i.e. trying to do new and very different things to familiar and classic foods. They’ll win over some very loyal fans who are totally blown away by the chef’s new ideas and his or her abilities to turn these concepts into delicious food. But this kind of chef will alienate just as many customers. And, of course, a good share of other diners will be impressed without really understanding what they’re eating. Alvin Leung is most definitely this kind of chef. And I very much belong in the first camp; that is, I am total fan. (Keep reading)

El Bulli 2008

My greedy but gorgeous wife S and I have wanted to try El Bulli for almost a decade. We first heard about this exciting Spanish restaurant in the late 90s/early naughties. In 2001, at Tasting Australia, we were lucky enough to attend an incredible two-hour long private demonstration during which Ferran Adria showed off some of his more innovative cooking techniques to a room full of journalists. Later that day, we were given a few minutes to interview this revolutionary artist-philosopher-cook.

While theoretically we’ve wanted to dine at El Bulli, I have to admit we never really did anything about it. We never tried making reservations or tried planning a trip. We just assumed that we’d get around to it one day. Of course, as the years passed by and booking a table went from hard-to-get to almost impossible, we started to wonder if maybe we’d been waiting too long. So, when a good friend — a restaurateur who is friends with Ferran — called me two months ago and said, “Hey, I’ve decided to swing by El Bulli on the way to the States in May. I have a table for 6 and am calling you first. Do you want to go? But…um… I need to know right now,” S and I jumped at it. And even though we had just decided to postpone a trip to Italy that we had been planning for September 08 to sometime in 2009 because we weren’t sure we could afford it, we said, “what the halibut” and have put ourselves into even greater credit card debt than we already are. (Keep reading)