My Life as a Tomato

Tomatoes love the sun. It’s in our genes. We once grew wild in Peru and Ecuador, in blazing colours varieties and flavours. The Spanish conquistadors came in the 16th century and were knocked out by our gorgeous colour, appealing shape and unique fragrance. They uprooted us, took us to their ships, and we began an adventure that made us world-class cuisine stars. We bombed in Spain. So they took us to Morocco and billed us as pomi di mori or Moorish apples. We opened in Naples as pomodori, Golden apples. In France, we brought the house down as pommes d’amour, love apples, and were given aphrodisiac status. They pooh-poohed us in the British Isles. Our family cousins, Belladonna, deadly nightshade, are well known poisons. Only our leaves are toxic. Still they admitted we were gorgeous and used us to decorate arbours. By the 19th century, we were superstars, the core of Mediterranean cuisine. Continue reading “My Life as a Tomato”

Chasing Happiness in Antigua

I arrive on a Sunday and head over to Shirley Heights Lookout on English Harbour to watch the sunset. The sounds of a steel-drum band are mesmerizing and suddenly I’m swaying to the music. The crowd on this plateau is in the hundreds, and there’s a sense of camaraderie and fun. Everyone knows that this is the best barbecue on the island. The aroma is intoxicating. I pass my plate to the grill man, and he piles on ribs, chicken and fish until I say stop, then with Rum Punch in hand, I squeeze onto a bench at one of the picnic tables and gaze out at sea and sky. “You’re a long way from home, Sara Waxman,” I say to myself, and I know that my vacation has begun. Continue reading “Chasing Happiness in Antigua”

Staying on Track With Your Fitness Plans

Okay. You’ve joined the gym and created a program for yourself. You’ve packed the workout essentials you need for the gym. You imagine a new, tight, sleek body for the summer season and a barely there wardrobe. You begin with great zeal and go to the gym regularly, do your workout and follow a healthy food plan. You see some results, and then, you slack off. It seems that it is never the right time: too early, too late, too busy, too tired, and then, you just stop thinking about going. Motivation has vanished. You pay your monthly fee and try to forget. Why? Why? Why? Continue reading “Staying on Track With Your Fitness Plans”

The Bordeaux Wine Route

The world of wine swirls around Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a style, a quality, and a symbol of status. The soul of Bordeaux is vested in the newly minted La Cité du Vin. Is it shaped like a decanter? What is it? We ask. In fact, it’s a “non-shape.” It is an abstract representation of the flow of wine pouring into a glass. Sheer brilliance. A magnet for oenophiles and for those simply curious about the alluring and iridescent mica and glass structure, changing colours as it reflects the sun like a glimmering temple nestled on the riverbank. Continue reading “The Bordeaux Wine Route”

Dining With Chef Ken Yau

Dining with Chef Ken means flavour bombs in every bite.

On any Monday night, when most restaurants are closed, a dozen or so intrepid young foodies, friends, lovers or strangers file in to Chef Ken Yau’s pop up dinner party. They are prepared to be surprised, educated and delighted with the food and wine pairings (or BYOB) as well as the company. With excellent credentials, a sense of humour and winning ways, Ken entertains, cooks and serves a multi course dining experience of small bites. His raison d’etre: cooking and sharing food with friends at a private supper club in the East end.

Each dish is a flavour bomb: perila leaf, pear, shiso leaf, salted plum, chili enhances the two tartars, beef and tuna, and fish skin roasted in green tea. A crisp puffy chicken skin acts as a ladle for beet, rhubarb and buckwheat honey. He fills a glass domed plate with fragrant smoke that flavours Swedish lumpfish caviar to pile on duck confit, crumbed with prawn chips and deep fried in duck fat. Ambrosial caramelized onion soup poured over a tiny bag of fresh parsley comes with perfect toasts with onion, brown butter and Madiera.

An amusing surprise is a small plate of paper strips scented with Yuzu essential oil. Breathe deeply and let the perfume fill your palate, then slide a fresh oyster into you mouth. Wow.
Between courses, Ken recalls Monday evenings past when strangers became friends and made plans to meet again. Or one couple who realized, while sharing a luscious plate of seafood, that they had much in common and began dating.

And there is more: cauliflower pureed with vanilla; butter poached scallops and king mushrooms, followed by a serving of prawns, calamari and jelly poached salmon. Ginger, garlic and burned soy add some magic to simple bok choy. We are expecting the unexpected for dessert, and we get it: panna cotta and a fish-shaped pastry filled with duck egg. In the spirit of fun, we’re offered a plate with a dry chicken wishbone and a small and a larger coconut sweet. Turn to your table mate, break the wishbone, and the winner gets the larger piece. But, in fact, we have all been winners this evening.

There go my Monday nights. Book direct:

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For the Love of Soba in Hyogo

With great anticipation I arrive at the impeccable Hoshinoya ryokan in Kyoto, Japan, and head to dinner. Seated in front of the chef’s counter, my host welcomes me and begins to prepare fresh soba noodles, apparently just for me. Humbly checking if all is to my liking, my waitress asks, “Yoroshii desu ka?” as my eyes glaze over and my mind drifts back to a long ago memory…of soba. Continue reading “For the Love of Soba in Hyogo”

Argentine Beef: Pride of the Asado

Argentina has more cattle than people. The “ocean of grass” through which cattle roam across the Pampas region, while endangered, is considered to be one of the richest grazing areas in the world. There is, on average, 10,000 square metres per cow. Naturally, the quality of an animal’s lifestyle and diet affects the quality of its meat. With freedom to exercise, they have less saturated and intramuscular fats, and because of their natural diet of grass, there is more vitamin E, beta-carotene and omega 3- and -6 fatty acids, which regulate fatty lipid absorption, decrease inflammatory processes, reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and improve overall blood circulation. Grass-fed beef also contains twice as much conjugated linoleic acid as grain-fed beef, which has anticancer properties and is proven to reduce cardiovascular disease. Continue reading “Argentine Beef: Pride of the Asado”

Food Not to Skip This Year

Perhaps, one of your goals this year was to eat healthily or to drop off some pounds. With a variety of foods to eat, making the right choice between what to eat and what not to eat can be stressful. What’s more, different methods of cooking food can keep you at a crossroad. You may love it grilled, fried or better smoked. Whatever your option, here are the best foods not to skip this year. Continue reading “Food Not to Skip This Year”

How to Buy and Taste Olive Oil

Olive Oil is the Essence of Mediterranean Culture

• There are as many olive oil varieties as there are grapes, and twice as much variability in taste.
• Italy has twenty different olive oil producing regions all with different character, taste and flavour.
• Italy has over 700 different native varieties of different cultivars
• The major olive oil countries in the Mediterranean are: Spain, Italy and Greece. They are the largest producers and the largest consumers, producing 4/5 of the world’s crop. HOWEVER, while Italy exports to the major retail markets, exports from Spain and Greece are overwhelmingly used as wholesale to Italian “blenders”. Continue reading “How to Buy and Taste Olive Oil”