April 22, 2018

A very local street food festival

We couldn't have asked for a better day to celebrate Caslano's Food Festival. The sun was finally shining and the only testimony of the recent cold spell were the snow-tipped mountains in the background.

Over 45 restaurateurs and producers based in Ticino gathered to offer their delicious gastronomic specialties. The festival - only 9km from Lugano - brought together more than 15,000 people, quite a feat for the Ticino!

The Streetfood Village comprised a welcoming gastronomic square along the lakeshore of Caslano (population: 4,373) allowing the degustation of many different gastronomic specialties in a summer vacation setting!

Within a few square meters, we embarked on a culinary journey that invited us to discover specialties from Ticino and beyond. And if that weren't enough we continued to explore the village of Caslano, designated as part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.

Reggae music was blaring from the loudspeakers, prams being pushed passed crowds of young and old; all had ventured out to enjoy the spring and let themselves be carried away to some faraway place with exotic smells and foreign tastes albeit the producers claiming it is all home grown.

From Colombia to Thailand, from hamburgers to risotto, mojito to beer it was a true festival.

View from Caslano beach

My absolute favourite beach in Lugano

Villa Mainini: magnificent historical property by the lake for sale!
Only 8 mio Swiss Francs!!!

The view from Villa Mainini

Back to reality: home-made and groovy...

This VW bus won best truck-transformation in my book.

Venezuelan Arepas with ginger-flavoured proscecco and I am one happy camper.

April 20, 2018

The sunny side of Lugano

Lugano is the best spot to enjoy palm trees sprawling luxuriously along the shores of Lake Ceresio and its charm gets me every time. Let's face it: I'm here to relax, so I'll just grab a gelato and wind my way through the lakeside promenade. Come join me...

Parco Ciani, a lush park filled with modern art and exotic trees from around the world. 

Its water gate evokes the 19th century, when this was the private domain of aristocrats. 

The flower beds are organized to show off maximum color all year long

The Parco Ciani is Lugano’s green pearl and covers a surface of 63,000 square meters. 

The park is frequented by locals and tourists alike who admire the colorful flowers as well as rare, majestic and exotic species of trees.

Enjoying the moment with a "gelato" that fits the scenery.

Thinking about a boat ride around the lake as a welcome change to the Bateaux Mouches!

Actually, a "pedalo" ride is just the ticket for a hot, sunny afternoon.

Spot the "pedalo" with us foot peddling at full speed.

Lugano's emblem: Monte Bré. 
They say that the Monte Brè area above Lugano is Switzerland's sunniest.

A well-deserved rest... that bench has my name written all over it!

April 17, 2018

Cherry blossom cocktails

When the Peninsula Hotel requests your company to launch the Sakura season there is only one option... you cancel everything else and inform your hubby that he is accompanying you to visit your old neighbour. I do miss it when in early October the Peninsula Hotel in Paris turns pink in honour of breast cancer month and its light reflected a slight rosy hue throughout my living room and kitchen.

Sakura has become very popular in Paris this spring. No day goes by without spotting photos of the Eiffel Tower framed with cherry blossoms on social media. It has become a commercial incentive. I do admit I'd much rather do a pink Sakura season than a scary Halloween one. 

Back to my cocktail... and a cocktail worth mentioning it was! The Japanese bartender had been invited all the way from the Peninsula Tokyo to showcase his fabulous skills. He mixed his specialty and handed me his Cherry blossom cocktail to taste. The pink, gin-based, sweet cocktail was an instant hit.

While waiting for my second Cherry blossom cocktail to be mixed, hubby informed me that we had won the raffle prize and were needed in the next-door room for photos. Yeah right, there was no way I was giving up my cocktail but as I turned around to him with a big smile I realized he was not kidding. Nevertheless, I was not letting go of my spot in the queue (might I be more Parisian than I realized?) and with cocktail in hand we had our picture taken as the proud new owners of an exquisite piece of Japanese calligraphy that had been painted before our eyes earlier that evening.

"When the cherry blossoms are even more beautiful than embroidery that is happiness" I have been told is the meaning of the delicate piece of art that will find its place next to the Arabic character symbolizing happiness in our apartment... but before... just let me enjoy one more Cherry blossom cocktail.

The Peninsula hallway is picture perfect

Dress Code: a touch of Pink

The Tokyo Peninsula bartender

Cherry blossom cocktails are his secret weapon

Japanese calligraphy ceremony

An enchanted exotic unforgettable evening: Osoreirimasu (おそれいります) 

April 13, 2018

Putting on the Ritz

The Ritz Paris reopened its grand doors two years ago after a whopping four-year renovation, and it's now decided to sell off 10,000 pieces of furniture and objets d'art that no longer suit its shiny new decor.

The hotel has enlisted the help of auction house Artcurial to host an exhibition, The Ritz Universe, which of course I could not miss. With hubby by my side we took our lunch hour to browse through the various lots up for grabs.

Curated by Vincent Darré, the self-proclaimed Dandy, individually selected each piece from the Ritz’s archives, actively entering into the aura of mythologisation that the hotel exudes. ‘I let my imagination run free with this project,’ says Darré, ‘I conceived of it like one would a film.’ While his principal inspiration is ‘the way Paris would have been perceived from the other side of the Atlantic by Americans during the 1950s’, Darré has also produced a series of watercolour illustrations of each lot, as well as various hand-painted wallpapers which provide thematic Cocteau-esque backdrops to each suite of the exhibition.

We swooned over one highlight after another as we walked from room to room but the first bathtub ever installed at the Ritz Paris must have taken the prize as most extraordinary object on auction with an estimate of between $1,900 and $3,000.

Items from the Windsor Suite – where the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson holed up – are also up for grabs, though they’re likely replica, and guide prices start from just $50 for some lots. A gilded bed on which Audrey Hepburn lounged in the film Love in the Afternoon, and a bedboard and lacquered bedside tables from the Coco Chanel Suite got my imagination going.

So let me just relax on crescent-shaped ochre velvet bar sofas from the Ritz bar pretending to be Coco Chanel and drift off into la-la-land as all this luxury is making me feel slightly light-headed!

April 8, 2018

Open: A Boy’s Wayang Adventure

Today I'd like to share a book written by a friend of mine. Eva Wong Nava lives between two worlds. She reads copiously and writes voraciously. We first met in Paris where we used to ride the public bus to school every day accompanying our young daughters. She has since moved to Singapore and our daughters are taller than we are by now.

Eva is a very talented writer and has managed to bring together the rich and yet historical world of Chinese opera in the setting of a Singapore public school, exposing the thoughts, feelings and interactions of a special needs individual meeting that of a neurotypical world.

Open is a 10-year-old boy with a curiosity for life and the things that happen around him. He is on the autism spectrum and loves to draw. He is especially good at drawing monkeys. When his class is selected to perform in a Chinese Opera based on the Monkey King and the Journey to the West, Open must find it in himself to overcome his obstacles and boldly step on stage. A heartwarming story about friendship beyond barriers, Open is a gift calling to the largeness of our hearts.

You're looking at the back cover of the movie edition of the book. Yes, the book is based on a movie, directed by Raymond Tan of Brainchild Pictures. Although most people would say that Open is based on the movie, the author says it's an adaptation of the movie. That's because the book tells the story in Benjamin Oh's voice. Who is Benjamin Oh? You'll have to read the book to find out.
Click here for more info: www.ethosbooks.com.sg
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