Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Lovely Brussels Weekend (Part 2b)

So, Mdm M's best friend Ms.S and Mr.F were also in Brussels that weekend to celebrate Ms.S's actual birthday on Saturday. The Super M's of course asked them to join us for dinner that night at their favourite restaurant, together with their two sons.

We went to En Face de Parachute. I tell you ah. What a meal! It's an unpretentious place that is packed, bustling, noisy, and the food was sooooo good AND hearty. No small portions here. We picked off each other's plates, and while my chosen dishes were very super, I also wished my stomach space was double it's size so I could have ordered more. I am also very sad my camera didn't performed better as I really tried to take pictures of the very very very (I cannot emphasize enough) yummy food. But it just wouldn't rise to the occasion. Even editing the pics wouldn't help. Only one pic turned out 'ok'.

This was my starter. Boudin Noir (pig blood sausage) and a poached egg with truffle and cepe sauce.
I wiped the plate clean with bread.

And the rest of the food pics were just too dark and grainy and ugly. So I will just have to show you the people pics.

The middle pic is the group with the chef of the restaurant. He's the dude right in the middle. 

I had no access to the bill so can't tell you how much it was. Judging from the menu prices, I'd say a three-course meal here costs approximately 40 euros per person.

En face de Parachute is at Chaussée de Waterloo 578, 1050 Ixelles, België. Phone num: 02 346 47 41 

Again, to be continued. 

Next up, Sunday in Brussels. 

In the meantime, what I wore to dinner:

Jumpsuit: Some boutique in Shanghai.
Jacket: Mango, Barcelona.
Pin on jumpsuit so I don't flash: A market in Beijing.
On Super Hubs: All Zara.

The Lovely Brussels Weekend (Part 2a)

After our little siesta, we caught up with the Super M's again at the hotel terrace for coffee and snacks.

I love macaroons. These were very nice. Laduree-ish. 
But I honestly, truly, still prefer the ones that Super Hubs makes. 
I think his are better than both Pierre Hermes and Laduree. Not too sweet, and a gorgeous texture.
But that's just me. Maybe I'm biased. :p

And before I forget, I left out an important part of the day that I forgot to write about in Part 1.

Pierre Marcolini! Rated the world's No. 1 chocolatier and winner of the Prix du Monde. Godiva doesn't even come close. In the chocolate world, Godiva is ready-to-wear, while Pierre Marcolini is haute couture. Walking in there was like a dream come true. I was again too excited and jumping around grabbing (uber expensive) bars of chocolates off the shelves that I forgot to take pictures of the very drool-worthy chocolate creations. Here's me in front of the shop and the huge stash of dark chocolate I got for mummy. Nothing is too expensive for mummy :)

... to be continued again...

The Lovely Brussels Weekend (Part 1)

So this is a story about us in Brussels two days ago.

Super Dr. D and Mdm M (henceforth called Super M's) wanted to treat Super Hubs and I to a little weekend getaway as a pre-birthday treat for me ( I know, I'm so lucky, kan?). So, we took off early Sat morning. I was excited as usual. You know me. Anything that involves travel, food and pictures, I'm very game for.

We arrived around 10.30am (I thank god I didn't snore in the car during the 2 hour drive. I DID drool though, but that's okay, no one noticed) and checked into the Sofitel Brussels Le Louis (click click click for hotel pics. My photog skills couldn't do justice to the place). Ah. Such beauty. The lobby made me feel like I was in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. When I grow up, I want to be rich and be able to afford stays like this.

 I did manage to capture our bed and the Hermes toiletry.
So classy can die. 

So, this was meant to be a food-filled trip, with shopping interspersed. Super Mdm M and I predicted that with our hubbies around, shopping was likely to be quite stressful (and very unlike our first trip there), and this theory was proven in our first stop at a flea market. I for one love flea markets (or bargains of any sort), but with the men tagging along disinterestedly, we quickly sat down for coffees instead.

Thats the flea market in the background.

J'adore Super M's! :)

We drove around town as Dr D explained the sights. It was such a pretty day! The weather reports predicted rain but it was sunny as can be (and there was only a quick shower on the afternoon which lasted all of 20 minutes). It WAS super cold though.

Having the Super M's as our Brussel guides were amazing for (at least) three reasons. 
1. They used to live here as university students and could tell us the progress of this city that they call their favourite in Europe (after Berlin).
2. Dr. D is a very important member of the EU medical association and has amazing insight into EU issues and all the stuff happening right here in Brussels, and had me fascinated for hours with his stories.
3. They often visit their two sons here who are university students living in Brussels, and always always try out new restaurants every time they visit, so they know where to eat. 

Which brings me to our lunch. Such a fun experience!

We went to Le Fourneau (which means 'stove') in French. It's a cool concept. You can choose to sit at the usual tables, or you can choose to sit at the bar, which surrounds the kitchen. Which means you can dangle your feet off the high stools and watch the chefs cook your food. 

And the food was awesome-possum! I didn't take many pictures of the eats cos I kept forgetting, and only would remember after taking my first bite. Which really doesn't help because the portions are tiny and a bite would mean half the dish is gone. But that's the whole concept of the place. I guess they took the idea off the Japanese (Sushi bar), and so you kinda eat and also see what the other guests are eating. In fact, I ordered two of my dishes after seeing two other people eat it, and I just pointed it to the waitress and told her it was what I wanted. I love watching chefs at work (who would've guessed, huh :p) and this was such a treat. To watch them prepare my food and watch it go from the chef to me in less than ten seconds!

Here are three pictures that I managed to take. Which was about one-tenth of what we ate. Anyways. At least I tried.

This was one of my dishes. 
Cepe (a kind of mushroom) foam soup on 'moler' (1/2 cooked egg). 
So yummy!

One of Dr. D's dishes. Cod Fish.
So flavorful! I am salivating again.

I am personally not a fan of creme brulee. But this was out of this world! 
It was so light, not too sweet, and mixed with strawberries under: TO DIE FOR!!!!

Lunch was 150 euro for the four of us. We each had 3 dishes + 1 dessert, the men had some wine, Mdm M had 2 bottles of coke, and I drank most of the two (big) bottles of water.

After that (VERY HEAVY) lunch, Super Hubs proclaimed that it was time for siesta... and (surprise, surprise) Dr D agreed. So we trooped back to the hotel where I made plans with Mdm M to go shopping but canceled cos I fell asleep the moment my head touched the pillow.

... to be continued.

Next up: a wonderful dinner and day 2 in Brussels.

In the meantime, what I wore on day one:

Sweater: Kookai, Luxembourg.
Shorts: Topshop, KL.
Pashmina: A wonderful supplier in Shanghai.
Tights: M&S.
Shades: Coach, HK.

Friday, August 27, 2010


See you soon miiii! And we're gonna have you a three-week long birthday celebration, Europe-style! :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Daily dress - treasure chest

Unpacking my boxes from Shanghai was like unpacking long lost presents that I bought myself. Of course, these presents didn't use to smell of moss and mildew, so I've been spending the past week doing LOADS of washing (think 15 boxes of clothes) and praying that the sun will shine so I can hang them out to dry.

One of my fave boxes to unpack was my jewelry box. I've been sticking to simple pieces (that came with me in my luggage) the past few months, and was almost shocked to see my big chunky pieces again. I almost was starting to think that I was born simple and elegant, instead of the (real) blingy, gaudy show-off that used to wear the biggest earrings and necklaces (at the same time) in KL.

Mind you, my jewelry collection that came from Shanghai is not exactly the real deal. In fact, I have another huge box in KL that I think has some of my fave huge-ass pieces. Either that or I might have sold them off in a fit of insanity just before I left KL a few years ago. Hrmmm...

Anyway, I think the next few daily dresses will feature some bling. I went for dinner at Mahi again last night, and to reduce the blinding bling factor, I decided to pair my outfit with a jacket so it would be hidden slightly.

 Jacket: Mango, San Sebastian

 Jacket off. 
Balloon tube top: Eclipse, KL a million years ago.
Jeans: Zara, Barcelona
Neck-thing: Shanghai, with Megs
Ring: Some market in Beijing 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Daily dress - Panas!

Moving out the summery tops again now that the weather is at 29 degrees. According to the reports, this is only going to last two days, then it's back to 15 degrees again.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the sun while it lasts. Here's what I wore to dinner at the Mahi terrace.

Dunno why my eyes juling here. :p

Top: Mango, San Sebastian
Pants: Zara, Luxembourg
Shoes: Prada, Brussels
Bangle: Sonia Rykiel, Luxembourg
Earrings: Dyberg/Kern, Shanghai

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Luxembourg Loving

Yesterday I woke up to a call from Mdm M asking me if I wanted to join her and Mdm N to drive up to Brussels for a day trip of shopping and food. Who could say no to that? So off we went, and I had a gorgeous time.

Now this is one of the things I love about living in Luxembourg. It's so near to everywhere! Every single time you feel that you are about to die of boredom in this little country, you can just zip off somewhere for a day or a quick weekend, and then everything's okay again. Trier (Germany) is 45 minutes away by train, Paris is 2 hours away by train, Metz (France) is 20 minutes away by car, Brussels (Belgium) is 2 hours away by car and 3 hours away by train, London is less than 2 hours away by flight, Amsterdam is 1 hour away by flight... the list goes on.

It's also especially helpful to travel outside of Luxembourg if not just to realize sometimes how good living is in Luxembourg. No (or at least very low) crime. Spotless streets. Orderly citizens. Quiet neighborhoods. Multi-lingual people from all over the world. We who do live here are of course prone to complaining about how 'boring' life is, how stiff the Luxembourgers are, how expensive stuff is, how rigid the rules seem to be, but that's just the way life is, isn't it? The grass is always greener on the other side. But I think we all know deep down how good life is here. And today, I'd just like to pay homage to this very tiny country I now call home and am learning to love.

You can leave your car unlocked, with your laptop in full view and you'll come back to everything just as it is (of course, it's better not to tempt fate, especially if you park your car in a slightly dodgy area like the Gare). You can walk in the streets alone and not feel the need to hold on to a pepper spray in case somebody decides to spring on you.

Social benefits are wonderful too. And these benefits apply to every single person living in Luxembourg, not just citizens. Medical and dental fees are fully subsidized. I love that. And if you have a child, you get 400euro per month. Two children, 650euro. Public schools are free and great, which is evident in the fact that the normal Luxembourger speaks (very fluently) at least 5 languages (Luxembourgish, French, German, English and Italian/Spanish). I tell you, this is a perfect place to have a family and bring up kids. I think everyone realises that, which is why the entire city is teeming with children.

The mix of people living here is incredibly interesting as well. The city's inhabitants are 50% expat, and at dinners or gatherings, it's likely that a table of 10 people will have at least 7 different nationalities. This makes for very fun and lively conversations, with everyone making self-deprecating jokes about their own countries. A sidenote: almost every single time I tell people I come from Malaysia, the response is: truly asiaaaaaa. :-/

It's also a very peaceful place, and I think places have vibrations and can affect how you behave. When I was living in KL and Shanghai, I was prone to violent/ aggressive outbursts. Busy capitals do that to you. Here, I get lonely and depressed when I miss home and the people I love, but on a daily basis, I don't burn with rage the way I used to. (My improved temper might also have something to do with the fact that I don't have a stressful job anymore, but for today's post I'll attribute it to Luxembourg :p )

Anyway, enough la. Tired dy. The weather is hot again. I know I complained about the cold before, but the heat is somehow worse. I will conclude by saying that I know myself well enough to know that there will be whining posts about Luxembourg in time. But just for the record, today, I love it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Home, clothes and food

We've been crazy busy sorting out our shipment arriving from Shanghai, whilst excitedly Ikea-shopping and d.i.y-ing to make our home nice for Mi and Kesh' visit.
The weather's also been sucky, so to get my mood up, I've taken to prancing around at home in flowery tops while sorting through my 22 boxes of very smelly clothing, shoes and books which seems to have sucked in all the stinky scents from Shanghai to Luxembourg.

Top, MNG. 
Assorted small bracelets from KL and rose quartz bracelet from Shanghai. 
Earrings, I forget from where.  

Also helping to keep my energy and spirits up is my comfort food:

A huge bowl of wild rice,

topped (or rather flooded) with my home-cooked, Europe-improvised daal.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Capbreton and the best breakfast EVER!

 The Capbreton lighthouse. 

I love Capbreton. It is a small commune in the French Pays-Basque area, 40km away from Biarritz. It is quite touristy, but the difference is that it's tourists are mainly residents from around the area - families enjoying their weekend outings, fathers and sons fishing, people cycling, kids rollerblading - a very down to earth and rustic sort of touristy, if you know what I mean.

We went twice, the first time at night for some dessert with my MIL and JM, and the other time just Super Hubs and me for breakfast, which I shall get to soon. The atmosphere of that little area was buzzing in a very peaceful, happy sort of way.

It's a small little port, with sailboats and fishboats docked, and a small little wet market right next to the pier. When we went the first time at night, we saw the fishboats head out and Super Hubs told me they do this every night, and the next morning, they come back with the freshest, most succulent seafood to sell at the market. Each market stall owner fishes their own seafood, and does not supply it anywhere else. If there isn't good fish, then the stall doesn't open.

Fish stall overlooking the pier

That bit of information gave me an idea, and I bugged Super Hubs to go back EARLY the next morning, so I could have my dream breakfast. He wasn't very enthusiastic, but obliged to avoid any tantrums.

So, the next morning we arrived at around 10am, and Capbreton was already buzzing with people doing their morning exercise, walking, fishing... And I headed straight to the tiny market. I was nervous cos as we were driving there, Super Hubs said that because of the weather, many stalls won't be open. I scolded him, "Don't be negative! Touch wood!" and made him touch his own head. ;p

So cute. Such a big rod for such a small boy.
I stared at him for the longest time, and he was very serious abt his fishing.

Anways, cutting the long story short. There were not too many stalls open. But that didn't really matter, cos the one stall that I wanted was open.


And my dream breakfast came true.
The face of utter bliss.
Sidenote, see the empty stalls behind?

We had 12 of the freshest local oysters in the world for only 5 euros, sat at the side of the pier, while the many people who walked past us were amused and each said smilingly, "bon apetit!" I still remember the taste of the oysters, with just a slight squeeze of lemon juice - such a delight I can't begin to describe it. I mean, I love oysters, but these were just out of the world!

Even Super Hubs who doesn't normally eat breakfast was popping the oysters like no tomorrow and I had to eat quickly in case he took my share :p.

 Hmmmm. My idea of heaven.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daily dress continued

No more sundresses and the like. Weather in Luxembourg has, for the past week, been around 15 degrees, and the sun sets much earlier than usual (by usual, I mean the 10pm I've been used to in the past months). Now, it starts to get dark by 8.30pm, and I'm starting to feel very apprehensive about the coming winter. I know winter's some months away, but I'm a worrier, you all know that!

Anyway, clothing-wise, it's back to layers and shawls in bags. Here's my fave comfy beige combo (yes Megs, I have succumbed to wearing beige in my beige city!):

 Cardigan and light cotton top, both kookai. 
Cigarette pants, ZARA
Ring, Tiffany & co

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Of Labenne and the 90-yr old

Labenne is what they call a 'sauvage' beach, with 'sauvage' meaning 'wild waters'. Visitors here are mainly experienced surfers who dare the scary waves and tempt their fates as there are no lifeguards to save them if anything should happen. The waves are normally ferocious, and even if they aren't, the undercurrents are deadly, and no normal person would actually go swimming in them.

We went cos it was the least populated (and in my opinion, most beautiful) beach in the area, so our beach buddy, Oliver, would be able to play in peace.

Oliver is 90-years old (15 in real years), and watched William grow up. He can't see too well anymore, but he's still energetic, frisky and thinks of himself as a young man. He'd place himself in front of us every single time a (bigger and much younger dog) would be in the vicinity and growl at them menacingly, as if daring them to come close to us.

While we were in Bayonne, he attached himself to me, and assigned himself my protector of sorts. He'd always plonk himself outside our room in the attic as we slept, and every single time I excused myself to go upstairs, he'd come bounding up the stairs with me, and wait patiently by the door while I'd use the toilet or grab something from the suitcase. When I sat in the living room, he'd place himself a foot away and pretend to sleep, and at 30 minute intervals, if I didn't pay any attention to him, would come by for a pat or rub. Needless to say, I fell in love.

Back to our tiny trip to Labenne. When William told him we were bringing him along to their old fave haunt, it was as if he was possessed by the happy spirit or something. He wagged his tail so furiously I thought it was going to fall off, and jumped on me with unbridled joy. In the car, he sat on my lap and stuck his head out, so happy to feel the wind in his face, and when we were nearing the area (which was half an hour away), started trying to jump out of the car. How is it that dogs 'know' and remember so well?

It was an afternoon out of a tiny little movie. Me and my love, and the dog who was so infectiously happy, who made us see everything through his eyes. His simple joy of just being there, wagging his tail, breathing in the sea scents, looking around in wonderment, jumping around. That day at Labenne, I felt so content, and so deliriously appreciative of nature and life that if I had a tail, I'd be wagging it too. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pays Basque - All about (home-cooked) food

Before we set off on this holiday, I planned a lovely wardrobe in my suitcase. Space wasn't a constraint because we were driving, so I prepared sundresses and pretty cardigans (to layer in case the weather got cold) for the beach and sightseeing, lovely LBD's for dinners at nice restaurants, gorgeous heels for jeans when I feel like looking chic, the list went on. I had an outfit a day, and I was planning on looking very very pretty.

Little did I know, there was absolutely no use for any of that, and I ended up wearing shorts and big tees most of the trip. Why? Because we ate soooo much and lazed at the house most of the time, making me feel like a fatty who just needed to hide her bloated tummy.

But I have absolutely no regrets for the 2kgs that I gained, cos the food was so good!!! We didn't eat out much (in fact, we only ate out twice - and I'll blog about that separately), because my MIL and her hubby-to-be JM stocked the fridge with so much goodies that there was really not much point eating out.

When we woke up, there would be fresh baguettes on the table, and a new packet of meat from the boucherie (butcher) that we'd cook on the BBQ grill outdoors.

The thing about this area is the pride that they have in their meat, veges and fruits. To them, their produce is the best of the best in the world, and I have to agree.

The excellence was evident in the fact that we never had to do much cooking. Our meats needed no more than a quick grill and some pepper and salt, but tasted absolutely out of this world. The amount of meat we ate was enormous. I'd even go so far as to say that in the 8 days we were there, we probably ate up to an entire cow and an entire pig.

Veges were lightly tossed with olive oil, also from the region. And the fruits, oh the fruits! I have now become a peach and melon snob after a week of nothing but the sweetest, honey-est, juiciest peaches and melons everyday.

My super MIL also brought out her stash of assorted homemade pates, foie gras - and we near cleaned out her supply with Super Hubs and I polishing almost a tub a day.

We also drank copious amounts of wine and rose, ate a tonne of ham, chorizo, cheeses and beautiful baguettes...

On her off-days, my MIL made me the lasagne I had heard so much about...

... and an old-school French beef stew thing that I want to learn how to make:

On another off day, mother and son also got together to make Pot-au-Feu:

Now you see where the 2kgs came from?