Vida Downtown’s Urban Picnic goes Latin this Season!

Andale, arriba, arriba! Inspired by all things Latin, Vida Downtown’s legendary Urban Picnic takes guests on a trip to Latin America this season!

Featuring the largest salad station in town with more than 40 ingredients and flavours from over six countries, you are certainly coming back for more. Not to be missed is the glorious pizza station!

Named after iconic personalities such as Fidel Castro, the pizzas on offer include El Diablo – made of beef and chili and La Fiesta – with everyone’s favourite, pineapple and turkey.

Enjoy Vida’s legendary sizzling live barbeque station while you lounge by the pool and feast on a fiesta of dishes such as smoked beef brisket; bistec ahumado; slow cooked lamb neck and cuero de cordero.

Guests can play Latin Lingo with an incredible array of dishes from the Chef’s kitchen including Platanos Fritos & Frijoles negros.

The large selection of Nachos & Tacos at the nacho station is sure to win you over with its authentic flavours, not to forget the very traditional Chilli Con Carne.

The churro station – probably the quirkiest of all – takes you on a journey from when Brazil won the soccer World Cup and Juan Peron was President of Argentina. Enjoy sugary and chocolatey Churro variations including Warm Churros, Churro Caliente, Churros Shot, & Tiro de Churros. Did we mention enough churros?

Finally, each guest will be handed a passport which entails the site map with all the stations. Your very own Latin passport taking you on a journey through your favourite picnic brunch!

Put your sombreros on and get into the Latin spirit.

Reservations

For reservations or more information, please contact 04 888 3444 or email dine@emaar.com

The Details

Every Friday from 13.00 to 17.00 at 3in1 at Vida Downtown, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, The Old Town, Downtown Dubai

 

Text: luxxrs

3 Boutique Restaurants in Venice

Be charmed by some of the best boutique restaurants in Venice.

Chat qui Rit

chat

Giovanni Mozzato left the corporate world to create his dream, Chat qui Rit, right in the heart of San Marco. He handpicked each detail of the stylish interior, from the designer Danish and Italian chairs to the tiles on the floor. The select menu is a creative fusion of Venice and the East, starring delights like Shi Drum Fillet with Watercress Sauce and Wasabi, and rare cheeses like Pule, made from the milk of 100 donkeys living on the Zasavica Nature Reserve in Serbia. Great wine, too.

Vecio Fritolin

vecio fritolin

Together with owner Irina Freguia, female chef Najada Frasheri brings a touch of Mother Nature to every pretty plate. The beef is hand-chopped. The catch of the day is from the Rialto market, just minutes away. The time-honored Venetian ‘baccalà’ is served snuggled inside a cannolo, surrounded by colorful candied garden vegetables.

Ristorante La Caravella

la caravella

Once a magnet for intellectuals like Sartre and de Beauvoir, La Caravella is still in the hands of the fourth generation of the congenial Serandrei family. The cosy, wooden interior is modelled after an ancient ship; the bread homemade, the wine list extensive and the service attentive. The classic Venetian menu is innovative, fresh and beautiful; the ravioli stuffed with scampi is divine.

Ninive | The New Dining Sensation Under the Stars

New dining sensation Ninive is now open at Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel, offering a unique outdoor culinary experience with breath-taking views of the Dubai skyline and a menu that celebrates the diversity of Arabiccuisine.

A concept created in one of the world’s most modern cities, Dubai, Ninive was inspired by the cultural and culinary diversity of the Arab region, and takes its name from one of the world’s seven wonders – the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, or Neneveh.  Serving cuisine with roots in Gulf, Levant and North African traditions, Ninive is a green, urban oasis suspended between two of the UAE’s most iconic towers, serving dishes that pay homage to the Arab kitchen in a fresh and hospitable approach.

The stunning décor pays homage to the rich heritage and craftsmanship of the Middle East and North Africa, and features hand-made brass, wood, marble and leather items that will evoke nostalgia. Tucked away on an elevated terrace at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, the venue is a verdant, tranquil haven in the heart of the city’s bustling financial district.

The Details.

Location : Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Opening hours: Saturday to Wednesday 16.00 to 02.00 ; Thursday & Friday 16.00 to 03.00.

Interview / Review: Gigi Morelli

Katsuya by Starck – The Luxxrs Review

Katsuya by Starck, located in the heart of Madinat Jumeirah, at Al-Naseem Hotel, successfully marries master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi’s fresh take on Japanese classics with design icon Philippe Starck’s sleek and sultry interiors.

As you enter the restaurant you are welcomed by the magnificent setting, with straight lines and compartments due to the fact that the restaurant is conceived to look like a bento box. As the weather is cooling down, you can enjoy your dinner on the lovely terrace offering a view over the resort’s lagoon. The service is exceptionally friendly and very attentive.

To kick things off, we recommend the already famous Burning Mandarin which lives up to its name and reputation – burning, spicy, surprising, and well-presented: we couldn’t ask for more.

The menu offers a wide variety of mouth-watering starters such as the crispy brussels sprouts with balsamic soy and toasted almonds and the seaweed sunumono – mixed seaweed in a sweet vinegar dressing, the moreish creamy rock shrimp – crispy bite-size rock shrimp tossed in a creamy spicy sauce and the cucumber sunumono.

In particular, we’d like to talk about the brussels sprouts. Never great fans we decide to take the plunge and do not regret it at all. The inventive dish is crispy, tasty,  spicy: the perfect mix to discover these vegetables and actually enjoy them for the first time.

For mains, we try two of the restaurant’s specialities with a couple of sides. Highlights include the Miso Marinated Black Cod which is really a must-try dish! A very tender fish, well-presented, with unexpected and unparalleled flavour due to the sweet miso and the special taste of baked black cod. We are also very taken by the Wagyu Filet with Foie Gras – exquisite medallions of foie gras served on top of tender Wagyu beef, a really interesting and unique combination of two particular flavours. For those who love Japanese beef and Foie Gras, it is a must-have dish. The sides are also delicious – Robata beef asparagus, and Wasabi mashed potatoes – traditional Japanese flavours, always a delight.

Mains are followed by delicious mochis for dessert – traditional rice-wrapped ice cream with seasonal fruits – we particularly recommend the strawberry and green tea flavour, a personal favourite.

Katsuya offers a very pleasant dining experience with food of the most unexpected, unique and exquisite flavours – proof that you can enjoy a delicious dinner in a Japanese restaurant serving revisited traditional food without being limited to sushi.

Katsuya is a design and culinary success in every sense! We’ll be back soon!

Review: Gigi Morelli

Messieurs, don’t scoff Mr. Skoff!

At last year’s Concours Mondial du Sauvignon Blanc in Bordeaux, French eyes where rolled and heads turned away with envy as Walter Skoff, an outstanding winemaker from Austria tore away from under their aristrocratic noses the highest award, the „Denis Dubourdieu Trophy“, for his Kranachberg Sauvignon Blanc 2015.  The French can no longer lay claim to having the best Sauvignon wines because as Walter Skoff or ”Mr. Sauvignon Blanc“ as he is famously known, uncorked the world’s premier Sauvignon Blanc he demonstrated not only to France but to the rest of the world, his expertise in outstanding wines by coming first out of more than 800 international submissions.  What more proof do the French want?

Mr. Skoff at work

The family run business is now in its 5thgeneration and the key to its ongoing success in Gamlitz over the many years is down to the fact that the wealth of winemaking experience is being passed down from generation to generation, and constantly being developed.SKOFF Original was founded in 2011 and the range of wines nurtured are typically Styrian, with Welschriesling (Italian Riesling), Gelber Muskateller, Weißburgunder, Grauburgunder and Morillon (Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay respectively), as well as the native red varietal Zweigelt.  A sparkling Brut and nobile sweet dessert wines also flow from its vineyards. Demands for wines made by Walter Skoff’s team stretches internationally, and way beyond the boundaries of Austria.

Picture 875

All these exquisite wines and also his flagship wine, the premium “Royal Sauvignon Blanc“ may be sipped first hand on the terrace of the “Buschenschank“ on the Walter Skoff Wine Estate  which stands majestically on the “Sudsteirischen” wine route, offering breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside. And if you find it hard to leave, then there are six comfortable guest rooms upstairs, with equally magnificent vineyard views.

Contact: Vineyard Website

Tobasco reveals a special edition sauce presented in a tiny Champagne bottle

The most ubiquitous hot sauce: Tabasco, is celebrating 150 years of setting people’s taste buds on edge. To commemorate the anniversary, the company has created an over-the-top limited edition Diamond Reserve Red Sauce which comes in a miniature Champagne bottle.

It’s not the just the bottle that’s fancy though, Diamond reserve is made from tabasco peppers that have aged in barrels for as long as 15 years. The long aging period allows them to develop in flavor and complexity. Even the peppers chosen are special – with their color, texture and robustness being considered before they were picked at Avery Island for this special sauce. The aged peppers are combined with sparkling white wine vinegar, before being sealed into their in their very special gold foil topped bottles.

They may look fancy and make a great gift for a spicy food loving friend, but their priced at just about $35 for a six ounce bottle. They are likely to sell out soon so get yours here:

Available at: CountryStore

Bistrot Bagatelle ‘Le Mardi c’est Permis’ | the luxxury Review

Approaching Bistrot Bagatelle in its tucked away location in the Fairmont Sheikh Zayed Road, 1st floor we are not quite prepared for what lies behind the unassuming large white French apartment style double doors.

As the doors are swung open, we catch our first glimpse of what could be described as an Aladdin’s cave of sorts: French bistrot meets prohibition style speak-easy where the atmosphere is already gloriously a-buzz at just past 9 pm.

The Luxe Diary is at Bagatelle this evening to enjoy the its ever popular signature French night, ‘Le mardi c’est permis’ – or ‘Tuesday nights – anything goes’.

We must confess that the charm of the French apartment style layout is a real hit with its big, beautiful and sometimes bold coloured art contrasting perfectly with the white starched table cloths so typical of French traditional bistrot dining.

The dining area extends well beyond the bar, a bar already milling with elegant patrons smartly perched sipping their Frenchie cocktails with flair. But despite the size of the room, it feels cosy, warm and chic.

The restaurant’s ‘Frenchness’ is refreshing and very authentic.  All of the waiters and staff we meet and talk to all sell the beautiful menu to us in fluent French and with an excellent knowledge and understanding of the dishes, their recipes and origins.

Berets, red neckerchiefs and Breton stripes set the tone among the staff. Suprisingly, it is everything but kitsch as the look is carried off with style and aplomb. Old school Vanessa Paradis, Johnny Hallyday and other great French artists’ hits sound out and the wait staff cannot help sashaying elegantly through the tables – chiming in with the well-known refrains. The atmosphere is contagious!

We start with Bagatelle’s take on the Salade Landaise – one of the Luxe Diary’s favourite salads. The frisée salad is sharp and and tangy, the confit duck thinly sliced which adds a light saltiness – but it is the genius addition of the egg Mimosa and caviar which really steals the show!

We enjoy the delicious Tartare de Thon but are totally bowled over by the Crudo de Bar à la truffe noire which must be one of the finest ceviche style entrées we have had the pleasure of tasting. A light touch, the truffle oil really lifts this dish which is complemented by the subtlest touch of raisin – which we are surprised to learn is included in the recipe.

For mains we can certainly recommend the pan-seared sea bass with its Barigoule Sauce and fondant leeks and pickled vegetables. On The Luxe Diary’s list is also the filet mignon, a perfectly pan-seared tenderloin with raclette mashed potatoes and a Bordelaise sauce.

We round off the meal with the famous Bagatelle Mousse aux Chocolats, an incredible chocolate mouse with caramel cream and crunchy peanut butter. We also try the salted caramel profiteroles with chocolate sauce – a chocolate lovers dream!

The French tricolore macaroons served to compliment dessert are a perfect and quite cute touch.

As we’re leaving, the slightly disco atmosphere of French bonhomie is really ramping up. Approaching midnight, we have to tear ourselves away, reluctant to leave the party but we know we will be back to celebrate again soon!

Bistrot Bagatelle is situated on the 1st Floor of The Fairmont Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road and is open from 20.00 till late.

Reservations & Information:

Please call +971 4 354 5035 or email reservation@bistrotbagatelledubai.com

Visit / Review: Gigi Morelli

Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong — A magnifique feast for the senses

Dining at Caprice, the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong’s two-Michelin-starred French fine dining restaurant, is an experience that qualifies as eating of epic sensations.

The Chinoiserie décor itself is in a league of its own. With three massive Czech crystal chandeliers framed by large views overlooking the harbour, leather armchairs and an underlit catwalk-like landing in Yayoi Kusama-yellow from one end of the space to the other, the ambience is vibrant, classy and impactful. The open kitchen even has a curtain of Swarovski crystals perched above the stoves, making you feel like you’re dining within a diamond.

Under the baton of Chef Guillaume Galliot — who was once the youngest sous chef at Singapore’s Raffles Hotel, and formerly at the helm of The Tasting Room by Galliot in Macau, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant — Caprice has maintained its two Michelin star rating since he joined the French institution in 2017. So it follows that when Chef Galliot stopped by our table to say hello and tell us a little bit about himself and his background, we happily gave him free rein over our meal.

“The open kitchen even has a curtain of Swarovski crystals perched above the stoves, making you feel like you’re dining within a diamond.”

The service standards were, of no surprise, exceptional. Each course arrived perfectly timed and accompanied by a phalanx of waiters who simultaneously flourished the cloches open with bright eyes and polite smiles. Throughout lunch, the staff moved swiftly around, brisk walking over at the slightest indication to tend to our every request, query or concern. My warm water cup, for one, never fell below the halfway mark, and we didn’t once lack the appropriate utensil or accoutrement at any point.

For our appetiser, we sampled one of the signatures: a ‘Land and Sea Tartare’ composed of Australian Wagyu beef and Gillardeau oyster, topped with Kristal caviar and a surprisingly large sheet of gold leaf for a visual oomph. Fresh snow peas lent a distinct crunch while a ring of egg confit and parsley drops presented an orange and green ring around the beef. Ooh la la.

“Each course arrived perfectly timed and accompanied by a phalanx of waiters who simultaneously flourished the cloches open with bright eyes and polite smiles.”

The next dish was one of the standouts of the meal. Named ‘L’Œuvre de Mon Voyage à Singapore Le Laksa au Crabe Royal, Œuf Confit et Citron Sudachi’, it roughly translates to ‘The Work of My Journey to Singapore: The Laksa with King Crab, Confit Egg and Sudachi Lime’. The creation was inspired by Chef Galliot’s time in Singapore and blended with classical French flavours — laksa being one of the most iconic local dishes of the city-state.

Served in a crustacean-shaped bowl, the yellow sauce — lighter than the typical orange laksa soup — bore the same, rich flavour. Within, fresh snow crab, lobster, leeks, coriander, chopped hazelnuts and a dusting of grated lime zest came together elegantly to enhance, as opposed to overpower, each ingredient.

The next three plates were equally noteworthy: a creamy Guilvinec turbot in new Caledonia prawn consommé with ginger; Racan pigeon cooked in a cocoa pod with pumpkin purée, salsify, and natural jus; and a glorious beef cheek Parmentier with potato espuma and parmesan cheese, topped off generously with black truffle.

The pigeon in particular, which hails from Chef Galliot’s home region of Loire Valley, was first shown to us in its cocoa pod before being carved up. The presentation was exquisite, the smell sublime. For the final finish, an outrageous topping of truffles went hand-in-hand with the juicy, full-bodied flesh.

All too soon, it was time for dessert but the culinary delights continued. Courtesy of esteemed pastry chef Nicolas Lambert, we enjoyed a pre-dessert yuzu parfait-meringue concoction with basil syphons and lime jelly drops on a crispy polenta that had the lightness of being. The combination of the different textures also contrasted beautifully at first bite, to the last.

Last but not least was a Joe-inspired treat featuring coffee ice cream, walnut tuiles, laddie fingers soaked in coffee syrup and caramel drops that looked too good too eat, but one that I practically inhaled during the conversation. By the time our teas and mignardises arrived, the restaurant had emptied out before we realised.

Judging from this experience, Chef Galliot truly flexes his classically trained French muscle while blending in his own influences from working around the world. His creations are evidently thought-out and intriguing, making the entire affair memorable. Though Caprice lost a Michelin star from three to two after a change in leadership in 2014 — with Chef Galliot maintaining the two-star ranking since he’s come onboard — we predict a triumphant return to its former status sooner than later.

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
8 Finance St, Central, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3196 8888

 

Katsuya by Starck – The Luxxrs Review

Katsuya by Starck, located in the heart of Madinat Jumeirah, at Al-Naseem Hotel, successfully marries master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi’s fresh take on Japanese classics with design icon Philippe Starck’s sleek and sultry interiors.

As you enter the restaurant you are welcomed by the magnificent setting, with straight lines and compartments due to the fact that the restaurant is conceived to look like a bento box. As the weather is cooling down, you can enjoy your dinner on the lovely terrace offering a view over the resort’s lagoon. The service is exceptionally friendly and very attentive.

To kick things off, we recommend the already famous Burning Mandarin which lives up to its name and reputation – burning, spicy, surprising, and well-presented: we couldn’t ask for more.

The menu offers a wide variety of mouth-watering starters such as the crispy brussels sprouts with balsamic soy and toasted almonds and the seaweed sunumono – mixed seaweed in a sweet vinegar dressing, the moreish creamy rock shrimp – crispy bite-size rock shrimp tossed in a creamy spicy sauce and the cucumber sunumono.

In particular, we’d like to talk about the brussels sprouts. Never great fans we decide to take the plunge and do not regret it at all. The inventive dish is crispy, tasty,  spicy: the perfect mix to discover these vegetables and actually enjoy them for the first time.

For mains, we try two of the restaurant’s specialities with a couple of sides. Highlights include the Miso Marinated Black Cod which is really a must-try dish! A very tender fish, well-presented, with unexpected and unparalleled flavour due to the sweet miso and the special taste of baked black cod. We are also very taken by the Wagyu Filet with Foie Gras – exquisite medallions of foie gras served on top of tender Wagyu beef, a really interesting and unique combination of two particular flavours. For those who love Japanese beef and Foie Gras, it is a must-have dish. The sides are also delicious – Robata beef asparagus, and Wasabi mashed potatoes – traditional Japanese flavours, always a delight.

Mains are followed by delicious mochis for dessert – traditional rice-wrapped ice cream with seasonal fruits – we particularly recommend the strawberry and green tea flavour, a personal favourite.

Katsuya offers a very pleasant dining experience with food of the most unexpected, unique and exquisite flavours – proof that you can enjoy a delicious dinner in a Japanese restaurant serving revisited traditional food without being limited to sushi.

Katsuya is a design and culinary success in every sense! We’ll be back soon!

Royal China DIFC Dim Sum Brunch

Royal China Dubai the city’s award-winning Chinese restaurant located in the heart of the DIFC, has delighted us with its renewed, mouth-watering Dim Sum Brunch that now features even more delicious items.

At The Luxe Diary, a little Asian travel is a one of our special luxuries with many precious family moments spent in South East Asian capitals tucking into delicious dim sum washed down with jasmine tea. And our recent visit to Royal China Dubai was no exception to our experiences – only we were able to experience it right here in the heart of Dubai, in the DIFC, casually over the weekend.

We love Royal China’s chintzy traditional Chinese inspired interior design with its tasteful modern twists. The deep red velvet upholstery and dark wood dividers create a balanced atmosphere. The sound of pleasant weekend beats echo gently around the room. There are a few families with well behaved young children as well as groups of friends enjoying this version of a great weekend tradition. The atmosphere is both sophisticated and relaxed.

The extensive selection of fried, steamed, vegetarian or gluten free dumplings, offers the perfect balance between a light breakfast and hearty lunch. Each piece is delicately prepared with the freshest of ingredients to yield full-hearted flavours that promise to tantalize patrons’ taste buds.

Particular favourites include the prawn and chive dumplings – super tangy and authentic and so good we had to reorder these twice. The fried minced squid balls were also a favourite and a Royal China signature dish. The Vietnamese spring rolls were note worthy, fresh and crispy. The pan fried gyozas were also a hit and we went as far as to try the chicken feet – the sauce was delicious. Traditional scallop and shrimp dumplings were ordered and reordered as was the prawn cheung fun.

Desserts that we enjoyed included the chilled tapioca in coconut soup and the black sesame dumplings in peanut crumbs – and last but not least the steamed egg custard buns featured below.

Having established itself at the forefront of Dubai’s brunch scene, the Dim Sum Brunch is a relaxed and refreshing alternative to the regular buffet offering for guests to experience the finest and most authentic Dim Sum in the UAE. Whether with family or friends, Royal China is the perfect venue for an immersive Cantonese gourmet experience in the heart of the vibrant DIFC.

The Royal China Dubai Dim Sum Brunch is, by our account, a fantastic way to spend a Friday or a Saturday lunch time.

The Details.

Fridays & Saturdays 12.00-15.30

Unlimited Dim sum with Chinese tea: AED 188 per person
Unlimited Dim sum with House Beer and House wine: AED 388 per person
Unlimited Dim sum with Champagne and selected Alcoholic beverages: 488 AED per person

*A La Carte menu is also available

Reservations & Information.

For information and reservations call 04 3545543 or visit www.royalchinadubai.com. Royal China Dubai is situated at 4L2-001 The Balcony, Precinct Building 4, D.I.F.C., Dubai, UAE

Text & Fotos & Interview: luxxrs.com

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