Unveiling Infinissime- J’adore’s Ode to Women of Strength & Feminity

Legendary Coco Chanel said, “a woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Christian Dior said, ”Perfume is a mark of female identity and the final touch of her style.”

Infinissime, the new Eau de Parfum reconstructed by Master Parfumeur- Créateur François Demachy of the House of Dior from the original classic J’adore of 1999, was released worldwide in September this year as the latest scent for Dior’s J’adore line of perfumes. I was invited to experience what it is to be a woman empowered by Infinissime by the Dior boutique at the high-end department store, de Bijenkorf in The Hague.

J’adore (French for “I love”), is dubbed as a fragrance of confidence and a perfume for the empowered woman. Check out Actress Charlize Theron as she returns for J’adore’s Infinissime’s ad campaign, wearing a gold necklace that winds unevenly around the neck, mimicking the perfume’s bottle, and signifying independence and strength, Dior Chin Up, they captioned. South African Theron has been J’ádore’s face since 2004 and the first celebrity signed by Dior, the perfect face for J’adore for a woman of beauty and brains, accolades and nominations in the field of performing arts.

But let’s not forget what François Demachy said about perfumes, “A successful perfume is one in which the formula is as beautiful as the fragrance… one that makes the woman wearing it smile and awakens desire in a man.” I suppose we shouldn’t make an overstatement on women’s power if Demachy, the creator of Infinissime is to marry the Infinissime woman in a man’s world. I can’t help but add what Persolaise of Persolaise Perfumes read from the lavish press release which he commented as, “cringy” about these lines, “… being a woman, she is a woman infinitely proud and noble. Head held high, she has boundless strength…” and so on. All of that epitomised in the perfume’s commercial with Charlize Theron and her back-up women wearing shimmering dresses in gold, heads held high in confidence as they move forward to the music of Kanye West’s Flashing Light. Impressive and modern, but I still also like the old commercial of J’adore when the original perfume came out in 1999, created by perfumer Calice Becker. The concept was gold and its mesmerising effect, translated into the scintillating top notes of magnolia, melon, peach, pear, bergamot and Mandarin orange. Model Carmen Kass steps into a pool of gold liquid to the tune of Barry White’s low and sensuous voice, Never, Never Gonna Give You Up. Feminine, Sultry, Alluring.

The new design of J’adore Infinissime. Dior photo

At the Dior boutique, Cher, one of Dior’s beauty and perfume specialists, blind tests me with eight of the notable notes in the new perfume in their purest form. Like most modern perfumes, Dior uses synthetics but in the heart of its perfumes, flowers are vital to its formula and image. We started with Jasmine Sambac, a key element and used in all Jádore fragrances due to its “olfactory qualities,” according to Demachy. It is sourced in Tamil Nadu where he visits each year, and the flower is harvested by the crack of dawn when its scent is at its peak.

According to Demachy, Jasmine Sambac has something “animal and powerful about it.” A slightly orangey and sensual quality.
Photo: australianplantsonline.com

Next, I smelled Tuberose. It’s in the very heart of this new creation. The flower is once again re-introduced in Grasse during the last ten decades, where it wasn’t seen since the 1950’s. It is harvested when the sun goes down, as Cher mentioned. At dusk, it releases its powerful smell, and its scent is extracted with the age-old process called, enfleurage, only used in Grasse, where carefully prepared wooden frames are coated with a plant-based grease and then blanketed with the flowers and slowly absorb their fragrance. The frames are then turned every 24 hours and covered again and again with fresh flowers until the desired scent is acquired. Tuberose has a waxy or buttery smell of white flowers, so powerful that during Victorian times in England, it was suggested that young girls should be forbidden to inhale the powerful tuberose scent for fear of inciting sexual impulses! During the Italian Renaissance, it was forbidden for unmarried girls to walk through the gardens where tuberose exercised her erotic and intoxicating power, so they would not succumb to drunkenness and men maddened by the erotic smell. It was said that a woman who exudes the scent of tuberose cause mimicry recalling orgasm. Such is the bewitching power of this precious flower, it has to be used with caution. If I have to re-write what was written in the press release, it will be, Intissime-seductive, alluring, magnetic and everything that embodies a woman of beauty and elegance, a woman to behold.

Tuberose Photo: jayeshp912

We didn’t go through all the ingredients but we ended with the beautiful smell of the aromatic Sandalwood, grown in Sri Lanka, in Dior’s Secret Garden. “So secret and heavily guarded, the people working there do not even have the chance to see the whole place”, says Cher.

Demachy describes sandalwood as woody with a milky note, slightly animalistic, and a little bit spicy that gives volume and power. Just like the Jasmine Sambac, sandalwood is used in the Jádore line of perfumes.

photo: candlescience.com

Other notes in the heart are Centifolia Rose and Ylang Ylang.

While I enjoyed the afternoon ritual of smelling the ingredients and the beautiful introduction to Infinissime, it’s the use of face mask that hindered me to enjoy the scent to its fullest. I admit that it is a beautiful smell, sophisticated, but one I have to get used to. Smelling it on a card for a few seconds and covering your face again wasn’t the best thing to do. I would have preferred to smell it also in the air as it’s being sprayed. It adds “embellishment” to the sombre atmosphere we are going through during these uncertain times. Estee Lauder said, “Perfume is like a new dress, it makes you quite marvellous.” I wanted to feel it marvellous!

Sayuri, The Hague Dior’s new boutique manager replacing Cher who stepped back last year, prepared Jádore bath concoction. Another J’adore to try. We pretended that we were having a bath and enjoying the luxury of Jádore shower & bath oil even if it’s just cotton wool soaked in water with drops of the oil added, sitting on our hands. A must have to intensify Infinissime on your skin or simply soaking on J’adore!

I left the launch smelling J’adore and with my favourite Dior product line, Dior Snow, along with a sample of Infinissime in tow and a little of the new Dior Prestige Light-in-White L’óleo Essence Lumiere (a bit of a mouthful)- a light, whitish lotion with a beautiful texture and a lovely smell of Granville roses.

I wasn’t transformed to be a woman of power or felt like it, but delighted to have met the new Jádore creation which I’m sure will be welcomed with much pleasure and one to love by those who need the strength to keep their heads high and a Dior Chin Up boost, until François Demachy comes up again with something more empowering or lavishing and it won’t be long. Oui, J’adore Dior!

White roses on your skin to give you that extra radiance and youthful look!

*Dior photos


J’ADORE HUILE DE DOUCHE ET BAIN

Shower & Bath Oil. Cleans and enhances and delicately perfumes the skin with the enveloping floral notes of J’adore. The oil melts into the skin with a fine lather on contact with water.

*Dior photo

Our pretend bath prepared by Sayuri.

It’s the sweet-smelling J’ádore Shower & Bath oil.

*All Dior products mentioned are available in Dior boutiques in de Bijenkorf Department Stores (Netherlands), Perfumeries and dior.com

The view at the top is great!

Budapest was never in my travel itinerary. It always sounded so far away although it is only less than 2 hours from Amsterdam where I usually take all my flights outside The Netherlands. To be exact, it only takes one hour and 55 minutes direct flight with KLM Royal Dutch airlines flag carrier airlines of The Netherlands.

Years ago when editing Hotel & Travel magazine in Bangkok, I sent my  editorial assistant to a press conference promoting Budapest. He brought me a picture of the imposing Hungarian Parliament building standing majestically along the river Danube, and a picture of Malev Hungarian Airlines flying smoothly on air on a backdrop of blue skies and a beautiful layer of cotton candy-like white clouds. That was  about 19 years ago and I still keep my old filo fax  where I have written down all the names of my editorial team and the many notes for each month’s issue. Malev Airlines no longer exist having ceased operations in 2012, but the Hungarian Parliament building is still there today, as majestic as the picture given to me, and I wish I know where Steven is right now so I can tell him I was just in Budapest and I have seen the river Danube and the magnificent parliament building in the picture he brought me.

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I like Budapest. Well, not all of it, but most of it. And  I like being at the Fisherman’s Bastion up on the hilly Buda Castle District where the view of the river Danube and the boats plying back and forth, the old bridges and old buildings is endless.

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The most photographed  Szechenyi Lanchid, commonly known as the Chain Bridge takes centre stage and why not, it stands with grace and pride especially at night when it is illuminated, and the waters below crash on its strong walls and unmoved  by the currents brought about by boats loaded with revelers and their blaring music. The bridge was named after its major construction supporter, Count Istvan Szechenyi, a noble and former Minister of Public Works and Transport, revered as one of Hungary’s greatest statesmen.

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Chain Bridge was designed by the English civil engineer William Tierney Clark, and it is a replica in larger scale of  the Marlow Bridge over the River Thames in England built roughly seventeen years earlier. It was the first permanent bridge constructed to connect the two cities of  Pest and Buda in Hungary and it opened in 1849, just after the Hungarian Revolution in 1848. At that time, it was regarded as one of the modern world’s engineering wonders. And by comparison, I find it more charming than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco where my good friend Grace have taken us twice on our US visits, although of course, that’s a different experience. I have walked on the Chain Bridge from Buda to Pest and back, and we have driven through it in a taxi on our way to the grand Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace.

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At the Fisherman’s Bastion, tourists keep coming and when you have the opportunity to stand in front of everybody to view the beautiful sight ahead of you, steady your hands on your camera and take as many photos as you can before a head pops up to take your front view position. Clicking away is fun but most of all, take time to see the beauty of the place with your naked eyes. The view is surely wider than your viewfinder. I will come back to see more of the place. After all, it’s only an hour and 55 minutes away!

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Gautam, the GOLD(en) boy

Young but not restless, Gautam Ajay Chamman is cool, and I like him for his Joie de vivre!

At 32 years old, he is one of Delft’s youngest goldsmith’s in a city steeped in history. Think of Delft as a trade centre in the 16th & 17th century when businesses were booming, the shouts of merchants and clinking of coins deposited in every pocket or drawer; imagine when Johannes Vermeer lived here in the 1600’s and the rich dressed in their finest to have their portraits painted, and envision when Delft pottery called, “Delft Blue” brought prosperity to the city and the country and every able household owns an intricately painted Delft blue or two or more to show-off to their guests as a sign of wealth.

*When the French traveler Balthasar de Monconys, who visited Delft in 1663, explicitly stated that more trees line the streets of Delft than those of Rotterdam. He also noted that the houses in Delft were more beautiful and pleasant than elsewhere which was confirmed by Dirck van Bleyswijck, Delft’s city biographer, who had been burgomaster (commonly translated as Mayor) sometime during the 1670s, proudly asserted that visitors and writers admired the city because…”the houses of Delft are as beautiful, as elegant, as large and as high as can be found anywhere else in the Netherlands.”

To this day, many of those beautiful houses that Monconys have seen are still standing either as residential homes, or turned into chic offices or small shops that are quintessential to Delft. Here are a few in this slideshow.

Facade of a century-old house in the city centre
Beautifully maintained old homes in the city centre

In the centre of the city, century-old houses and buildings are still intact where Jewelry Delft, the cosy boutique and workshop beside the imposing Renaissance Stadhuis (city hall) where Gautam established himself as a jewelry designer, goldsmith, diamond appraiser rolled into one, showcases his bold creations and are on display for everyone who love hand-crafted fine jewelry.

The imposing Stadhuis (City Hall) on the Market Square
Jewelry Delft Boutique shop exterior just beside the Stadhuis

Inside Jewelry Delft is the open workshop where Gautam and his assistant, 24-year old Quint, busy themselves polishing, repairing and setting gemstones. Like Gautam, Quint is in the same school (now in his last year of his studies) where Gautam finished his gemological studies at the Vakschool Schoonhoven, the only school in The Netherlands offering courses on becoming a goldsmith or silversmith, a Jeweler and clock or watch maker.

Vakschool Schoonhoven is used to be called, Zilverschool (Silver school). It was established in 1895 in what is called the “silver city” of Schoonhoven, for its abundance of silver. Its full name was Rijksvak- en Kunstnijverheidsschool (Art School). Such a mouthful to translate into English but it was meant for vocational studies in gold-silver, clock/watch-making technique & Jewelers.

Schoonhoven is located in a rural area east of Rotterdam in South Holland.

With an education from a reputable school and a certified Gemologist by the Federation for European Education in Gemology (FEEG), you are assured that Gautam’s Jewelry Delft produces quality-made jewelries that will be with you for a lifetime. They offer after-purchase service like cleaning/polishing to keep your valuables in tip-top condition and even stone replacement if you want to upgrade.

Born and bred in The Hague, Gautam’s inspiration to be a designer came from his experiences as apprentice and working in a jewelry company after his gemological studies, where he has been repairing all sorts of jewelry that was brought to his attention. Those moments sparked his imagination to concentrate on designing and producing beautiful pieces of his own. That’s what he is today.

Gautam cannot be more than happy to be in Delft where he calls, “a city of art & history. I love its being compact, the little shops and how easily you can be a part of the community.”

And here too live some of the Old Money in a discreet way, the people that come to Gautam’s doorstep every now and then for something special.

Like Gautam, I love living in Delft for its quaintness. You go to the same small shops that have been run by the same families from one generation to the other. They remember you and your favourite things to buy but I frequent Gautam’s Jewelry Delft boutique shop to have the pleasure of viewing his beautiful creations. No money involved, just friendship.

I asked Gautam why he is not in Amsterdam where many millionaires live that may discover him. “Amsterdam is a bridge too far for me,” he said. “I like Delft. Amsterdam has become more commercial. It’s touristy. Here in Delft, you can be a real artisan and not be rushed to produce something. That gives me the pleasure to be creative.”

While Gautam can fashion a work of art from wood, he loves working with gold and gemstones. He uses a lot of tourmaline and other semi-precious stones in his designs that goes into his Dream-to-sell Line to “survive in the business,” he said. He believes that everyone should be able to enjoy a jewelry and it doesn’t necessarily have to have diamonds or sapphires because “citrine, for example is also a beautiful stone,” he added. Price for this line starts from €800.-

For those who have deep pockets, you have the Centre Pieces or unique pieces, one-of-a-kind designs embellished with precious stones : Sapphire, diamond, ruby & emerald. Price? Sky is the limit.

And for that everyday wear, any occasion wear, there is the Elegant or Bold Line. Looking at a price ranging from €5,000 – €15,000, your precious stones will make you the ‘jewel of the day’ wherever you will be and whoever you are with.

Gautam’s favourite colors are Green, Purple, blue and “happy colours” that are in many of his designs.

With only a mobile phone camera on hand to take some photos, I cannot replicate the true beauty of Gautam’s jewelries. Here are a few of those exquisite, beautiful craftsmanship and enviable pieces on display at Jewelry Delft (they were there at the time of my shooting in June this year). The professional shots are from the archives of Jewelry Delft.

Gautam is presently preparing his new collection to be showcased before winter. As usual. they will be Big, Bold and Beautiful!

Custom-made rings just for one special customer. That’s a huge statement!

“Big girls need big diamonds”- Elizabeth Taylor

If Elizabeth Taylor is still with us today, she will be delighted with Gautam’s love for big & bold. After all, what’s a jewelry if not to be flaunted and admired! Here’s one of his masterpieces.

Photo: Jewelry Delft

JEWELRY DELFT

Markt 25, 2611GP Delft

The Netherlands

Tel. +31 (0)6642755376

Email: info@jewelrydelft.nl

Instagram: jewelrydelft

*Professional photos were supplied by Jewelry Delft

*On Balthasar de Monconys and Dirck van Bleyswijck http://www.essentialvermeer.com/maps/delft/delft_in_vermeer’s_time.html

For more on Delft, watch the video on WELCOME TO DELFT:

From booze to food, that’s Balthasar for you!

The Koperen Kat brewery, de Kokkerie (deli), and a Chef discovered that a beer can be eaten. With little bit of creativity, a mustard came about. A mustard they named, Balthasar.

It’s a mustard with a story that will connect you with history so that is what makes it special  and ”rare.”

If you’re not a beer drinker or a mustard lover, here’s where you can taste both and enjoy the lovely marriage of a beer and a mustard. A beer specially brewed and a mustard recipe that was carefully planned. Think of Amuse Bouche  without the trimmings on the plate to delight the eyes, but a taste and smell to titillate the mouth and invigorate the palate. That’s exactly what this mustard is all about. It gives you that “kick” as Erwin van Oosten describes it, the culinarian & chef who came up with the recipe giving it a hint of sweetness and a white balsamic taste at the back of it. Delectable! Believe me, I’ve tried it!

A misprint on the label that should read, Balthasar Tripel mosterd (Mustard)

De Kokkerie who partnered with the Koperen Kat for the mustard is a cooking studio and a private dining restaurant in Delft. But with Covid-19 and the lockdowns, it has not operated the way it should be and it is presently operating as a traiteur. It is spearheaded by Dutch celebrity chef Yuri Verbeek. With him are some of the best chefs and sommeliers in the country.  As summer approaches, a new menu is set to be unveiled and limited outdoor seating will be allowed.

A number of selected wines are available at their mini wine shop and an in-house Sommelier is present on weekends to give advice. You should find your mustard displayed here.

Once a private dining restaurant, it is presently transformed into a traiteur

The Koperen Kat that provided the beer ingredient for the Balthasar Tripel Mustard, is the oldest city brewery in The Netherlands and classified as craft brewery owned by Rolf Katte, a jolly & accommodating fellow who can memorise all the names of his beers on display and attentively watches the entrance door to welcome customers who drop in to pick up their cartons of beer, bottles beautifully labelled with stunning graphics that are very much a focal point in advertising his craft beers. When I asked Rolf if he is wary about being kidnapped since his front door has no security,  (I was recalling the 1983 kidnapping of Freddy Heineken), he shrugged his shoulders and said, “they can’t carry me!” and here’s why.

Don’t underestimate a Kat(te) that can roar!

The collaboration between de Kokkerie and Koperen Kat started here in this industrial area and building which was once-upon-a-time a cable factory. The Koperen Kat brewery had to throw 15,000 liters of beer due to the lockdown and with expiration date, they cannot be kept in stock while new beers are being brewed. Over a bottle of beer and long conversations, Chef Yuri suggested that they can come up with something enterprising by asking a talented chef with a well-developed palate to create something out of these “surplus.” With some experimentation came the birth of Balthasar Tripel Mustard.

a Tripel is blond to deep gold in colour because it doesn’t use caramelised sugar and is brewed with light Pilsner malt. The most important thing to remember about a Tripel is that it’s deceptively drinkable—they’re generally high alcohol beers (7.5% – 10% ABV) with all sorts of inviting flavors (spiciness, banana, fruit, some faint residual sweetness, citrus).

*ABV- Alcohol By Volume.

ERWIN VAN OOSTEN, THE CHEF WITH A “FINE TASTE”

“Would you like to try my new recipe?” Erwin asked as he displayed his mustard delivery in vacuum-sealed bags at De Kokkerie cooking studio. He’s come to show off his new invention but hush hush making sure the customers do not get their hands on the bag before they are even bottled.

A teaspoon in the mouth might be too much but as soon as it touched my tongue, it is almost as if I tasted wasabi but a very refined one that didn’t make my nose tingle. The smell is delicious with the infusion of honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, white balsamic vinegar, turmeric and that ‘’magic’’ ingredient of Balthasar Tripel beer. It is divine!

Excitingly, Erwin mentioned that the Dutch enjoy their cocktails or “borrel hapjes” with small bites of meat platter and a mixture of accompanying cheese slices and what better way to savour the drink and the food? To dip the “hapjes” in mustard! Unfortunately, that day at de Kokkerie was extremely busy and there was no one to show us where to get the cheese, let alone find other things to add to this photo to complete the ingredients in the mustard. But a bit of the mustard in itself is more than enough to guarantee its yummy-ness!

There’s turmeric and cinnamon and the goodness of other ingredients in that bottle.

Erwin is a Delftenaar and being true to his roots, he chose the Balthasar beer for his mustard recipe because Balthasar Gerard (where the beer was named after) is a significant part of Delft history (and The Dutch history) for the crime he committed on that fateful day on the 10th of July 1584, by shooting William I of Orange (also known as William the Silent, and later known as the ‘Father of the Fatherland’) at his residence in Delft which is now the Prinsenhof Museum. There, the holes where the bullet went through have been preserved. To Erwin, he wanted to connect the mustard as a Delft original connecting the past by its name. He could have used other beers but the Balthasar beer would give a connection to Delft.

Koperen Kat describes the Balthasar beer as: A beer with high alcohol content (8%) but also fresh, fruity with a slight bitter taste and not considered as a strong beer. And with these characteristics, one may have the tendency to over indulge by having one bottle after the other, oblivious that the beer takes over you slowly like an assassin. Of course, you will not end up with a fate as that of William I for over indulging. Just a word of precaution, drink moderately. There’s always another day.

With Balthasar mustard, the worry of getting drunk is very remote. It’s the craving to indulge on its goodness that will definitely happen and who should tell you to stop, you shouldn’t!

ERWIN’S (MIS)ADVENTURES

Erwin van Oosten is enviable. At 26, he worked as a chef with Holland America Cruise line and at 29, he became an Executive Chef in one of the small luxury cruise ships of Windstar Cruises. They cruise to 50 nations, calling at 150 ports throughout Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America.

Having been on a cruise ship twice as a passenger on a clipper ship, the Star Flyer, I know the demands it takes to feed passengers who, for some, paid for a once-of-a-lifetime experience and dining is much looked forward to. At one time, for Chef Erwin, it was a learning curve.

From the Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 2004, it reads:

Chef Erwin Van Oosten could be forgiven for not knowing what hit him when the rabbi ordered that the lasagne be sent back into the kitchen.

It was the executive chef’s first full day running the kitchen for a Caribbean cruise ship full of kosher passengers, and he had thought all was in order by the time the prodigious luncheon buffet had been laid out for the guests.

But it turned out the cheese lasagne had been cooked in a meat tray, and the head mashgiach — the rabbinic supervisor charged with ensuring that everything was properly kosher — had noticed the mistake before any guests dug in.

“I was shaking,” the chef recalled later that night in the elegant dining room of the Wind Surf, the flagship vessel of the luxury line of Windstar cruises. The company chartered out the vessel for four weeklong kosher cruises this winter.

“Kosher is not different as long as you follow the rules,” the Dutch chef said. “But sometimes we make mistakes.”

For years, many large cruise liners have turned parts of their kitchens kosher to accommodate groups of kosher passengers, but the partnership with Windstar was the first attempt to make an entire ship kosher. A 290-passenger ship complete with sails, the Wind Surf would make everything kosher — from the champagne to the emergency rations on the lifeboats.

Matthew Shollar, the man behind the kosher excursions noted that even the crew ate kosher.

That, I would say, is a “feather in the cap” of Chef Erwin. Cooking, feeding and eating kosher. Being one with those who came to live on board for a month. L’Çhaim! To life!

Returning home with a vast experience of creating different dishes from his many travels, he joined the “Lekkerste Broodje Horeca” sandwich-making competition which he won easily with his Ostrich-licious. That is luscious! It can’t be more luxurious, especially if he had discovered he could make a mustard with the Balthasar beer at that time. If it was wine, that sandwich would be considered full-bodied. But Erwin’s true passion is cooking on weekends for friends and family where he said, “to blow their minds.”

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, Erwin’s teaching in some culinary institutes in the country is put on hold. But being good in what he does, there’s no lack of opportunity to hone his skills and talents in the kitchen. He is presently working at the European Patent Office as a chef and Erwin always pictures in his mind, his many travels around the world and the flavours of the many different dishes from different cultures he has tasted, all of which has enriched his cooking and admits that he doesn’t adhere to a particular style. And for everything he has learned and experienced in different kitchens he said, “I put my spin on the things I make.”

As for Balthasar Tripel Mustard, it will remain a point of conversation at the table and in “borrels”, one you can savour without being tipsy. As long as Balthasar beer continues to thrive at the Koperen Kat brewery, it will always be with us for our borrel hapjes and cooking pleasure.

Table Talk Pineapple You Tube channel brings you another cooking video using the Balthasar Tripel Mustard with Alain Rosier, a Sommelier in Michelin-starred restaurants, who will be cooking with this Delft original and also gives his wine pairing to his dish. To get to know how Balthasar Tripel Mustard got its name, here’s a brief introduction on Delft, the city where it all started.

And the cooking video:

And the wine pairing:

Balthasar Tripel Mustard is priced at €5.- per pot and available to buy at:

de Kokkerie Traiteur

Buitenwatersloot 42, 2613ST Delft

Telephone 015 215 8313 

info@dekokkerie.com

https://www.dekokkerie.com/

De Koperen Kat

Schieweg 15M

2627AN Delft

Tel. 06-4212 3398

info@dekoperenkat.nl

USEFUL INFORMATION:

The Koperen Kat, literally translated as “”Brass Cat,” is the oldest city brewery in The Netherlands that started its operation in 2011, reviving the city’s history as the biggest beer producer in the 16th century with 200 breweries producing 77 million liters of beer each year that were exported outside the country. Sadly, the 80 years war (1568 – 1648), the  war on Dutch independence from the Spanish crown ended the city as a  beer-brewing  capital and in 1922, the last brewery closed down.

Koperen Kat produces 70,000 liters of premium beer per annum carrying 12 different tastes and 3 others  called, “seizoensbieren” meaning Seasonal Beers.

De Kokkerie is the oldest cooking studio in The Netherlands that started in the 1980’s. It used to be a venue for private dining. With Covid-19 and the lockdowns, it is presently a traiteur with weekly menus for take-away. It has a wine shop carrying selected wines at reasonable prices.

For more on De Kokkerie and Chef Yuri Verbeek, you can read my previous blog. https://buitenwatersloot.wordpress.com/2021/03/19/serendipity-looking-for-ria-but-i-stumbled-on-yuri/

On Erwin van Oosten, check his video on https://youtu.be/2aG8X6ezCng

Windstar Cruises was named World’s Best Small Ship Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards.

On William I and his assassination: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio/timeline-dutch-history/1568-1584-william-of-orange

SERENDIPITY: looking for Ria but I stumbled on Yuri

Yuri Verbeek is a Dutch celebrity chef & culinary consultant who has graced the world of theatre and fashion runways at home and abroad for his euphoric culinary artistry as I would call it, combined with his passion for music and most inspired by one of the greatest rock star of all time, Prince. Sadly, we lost Prince all too soon but he lives on in the form of a huge poster displayed in the well-kept once-upon-a- time wine cellar turned wines and selected foods shop at the back garden of De Kokkerie, the reservations only private dining restaurant which Yuri now owns since 2003. With Covid-19 hitting the restaurant business worldwide, De Kokkerie is momentarily transformed into a traiteur and a cozy place for customers to pick-up their online meal orders four times a week. Where else can you watch Annie Lennox in concert while picking up your food  other than in Chef Yuri’s kitchen.

Photo: Femke Schook

And here, Prince lives on!

With Yuri’s many creative ideas he could hardly contain, chef Yuri has written many unpublished recipes and authored two published books about his life as a chef and the other, a cookbook written with short introductions of wit & passion. He is also a columnist for some newspapers but at the moment his mind is occupied writing down exciting menus and projects for something of a surprise for the near future when De Kokkerie is again allowed to open its doors to re-welcome its guests, this time for lunch only. A lunch with a twist.

A private dining set-up at the restaurant. Photo: Yuri Verbeek archives
The restaurant as traiteur Photo: Yuri Verbeek archives

A feast for the eyes and palate. A taste of fine dining in de Kokkerie with baked scallops in vanilla oil garnished with organic herbs & edible flowers.

Photo: Yuri Verbeek archives

Way back in the 90’s, my American friend, Bill, was a presenter of a television show in Bangkok called Thailand International on channel 13 state television. One of his guests was Ria van Eijndhoven, the first Dutch female chef who started a cooking program on Dutch television during the 80’s. She came to Bangkok for a promotional event and was asked to be in his show where she talked about Dutch cuisine and De Kokkerie, the oldest cooking studio in the Netherlands where she owned at that time and where many television cooking programs were made.

While walking in Delft along the Buitenwatersloot (literally translated as outside canal) with Bill one afternoon in 2000, we passed by a window with the sign, De Kokkerie. Bill started telling me about Ria whom he interviewed in his television show. He recalls Ria giving him a pair of little Dutch clogs as a gift to pin on his shirt. We didn’t ring the door, we just walked on and said to ourselves, what a small world!

The Buitenwatersloot is an extension of the canal that runs from the city centre of Delft (binnenwatersloot) towards its neighbouring municipality, Den Hoorn. It is also a name of the street & alley on both sides along the water.
The manicured alley along the Buitenwatersloot leading to De Kokkerie.

This year, we had snow in February. As soon as the sun came out, I braved the icy streets. I passed by De Kokkerie. For the many times I have been passing by that narrow lane, the door was always closed. This time, there was a red rope on the footpath leading to the front door, the one they put to cordon-off people from being too close to celebrities or dignitaries when they walk on a red carpet. Although the door is closed, they are open for  business as the woman who came to stand beside me while I was peeking through the window asked if I was there to pick-up my order. De Kokkerie is open? I texted Bill to let him know. He might want to see Ria again. I didn’t have the time to wait for the door to open as the woman rang the bell and I bid her a good day. On my way home from my walk, curiosity took the better of me and I went inside De Kokkerie in search of Ria.

The traiteur was beginning to pick up on customers but a young man who was just three days into his training as a chef met me at the door. I asked for Ria but he doesn’t know where she is and showed me to chef Yuri instead. Something caught my eyes at the entrance table and I thought I saw Ria. There she is, with her chef’s apron and smiling at everyone who enters the door!

Ria, the culinary grandmother of Chef Yuri holds a special place on this table.

On meeting Chef Yuri

Energetic, very busy and running two kitchens at the same time, Chef Yuri welcomed me to his place with enthusiasm, and invited me to see the cooking studio where they used to film cooking programs as Ria told Bill, just at the back of the now traiteur. Posters of his early days as a young chef are mounted on the walls and two huge pots are sitting on the stoves emitting a wonderful aroma of something that you want to literally slurp on, on a very cold February afternoon. “My very own Dutch pea soup,” he quipped.  In his generosity, he poured me half a bowl to try amongst the pastries spread on the busy work table. It was a very busy cooking day. I was too engrossed looking around that I missed the warmth of the soup to savour all the elements and it was already cold when it touched my lips. But it was very good! He sent me home with his own mustard recipe in a bottle, and a gondola (a pastry shaped like a gondola boat filled with salami, chopped peppers and cheese). Best of all, he signed one of his recipe books, Chef Over de Vloer for my perusal. It was a fruitful day!

That afternoon, I rang up my good friend, Laurence Civil, Travel and Food writer living in Surrey, UK, who has profiled some of the best restaurants in Asia and the United Kingdom and have written about prominent award-winning chefs, Michelin stars, World’s 50 Best and Asia’S 50 Best restaurants. He is also a former member of the voting academy. I told Laurence he will love Chef Yuri.

   Wanting to know more about De Kokkerie, I asked to interview our newly found chef. What transcribed is that he also agreed to do an online cooking session with Laurence. When artists like Chef Yuri wants something to happen, they happen fast before the idea disappears. It took one phone call for him to tell me that he will do the online cooking and if I can arrange to have Laurence be ready to watch from the UK in such a short notice. Laurence rushed from work to home to catch up with the time we have agreed for Chef Yuri to cook (The Netherlands is one hour ahead of the UK) and for us to be home before our 9 p.m. curfew. With everyone else’s efforts, we managed to make it happen. The cooking was great, my video shooting went well, and the end result was an evening of fulfillment. Laurence raised his glass of wine to toast at the end of the live online cooking. Though he didn’t taste the innovative take on Lobster Thermidor by Chef Yuri, he will be in Delft to taste one for himself, when travel restrictions are lifted. That was the last of Chef Yuri’s interview for the season and the first online interview across the pond. As restaurants remain close in Europe, online cooking is what is viable for now to interact with chefs.

Here is the link to the online cooking with Chef Yuri, followed by wine pairing with his consultant Sommelier, Allard Sieburgh who recommended ANIMA, a South African Premium to the lobster dish.

Fun & high energy brings out the best of Yuri.

Yuri, The Making of a Celebrity Chef

Yuri’s passion for cooking started when he was 16 and was inspired by his mother’s home cooking and baking. Now in his traiteur, his mother’s apple and rhubarb pies are a permanent supply of the weekly take home menu.

As a young man, Yuri’s mother took him to the first 1-star Michelin restaurant in Delft, Le Chevallier (1980-1989) where he met the first Dutch Chef to acquire three Michelin stars, Cees Helder. From then on, he was determined to become a chef. Not just a chef but the best. He trained at the culinary institute at the Saur Restaurant, one of the oldest  fine dining restaurants of the country that opened in 1927, in The  Hague. Saur restaurant received its first one Michelin star in 1958 and then again 1959. It was awarded again a one star in 1967 and held it until 1989.  The restaurant closed down in November 2013. Yuri’s time at the Saur gave him the best training foundation to be an accomplished chef that he is today. By the time Saur closed down, Yuri has already made a name for himself. That same month, Chef Yuri along with internationally renowned floral designer, Pim van den Akker were busy preparing for their collaboration on what was called the Food Floral Fashion show alongside local fashion designer, Aziz Bekkaoui to be shown at the Prinsenhof Museum in Delft. That was just a foretaste of a bigger show they will bring to the Messe Hannover the following year with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and German Chancellor Angela Merkel opening the event, and then again in another Food Floral Fashion Show in Genoa, Italy in 2016.

Celebrity Chef Yuri Verbeek & internationally renowned florist Pim van den Akker. Photo: From the Yuri & Pim archives.
A flower dress made of moss and wicker at the Food Floral Fashion show in Genoa, Italy. Photo: Nico Alsemgeest/ flowerfactor.nl

Those spectacular Food Floral Fashion shows were a time to show off and show off Yuri did, showcasing his etheric side by creating dishes that explode with presentation & taste, highlighting the magnificence of the flower dresses the models were in. Imagine eating a pearl made of oysters in oyster cream wrapped in Agar-agar (the natural gelatin one from the sea) topped with edible gold leaf melting in your mouth, and diamonds made of vanilla orchid sugar sitting on a purple edible vanilla orchid that explodes with so much flavor like an aphrodisiac as it touches your tongue. Ambrosia!

Those Food Floral Fashion shows were the best highlights of chef Yuri’s career having pushed all boundaries of his creativity to produce spectacular dishes for the discerning palates that came to experience  sight, smell, taste, and an affair to remember.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. These diamonds on a bed of purple edible orchid flowers were a labour of hard work and long hours to create an edible gem. Made from vanilla sugar from the orchid family Vanilla Planifolia plant. Even the men enjoyed them!

All vanilla comes from the fruit of an orchid. Of the tens of thousands of orchids known to the world, Vanilla planifolia is the only orchid to produce an edible fruit and what an amazing fruit that has turned out to be. https://www.gulleygreenhouse.com/vanilla-bean-orchid/

A pearl of great prize complimenting the pearl dress on the right. Priceless! Photos: Yuri Verbeek archives & flowerfactor.nl
Chef Yuri’s food pairing of the moss & wicker dress: Edible wicker sticks made from white chocolate and basil. Photo: Nico Alsemgeest/ flowerfactor.nl

In my interview, chef Yuri talked about another feather in his cap, his wonderful and exciting time as a guest lecturer in the top-notch Dutch culinary school Cas Spijkers Academy, named after its founder, the celebrated Michelin-starred chef, Caspar Henricus Augustinus (Cas) Spijkers, knighted with the Order of Orange Nassau in July 2011 for his great services to the Dutch culinary culture. Unfortunately, he died of esophageal cancer  on the 29th of October 2011, just 3 months after receiving his knighthood. The academy has grown and now has 3 campuses in Nijmegen, Twente and Breda.

Chef Yuri’s message to young students who are still pursuing to be chefs of the future: “Believe in yourselves. Create your own style of cooking and do not simply rely on the things you learned from school. While they are very important, explore your own originality and creativity, experiment on new ideas, put love into your work, practice, practice and practice and you will be fine.”

When I asked him about Ria, he said, “She is my culinary grandmother. Because of her, she opened the door for many chefs to be on television. When I retire, I will hand-over the De Kokkerie to another chef and I expect it to be cared for as Ria did and just as I am caring for it now. The cooking legacy of De Kokkerie should be kept for more future generations of chefs to come, to come here to cook their foods.”

Ria van Eijndhoven has retired from professional cooking. Now in her 80’s she’s enjoying her retirement, and travels the world over whenever the opportunity comes.

One of the three “Chef’s Mirror of Fame” who have cooked at De Kokkerie. Photo: Yuri Verbeek archives.

As I ended my interview, I asked Chef Yuri if the much-loved Dutch winter dish, Stamppot should be reconstructed. The reason is, I am not a fan of the dish because I don’t like its main ingredients of sauerkrautendivekalespinachturnip. I also do not like rookworst.

Chef Yuri gave me a beautiful answer and he said, “I can easily reconstruct it but it’s a culinary heritage. I like to eat it the way our grandparents and forefathers from 100 years ago have been cooking it and we must respect that. The only thing is, when you make it, make a very good one.” That really puts me to shame.

Stamppot (literally means mash pot) eaten during the cold winter months, traditionally made with mashed potatoes, mixed with any mashed vegetables and always accompanied with smoked sausage.

Photo: ah.nl

There is so much to write about chef Yuri. He is truly an inspiration for his culinary moments but I leave it to everyone’s imagination to dream of his many beautiful, sumptuous dishes. Here are a few on this slide show to whet your appetite. Enjoy!

De Kokkerie is a coking studio, a private dining restaurant, a traiteur and a catering company. They also provide cooking workshops. The number of people for workshops may vary during this Covid-19 times. They can be reached by email at: info@dekokkerie.com, by phone: +31(0)15 215 8313 and other means of contact are mentioned in their website: http://www.dekokkerie.com

De Kokkerie Traiteur, Buitenwatersloot 42, 2613ST Delft, The Netherlands

More on Chef Yuri at https://www.dekokkerie.com/yuri-verbeek/

*Photos on Cas Spijkers & Chef Yuri at the Academy: From the Facebook archives of Cas Spijkers Academie Nijmegen.

Chef Over De Vloer cookbook with beautiful photographs by Remy Vaartjes, Hardbound, Dutch language. Available at bol.com

His other book, Kook- en dagboek van een chef-kok, 2003. Dutch. Available here: https://www.bol.com/nl/c/yuri-verbeek/4318911/

Laurence Civil is a British luxury travel writer & food writer. He has travelled extensively worldwide while with British Airways and lived in Bangkok, Thailand for a couple of years before returning to live in his family farm in Surrey, UK. He is currently finishing his Gin Guide to Slovenian Gin distilleries to be published online this year. He enjoys his wine. The Artisanal Provender is his publishing platform. https://www.facebook.com/theartisanalprovender/

William “Bill” Monsour lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. An American originally from Pasadena, California, U.S.A., Bill is an actor, a dancer, a wonderful singer, a Speaker’s Coach, Speech Writer, Training Consultant at Speaking Arts International, a Zoom Expert and a great company. He can be reached at https://speakingartsinternational.nl/en/

Scheveningen at Panorama Mesdag; The beach is open again!

A small part of the Panorama Mesdag painting with real sand as we watch the old village from our man-made sand dune. Photo: Edwin van Doorn socaasia.com

It was the middle of February, cold and rainy day when I visited Panorama Mesdag. An old friend was in the country visiting his parents and with the yearning to visit the real beach in Scheveningen but short of time, we decided to take a “short cut” and went for Scheveningen at Panorama Mesdag in the center of The Hague. It was just days before the media announced all the hype on this virus called, covid-19, and before all museums closed their doors to the public.

As its title suggests, here, we enjoyed a panoramic view of a village by the sea at a 360 degree angle of the sea, the dunes and the fishing village as it looked in the 1900’s. It was just magnificent to be transported back in time and observe the peacefulness of the village with all those ships as its backdrop. Scheveningen is now a bustling seaside town outside The Hague city centre. This exquisite Panorama was painted in 1880 by famous Dutch marine painter, Hendrik Willem-Mesdag, together with the help of his wife, Sientje van Houten who is also an accomplished artist and prominent friends from the Hague School. No, it wasn’t painted in a year’s time just because it was open to the public the following year. It was finished within a period of 4 months, commissioned by the panorama society, Société Anonyme du Panorama Maritime de la Haye, a specially created Belgian company. Sotheby’s mentioned, “The Panorama opened on 1 August 1881, Vincent van Gogh was among the guests who, impressed by the Panorama complained that the canvas had but one fault, that it was faultless.”

In his letter to his brother Theo, dated, Etten, Friday, 26 August 1881, Vincent van Gogh wrote, ” … Then I saw Mesdag’s panorama with him, that’s a work for which one must have the utmost respect. It put me in mind of what Bürger or Thoré, I think, said about Rembrandt’s Anatomy lesson. That painting’s only fault is not to have any faults…” –

So extra-ordinary, this painting is cylindrical and it gives you the feeling that the beach is endless as you stand in the middle of it, surrounded by real sand. With a height of 14 meters and 120 meters in circumference, you get the illusion that you are by the open sea with white clouds towering above you, only it is a white canopy over your head under a huge glass dome, where the mood changes as light hits the glass. It is a work of art and a labour of love from one who loves the sea and Scheveningen.

The observatory (Panorama interior) where viewing is a beautiful experience. Photo: Bob Strik, Reprorek http://reprorek.nl/ Bob Strik fotografie http://www.grootenscherp.nl/ and https://www.sothebys.com/en/museums/panorama-mesdag and courtesy of https://www.panorama-mesdag.nl/

Old village Edwin van Doorn socaasia.com

Ships of old, horses and intricate details of villagers probably doing commerce by the sea. Edwin van Doorn socaasia.com

An extended part of the above photo with cavalry patrol on the beach. Edwin van socaasia.com

Mesdag’s favourite subject, ships and boats. Edwin van Doorn socaasia.com

It’s been said that the woman painting on the right is Sientje, Mesdag’s wife painted by him as his very own signature to the painting. Edwin van Doorn socaasia.com

When the Belgian Panorama Society that commissioned Mesdag for this cyclorama went bankrupt in 1886, the well-to-do Mesdag bought the painting and installed this 14-metre high and 140-metre wide piece in a coordinated, tailor-made building in the Hague, that is now known as Panorama Mesdag, a work to behold.

Panorama Mesdag, c. 1931, The Hague City archives

Now that our beaches are open again, I am looking forward to seeing Scheveningen one of these days. To smell the sea and to reminisce the old quiet village that Hendrik Willem Mesdag has preserved for all these years.

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A very quiet Scheveningen in February 2020 when beaches were closed due to the covid-19 pandemic. Pier tower, Ferris wheel, 300m long Pier at a distance & sand dunes on foreground. Photo: Martinkénaité Agné, A beautiful friend.

Useful information:

Museum Panorama Mesdag
Zeestraat 65
2518 AA Den Haag https://www.panorama-mesdag.nl/

Vincent van Gogh’s letter to his brother Theo: http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let171/letter.html

Martinkénaité Agné used to cook up great recipes at Restaurant Tasca. South European cuisine in Scheveningen. https://www.restauranttasca.nl/

Edwin van Doorn is a seasoned cameraman based in Bangkok, Thailand.

Heaven melts in your mouth! -A tribute to Gregor Pfaff, Executive Pastry Chef extra-ordinaire

Glazed Lime Cheesecake by Chef Gregor

“A good cheesecake has to be light, and must have acid from any citrus fruit to lift up the taste. You can use fruit purees from mango to raspberry or passion fruit. My favourite is Käsekuchen, a German cheese cake,” so was Gregor’s answer when asked recently his thoughts about a cheesecake.

A cake so cheesy, it’s a Raspberry cheesecake by Chef Gregor

An old photo I took from my old magazine

I first met Chef Gregor at the Regent International Hotel in Bangkok in April 1995 before it was re-branded as Four Seasons Bangkok in 2003 (and on 1 March 2015, it became Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel & Spa). 

First time in Asia and arrived in one of the hottest months of the year, he wasn’t fazed by the sweltering weather instead he said, “It’s nice to come out of Europe and coming to Bangkok is a good change.” How good a change could that be? He said, “I’ve never seen so much people and so much traffic. This is such an experience! but I love the people because they are friendly and warm.”

Gregor Pfaff comes from the place where the famous Black Forest dessert was created, Germany. Like most European chefs, he comes from a long line of chefs in his own family that gave him the push and inspiration to become one and landing him jobs in prestigious properties as Hotel Sacher in Salzburg & Vienna, The Ritz in London, The Leela Palaces Hotels & resorts in India, The Peninsula hotels in the Philippines,  the 3-star Michelin Residenz Heinz Winkler Aschau in Bayern, Germany, just to name a few along with other Michelin starred restaurants.

Dressed in his whites, this young, tall, good-looking and accomplished chef could pass for a catwalk model. He just left the 2-Michelin star Rheinhotel Fischerzunft Schaffhausen in Switzerland and moved to Bangkok to showcase what he brought with him: Passion, Perfection & Presentation. While he spends long hours in the hotel kitchen inventing and re-inventing his creations, he makes time to go out of the city and takes a motorbike for a spin on the countryside. If not, he pops in, in other hotels to see what the competition is making.

In those days when there wasn’t so much competition, The Regent/ Four Seasons  Bangkok on Rajdamri road was The Place to be and to be seen. Travel & Leisure rated Four Seasons as One of the Best Hotel groups in the world and has AAA 5- diamond award. Chef Gregor’s  presence at the Regent Bangkok and his 3P’s created an excitement and buzz from the dessert plates served at the hotel’s elegant lobby’s High Tea,  in their stylish restaurants, hotel functions and to the hotel’s bakery which he looked after. 

Now the Anantara Hotel, the elegant lobby where many functions have been held Photo:hotelnewsresource.com
Photo: hotelnewsresource.com
Afternoon tea Photo: thiefcat bloggang.com

I have attended many cocktail functions and afternoon tea’s in this beautiful lobby adorned by hand-painted silk murals on the wall and ceiling with friends and colleagues from the media.

The theme of the grand staircase mural is ‘The Coronation of a King’, referring to the rise of the Chakri Dynasty to the throne of Thailand. The mural features four prominent devices: the elephant signifying war; the horse signifying commerce; the chariot representing royalty; and the boat signifying trade.

The Coronation of the King Photo: flyertalk.com

One of Chef Gregor’s passion is chocolates. He talked to me about the basic steps of chocolate making which sounded easy but in reality, it takes hours to execute it from preparing the molds to filling it, letting it set, un-molding and then eventually packaging the finished product in a meticulous and beautiful way which he also supervised. He created a Christmas scene out of pure chocolate, so special that we cannot resist but make it as the front cover of our December issue. Combined with the ingenuity of one of our in-house photographers in setting up the prop, here are the chocolates carefully made and hand-crafted by a skilled chocolatier and his artistic flair.

Chef Gregor’s basic chocolates, an old photo lifted from the H&T December ’95 issue

In 2004, while working as Executive Pastry Chef for Conrad Hotels & Resorts in Bangkok (Conrad is a joint venture between Hilton Hotels Corporation & Hilton International), Gregor and his team created “The World’s Largest Chocolate Heart.” Shutterstock now has the rights to the photos of that chocolate heart unabling me to show it here.

Gregor and his eight-people team created a chocolate heart weighing 922 kilograms, 5 metres tall and 5 metres wide that was made in over 21 days, all by hand. The reason for creating the World’s Largest Chocolate Heart was to make that year’s Valentine’s Day stand out like no other place in Bangkok. It was made of edible chocolate using only the highest grade of quality chocolate consisting of 72% cocoa, made form cocoa beans from Trinidad, Tobago and Maraca Ibo, Venezuela. That just shows how much Chef Gregor would go to the extent of putting his time on something that he is so passionate about and choosing only the best ingredients. “The quality of your ingredients and your execution determines the outcome of your creation. I put my heart in everything I do in my work and that is what I call perfection,” Chef Gregor said proudly.

Chef Gregor in one of his relaxed moments when not working.

I haven’t seen Chef Gregor for almost 2 decades and the photos I have of him and his creations are reminiscent of my Bangkok days. I now live in Europe and so does he. Gladly, there is the internet and emailing has made it possible for me to receive his cheesecake photos. He apologises however that he couldn’t send more as he does not always photograph his works. “Too busy decorating them or directing and supervising my staff before they reach the customers,” he said.

Years of mastering his craft and trade to excellence and perfection, Gregor hasn’t slowed down and continues to seek greener pastures wherever possible. His sweet creations are always a delight to the epicurean palate. He is after all, one of the best Pastry chefs I have ever known for his creativeness, artistic mind and eccentricities.

With the covid-19 virus pandemic, many have turned to cooking and baking to pass the time but no one can duplicate the works of real artisans who have spent years learning the trade to deliver something that the senses are fully satisfied from visual, to taste and unforgettable experience. Chef Gregor has made all of that happen which I and my friends experienced when he was at the Regent Bangkok. For sure, he did the same wherever he went. Maybe it’s an overstatement but if there’s a Hollywood Walk of Fame, Gregor deserves to be in the Great Wall of Chefs (if ever there is).

If you find the time to try one of his suggested recipes, here’s what he sent me for a Fruit Cheesecake. Have a good try and happy baking!

Filling: 1000 gr cream cheese, 215 gr sugar, 100 gr eggs, 200 gr whipping cream, 175 gr raspberry puree.

Mix cream cheese and sugar. Add the eggs, then the cream. Bake at 160 degrees for 90 minutes.

Sable Crust: 265 gr butter, 245 gr flour, 135 gr almond flour, 135 gr sugar, 4 gr baking powder.

Make a sable dough with the above. Chill it. Roll out at 3 mm and bake at 180 degrees C. Crumble the dough and press it into a desire ring.

Insert Raspberry : 375 gr fruit puree, 135 gr cream, 130 gr granulated sugar, 32 gr cornstarch

Heat the fruit puree and cream. Add the granulated sugar and cornstarch and bring to a boil. Mix and pour into *flexipan. Freeze and insert inside the cheesecake.

*Silicone flexipans are lightweight, flexible and can withstand temperatures up to 260 degrees C. These are much better than the old-style aluminum pans.

CHANEL-ling 2020 with Nº 5 Léau

“An elegant, limited-edition set featuring The Classic Bottle, plus a travel-friendly Mini Twist and Spray to showcase N°5 L’EAU Eau de Toilette — a fresh, radiant fragrance with citrus, Ylang-Ylang and White Musk notes”

There’s something about numbers and as we enter the year 2020, it is a new decade of many changes. Many predict it will be a year of good things and new beginnings. And new beginnings it will be. It’s the ‘Year of the Rat”. In the Chinese Yin & Yang, the Rat represents the beginning of a new day and a symbol of wealth and overabundance.

No. 5 is Mademoiselle Coco Chanel’s favourite number because she found it magical and it is said that it has luck-giving qualities. With the arrival of Nº 5 Léau and youthful Lily-Rose Depp as its muse, we would be looking to a new generation of Nº 5 followers. Millennial’s have a strong buying power and that’s what Nº 5 Léau has been aiming for.

One of the many holiday campaigns created by celebrated photographer, illustrator & graphic designer, Jean-Paul Goude.

Chanel’s Nº 5 Léau was launched in the summer of 2016 (see my older post on Chanel, Her Golden Girls & Pretty Boy Max) and aimed to a younger generation of Chanel perfume lovers. Perfumeur Olivier Polge, started working on its composition from 2013 until it was ready to launch 3 years later. He came up with a fresh and lighter fragrance differentiating it from the sophisticated original Nº 5. It is bottled in its whiskey decanter-like image and diamond stopper (inspired by the Place Vendome in Paris) just like its older sister, the iconic Chanel Nº 5. Its top notes include lemon, mandarin, orange, neroli and aldehydes, a synthetic component that would exaggerate notes and make them sparkle, while adding an unusual complexity to fragrance. It is this aldehydes that created the “mistake” in Nº 5 when the assistant of reputable perfumeur Ernest Beaux added more than the required dose to one bottle of the ten samples presented to Coco Chanel’s new perfume. The bottles were numbered 1-5 and 20-24 respectively. With more aldehydes added to bottle No. 5, Coco particularly loved that scent and the birth of the timeless Nº 5 was announced. That was 1921. “It was what I was waiting for. A perfume like nothing else. A woman’s perfume, with the scent of a woman”, said Chanel.

To celebrate, she invited Beaux and friends to an upmarket restaurant on the Riviera and decided to spray the perfume around the table. Each woman that passed stopped and asked what the fragrance was and where it came from. The rest is history.

Ninety eight years later and moving on, Chanel Nº 5 is still the world’s most iconic perfume. Its fame, style and sales (one bottle is sold every 30 seconds they say) still uncontested. Coco Chanel’s words, “A woman should wear a perfume wherever she would like to  be kissed”, must have sparked the rise of many other new perfumes in the market but nothing could rival Chanel’s Nº 5 .

 The day I visited the Chanel boutique in The Hague before Christmas, Sylvana, the manager was looking very elegant and very busy looking after their customers. It’s a shopping season of course! “I’m sorry, darling, we’re sold out for the Limited Christmas Edition of Chanel Nº 5 Léau as well as the Nº 5“, she said. I imagined the “frenzy” of Chanel lovers getting a share of the limited editions, just as it was at the liberation of Paris after WW2 when American GI’s flocked to the Chanel boutique at the Rue Cambon, lining up to buy a bottle or two of the Nº 5 for a wife or a fianceé waiting back home.

American GI’s in front of the Chanel boutique at 31 Rue Cambon, Paris. Photo from pinterest.com photographed by Serge Lido, Russian-French photographer (Moscow Jan. 28, 1906- March 6, 1984, Paris) best known for his superb ballet dance photography.

“Now I need my coffee. I’ve been standing all day”, Sylvana said who really needed a pick-me-up hot drink to keep her back on her toes. Before she made her exit, she handed me their last Classic miniature Chanel Nº 5 for which I was so happy. T’is the season to be jolly! There will be another Christmas and there will be another chance to line up for another Limited Edition. 2020, here we are!

Sylvana, the ever elegant boutique manager of Chanel at de Bijenkorf,
The Hague.

       

                                           

Scenes along the way, the river and Bangkok Skyline

Bangkok and the River of Kings, here I am! Half tourist and half Bangkokian. I still got it in me somehow to navigate around the city without a car to drive which is really good because Bangkok’s traffic is so bad, you’ll end up with nothing to talk about other than your frustration being in traffic.

Taxi drivers refuse to pick me up when I tell them where I’m going. Rot tid (bad traffic) they say and you’re left to flag down another one who says the same or even worse, rot tid maak maak. Song roy Baht. (it’s very bad traffic. Two hundred Baht) No, thank you. I wouldn’t pay that much to be driven less than ten kilometers to the nearest Sky Train station. So what better way to travel than taking the boat. No traffic and the scenery along the way is beautiful!

And so begins the scenic boat rides to the Sky Train that takes me into the city centre for the duration of my vacation, and I am actually enjoying it. There’s the big blue sky above me, the murky water lapping underneath me and the warm breeze that always lulls me half sleep.

I chose to come at the height of the hottest period of the year in the months of March & April because I’d rather sweat it out than come during the monsoon months of July-September and walk in flooded streets like the last time I was here.

The landscape along the banks of the river have dramatically changed since I saw it last. Many high-rise condominiums and hotel buildings have been erected adding a variety to the beautiful temples, houses on stilts, old buildings and bridges. I only wish the government should not allow too many sky scrapers to mushroom around the river so they won’t swallow up the old Chao Phraya that we still want to preserve.

The abandoned Colonial Style old Custom House stands proudly beside tall buildings. This was where all foreign ships had to report to pay taxes. King Rama V built this Custom House in 1888 and was designed in Neo Renaissance style by an Italian architect. In 1949 this building was converted to a fire station after the Custom House moved to Khlong Toey port. This artistic building has been the backdrop of films like Killing Fields and In Mood For Love but I guess it will soon be converted into another mall or hotel.

Now that I discovered that taking the boat is not only a fun experience, it is the easiest way to reach many of the touristic places that I have always put off visiting when I used to live here. Each pier takes you to a lot of places to discover. If you stop at the Memorial Bridge/Saphan Phut, here’s what you will discover:

Saphan Phut Night Market, King Rama I Monument, Pak Khlong Talad, Bangkok’s biggest 24-hour flower/fruit market (turn left out of pier, walk for 10 minutes), Sampeng Lane, a narrow old alley lined with cheap clothes, food and household items, Pahurat Road/Little India, the Indian enclave famed for its Hindu iconography and fabrics.

Memorial Bridge (Saphan Put), one of the earliest bridges linking Bangkok to the other side of the river.

If you decide to stop at Maharaj Pier, here’s what you will see:

The iconic Grand Palace ‘s most venerable temples, including Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Mahathat National Museum, Sanam Luang, the old, oval-shaped Royal park. Make sure you wear respectable clothes. For women, no sleeveless and no shorts or mini skirts.

The Grand Palace , view from the river.

There is so much to discover while cruising along the Chao Phraya. Here’s a replica of the first Thai Post Office called, Praisaneeyakan, originally erected near the area of Pak Khlong Talat (flower market), right on the south of Memorial Bridge.

Praisaniyakarn (original spelling, same pronunciation) was abolished in 1982 for the construction of Phra Pok Klao Bridge on the occasion of the 200th anniversary celebration of Rattanakosin Kingdom (Bangkok), which parallels Memorial Bridge on the south side. The current building is a replica built on the plot of land nearest to the original site in order to use as the Thailand’s postal museum. It was built in 2003 by the Department of Highways with a budget of six million baht completed in 2010 – wikipedia

Replica of Thailand’s first postal office. My photo from the boat along Chao Phraya.
Replica of Thailand’s first post office. Photo: trungydang , wiki user.

There’s so much to say about the scenic route along the river but for now, these photos should give an inspiring glimpse how much one can see that there’s another side of Bangkok which is not just congested streets, but a breath of history amidst Bangkok’s transformation to a mega metropolis and ultra modernity.

Chao Phraya Express Boat. A hop-on/hop-off boat and advertising the latest mega mall along the river, ICONSIAM.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) after sunset
Houses on stilts
River South Tower (L), 6th tallest building in Thailand
Millennium Hilton (far left) & new high-rise condominiums
View from the lobby of ICONSIAM facing the river & the many skyscrapers across the water.
The ICONSIAM shopping mall and its hotels & residences beside.
Magnolia’s Waterfront Residences (L) current tallest building in Thailand & The Residences Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (5th tallest).



A bit of information on the Royal Barge Procession along the Chao Phraya:

The Chao Phraya has always been Bangkok’s special feature. It’s called The River of Kings because its monarchs, past and present, have used the river to travel to visit parts of the kingdom when road travel was not very convenient. In modern times, the monarch mainly travel the river during the Royal Barge Ceremony, a grand spectacle of religious and royal ceremony displaying the very best of Traditional Thai art craftsmanship on 52 barges manned by 2,082 oarsmen. The Royal and main barge called the Narai Song Suban, which King Rama IX (King Bhumiphol Adulyadej) built in 1994, is the only barge built during his reign. All the rest are historical barges.

In October this year as part of the final rite of the coronation of Rama X, about 2,300 oarsmen, paddling to rhythmic barge-rowing songs, will accmpany the king on one of the ornate royal barges, to present robes to Buddhist monks at Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), one of the most famous of many temples along the Chao Phraya River. See photos I have added here.

The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, on board the Narai Song Suban Barge or Golden Swan. Photo: Mark Jochim, 2006.
The then Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn who is now Rama X, rides the Supphanahongse Royal Barge representing King Rama IX, commemorating His Majesty’s 85th birthday on Dec. 5, 2012. Photo: Chanat Katanyu for the Bangkok Post, 10 Nov. 2012.
Oarsmen. Photo: Mick Shippen, Travel photographer & writer.
One of the historical barges, The Suphannahongse Royal State Barge . Photo: Lerdsuwa at a dress rehearsal 2007.
Bow of the Royal Barge, Narai Song Suban. Photo: Lerdsuwa  at a dress rehearsal 2007.


A collection of some of the Thai barges can be seen at the National Museum of Royal Barges in the Bangkok Noi District. The present fleet of barges was restored during the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, as some had suffered damage in bombing raids on Bangkok during World War II.  Only eight important barges, including all four royal barges, are displayed in the museum due to limited space.  The remainder are kept at Wasukri Pier, next to the National Library of Thailand. All are stored out of the water to prevent deterioration. They return to the Chao Phraya River only for a Royal Barge Procession.

ICONSIAM is the latest addition to Bangkok’s luxurious shopping malls. It is so huge and opulent, you have to come back many times to see and experience everything on offer. For more interesting information, check out wikipedia. Somehow, WordPress does not allow me to add the info.