Next Stop Cabos!

Big changes are here!  After living in the SF bay area for 17 years, I would never have guessed our next move would be to Mexico, but guess what???  It is!  Xavier was offered a fantastic opportunity to open the new Montage hotel in Los Cabos, Mexico as their Executive Chef.  We sure didn’t see this coming, but with so many different connections to this property all roads seemed to lead us to our final decision.  The new hotel is located within the 39 acre Twin Dolphin masterplanned community situated overlooking the Santa Maria Bay.  For more information on this stunning property check “Montage Cabos”

We arrived just before the soft opening, which was in May 2018.  The hotel was still under construction and 1000’s of worker were literally working night and day to make the date for the official soft opening date – Here are some “before” photos of when we went to check out Los Cabos and the new project.  The grand opening is scheduled for May.   More posts coming on our new life in Mexico….stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two “full” days in Mexico City

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Hola Mexico City!

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We have heard so many great things about Mexico City, and were so excited to finally check it out.  We figured that since we were already in Mexico for the MFC Conference,  why not stop for a few days on our way home?  We did a lot of reading and research to find out what hotel we wanted to stay at and (unfortunately there is no Ritz-Carlton – at this time Xavier worked for the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, CA) decided on the Four Seasons.  We were originally considering either the Four Seasons or the Hotel Condesa DF.  We had a chance to see the Hotel Condesa DF during our trip, and we were so happy we chose the Four Seasons.  Not that there was anything wrong with the Hotel Condesa DF, but we found it a bit too trendy for us….however, many people might find this to be exactly what they are looking for, it just wasn’t the match for us.

Obviously Xavier and I stay at many hotels around the world, both for work and pleasure, and I have to say The Four Seasons Mexico City is now on the list of one of our favorite hotels.  The hotel is located quite close to the hot Condesa and Polanco neighborhoods, and off the Boulevard of Paseo de la Reforma.

We immediately loved the design – which is hacienda with a modern twist.  You would never know that the hotel is over 21 years old.  It looks new and fresh, and is definitely a place where you feel comfortable, and want to come back to at the end of a long day.  We loved the inner courtyard that all the rooms look into which creates the hacienda feel.

 

We enjoyed drinks each evening at their courtyard bar – they make a great Spritz!  How cute it this little “secret” spot?

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Cleary I am gushing about the design of the hotel, but probably even more impressive was the first class service we received.  Everyone from the front and concierge desks, to the director of public relations who we met while getting a coffee, was friendly, engaging and hospitable.  The hotel’s website:  “here”

Here are a few photos I took of the hotel

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Front Desk/Lobby Check in (above)

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Corridor to courtyard and guest room elevators (above)

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One of the lounge areas off corridor (above)

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Coffee shop (above)

We arrived late in the afternoon, and after we got checked in headed for the courtyard bar for a “drink and think” about our plans for the next day.  Xavier had of course already made our dinner arrangements for the evening at one of Mexico City’s top restaurants, Quintonil.    I think Xavier was considering Quintonil or Pujol as our more high end meal option and decided on Quintonil.   Ouintonil is number 22 on the World’s Best List, and is known for contemporary Mexican cuisine.  Jorge Vallejo is the Chef, and is actually a protege of Pujol’s Chef Enrique Olvera.   Our dinner was great, and we tried so many “different” and unexpected things.  It was definitely an elevated dining experience and we were happy with our choice.

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DAY 1

As I am sitting here writing, which is long, long after this trip, I am glad I took some good notes and photos to recall our trip highlights.  As you will see there were many.  I really can’t believe we squeezed in as many things as we did in 2 1/2 days.  There is so much to see and do in Mexico City and we wanted to absorb as much of it as we could.  Here is our first day and some of our favorite moments.

Before we officially started our day we wanted to stop for an authentic Mexican breakfast at a Restaurante El Cardenal which was recommended to us by our dear friend Rosi.  They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but apparently are well-known for their traditional Mexican breakfast specialities.  Here is their website: “El Cardenal”

We were told that we have to have the Doña Olivia hot chocolate – OMG!  This cup of hot chocolate was silky, rich and simply delicious.  As you can see in the photo below it is prepared table side with a milinillo, a traditional wooden chocolate whisk, with the best Mexican chocolate, Doña Olivia.

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We enjoyed several dishes;  Huevos revueltos a la cazuela (Scrambled eggs covered with a hot red sauce ground in a stone mortar) – below

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As well as the Chicken Chilaquiles Verdes with Tomatillo Sauce (below)

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Our first stop after breakfast was the Roman Catholic Cathedral Metropolitan which started construction in 1573 and was completed in 1813.  It is situated on the Plaza de la Constitución in Downtown Mexico City, and over the centuries has survived fires as well as sinking structure, and was once one of the world’s most endangered historic sites.   An interesting fact….The cathedral is home to two of the largest 18-century organs in the Americas.

 

While walking to our next stop, we passed these amazing larger than life sculptures by Spanish artist, Xavier Mascaró.  The temporary exhibit was located in the Historic City Center’s Plaza Seminario.  Here is a bit more information about the artist “Xavier”

 

Up next was a stop the prominent cultural center of Mexico City, the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Place of Fine Arts).  It is often referred to as “The Cathedral of Art in Mexico” as it has hosted some of the most notable events in music, dance, theatre, opera and literature and has held important exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography.

The exterior of the building is primarily Neoclassical and Art Nouveau and the interior is primarily Art Deco. The building is best known for its murals by Diego Rivera, Siqueiros and others, as well as the many exhibitions and theatrical performances its hosts, including the Ballet Folklórico de México.  We had a chance to quickly go inside to see the some of the paintings and famous murals, as well a special Rivera/Picasso exhibit. 

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If you are Catholic  or religious you won’t want to miss the Villa de Guadalupe, a former separate town, now a neighborhood in northern Mexico City which in 1531 was the site of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the most renowned Marian apparition in the Americas.  She can be venerated in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, located in the villa (town).  This town is considered one of the holiest places in Catholicism.   It receives about 40 million pilgrims and tourists a year.

 

Here you will see where the old meets new with the more recent construction of the Basilica, which was designed to accommodate 10,000 worshipers.

 

So….it’s now lunch time and we of course plan to hit one of the many markets here in Mexico City.  Markets are the lifeblood of this city and come in all sizes, and are filled with everything from food to antiques.  Of course, we were on the hunt for good food, and as always, love to immerse ourselves in the local colors, sounds, smells, and, of course, taste!!

 

We decided on the Mercado Coyoacan, which is a classic public market located in the upscale neighborhood of Coyoacan.  I should add that this is also the neighborhood of the DO NOT MISS, Museum Freida Kahlo.  This traditional  two-story market has produce, meat, handicrafts…basically it has it all.   We decided on Tostadas – and had a choice of so many different options.

 

Before heading on, we got tempted by some nearby street food.  Corn is major ingredient in Mexican cooking.  It is used for many, many things such as making tamales, tortillas, and beverages, and soups.  In addition, Esquites and Elotes are also very popular street food snacks.   Esquites is generally made from mature corn, not fresh or dried.  Oftentimes the grains of corn are first boiled in salted water. Then they are sautéed in butter with onions, chopped pequin chiles, epazote and salt. It is served hot in small cups and topped with varying combinations of lime juice, chili powder or hot sauce, salt, and mayonnaise.  Elotes on the other hand is basically grilled corn on the cob, typically served on a stick.  

 

Of course there were Churros!  We could’t miss out on this sweet treat.  Churros are a fried-dough pastry—predominantly choux—based snack. They are traditional in Spain and Portugal, from where they originate, as well as in Mexico.  You can find Churro stands, stalls and store fronts all over Mexico City.  We hit one of the top recommended Churro locations; Churreria General de la Republica (Website Churro)

 

So….The DO NOT MISS Museum Freida Kahlo was our next stop.  This was definitely a trip highlight – actually we still often reflect back on visiting this special museum.  Located in Coyoacán the 1950s house La Casa Azul (The Blue House) is where Freida spent most of her life, living there until her death. The house was donated by her husband, Diego Rivera, with the intention of making it a museum in her honor, the Museum of Frida Kahlo. Here, Khalo’s, Rivera’s and some other artists’ work is on display, as well as photographs, artifacts and personal items, opening the doors on the life and history of the celebrated Mexican artist.

 

As the day is nearing it’s end we decided one last stop before heading back to the hotel before dinner.  Having had heard about the neighborhood of San Angel, we decided to stop for a drink at the San Angel Inn.   Unfortunately we did not have time to explore this lovely area (next time for sure), as we could tell driving to the Inn it was a very nice.  It is considered one of the best neighborhoods in Mexico City brimming with beautiful architecture, grand homes and historical buildings.  Many have been converted into galleries, high-end shops and restaurants.

The San Angel Inn  “INN” was an old Monastery and is now home to a stunning restaurant, decorated Colonial Mexican style.  Sitting in a flower-crowded garden, I ordered a margarita and was so surprised at the beautiful presentation.  Like I said earlier, we definitely want to return to explore this area a bit more on our next visit.

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Dinner this evening was at a restaurant called Huset Cocina de Campo “Huset”   It was a nice evening, with country style cooking in the heart of this vibrant city.  Chef Maycoll Calderón, who has quite the resume, is considered one of Mexico’s most talented chefs, cooking simple seasonal dishes cooked over fire and smoke.  We enjoyed our meal sitting in their outdoor terrace.  The cuisine and menu matched the description;  rustic, casual and approachable food paired with  great service and nice dining ambiance.  Here is menu:

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Our last stop of the day was to a Mexican Speak Easy called Hanky-Panky.  Who would have guessed that Speak-Easys are a big thing in Mexico right now.   Hanky-Panky is situated in La Juarez, one of the Mexico City’s most emblematic neighborhoods that is currently experiencing a renewal of business and culture.  It’s not the easiest to find, but Xavier has determination and is fluent in Spanish, so this really helped us find this hidden location. Hanky Panky is sure to take you by surprise even though you’ll be expecting it. Reservations are a must in order to receive directions to the bar. You’ll be led from the empty taqueria through what appears to be a storage closet with a coded keypad before emerging into the lively and glamorous cocktail bar on the other side. Inside it’s dark and glittering.  Cheers!

DAY 2 

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Good Morning Mexico City – Day 2!   Today we decided to start off our second day at another great Mexican market.  Mercado Medellín is a public market located in the Colonia Roma district of the city.  It is known as the market in the city where one can find produce and goods from other countries in Latin America such as Colombia and Cuba, whose flags hang from many stalls, as well as from Yucatán in Mexico.   We really loved this market and enjoyed sampling many local items, such as nopales (cactus) Mexican coffee, moles (traditional Mexican sauce), salsas (all degrees of hotness), and much, much more .  I especially loved the fresh juices available with all the wonderful fruits.

 

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We could have spent much more time here, but as usual we had so many things to see in such a short period of time.  We actually didn’t make it too far….basically, we made it outside of the market where we found this local street vendor who was making fresh Tlacoyos.  I had never seen or hear of these before, but let me tell you, they are delicious!    Tlacoyas are torpedo-shaped, and made of masa.  They are fatter than fresh corn tortillas and stuffed with cooked ground beans, cheese, fava beans, chicharron or other ingredients and fried or toasted.  These were pan fried on a grill and made one-by-one to order.  The woman making them must be well-known because she had a constant line.  They were well worth the wait.

 

 

 

 

 

After we finally made it out of the market – Guess what?  It was time for lunch.  I can’t remember how Xavier selected our lunch spot, (my guess a chef   recommendation), but we went to lunch at Restaurante Nicos “Nicos”

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I feel badly, that I didn’t write down what we ate, but I do remember that they made table-side Guacamole.  I know we enjoyed it, but sometimes I think that Xavier would rather have street food than sit in a restaurant.  Obviously it’s more local of course, but I am not quite as adventuresome so, he compromises on my behalf.

After lunch we decided to check out a museum we had been hearing so much about called Museo Soumaya.  If you enjoy art and visiting museums, then this is a don’t miss!  From the stunning exterior architecture, to the collections on display inside, makes it  definitely worthy of a visit.

 

The museum has a collection of over 66,000 pieces of art, with the majority consisting of European works from the 15th to the 20th centuries. It also holds a vast Mexican art collection, religious relics, historical documents and coins.  The world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic and colonial era coins is also housed here. 

 

In addition there is the largest collection of casts of sculptures by Auguste Rodin outside France, and the world’s largest private collection of his art.  A truly specular collection!  

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After visiting the museum, we wrapped up our day with some shopping in the Polanco neighborhood.  There are some nice shops and it was fun to see the local neighborhood life with small coffee shops, cafes and restaurants.  Our last night’s dinner was at Guzina Oaxaca.  It wasn’t my favorite of all the restaurants that we went to, but I am mentioning it because some may really enjoy it – “Guzina”

Overall, we would definitely recommend visiting Mexico City.  We felt very safe (however we don’t stray into areas that could be questionable), and enjoyed the different neighborhoods, the local people,  and food and culture the city has to offer.  We hope to return someday, and now that we are living in Mexico, this might happen sooner than later.

 

Perceval Knives

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I don’t know why these knives were on my mind today……maybe it’s because we used them last night (Xavier made a delish duck dish).  We don’t use these knives everyday, but when I pull them out, it sure brings in home dining to another level.

We first saw these knives several years back in Paris.  Many of the 2 and 3 star Michelin restaurants were using them, and we really loved their feel and cutting capabilities.  It was easy to realize why many restaurants were using them.

Being that I never know what to get Xavier gift wise, I thought he would like using these knives with his at home culinary creations.  Yes!  I have heard it is superstitious to buy someone knives as a gift, and that they can bring bad luck, but I figured this old tale wouldn’t apply in the culinary-world.

After doing a bit of research I found out what makes these knives so special and why they are gaining popularity, even though they have been around for ages.   Each knife is hand made in the village of Thiers, in the Auvergne region of France.  Thiers is  the capital of cutlery and this dates back to the 14th century!  Originally, the knives were made as pocket knives, and over time developed to the common table knife.  Not only are the Perceval knives made in Thiers, so is Laguiole which is probably the most well known.

Back when I bought Xavier these knives they were not available for sale here in the US.  I had to do some secret shopping with the help of a friend to get them from Europe.   As great things always do, these knives found their way to American restaurant tables, and the New York Times even featured an article on their gaining popularity and availability in the US.  “Perceval”

The site that I purchased my knives from features the entire collection of Perceval knives, offering different handles, handle materials and colors.  I chose the Mat Black in the 9.47 model, which we love.  This knife has an excellent cutting power and has a nice smooth/sleek feel in the hand.  I find the simplicity to be rather elegant, and I really enjoy when we use them.   In the 9.47 they make a synthetic and Natural handle, and both come in a variety of colors that would be a great look at any place-setting.  From the site that I purchased ours, they are sold in sets of six and are presented in a lovely orange case.  I always love anything in an orange box!! :).  This is the site where I got ours.  “9.47 Mat Black”

 

 

 

 

 

Cayman Cookout/10 Year Anniversary – Grand Cayman

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Once again I had the opportunity to attend yet another amazing Ritz-Carlton event with my husband, Xavier.  As I have mentioned before in previous posts  (and most of you already know), my husband was the Executive Chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay situated along the magnificent California Pacific coast.  Xavier had been with the Ritz-Carlton for over 26 years and frequently participated in culinary events world-wide throughout the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

The latest event was in January at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.  This year was the 10 year anniversary and was full of extra special events and activities.  It really is “THE” culinary event of the year!!

Held over four days in January, acclaimed Chef Eric Ripert hosts an unique, interactive culinary celebration with some of the country’s most talented chefs, along with wine and spirit experts.   This years’s  event was packed full of extravagant tastings, demonstrations, beach and pool parties and cook-offs.

What is great about this event is that you are one-on-one with all these amazing Chefs.  They are so approachable and interact with everyone in a relaxed and casual environment (they even offer some great tips!)

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Some of this year’s fantastic Chef lineup (besides host Chef Eric Ripert) were – Yannick Alléno (from Paris!!),  Daniel Boulud, Dominique Crenn, José Andrés, Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Mina, and Dean Max….(there are just too many to name!).   These Chef’s offered classes and demonstrations, as well as  participated in all the group events with delicious food stations or plated meals.

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Here are some of my favorite highlights of this years event.  I have to admit there were a lot of great moments!

Speaking of Moments…….One of the many fantastic sponsors was Moët & Chandon creating many “Moët Moments” throughout the cookout weekend.  We were so spoiled with champagne the entire time and I loved every second of it!

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Now this is what I call a Moët Moment! It doesn’t get much better than this…..except for…..

Maybe THIS – The Moët Grand Vintage Tasting!

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Here Moët & Chandon presented their “Grand Vintage “ collection of single vintage champagnes dating back to the 1980s.  What a rare and special treat to get to taste these, especially since they were perfectly paired with small bites presented by Chef Yannick Alleno, the 3 Michelin star chef from Ledoyen Paris

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Another favorite moment was the Beach Bash at Rum Point which was just a short catamaran sail across the stunning turquoise Caribbean waters.  Such fun in the sun with more great food prepared by all the guest chefs, and of course more Moët & Chandon!!!   Below is Xavier’s station and the dish that he and his team prepared.

 

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IMG_0177 Fiscalini Cheddar Beignets, Porcini Salt – Sooooo light and airy and SO Good!

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Xavier at his station…..

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What a great setting for a beach bash!

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Of course we needed to support our chefs and test their dishes!

Ending the event in Moët style was the gala pool party – I do a lot of events for my job, so it was really nice to be a guest, and not have to check on all the details.   Look at this dance floor over the pool!  Trust me it got used!

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If you are into food, wine and champagne I strongly recommend attending this event if given the chance.  Of course Xavier was working, but we had a blast and hope to have the chance to return again for more Cayman fun!  Here is the website to this years event to see all the fabulous events  “cayman”

If this gives any indication of how much fun the Cayman Cookout is – we ended on this note……..

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Culinary Whirlwind Weekend Part Two MCF Brunch and Cookbook Signing

When I say Culinary Whirlwind Weekend I MEAN IT!  If you had a chance to read my last posting Culinary Whirlwind Weekend – Part One you might not will realize that both of these events took place over the same weekend, actually on the same day.   So……it was Culinary on overdrive to say the least.

In Culinary Weekend Part One, I attended the fabulous pastry class and luncheon of Chef Willam Werner of San Francisco’s Craftsman and Wolves.  This was loads of tasty fun!  Well, right after the lunch, there was a Master Chef’s of France brunch and cookbook signing in Navio, the hotel’s restaurant.

It’s been months in the making, but the Master Chef’s of France (MCF) recently came out with a cookbook, and the locally based Chef’s all came to The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay to cook and sign!  Each Chef had a food station at the brunch, and the new cookbook was available for purchase and signing.  It was such a fun afternoon and YES…..I was SO FULL and absolutely did NOT have dinner that night!

Below are the outstanding locally based Master Chef’s of France that participated in the cookbook and brunch……

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Here is the book – Each participating Chef has two recipes.  I believe that the book can be purchased at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.  If you have problems locating one, email me and I can see how you can get one.  It most certainly is worth having in your culinary library.

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Pictured with (left to right):  My husband, Chef Xavier Salomon, Chef Gerald Hirigoyen, and Chef Laurent Manrique

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Pictured with (left to right):  Chef Roland Passot and Chef Claude Le-Tohic  – Love the French/American Flags 🙂

Stand tuned for more Tasty Adventures……….

 

Culinary Whirlwind Weekend – Part One Global Cuisine Series with Pastry Chef William Werner

It was a culinary whirlwind a few months ago at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.  For those of you that know me, know that The Ritz Half Moon Bay is where my husband Xavier works as Executive Chef.  Fortunately for me, sometimes I get invited to participate in a few of the wonderful events that take place at the hotel.  Of course, I especially enjoy getting to see the outstanding creations and ideas of The Ritz -Carlton’s outstanding culinary team!

This particular weekend was season’s final cooking class of 2017’s “Global Cuisine Series”.  Last year there were (8) culinary weekend packages which included: a cooking class, luncheon with the guest chef, resort credit and hotel accommodations.   The classes are open for up to 14 guests and are held in one of hotel’s kitchens.  I was lucky enough to squeeze into Craftsman and Wolves Pastry Chef/Owner, Willam Werner’s class, featuring “Holiday Sweets”.  Xavier and I have known Chef William and his wife Sarah for years, as William used to be the Pastry Chef at the hotel.  I know for Xavier it was great to have a friend and accomplished Chef be a part of this great culinary series.

Here are some photos of the class.  Chef Werner showed us how to make several items including Smoked Molasses cookies…..boy were they ever good!

Following all classes there is a sit-down lunch with the guest Chef, obviously this class was lunch with Chef Werner.

Probably by this time Xavier and the team have put together the culinary line up for The 2018 Global Cuisine Series.  I have heard him talking about some of the amazing Chefs that will be participating.  Inside scoop – the lineup is FANTASTIC!  Anyone interested in participating in a Culinary Weekend Package, here is the contact information:              650-712-7686, as well as the hotel’s site address “Ritz HMB”

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Master Bathroom Remodel – Finally Finished

Voilà!  It’s finally Finished!

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to finally share some photos of the finished master bathroom project.  Everything came together so smoothly and we are so happy with the end result.  We just love our hardware and tile selections and the decision to use black, white and Gray as our foundation colors.  It’s so easy to change the look with colored towels/art work and area rugs.  If you take a look at my inspiration photos in a previous post, I think our bathroom turned out very similar…..so glad I found these resources!

Here is a photo of our vanity area now.  Sorry, I don’t remember if I shared where everything came from, so I might be repeating some information.  The vanity came from Restoration Hardware, along with the lighting fixtures.  We decided on the double vanity called Hutton in Obsedian with aged brass hardware and a white marble top.  “here” .   I  found  the large size black medicine cabinets (called Vintage Recessed in Vintage Bronze) at Pottery Barn “here”.  The faucets are from Newport Brass and are designed to color match Restoration Hardwares Aged Brass hardware which we used in the shower.

We were very impressed with the quality of everything.  Just a note that some of these items may take several months to receive so plan accordingly.   It’s worth keeping an eye out on the Pottery Barn website.  They offer flash sales so it could be worth waiting to get a possible 20% off.

 

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I really need to show the transformation.  Here is a before photo:

 

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So – my shower!!  I think this is my favorite part of the bathroom, and it was the hardest part too.   This took quite a bit of time and research to find someone who could do the shower walls like I wanted (and fit within my budget).  In the end a local company (CB Showers) came though, even though it was the first time they ever did a shower like this.  We absolutely LOVE it!  The shower fixtures are from Restoration Hardware in Aged Brass and I love the contrast of the black and gold.  Such a warm combination.

This time I will show the before first and the after to follow…..

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Of course I had to get new towels to complete everything!   The towels we were using were by Seferra Brothers, and are considered a high-end European imported towel.  I wish I could say that I loved them, but I did not.  They have a really long loop weave and because of this snag very easily.  For my NEW master bathroom I selected Yves Delorme’s Etoile towels in two colors (Peacock and Platinum Gray).  I LOVE these towels.  They are soft and absorbent and are quick to dry.  Check for sales – I got them 20% off which is a big bonus!  “yves delorme”

If you have any questions on this project feel free to contact me, I am happy to share more information.

 

La Toque d’Argent presented at The Grand Velas, Riviera Maya

Playa here we come on United Airlines direct flight from SFO to Cancun!

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Playa del Carmen was the site for this year’s Maîtres Cuisiniers de France’s North America Chapter annual meeting at The Grand Velas, all-inclusive resort in Mexico’s beautiful Riviera Maya.  What a lovely location for this prestigious group of amazing chefs.  There are now so many great hotels and Airbnb’s along the Riviera Maya,  I am glad for once,  I didn’t have to make the decision on where to stay.
Below are a few photos of the resort, along with their website for further details “here”

I have to mention the resort spa – OMG…totally, WOW and I have been to quite a few great spa’s around the world.  This spa has previously been named one of the world’s best spas, and trust me it does not disappoint.  I loved the hydrotherapy circuit which consists of a clay room, ice room, steam room, sauna room and warm showers followed by Riviera Maya Water Journey.   These are both included when you have a spa treatment which is over 50 minutes – definitely a can’t miss if you are staying at the resort.

 

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A warm welcome to the French Master Chefs – and a special website that is dedicated to this event.  Please take a look…“here”

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It was pretty impressive to see how “France meets Mexico” in the culinary arts.  This was an occasion that brought together some of Mexico’s best chefs to participate in, and showcase Mexican cuisine, as well as strengthen relationships with their French counterparts.  It really is amazing how food brings people together, and as I aways like to say “create memories”.

Here are the Mexican Chefs who participated in Welcome Dinner – Outstanding!

 

Along with these great Chefs there are also great sponsors.  Check out this step and repeat – (on the beach of course), that notes all of this years sponsors.

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This was probably my favorite sponsor – I love Avocados!  🙂

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There were so many highlights of this years program, but one of my favorites (besides Xavier getting his award) was a visit to Xcaret.  I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about this evening at first,  but……let me tell you it was amazing!

Xcaret Park has been recognized by UNESCO World Heritage for preserving and promoting Mexican culture.   These very special traditions and cultural expressions can be seen accompanied by music and dance in the presentation of Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.

I should add a bit more about Xcaret before I starting going on and on about our delicious evening.  Xcaret is actually an eco-archaeological park that features over 50 attractions including; dolphins, Mayan ballgame and of course the infamous Mexican show.  Here is the website for more info: “here”

Now on to our evening which started out watching this spectacular show filled with music, dancing, traditions, celebrations and a journey though Mexico’s history.   There has to be a least 300 performers who are a part of this colorful and lively show that is such a tribute to Mexico’s past and present.  Here are a few photos….

 

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What a nice touch  – The venue called all the Chefs to the stage after the show for a  French/Mexican photo.

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After this wonderful show our group, which consisted of about 200 people, were escorted to a private dinner in the  La Isla private dining room which is set underground within the caves.   Our dinner this evening was prepared by many of Mexico’s finest chefs and lead by Orlando Trejo.  It was truly a great and delicious evening.

 

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Of course for me, the main highlight of this year was Xavier getting the CHEF OF THE YEAR AWARD, which is called La Toque d’Argent, and has been awarded yearly since 1961.  This is truly such an honor and I can’t begin to say how proud I am of him.  His hard work, dedication and passion for his profession is truly an example to be followed.   I took a closer look at the award, after we got back home and had a chance to see some of the past recipients of whom I knew of:  André Soltner, Pierre Orsi, Jean Banchet, René Verdon, Georges Perrier, Jacques Pépin, Daniel Bouloud, Roland Passot…Some pretty amazing footsteps to follow in!

Here are a few photos of Xavier with the previous award recipient, Marc Ehrler

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And once again the amazing chefs (after their meeting)

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A few fun food moments…..

 

And lastly we can’t forget a little fun in the sun –

…………until the next posting!   Adiós!

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Two Hours in Tulum

During the recent French Master Chef Conference (Maîtres Cuisiniers de France/MCF) in Playa del Carmen, Mexico we had a free (rainy) afternoon and decided to go to lunch in Tulum.  The Grand Velas arranged transportation for us, and it took about an hour to get to Tulum from the hotel.   Our driver was great and waited for us while we had lunch, making for a super nice and easy afternoon.

We really liked the vive of Tulum.  Of course you hear so much about Tulum these days and how it really is on the “culinary map”.  We only wish he had more than two hours to discover what all the fuss it about.  Driving into Tulum reminded us of years ago when Playa del Carmen was only one small (almost dirt) road.    There were lots of small cute local open air shops, bars and restaurants en route to our final lunch location.

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We took the suggestion of one of Xavier’s counterpart French/Mexican Master Chefs and went to lunch at La Zebra.  La Zebra is a boutique beach hotel and restaurant and I would imagine would be the perfect beach escape.  Here is their website: “here”

Since it was raining we sat inside with the doors open to fantastic view of the ocean and colorful beach bar and seating area.  I love the colors of red and turquoise and the cute set up they have created.

 

We loved the staff at the restaurant.  Everyone came by to say hello and introduce themselves and made sure we were happy and comfortable.  Since we had been eating SO MUCH at the planned conference functions we just decided on tacos (of course I had fish tacos!!) which are made from all fresh and local ingredients and the seafood caught daily.  The red taco was made from beets and the green was made from spinach – they were DELICIOUS!   The salsas were all house made and varied in degrees of spiciness.

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It was a nice quick lunch and we would love to go back to Tulum.  Who knows, maybe we will stay at La Zebra if we don’t rent an Airbnb….

We saw this on our way out – could be interesting for a return trip to Tulum for a future food adventure!

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MCF-USA (Maitres Cuisiniers de France)

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Maîtres Cuisiniers de France is a prestigious culinary organization that spreads and preserves the French culinary arts throughout the world.  These individuals are passionate about their profession and encourage training and professional culinary development.  They dynamically  promote culinary excellence as well advance and perpetuate the traditions of great French cuisine.

MCF/USA has an annual meeting held each year within North America, as well as an International annual meeting typically held in France, but not always.  You can read a bit more about organization “ici”

This year’s North America Annual Meeting is being held in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  It’s a four day event that consists of meetings for the MCF Chefs, and special events that spouses are invited to participate in.  There is always a major focus on ALL MEAL functions and of course are regionally highlighted.  This year we are excited to see what the Mexican MCF Chefs have planned.

In additional to the meeting there is always an new MCF induction ceremony and a presentation of the MCF Chef of the Year.  This year the Chef of the year happens to be my husband – Xavier!  We found this out at the international MCF meeting in St. Malo, France.

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Here Xavier is with the MCF/USA President, Jean-Louis Dumonet, and International MCF President, Christian Tetedoie in St. Malo after the award announcement.  (love the striped scarves)

We are leaving in the morning for Mexico and are looking forward to an exciting weekend.  Even though the ceremony will be in Mexico, the prestigious award was shipping to Xavier this past week.  I have not seen it personally, but it really looks impressive.

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It’s kind of a big deal and I couldn’t be more proud.

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Xavier and his awesome team!

Updates soon from Mexico!