Travel: A Day in Strasbourg, France


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I’d never really heard much about Strasbourg  before, but it turned out to be one of my favourite cities to visit during my trip to Europe. While it sits really close to the German border, it’s actually located in northeastern France, and is the formal seat of the European Parliament. What I found most fascinating about it has got to be the beautiful blending of German and French influences in its food, architecture, art and history. I loved how it incorporated the best of both cultures, without abandoning the uniqueness of both.

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The centrepiece of gothic architecture in Strasbourg is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. Just look at its intricate, ornate design in a unique pink hue. Just stunning.

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But it’s not just what’s outside that’s breathtaking to visitors.

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Thr Cathédrale Notre-Dame also features daily shows from its astronomical clock and sweeping views of the Rhine River from partway up its 142m spire.

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Michelin Guide ★: Sushi Kimura


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When it comes to excellent sushi and sushi chefs, the devil is in the details. And at Sushi Kimura, you can expect nothing less. From a hinoki counter top made with wood from a 150-year-old tree, sushi rice cooked in Hokkaido spring water, to abalone boiled in sake for 8 hours, Kimura-san clearly believes that good things take time and effort. And it really shows.

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So it was Sean’s birthday and he loves sushi. So as a bit of a surprise, I decided to take him to Palais Renaissance to try this place out, since he’d mentioned it before.

We went for the Rikyu Dinner set which came up to about $400/person.

Shall we begin?

First up, an omakase classic — Chilled Beancurd Skin (Yuba) with ikura, bonito jelly and yuzu. Nothing out of the ordinary, but I absolutely love yuba especially after having so much of it in Kyoto a few years ago, so no complaints there.

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Travel: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


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When people think of Rio, a fiesta comes to mind. A riot of colour, upbeat music and a people that truly know how to celebrate life. But there’s also much to be said about the natural beauty of the city along with the truly mouthwatering local fare. Before we whet your appetite, here’s a look at some of the more iconic spots to visit in Brazil’s bustling capital city.

Sugarloaf Mountain

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The first time I heard of Sugarloaf Mountain, I thought, “What a pretty name!” And it really got it’s name simply because its shape resembled a traditional loaf sugar. And what a magnificent view from the very top!

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Despite being very popular with visitors, it was not crowded at all. We just got our tickets at about USD$40 each and hopped on some very well-maintained cable cars to reach its peak. And along the way, the area was sprinkled with cafes serving up anything from warm churros, to acai bowls and ice-cream for a hot day.

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On the way up, we even spotted a helicopter landing pad. There were even helicopter rides for those who wanted a more interactive birds-eye view of the place. These were rather expensive I thought for very short rides so we gave that a miss. But we pretty much spent the whole morning there enjoying the view, tucking into some delicious local treats while people watching.

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Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)

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Christ the Redeemer is the indisputable icon of Rio de Janeiro. Designed by a French sculptor and built in the 1920s, the towering statue stands at 30 metres high and has a wingspan of 28 metres.

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Michelin Guide ★★: Ichijunisai Ueno Mino 一汁二菜うえの 箕面店


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One of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had has got to be one of Mino’s best kept secrets. Less than an hour by train away from bustling Osaka, Ichijunisai Ueno has two branches. The more acclaimed of which currently holds two Michelin stars and is nestled amid the stunning Mino Park. Just look at the gorgeous fall foliage and those wonderfully-preserved old houses. I fell instantly in love with the place. What a perfect setting for a spectacular meal! Mom said this was the best meal she had ever had in her life and it made me so incredibly happy to hear that.

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We were led into our own private dining room for our kaiseki meal where we had the most breathtaking view of the autumn trees outside. Instantly, we were filled with a deep peace, and we were excited to begin our meal. Everything was perfectly-paced and Mom and I had such a great time over the 3.5 hours we were there chatting away and tucking into such delicate, exquisite food. The lovely staff began by serving us a portion of rare green tea in a small cup to whet our appetite.

So, let’s begin! First up, we had this Cod Milt with Mushroom Vinegar Jelly.

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I do enjoy milt, although I rarely finish the portion I’m given. But there was something about it being served with a slightly savoury and tangy umami jelly that really cut through the rich creaminess of its texture. Wonderfully refreshing! I cleaned out the entire plate for the first time.

Another appetiser was the Three Kinds of Sashimi, each served with its own accompanying sauce and condiments.

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The Tai (sea bream) went with a tangy ponzu sauce, the Hamachi (yellowtail) with soy sauce and the fresh, firm and slightly sweet Ika (cuttlefish) went perfectly with the lime salt.

We had also ordered some delicious Osmanthus Wine to accompany the meal. Mom and I are huge fans of Osmanthus-infused teas, desserts and wines. And this was a real treat!

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