Tag Archives: cuisine

Singapore’s Little India

Singapore’s Little India is a flourishing centre, alive with colour, noise and constant activity, where ancient traditions fit harmoniously into ultra-modern life, where diverse cultures blend and different religions sit comfortably side by side. It is unmistakably India but uniquely Singapore.

A fragment od temple
A fragment of temple

In 1925, the British brought a contingent of Indian convicts to Singapore to work as construction labourers on the rapidly expanding settlement. For the duration of their sentences they were confined in coolie lines between Stamford and Bras Basah Roads. Once freed, they were given buffalos and land, in the city’s North West, and dispatched to begin new lives in their own India away from India.  Thus, Singapore’s Little India was born.

There are parts of Little India which are all India – bright, bold, extravagant and exotic. In the Arts Belt on Buffalo Road, the walkways are hung with Hindu emblems and paved with painted tiles of Indian design. Sensational souvenirs abound – statues, brassware, homewares, jewellery and silks, not to mention very special photos for those who wish to don a sari or a turban. There are demonstrations of traditional performing arts – Gamelan, Silat and Angklung. Across Serangoon Road, the Little India Arcade offers more; beautiful saris and sari fabric, stunning hand embroidered vests and slippers, shawls, trinkets, incense, ayurvedic herbs, wonderful authentic henna hand tattoos of ancient, mysterious design and the strange, mouth-numbing potions of the paan wallah or betel nut seller.

Nearby Campbell Road is the home of age-old businesses; the medicine shop, traditional provisions stores and furniture stores with elaborately carved wooden wares. Here, too, are the Flower Garland shops, where men and women ply the oldest surviving traditional Indian trade, threading jothi, or garlands of marigolds, jasmine and roses, (symbols of peace, purity and love) as temple offerings or tributes to dignitaries. Further down Serangoon Road are the gold stores, selling dazzling and much-coveted   yellow gold jewellery in a thousand and one elaborate designs. Deeper into Little India, in Cuff Road, is Singapore’s last traditional spice grinder, the only survivor from the days when spices were ground on the day they were used.

Absolutely everywhere, in Little India, there are eateries; restaurants, diners, cafes, stalls and carts in every street and on every block, offering every imaginable dish and drink from every region of India. The air is alive with seductive smells, they permeate every corner, every nook and cranny; curries of every kind and strength, chapati, thosai, puri and naan breads with lassi of every flavour to wash them down and of course, teh tarik.

Nowhere is timeless and traditional India more evident than in Little India’s houses of worship. The Angullia Mosque was built in 1898 on land donated by the wealthy Gujerati Angullia family, who are still its custodians. The Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple in Petain Road is dedicated to Kaliamman, the protective mother-spirit. The Sri Srinivasa Temple in Serangoon Road which began life as a shrine in 1855 is dedicated to Lord Perumal, preserver of the Universe and God of mercy and goodness. The most famous and the oldest is the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Built in 1855, it is dedicated to Kali, the many armed Goddess of power. Fittingly, during Japanese bombing raids World War II, the people of Little India sought refuge beneath the richly adorned turrets of Sri Veeramakaliamman.

Then, there are areas of little India which strongly reflect multi-cultural Singapore, like the houses of worship of other denominations which sit alongside its temples and mosques. The architecturally plain Anglican Church of True Light in Perak Road, built in 1952 for a congregation of Chinese tri-shaw operators now holds services in Tamil, Mandarin and English. The Art Deco Kampong Kapor Methodist Church was built in 1929 to serve the local Peranakan Chinese Community. The Leong San Buddhist Temple, in Race Course Road is known as the Dragon Mountain Temple because of the sculpted clay dragons on its roof. The Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple houses a 15 metre tall statue of Buddha surrounded by hundreds of lanterns. A blend of Moorish-Islamic and Southern Indian architecture, the Masjid Abdul Gafoor Mosque, completed in 1907, is famed for the spectacular sundial, decorated with 25 rays depicting the names of the 25 prophets, at its entrance.

Singapore’s blend of cultures and styles is stamped on Little India’s secular architecture, especially on its beautiful old houses and shops. The House of Tan Ten Niah, on Kerbau Road, with its carved swing doors, or pintu paagar, is one of the area’s last surviving stately Chinese villas. Little India is rich in Singapore shop houses, from the early style in Dunlop Street to the transitional in Madras Street, to the blend of Peranakan-Chinese and Malay in Upper Dickson Road to the stunning Art Deco examples along Race Course Road, in the Arts Belt.

There are glimpses in little India, too, of modern, cosmopolitan, commercial Singapore, in places like the gleaming multi-storey Mustafa Centre, in Alwi Road. Crammed with floor after floor of merchandise from around the globe it is packed 24/7 with shoppers from every corner of Singapore as well as tourists from all over the world. The Tekka Wet Market, edged by Buffalo Road, where once long ago, snake-charmers, astrologers, palm-readers and numerologists held sway, has long been a Singapore institution. Rebuilt now, with Housing and Development Board flats above, it is a shiny, clean, up-to-the- minute Singapore place. With its fresh vegetables and meat, the sumptuous fare at its hawker centre and the lively, colourful atmosphere it is always crowded with people – locals shopping for their daily provisions or grazing at the food stalls, tourists browsing and snapping pictures and hopefuls queuing to have their fortunes told by the one last Chinese Fortune Teller.

The full splendour of Little India is revealed at Festival time; Thaipusam, in January or February when men process through the streets with decorated arches attached to their bodies with spikes; Navarathiri, where after nine nights and ten days of fasting, a chariot carrying a statue of the mother Goddess processes through the streets attended by song and dance; Deepavali, the Festival of light, marked by gaily coloured street ligh s and festive bazaars. At these times, ancient rituals and traditions are played out against the backdrop of the 21st century city and modern Singapore comes out to watch.

Thanks to; Uniquely Singapore, Little India Walking Guide.

 

Buildings, boeuf and Rugby in Toulouse

Toulouse is an ancient city with a long, rich history and proud traditions. It is a city distinguished by beautiful architecture, fabulous cuisine and great Rugby.

The pink brick buildings of Toulouse
The pink brick buildings of Toulouse

Toulouse is often called “la ville rose”. This is because of the distinctive pink brick from which so many of its buildings are made. The finest and most famous of these pink brick and stone structures are la Cathedrale de St Etienne and La Capitole (the City Hall and theatre) Aside from its pink brick beauties, Toulouse also boasts some of the world’s most distinguished buildings, like St Sernin Basilica which is the oldest Romanesque church in the world and the church and cloister of Jacobins which is the most complete group of ancient monastic structures in Europe.

Rich in fertile farms and vineyards, the Midi-Pyrenees region prides itself on its bonne cuisine et bons vins. Saucisses de Toulouse or herb sausages, cassoulet or pork and bean stew, garbure or cabbage soup with poultry, foie gras, or pate made from the liver of fattened geese, are all acclaimed and delicious dishes of the region. However, one evening, on the recommendation of a Toulousain at a neighbouring table in La Boucherie restaurant, we discovered the cote de boeuf, a side of succulent beef, carved into mouth-watering slabs at the table and would highly recommend this too, especially to other carnivorous Kiwis. Well-known wines include Bergerac, Bizet, Cahors, Gaillac and Madiran. But also on the recommendation of our neighbour, we discovered a delicious local, nameless vin rouge ordinaire and washed down our cote de boeuf with a generous carafe of it.

The Crowd at the Stade de Toulouse for the 2007 match between Romania and the All Blacks,
The Crowd at the Stade de Toulouse for the 2007 match between Romania and the All Blacks,

Last, but certainly not least of Toulouse’s claims to fame is Rugby. Teams from Toulouse have dominated the sport both regionally and nationally over the years, Le Stade Toulousain is known throughout the country as a Rugby epicentre, international stars often come to play a season here and the city has produced and nurtured such national Rugby legends as Fabien Pelous and Frederic Michalak. Tout ca se voit. The Midi-Pyrenees’ passion for the sport, their pride in their place as national and international greats and their commitment to the world-wide Rugby fraternity is evident everywhere and was especially so during the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

The story of Tour D’Argent

Overlooking the Seine on the Quai de la Tournelle, in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris, is La Tour D’Argent, the city’s, if not the world’s, oldest fine dining restaurant. It opened its doors for the first time in 1582 and, apart from the four years of World War I, has not closed them since.

La Tour D'Argent
La Tour D’Argent’s museum

La Tour D’Argent takes its name (silver tower in English) from the light grey stone of the Champagne in which it is constructed. Little is known of its first decades but by the 1600’s La Tour d’Argent had become the most desirable restaurant in Paris. Duels were fought by patrons desperate to secure tables! The centuries have not diminished its reputation or its popularity and prospective diners will often wait months or even years for place – unless of course they happen to be celebrities!

La Tour d’Argent has always been the haunt of the rich and famous. Henri IV ate in and also out, ordering slices of Heron Paté delivered to his palace. King Louis XIV and his courtiers from the Château de Versailles dined at La Tour D’Argent. Le Duc de Richelieu treated his guests to a whole ox prepared and served in over 30 ways. When theatre suppers were introduced in 1720, Philippe D’Orleans, began to frequent the restaurant always in the company of a different Parisian beauty During the Second Empire Le Duc de Morny entertained here. The Countess Le Hon held assignations at La Tour D’Argent and once had to be disguised as a pastry cook to avoid being discovered by her husband. Since then Statesmen, Royals, Rock stars and Millionaires have graced its tables.

La Tour D’Argent has been the birthplace of many innovations and traditions. The fork came into use here. Much of the table etiquette followed in France today was established at La Tour D’Argent. Coffee was served for the first time in France here. Then of course, there were La Tour D’Argent’s signature plats or dishes. The most famous of these was Canard au Sang, (pressed duck or bloody duck)

Just as famous Canard au sang itself is the ritual now attached to it. It originated in the 19th century when the then owner, Frederic Delair decided that every duck prepared at La Tour D’Argent should be numbered. In 1890 Edward VII Prince of Wales ate number 328 and in 1921 Thomas Rockefeller devoured number 51,327,  number 100,000 was sacrificed on the 6th May 1929 to an anonymous appetite, number. 500,000 was launched from the roof with a tag on its leg that offered the finder dinner for two. Roman Polanski enjoyed number 554, 711  in 1979 and more recently Bill Gates  consumed number 1079006. The millionth duck was eaten in 2003. The count continues!

In 1910 Andre Terrail purchased the Tour d’Argent from Frederic Delair. He modernised the interior and the facade and in 1936 he added a sixth floor to give his patrons an even better view of the Bateaux Mouches and the barges on the Seine. He also added to its menu. Most importantly, he established Tour D’Argent’s legendary collection of fine wines.

During World War I, La Tour D’Argent closed its doors for the first and only time in its long life. Although it remained open during World War II, it cellar was sealed shut to protect the precious wine collection.

In 1947 the restaurant passed to Andre Terrail’s son Claude. Although his dream had been to become an actor he accepted his destiny at La Tour D’Argent “I’ve been chained to this ‘Tower’ since I was born” he claimed. Under Claude Terail the legacy of the Tour d’Argent continued, so did expansion, not just of the restaurant but of the “brand”!

In1953 Le Petit Musée de la Table, a museum of gastronomy and also a pleasant spot for a pre-dinner aperitif, was established on the ground floor of the building. Four grand receptions marked the 400th anniversary of the restaurant in 1982 and in 1984 La Tour D’Argent, Tokyo opened in the New Otani Hotel. In 1985, Les Comptoirs de la Tour d’Argent, a boutique dedicated to the Arts of the Table and Gastronomy, opened across the street from the building on Le Quai de la Tournelle.

When Claude Terrail passed away in June 2006, his son, Andre Terrail, took control of the La Tour D’Argent. While he has upheld all the traditions laid down over its long life, he has also introduced 21st century technology, with cameras and screens monitoring the preparation of the dishes and their progress through the kitchen and up the floors to the dining room.

Even after 431 years the table looks set at La Tour D’Argent for an equally long future in fine cuisine, good wines and numbered ducks.

Tour d’Argent, 15-17 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 Paris Ile de France France

Café Edison, a quintessential piece of New York

Breakfast was not included in my deal at the W Hotel in Times Square. If it had been, I would never have discovered the Café Edison. To have missed this iconic Broadway eatery would have been to miss a quintessential piece of New York.

Café Edison
Café Edison

Housed in the former ballroom of Edison Hotel, at 228 West 47th Street, in the heart of Broadway, the café’s mirrored bar and booths with benches sit under a vaulted blue ceiling and between pink walls busily embossed with white. Added to this is a pastiche  of posters, homey art works that look like the oeuvres of some rising family star, fragments of menu, advertisements and framed newspaper article that proudly blow the trumpet of this theatre world landmark.

Theatre patrons, stage-hands, actors, producers and playwrights all congregate here. Plays are conceived and written here. August Wilson dashed off the notes for three of his scripts on Cafe Edison napkins. Neil Simon’s comedy, 45 Seconds From Broadway is about this café which he claimed as his second home, whose staff he embraced as his family and where he could always be found at his special, reserved, cordoned off table, just inside the front door. Big theatre deals are clinched and important Broadway decisions, like who’s up for a Tony, are thrashed out at the Café Edison’s tables.

The café is also known as the Polish Tea Room, which according to N.Y.C. lore, is a nod, or rather a dig, at the prestigious, expensive and now long-gone, Russian Tea Room. But it is also, surely, a tribute to the Café’s Polish founders Harry and Frances Edelstein and to the legendary Polish Jewish cuisine that the Edelstein family have turned out over two generations. The menu includes Latkes, matzo brei, borscht, stuffed cabbage, corned beef, pastrami, lightly fried blintzes stuffed with sweetened cheese, blueberries or cherries, giant open-faced reubens, kasha varmishkas, mazzo brei, an assortment of soups, including, according to Condé Nast Traveler, “the best matzo ball soup in town” and fabulous breakfasts with eggs “over easy” and endless coffee.

Wielding the coffee pots is a gaggle of waitresses of an appearance, age and style that strongly reminded me of an already dated sit-com called Alice which I watched every day during at 1.pm during the summer of 1983 while I breast-fed my newborn son. Other reviewers have described them as “short”, “rude”, “crabby” and “off-hand”. But to me, they had the weary, long-suffering, matter-of-fact, business-like demeanor of working mothers with jobs to do, mouths to feed and messes to clean-up before they could get off their feet. So, cups were filled, toast was replenished and extras added to meals without fuss or favour because they knew, or seemed to, what all their customers needed before they did themselves and it wouldn’t have surprised me in the slightest if they’d slapped some hands and wiped some chins into the bargain.

Don’t miss the Café Edison on your New York adventure, it’s worth it for architecture, the people watching, the exceptional (though not in the conventional sense) service and absolutely unreservedly for the food.

Lunch, a culinary adventure at qualia

“the qualia experience would not be complete without a culinary adventure through the finest produce our region and country has to offer”.

The view from qualia's Long Pavilion
The view from qualia’s Long Pavilion

We begin our culinary adventure with lunch at the Pebble Beach Restaurant which sits just on the edge of the beach below our pavilion. Our table on the deck looks out over the sea to bushy bays on a distant shore and the waves lap softly at the stones below.

The menu is a great read and it’s sensibly short. Those seeking awakenings of the sensory imaginations, especially in three days, don’t really have time to linger.  Still we dither. Beside us a gentleman is tackling a large colourful burger while his partner tucks into a work of art in fruits de mer which the waitress confides in a whisper is the black kingfish and salmon nori tempura with green apple, cucumber, wasabi, sweet ginger dressing.

We decide finally to divide and conquer,  mounting a united assault on the entree of  ribboned foie gras, chocolate paper and pear purée served with toasted brioche. We divide for the main. He takes the lead from his neighbour and orders the char grilled beef burger with fries, bacon, gruyere, caramelised onions, lettuce, and tomato while I wade into unknown waters for the alt ‘n’ pepper bugs with bean sprouts, Asian herbs and hot ‘n’ sour sauce. Together we conquer dessert – vanilla panna cotta with espresso jelly and hazelnut biscotti.

A wonderful beginning to our culinary adventures at qualia! After only half a day, my jaded sensory imagination is already beginning to revive!

Bangolo at Barra

Bangolo Restaurant looks out over the palms, the broad white sands and rolling surf of Barra Beach.

Barra Beach
Barra Beach

Bangolo sits at that end of Barra where new luxury hotels and opulent high-rise give way to smaller, older and shabbier buildings. On one side is the local square where the buses from Rio Centro pull in and out, where idle taxis wait, where, in the evening, bands of deadly earnest boys kick a football across a dusty pitch and dream of the Maracana, where, when night falls, shadowy girls sit on the roadside and hope for their time in the purple neon light of the Papillon Motel.

Bangolo is a neighbourhood restaurant, frequented by convivial regulars. Groups merge, blend and expand. The affable staff spend a great deal of their night extending the tables and chairs of Bangolo beyond its borders and into the gallery of graffitti masterpieces that cover the once-grand building next door. On certain nights a band, with the look and sound of 70s and 80s USA, plays old rock covers.

With the band, the convivial neighbours, the  friendly staff and their furniture removals, the theatre on the street and the starlit sea, it’s easy to overlook the brilliant baked octopus and the simply sensational caipirinhas.

Zozo, more than great cuisine

It sometimes happens in restaurants, that the choicest cuisine is completely undone by poor service, unpleasant surroundings, or a dull atmosphere. But sometimes too, the fare is completely outdone by exceptional service, fascinating surroundings or a fabulous atmosphere. And so it happened, at Rio’s Zozo, that the most  succulent churrasco and the ultimate caipirinha were almost totally eclipsed by the service, the décor and the ambiance.

Zozo
Zozo

The front windows and veranda of Zozô look out across a busy square at Praia Vermelha into the majestic profile of Pao d’Acucar. On one side is the Naval Academy and on the other the cable car station. The restaurant’s back windows and roof stare straight into a massive rock of the same rounded shape, without foothold, as Uluru and of the same grainy, grey hue as Pao d’Acucar. From the floor a tree spreads giant limbs out and up, through the roof. It pushes against the rock and throws constantly shifting shadows on the floor.

Torn between the amazing setting and the stunning view, it’s difficult to give due attention to the impeccable dishes of churrasco that appear on the table and to the team of Latin Lotharios in suits who deliver them. But it’s worth wresting the eyes away from the cinema outside the front window, the waiters, the tree and the overhanging rock to browse at the buffet which offers everything from sushi to acai na tigela. It’s worthwhile, too taking a stroll past the great tree to see the row of recessed “altars” with their statues of the Holy Family and the saints all dressed in luxurious cloth and surrounded by candles and votive offerings.

Putting on the Ritz in London

Frequented by Royals, rock stars and the rich and dripping with class, privilege and luxury, the Ritz has long enjoyed a reputation as the best joint in town – any town – Paris, New York, Rome or London. The epitome of all that is exclusive and, often, unattainable, to ordinary folk, it has informed song, in the cheeky “Putting on the Ritz”, story, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s whimsical “A diamond as big as the Ritz” and popular expressions, in  those stock retorts to dissatisfaction with fare or service at family tables the world over – “What do you think this is, the Ritz?” or even “Where do you think you are, the Ritz?”  So, what, really, makes the Ritz so special? What is it actually like behind that grand façade? What exactly is it that brings in all those big names and megabucks? I popped in for lunch recently to find out.

 

The Ritz
The Ritz

Arrival at the Ritz is a kind gauntlet run (and probably a well disguised presentation and security check, too) past top-hatted, waist-coated and bowing doormen, from the taxi, up the steps, through glass doors (opened and held by more top-hatted, bowing waist-coats) and across a lobby gleaming with polished wood.

The interior is a symphony for the eye – no discordant note of mismatched colour or misplaced decoration here – no, everything, from the perfectly pleated and draped curtains, the deep-piled carpets, the ceiling roses, the choirs of sculpted cherubs, the plaster cornices, the chandeliers bristling with twinkling bulbs, the huge wall mirrors, the furniture, the table linen, the china to the cutlery, is in perfect, soft-sheened pink, green, cream, white, gold, glass and silver baroque harmony. Classical piano music plays quietly against a background of discreet voices and the subdued tinkle of silver – no musak, no bursts of raucous laughter, no clash of stainless steel or crash of smashing plates here. No camera flash distracts the guests or disturbs the subtle lighting. Photographs are not permitted at the Ritz.

My three course lunch, from an unpretentious, English, three-choice menu, probably speaks for all Ritz cuisine. It all looked too good to eat but, in the end, tasted even better than it looked. The monkfish entrée was small, a manageable, melt-in-the-mouth lead-in to the “just-roast-pork-with-apple-sauce-and-four-veg.-but-oh-boy-what-they’ve-done-with-it” main, while the not too sweet and deliciously healthy vanilla yoghurt and fresh fruit dessert was the ideal finale.

Service at the Ritz strikes the perfect balance between the discreet touch and the flourish. Glasses never empty while plates and cutlery come and go as if by magic. Serviettes flap into place with a flick and a twirl while courses are ferried by waiters in single file who lift their silver covers with one accord. Staff are formal but not stiff, friendly but not familiar, attentive but not intrusive, respectful but not obsequious, efficient but not brisk, and mindful of their jobs but not afraid to be themselves.

Undoubtedly, the Ritz is luxurious, classy and exclusive. But the thing that really made my Ritz experience so special and that would certainly bring me back again, is that it is beautiful, comfortable, pleasant and welcoming.

Seri Melayu, a Malaysian showcase

The Seri Melayu Theatre Restaurant, on Kuala Lumpur’s Jalan Conlay aims ‘to provide a holistic cultural experience enriched by authentic cuisine, décor, music and dance and Malay hospitality ….” (Restaurant brochure)

Dancers and guests at Seri Melayu
Dancers and guests at Seri Melayu

Architecturally, the Seri Melayu is a showcase of Malay traditions. Made entirely from local timbers, it is styled on the rumah kampong the old Malay house, with elongated windows and wide eaves. The gabled roof, with the traditional Tunjuk Langit at its apex, is inspired by the dwellings of the Perak and Malacca. A tiled Malaccan stairway leads up to a wide verandah with carved rails. Tall wooden doors, thick with intricate carvings, open into the restaurant’s richly paneled lobby. The huge dining hall is designed and decorated in the luxurious style of the Malay Istana or palace. Its walls are paneled in wood and along its centre are four elaborately carved columns or Tiang Seri. At the ceiling the carvings merge and blossom into a giant hibiscus. The central column is another feature of the traditional rumah kampong and in the old Malay home it was of great importance and significance as the mainstay of the house.

If the Seri Melayu’s décor evokes the ambience of the Istana, its buffet of gourmet Malay cuisine evokes the generous traditions of palace hospitality. Presentation, variety and abundance are hallmarks of this extensive, colourful, sumptuous feast. Catering to local gourmets as well as foreign tourists, there are dishes to tempt and please all palates, from the afficiando to the initiate. There are satays, laksas and redangs, in a dozen different forms, and as many other ikan, goring and acar items. The desserts are delicious and include kueh mueh (little local cakes) and tempoyek (fermented durian) Choice is difficult and over-indulgence a real hazard.

The Seri Melayu’s cultural performance of Malay music and dance is another kind of feast. Featuring some of Malaysia’s famous folk dances, accompanied by the traditional string instrument and drums, in a parade of gorgeous costumes, it is a breath-taking spectacle of sound movement and colour.

For the tourist an evening at Seri Melayu is a total, traditional Malaysian cultural and culinary experience, in a setting typical of old Malaya.  Magical! But please, don’t wear shorts or you’ll be obliged to don a sarong before you enter!

 

Mykonos, Part 6, Theoxenia cuisine

The September Saturday night on Mykonos is wet and cold. Seaside bars, restaurant terraces and nightclubs have no appeal, even on the most famous party island in Greece. The soft, warm light of Theoxenia’s bar and restaurant are seductive. We opt for a night in.

The bar at Theoxenia, Mykonos
The bar at Theoxenia, Mykonos

Sipping on a pre-dinner Mythos in Theoxenia’s lobby bar we watch more intrepid fellow guests set off for their Mykonos Saturday night out. A pair of vampires flits past, followed by Derby and Joan in Macs and Wellies. I catch the barman’s eye. He smiles and shakes his head. “You can’t possibly imagine …” he begins. But before he can complete his observation, he is called away by a customer. To bring him back to the subject five minutes later would seem nosy, if not rude, so I am left imagining what I couldn’t possibly imagine until dinner time.

Theoxenia’s restaurant continues the simple, understated stone, white and blue of its Cycladic exterior. A large wall of windows looks out over the sea. With the darkness of the autumn night behind them, they reflect the warm glow of the room.

Travelstripe is not a gourmet and you will rarely find effusive raves about food in these posts. But the cuisine at Theoxenia must not go unmentioned. Our meal began with a taste of a sort of frittata, courtesy of the kitchen – delicious! Next we shared Haloumi parcels, with olive tepanade and balsamic dressing on a bed of rocket and sundried tomato salad – even more delicious. This was followed by chicken breast stuffed with haloumi and sundried tomatoes served with baked aubergine (for him) and fresh salmon on steamed spinach and redoman with balsamic vinegar (for me) – more delicious still. Unfortunately, we were unable to even contemplate desserts after this marathon.

We returned to Theoxenia’s restaurant quite early the next morning. Outside that wall of windows the sky was blue and the sun was dancing on the sea. The air was heavy with the aroma of Greek coffee. There were full cooked breakfasts of several nationalities on offer but why would you, in fact how could you, when the buffet offered Greek yoghurt, honey, figs, bread, pastries and all kinds of local treats?