Archive for May, 2013

Gourmet de l’Ile – Strasbourg

Day 3 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

Restaurant Gourmet de l'Ile - (2)

Day 3 – We were generously invited to dinner during our stay at Château de l’Ile & Spa in the Strasbourg/Ostwald region. Château de l’Ile has 2 restaurants. The Restaurant "Winstub de l’Ile " has all the charm of an Alsace brasserie with its typical welcoming decor: traditional benches, solid rustic chairs, decorated ceiling, and tinted windows. You can enjoy regional dishes at this restaurant.

The other restaurant, which we eventually chose as our dining venue for the evening was Restaurant "Gourmet de l’Ile". It is decked out to look like a 19th century bourgeoisie house and serves fine dining French cuisine.

We perused the menu and concluded that the Tasting menu at 74 Euros was the most value for money, yes even though 74 Euros doesn’t sound cheap on its own. The starters were already above 20 euros while the main courses were above 30 euros, so it made very good sense to get the Tasting menu, even if we had to take 3 hours to finish the meal!

Restaurant Gourmet de l'Ile - Lentil soup with bacon

Lentil soup with bacon

As with all fine dining, you always get more than what you’ve ordered! There will be “surprises”, more “surprises”, “mouth washers” literally, and chocolates after desserts! Don’t be planning to go home early when you dine at a fine dining restaurant! This here was the appetiser of lentil puree soup with a stick of bacon in it. It was an amazing starter as the graininess of the lentils and smokiness of the bacon really gelled together very well, kick starting the whole meal.

Restaurant Gourmet de l'Ile - Pan-Fried Foie Gras, butter muesli, apple compote & Caramel (2)

Pan-Fried Foie Gras, butter muesli, apple compote & Caramel 27 Euros

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Château de l’Ile & Spa – Strasbourg

Day 3 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

After our train arrived at Strasbourg, we went to the Hertz car rental company to collect the car we had rented for our trip through the Alsace region, Burgundy and Lyon. Driving in a foreign country is always a slightly jittery affair although it has become much better a few years ago after we acquired our own GPS. There’s no way I would drive around holding paper maps anymore, it’s just too cumbersome when you know that a GPS can make life so easy.

The most jittery part about driving in France of course is that people drive on the right side of the road, ie the wrong side. I’ll admit that the 1st half an hour was quite harrowing, not helped by the fact that the French roads are not marked clearly like in Singapore or New Zealand. But you do get used to driving on the right side after a while and we were like a duck to water the next day. Interestingly, it’s quite easy to remember that you have to drive on the right. You remind yourself before you start each journey, the GPS unit can be programmed to remind you too. When you reach a turning junction, repeat the mantra “Drive on the right”!

Even though it is not cheap to rent a car, I really wanted to drive in France because I wanted to be able to visit the countryside easily. With trains, you’re mostly stuck with cities and towns. Also, I wanted to be able to stay in the chateaus or countryside manors in France, and there’s just no way that the chateaus (chateaux) are going to be in the middle of town.

façade

Lovely blue sky day at Chateau de L’Ile… picture courtesy of the hotel

Was very happy with the decision I made when we arrived at our first Chateau of our holiday in France. This 19th Century castle is ideally situated within a tree-lined bend in the Ill River, only 5 kilometres from Strasbourg, and 6 kilometres from the airport. With its half-timbered style and flowery balconies, it reflects traditional Alsatian architecture and is ideally suited for leisure or business tourism. Strasbourg by the way, is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Strasbourg is definitely a must visit city when you are in the Alsace region! More pictures on Strasbourg in my next post.

Château de l'Ile - Strasbourg (7)

Before we even got into the hotel itself, we were already mesmerised by the pretty flowering trees in the carpark!

Château de l'Ile - Strasbourg (50)

Nice touches like this always perks me up. Thank you Mr Bernard Urbain, I did have a very pleasant stay in Alsace.

Château de l'Ile - Strasbourg (47)

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Train from Luxembourg to Strasbourg

Day 3 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

After 2 days in Luxembourg, we had to tear our thoughts away from Luxembourg and move ahead with the rest of our trip. How I wish we had more time to spend in Luxembourg. The city is so compact and pretty. Luxembourg city isn’t huge like London or Paris, and it certainly doesn’t have the grand imposing palatial buildings celebrating past glories, but Luxembourg exudes quiet charm in its own special way. I have a bad habit of dwelling too much on what has past. I feel melancholic that it’s over, and I need quite some effort to remind myself that the rest of the trip awaits me, and that it could actually quite possibly be even more exciting!

So, to get to my next destination, which was to be Strasbourg, we had to take the TGV again. Unlike the train from Paris to Luxembourg, this train reminded me very much of Harry Potter!

Train from Luxembourg to Strasbourg (3)

I’ve taken a few train rides during my travels in Europe, eg London to Bath and Bristol, Norway’s Flam to Oslo, but I’ve never actually been in a train where I have my own cabin! Tell me it’s not like how you envision the Famous Five from Enid Blyton to have travelled during their time?? I was so excited to be in a quaint cabin like this I took many photos, hopping in and out of the train as well!

Train from Luxembourg to Strasbourg (7)

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Penny University

I’m so happy that we finally have our very own Speciality coffee cafe in the Eastern part of Singapore!! I do hope that this is a signal of good things to come and that the Katong / Marine Parade area will be come as happening as the Tiong Bahru and Duxton Hill area! (Remember you heard it here first!)

It’s Penny University that I would like to talk about today. The reason for the quirky name stems from 18th century coffeehouses in London, England. For the price of a penny, one had access to coffee, the company of people from all levels of society, discussions, bulletins, newspapers and the latest gossip.

Penny University (3)

Not surprisingly, Penny University was full yesterday, it being Vesak Day. I am surprised though at the size of the cafe. Rental must still be affordable at this point in time. In any case, I do think they could try to revamp their seating area. The booth seats on the left were occupied by single couples when they could have accommodated at least 4 people. The communal bench table on the right is wider than it should be, taking up precious space. It could also have been pushed closer towards the right wall, allowing for a few more tables to be placed in the rather large passageway.

Penny University - Black Sesame Chiffon Cake (1)

Black sesame chiffon cake $5.50

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Afternoon tea at Halia, Raffles Hotel

I’m always on the look out for nice places to have afternoon tea. You know, I think that Singapore really could do with more afternoon tea places. I know we have lots of interesting new cafes, especially in recent times where we are literally seeing a new cafe pop up each month. But I’m talking about decadent afternoon tea places, places from yesteryear, that make you dream of faraway lands. For just those few blissful hours, each sip of tea and each morsel of macaron transports you to a place lost in time, where stress and tiresome duties do not exist.

And so I was glad to make acquaintance with the new Halia at Raffles Hotel. Halia takes over the spot which was once occupied by Seah Street Deli. Afternoon Tea Service is available here daily from 3pm to 5pm. For $35++, a two-tier tea stand with a scrumptious selection of sweet and savoury nibbles will be served to you.

The long and short of it all, is that all of the items were pretty delicious. I’ve come across several other afternoon teas where some items are really mindblowing, while other items are not worth your calorie intake. At Halia’s afternoon tea, there aren’t any items that are overly rich or cloying.

Afternoon Tea at Halia Raffles Hotel (14)

This is the entire set that will be served, along with your choice of a drink. It may not look like a lot, but guess what, I had to tabao a few items home! Scroll all the way down to check out the entire list of food items available in the 2 tier service.

Afternoon Tea at Halia Raffles Hotel - Macarons (2)

Which do you normally start with, the desserts, or the savouries? For me, I’ll definitely start with the savouries, but I think the desserts tend to make a more droolsome photo. This picture here plus a few other below show double the number of goodies but the accurate reference picture is the 1st picture at the top.

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