Taj Exotica Resort & Spa – Maldives

Maldives is a postcard perfect destination with its crystal clear waters and white powdered sand. Unrivalled luxury and its vast underwater life will entice any traveller to make their way there for an experience of a lifetime.

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The amount of resorts in the Maldives is mind boggling to say the least. We love to experience luxury hotels when we travel and this was an oasis of choice. I was at the end of my first trimester of pregnancy and didn’t want to sit a tiny seaplane after a 9 hour journey from Australia. There were a few resorts within a short boat ride from Male airport and Taj Exotica (TE) caught our attention.

TE is on a private island located 8km from Male airport and the hotel speedboat will get you there within 15 mins depending on the tide. It is centrally located on Emboodhu Finolhu and has one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives.

A TE staff awaited our arrival and helped us with our bags onto the speedboat. Cold towels and bottled water were provided on board and we eagerly anticipated our docking at the TE jetty. Music played as we arrived and we were greeted by name by the TE staff. Our photo was snapped and we were whisked away to the reception via buggy. Our butler showed us around and explained the amenities in our room. He was a delight to have around during our stay.

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Deluxe Lagoon Villa with Plunge Pool – 94sqm

TE has 64 rooms available and 54 of them are overwater villas with plunge pools on their deck. (Tip: We read that the odd numbered ones did not face the capital and are more private) Our villa had a plunge pool, lounge chairs, a day bed, a comfy king bed and views all around. (Even in the bathroom!) The water was as turquoise as I have dreamt of and I couldn’t wipe the smile of my face.

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The sand was swept clean multiple times a day.

TE food was nothing short of YUM, minus the expense. They did Indian food exceptionally well with dosai’s and curries being a standout.

I’ve been terrified of snorkelling as WA beaches are known for the lurking presence of Great Whites. But when in Maldives.. how could I not? Especially since the resident marine biologist confirmed that there were no deadly sharks in these waters.  We snorkelled around the resort for starters and then ventured out by boat to the deeper Maldivian waters where I got to swim with the rays and wave to Nemo and his family. The visibility was so clear and I would love to dive in the Maldives some day. We also went old school line fishing on a traditional boat and caught a few fish for our dinner the next day.

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Resident sting rays coming in for a feed. I went in for a pat and I totally felt like a daredevil. (not)

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Water swing that was 100m out. We could walk to it during low tide.

The service provided at TE was paramount. They made a point to remember our preferences, greet us by name and to give us a smile every time we walked by. Russell made a lasting impression with us as he never failed to show us his pearly whites and always stopped to have a chat and ask how our day was going. His daily greeting was ‘Hello!! Need buggy?😀’

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View of the sunset from the infinity pool.

Hubs and I checked out after 5 days and were given a photo frame with the snap they took when we arrived. As the boat left the jetty, the TE staff smiled and waved us off to the distance.

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Walking us to our boat back to Male Airport.

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Ariel View Photo Credit: Taj Exotica

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Dining Club, Sydney, Australia

I thought it would be a straightforward 2 km walk to lunch but the route was filled with hills and the heat did not help. The 35-39 degree days on our weekend getaway were heinous. We huffed, puffed and laughed at our lack of fitness but when we took a bite of the food offerings at Buffalo Dining Club, the miserable walk was WORTH IT.

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Buffalo Dining Club on Urbanspoon

Jean Georges, New York City, USA

Nothing can steal the limelight from celebrated Michelin Starred Chef Jean Georges. Located on the ground floor of the celebrated Trump Hotel, you’ll find yourself breathing sophisticated air as you walk toward the entrance of Jean Georges. The dining room is beautifully decorated and designed with floor to ceiling windows letting the sunshine in. You’ll find the service very formal and professional but it did not have the personal touches like other restaurants of its class. The Chef’s creations are awe inspiring and a bite of the parmesan crusted chicken will leave you salivating for more.

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Jean-Georges on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

Martin Wishart, Edinburgh, Scotland

On every holiday, we try to fit a couple of michelin star restaurants into our itinerary and Martin Wishart made it onto our list in Edinburgh.

The restaurant itself was rather small. Tables were placed close to each other but the use of mirrors throughout the dining room gave us the illusion of it being bigger. At 75 pounds pp we thought it was fairly priced for a michelin starred restaurant. The staff were very courteous and the food was very much to our/my liking. I have a thing for french cuisine.

Amuse Bouche – I can’t quite remember what this was. It wasn’t very memorable.

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Olive Bread – Warm, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. We both had two serves with lots of butter!

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Amuse Bouche – The scallop in the middle was the best out of the lot.

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Ravioli of Squab Pigeon, consommé, white radish and carrot – Consommé was rich in flavor, ravioli pasta was paper thin and I think the filling had foie gras which made it for me. A great Dish!

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Ceviche of Halibut, mango and passion fruit – Nothing out of this world but it was refreshing and tasty.

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Loch Fyne Crab “Marie Rose”, tartare of rose veal, tomato and crab mayonnaise – The veal was nicely prepared but the mayo took over the dish completely. I love crab so that didn’t bother me too much.

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Langoustine and Veal Sweetbread Roast in Buckwheat and Thyme, braised endive, curry and sauternes sauce – This was my favourite dish from the menu. I am probably biased as I love the main ingredients used. I could taste the lightly charred flavour from the langoustine and the sweetbread was crispy and soft. The only thing I would have changed would be the hint of curry in the sauce. I loved it nonetheless!

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Roast Goosenargh Duck, morels, broad bean croquettes, foie gras sauce- Another winner, the duck was so tender and the sauce matched it perfectly. Yum!

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Palette Cleanser – My least favourite ‘dish’ of the night. I liked the bottom bit which tasted like lemon curd, but the rest was just alright. I just wanted dessert to be served!

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There were two desserts to choose from and Simon got the Mille- Feuille while I ordered the chocolate option.

Mille- Feuille, vanilla cream, caramel ice-cream, caramelised apple compote – Simon said it wasn’t the best dessert he’s ever had but it was quite nice. The vanilla cream was the best part in my opinion. Everything else didn’t do it for me.IMG_0510

 

Valrhona Manjari Chocolate, exotic sorbet, mandarin curd, chocolate soil – I never order desserts with orange in them but I chose this because it had chocolate and I love chocolate! Sadly, it was disappointing with the biscuit base being so hard I couldn’t cut it. Everything else was not to my liking either😦

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Chocolate Truffles to end the meal.

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Even though there were some misses, we left Martin Wishart full and contented. I would give it a 7/10🙂

Martin Wishart on Urbanspoon

Smuggled Seeds, Leederville, Perth

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Smuggled Seeds uses Five Senses Coffee beans and their own blends. I’m not a coffee connoisseur (maybe someday), but I’ll try a cup of coffee and if my taste buds love it, then way to go!

Simon and I ordered a flat white each and it has since become one of our favourite coffees! We also had a chocolate banana cake which was yummy and moist.

Once we stepped foot into this little gem, we couldn’t help but feel welcome. The staff were very friendly and you can tell the barrister puts not only his skill, but also lots of care into the little cuppas’ he serves. He even bothered to say: ‘thank you and have a great day!’ as we left.

Lovely people, great prices and awesome coffee. We will be sure to head back to have some breakfast very soon!

Smuggled Seeds Espresso on Urbanspoon

Sweet Lips, Leederville, Perth, Australia

My mum came over from Singapore and when she’s in town, its a food fest for Simon and I. The amount of food we ate during those two weeks was ludicrous.

Mum will never forget to make a trip down to her favourite Fish and Chip outlet in Perth.

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We always order the usual – 2 serves of fried whiting, 1 serve of squid tentacles, a snack sized grilled baby squid and a side of chips.

Mum was happy with her meal, but I did think that the food was a little oily and without the sweet chilli dip, it wouldn’t have tasted as good as it’s glory days.

Sweetlips Fish & Chips Leederville on Urbanspoon

Noodle Forum, Perth, Australia

Simon and I LOVE egg noodles. Wanton noodles in particular. Every time our SIA flight stops in Singapore for a few hours, we make sure we head out to get our favourite wanton noodles from 6th Ave. You can imagine our delight when we heard about Noodle Forum – an eatery that makes hand made egg noodles. So here goes..

BBQ Pork Noodles $11.90

This was probably the best char siew I have had in Perth. It reminded me of my mum’s home made char siew. No colouring,  perfectly caramelized, soft to bite and so so tasty.

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Wanton Noodle, Dry.

The noodles? Amazing. They were cooked al dente, just the way I like them. The sauce was the closest thing I could find in Perth, to those back at home. The wantons were perfectly wrapped parcels of YUM, served in a free range chicken broth. It was filled with prawns, pork and salted fish if I’m not wrong. To top it off, they had green chilli!

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I was a little greedy, and had to try their mee pok. So I took some away and had them at home. I’d just say I would order it again and again if I could! Spot on. (and their take away packaging was the cutest. Great thinking!)

Simon and I are already planning our next meal there!

Noodle Forum on Urbanspoon

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Iggy’s, Hilton Hotel, Singapore

We were in Singapore for a friend’s wedding in Dec last year and it so happened that our one year wedding anniversary was within the week we were there. So, we decided to give *Iggy’s a try given it’s rave reviews throughout the years. I do remember that the capellini was good, and the kaya dessert was an interesting take on the traditional coffee shop treat we get in Singapore. Verdict? 6/10 from what I remember!

*The World’s 50 best Restaurants, sponsored by St Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, No 65.

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Amuse Bouche

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Cappellini with Sakura Ebi, Konbu and Shellfish Oil- This was good.

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I remember saying this about my beef dish: ‘It’s not cutting through as easy as I had hoped’

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Raspberry- Chocolate Chantilly, Rose and Soy Gel

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Kaya and Teh Tarik- Brioche and Coconut Pandan – Can’t go wrong with kaya/custard!

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Momofuku Noodle Bar, East Village, New York City

We were lucky we did not have to wait in line for long. It took us less than 5 minutes to be seated at the bar. Here goes..

Pork belly bum

Pork and Shitake Buns, with Hoisin, Scallion and Cucumber. Soft slow cooked pork belly wrapped with a steamed bread bun cannot go very wrong! This was pretty good.

 

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Momofuku Ramen with Pork Belly, Pork Shoulder and Poached Egg. Mmm yeah this was average. Maybe I’m just biased towards Ippudo and there are many boutique Ramen shops in Singapore that would beat this hands down!

Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon