Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Hundred Million Miracles...

"If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed;
if in terms of ten years, plant trees;
if in terms of 100 years,
teach the people."


On a rather warm mid-week afternoon,
I made my way to the 
Upper East Side 
to visit
Mee-Seen Loong
at her art-filled
New York 
 hot & humid,
with the locals all out
enjoying the spoils of warm weather.
This day was no different.
A rush of cool air 
engulfed and barraged 
my senses
I stepped into the serenity of
 beautiful apartment.
You are at once taken by the 
bright splashes of colour 
Nowhere in sight are the 
shades so favoured by
urban dwellers.
Instead, you get 
red in every intensity, bright yellow,
turquoise and other 
that transport you back to the days of the
exotic orient.
The lady of the house was dressed in a
Chinese inspired 
Middle Kingdom jacket,
probably made from the last bolt of
expensive & rare silk.
 clean & precise 
lines of the garment
reflected the personality of the
Sharp, clear & collected 
are words I would use to
 to that
informed, well-travelled & eloquent.
You know a person has lived well when 
she has many 
brilliant stories
Mee-Seen Loong,
Fine Art Specialist,
seen here taking me on a
verbal journey
to one of her many, many
interesting encounters.
This magic carpet ride with her
is filled with
 exotic locations
colourful people.
Her profession has certainly granted her access
to fabulous opportunities
of not just meetings.
Instead, this formidable woman
has had many possibilities to 
rare & precious art.
The light-filled apartment
perched high above 
has the good fortune of windows all around.
experts would agree in unison
that this space has good Chi.
Of course,
the inhabitants has a great deal to 
contribute to this fact.
greeted me with a exquisitely laid out table
using table linens purchased from
our store last April.
On her annual visits to
 Kuala Lumpur,
she stocks up 
A conversation with her is like an
education in itself.
Her delivery is smooth.
While her 
story-telling is melancholic
yet informed.
Her voice is a mix of
 "husky & confidence."
All the while making you feel 
welcome & comfortable.
We chatted away on various 
topics while devouring delicious pastries
from the 
Union Square
farmers market.
What motivates you?
Favourite TV show?
Downton Abbey
Jeans or skirt?
Your hobbies?
Window-sill gardening.
Favourite colour?
( Incidentally...the objects in this photo are 
entirely made up of ceramic!)
French or Ethiopian food?
What were your first thoughts this morning?
The Farmers Market.
If I say jump, what would you say?
"Oh no...!"
Define passion?
"A relentless enthusiasm for something."
Greatest achievement?
Bringing up my daughter to be the person she is today.
What puts a smile on your face?
A little baby.
Your life philosophy?
Always be kind.
Favourite city?
New York City.
What are you reading now?
A book about apples.
What do you admire in a person?
Verbal ability?
What makes you happy?
Beauty in everything.
What trait in a person you most deplore?
Finish this sentence..."the long and winding road what I'm still on."
Describe your style?
The spirit of success resonates all over.
Her positive outlook enhances the mood
as we continued our chatter.
Sunlight poured into the living space in
bright sharp rays, 
further amplifying the 
vivid colours of the objects in the room.
All around us, strategically placed
in all 
shape & form,
as if awaiting their 
turn for fame.
She clearly enjoys living in
New York
 indulge in her passion
Ballet & Theatre
whenever an opportunity presents itself.
" This city frees us from driving
I really relishes the seasons".
On the subject of antiques...
"It has been kept for so long.
Admired & protected.
The intrinsic beauty &
the history
that comes along with a piece of 
time-treasured antique,
makes it very desirable."
Her world is filled with
The essence of joy that makes
Mee-Seen Loong
who she is.
Her long and established career with
has cemented her position in the 
world of
Chinese Art.
is also championing
Chinese Contemporary ink artist
The fantastical is not about to happen everyday.
But if we desire it,
somehow & sometime,
it could.
Our paths have crossed many times.
Yet, this is my first clear impression
Mee-Seen Loong
in her own space.
Making the encounter more
Choosing to focus in the rarefied world of
Chinese art 
has defined her.
This woman definitely has
profound qualities
as rare as the 
she curates.
As tea comes to an end
I beg my leave,
we embraced for a moment,
 secured in the knowledge
that we had 
made a connection.

See you soon in 
Kuala Lumpur!

"To attract good fortune,
spend a new coin on an old friend,
share an old pleasure with
a new friend,
lift up the heart of a 
true friend by writing
his name on the 
of a dragon."

Old Chinese Proverb.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Verona...A Gentle Town By A River.

One guess as to what this is?
This is apparently the
Juliet hung out
lamented out loud into the darkness of night...
"Romeo, Romeo,
wherefore art thou Romeo!"

You don't need to be a
to visit this city
ill-fated lovers.
This medieval outpost on the banks
of the
Adige River,
sits comfortably in her 
antiquated cloak.
Located in the 
 region of Italy
 a mere
70 miles west of
Verona has a charming small town feel,
that's easily managed on foot.
We were there for the annual
Opera Festival
held at the
2000 year old 
Roman Arena.
Which looks a lot like the
"That which we call a rose
by any other name, would smell
as sweet!".

William Shakespeare

Verona is not big on sights.
There are 2 bridges,
Ponte Scaligero
Ponte Pietra.
A couple of Piazza's
an old
it's totally charming when the
 Opera season
is on.
The entire town comes alive,
turning it into a
jet setting cultural melting pot.
The Arena
was thought to have been built in
AD 30.
It used to be able to sit
 20,000 spectators
but now,
for safety reasons,
it's wilted down to 
a mere
The atmosphere inside,
was quite
We saw
To be resting on those ancient stone steps,
under the canopy of the blue
 Italian sky,
was undeniably memorable.
As dusk took over
the Opera began,
the entire scene unfolded
 we were
 transported back to another time.
The city of Verona
is surrounded by 
lush vineyards,
ensuring that good wine is easily
As in many other parts of Italy,
people watching is a
 national pastime.
Ancient walls are still intact.
Italians are extremely proud of their heritage.
Italy is totally camera-friendly.
Photo opportunities abound at every corner.
No doubt one can be a long way from home,
but here,
under the 
shadow of the Arena,
with ample 
good food and drink,
one can only 
be further intoxicated
by the
 sights & sounds
 of this beguiling city.
Enough said.
Time to bake.

This pizza-like bread is seasoned generously with
sea salt & olive oil.
Additional herbs could be added.
The name was probably derived from
Technically, it should be baked
in the center of the oven.
Or in the fireplace.
Makes perfect sense.
Always start with quality ingredients.
They're everywhere!

Baking requires
 patience and competence.
Let the yeast take it's time to react.
Pour some love into it!
Kneading dough may require some skill.
could assist in tutorials.
it's all in the arm strength.
Knead, knead & knead.
Give it a poke
if the dough bounces back,
you know it's ready!
Place the dough into oiled bowl.
Cover with warm damp cloth.
Set aside in a warm place for an hour.
Dough must have risen to twice 
it's height by now.
Lightly oil the baking form.
Sprinkle generously with
Gently place dough into the baking pan.
Using your fingers,
punch into dough to create
indent marks.
Drizzle with lots of olive oil.
Lightly push in the toppings.
Sprinkle with polenta.
And then lots of sea salt all over.
Cover and set aside for another 45 mins.
Place the pan into the very hot oven.
Center rack.
For 25 mins.
your master
The bread has good texture 
the salt,olives & herbs
bring out the flavor.
Serve it warm at your table 
your guests will be
 terribly impressed!
back in
...the city beckons.
As with most old  Italian towns,
the center revolves
around a
central town square.
And is usually connected to other squares
via small narrow alleys.
These are the props for
awaiting their 5 mins of fame on stage.
The afternoons are generally
 blisteringly hot.
Stores are mostly closed.
And a shade in any form,
is much appreciated.
Again, tourists...
they're everywhere!
( ...actually these are my friends...
 from left Odd Gunnar, Kjell, Erle, 
Bernt, Stine & Jan Olav )
Verona's history dates back to the time of the
Beautiful fountains adorn
just like this on on 
Piazza delle Erbe.
This square was once the 
town's forum
during the
 Roman Empire.
Apparently, the
family did exist!
Old world 
Italian architecture
is quite remarkable.
The bridges were destroyed during the
second world war
but carefully
faithful to the original.
July is a great month to visit
There are many
all over the country.

You cannot go wrong with a  holiday in this country.
It has great
 cuisine, history,
not to mention
good wine.
And a charming romantic sounding
language that would melt
even the
 hardest dark chocolate!
"You May Have The Universe,
If I May Have

Giuseppe Verdi
I find
easy vacation destination.
More importantly,
the people are friendly
 some even,
Great coffee helps!
Our time in
was well spent.
We came,
we saw,
we ate...
I shopped
we left satiated!

" Romeo,
doff thy name,
and for thy name,
which is no part of thee,
Take all myself!".

Peter Hoe's Focaccia

3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt
polenta powder
sun dried tomatoes

Sieve flour & divide into 2 parts
Add yeast, sugar to warm water. Let it dissolve
until bubbly...approx 15 mins
Make a well in one part of the flour
Pour in 5 tablespoons olive oil
& a little of the yeast water
Stir & combine...gently
Gradually add more flour & yeast water
from 2nd part of flour
Mix until all is combined
Oil a large bowl
Place dough in & cover with 
damp warm cloth
Place in a warm place
After an hour, dough
should have risen
Oil baking form & sprinkle with polenta
Place dough into form
& cover for another 30 mins 
Generously brush top of dough with
olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, olive rings,
polenta, sun dried tomatoes etc.
Bake for 20 min sat 200 degrees Celsius

Your bread is ready....