Jubilee Tea Set at TWG Tea by Jenn Chan

TWG Tea Canada

 

TWG is the world's première tea brand. It is a brand synonymous with luxury and quality from Singapore to Saigon to Surrey. Everywhere you go, where they give a damn at least, you'll see TWG and now you'll know you're in the presence of tea with a high assurance of freshness, unbeatable terroir and flavour combinations the folks over at Tetley, Earl Grey or Lipton simply can't pull off or wouldn't even try. TWG Vancouver does tea better than anyone in the city! Sure luxury restaurants and lounges have jumped on the bandwagon and offer a small selection of TWG wares, but you can rest assured they aren't getting the absolute freshest teas and I will bet $1,000,000 that they won't have half the selection!

 

The Jubilee Tea Set, created by the venerable Chef Cliff Hohl, - celebrates Canada turning 150 by offering ingredients that are truly Canadian. There's elk, salmon, all maple erythang and Canadian bacon so delicious it will satisfy even the ficklest of swine enthusiasts. The Jubilee tea was made specifically to celebrate the Canada's centennial and a half and is the first tea inspired by Canada. 

 

Jubilee Tea Set
Iced French Earl Grey

Iced French Earl Grey

 

 

Now Chef Cliff, happily a friend of Jenn and I, will take his recipes to his grave, but I can tell you this: if you crack these secrets you too can be the Executive Chef at one of Vancouver's best eateries. Miso sablefish is an iconic TWG staple; delicious, light and flaky, but TWG has added Canada's national treasure, maple syrup, to the mix and the results are deafening. Run, don't walk, and get down there and try it!

 

Jubilee Tea Set

Jubilee Tea Set

 

Ahhhhhh Wagyu... Why are you so delicious? How do you get that sought after marbling? The answer to these questions is... I haven't the faintest, foggiest idea, but what I do know is I once had a $152 Wagyu steak that changed the way I look at cows. Literally. For their Jubilee tea set TWG included a Wagyu beef burger that was so incredibly tender and savoury that I got angry. I was noticeably irritated. How do you do it Chef Cliff!?

 

Wagyu Beef Slider with Maple Beef Bacon and Moroccan Mint Tea infused BBQ sauce, Miso Maple Sablefish infused with Caramel Tea

Wagyu Beef Slider with Maple Beef Bacon and Moroccan Mint Tea infused BBQ sauce, Miso Maple Sablefish infused with Caramel Tea

 

The salmon came poached and accompanied with lemon Panna cotta and popcorn. I don't know about you, but when I think about going to the movies I invariably also think about eating fistfuls of buttery popcorn and getting 3 out of every 5 kernels into my mouth as the blur that is my eating arm pitches them from waist height to reduce the time it takes to reach back into the tub and repeat the process. You'd be hard pressed the find a dish that includes popped corn that I wouldn't like and today is not the day I start. Delicious!

 

Salmon Confit and Lemon Bush Tea infused Panna Cotta, Tourtière with Weekend in Hong Kong infused rhubarb chutney, Imperial Lapsang Souchong infused Chicken Cone

Salmon Confit and Lemon Bush Tea infused Panna Cotta, Tourtière with Weekend in Hong Kong infused rhubarb chutney, Imperial Lapsang Souchong infused Chicken Cone

 

There is a movement in the foodie community that has been around for a whole, but is really starting to take hold of late as we destroy our planet just a little bit more every year: sustainability. It can mean different things to different people, but the gist is "eat in a manner that is viable long term." So how do we do it? It must start by moving away, ever so slowly, from beef. Yes, I waxed poetically about my Wagyu lust above, but then just said that. But why? There are 3 main arguments against beef: Deforestation. We clear more carbon dioxide guzzling trees to accommodate these three-stomached behemoths than most other pursuits. Farts. The methane emitted from the flatulence of these giant beast is a major contributor to global warming. Google it. And finally shipping. Do you live near the Amazon where millions of these creatures roam where once the pieces of the mighty Amazon jungle stood majestically? Me neither. That's a lot of trucks and a lot of kilometres to cross before it gets in my tummy! Wild game is becoming more and more common on dining tables and restaurants and it is a good thing! The tourtière at TWG is a blend of Wagyu beef and elk, baby steps, and was my favourite dish in the tea set! It has amazing flavours words won't do justice. You'll have to go check it out!

 

Once you get to the dessert level of the tower of deliciousness (my suggestion for any possible future renaming of this tea set) your expectations are high. TWG wouldn't dare disappoint you at this point. Included is a maple eclair, delicious and not as sweet as you would imagine. Insider's tip: eat it upside down to avoid a mess! There was also a croque en bouche and a passionfruit and mango tart. The croque is worthy of any French bistro and the tart is absolutely delicious and the mousse just melts in your mouth! This post may spur you to try TWG for the first time, but service, their incredible newly renovated dining room and quality, absolute top quality, will be what keeps you coming back!

 

Sweets: Petite Maple Éclair, Red Balloon Tea Macaron, Napoleon Tea infused Croque-en-bouche, Passion Fruit Tea infused Passion Fruit and Mango Tartlet

Sweets: Petite Maple Éclair, Red Balloon Tea Macaron, Napoleon Tea infused Croque-en-bouche, Passion Fruit Tea infused Passion Fruit and Mango Tartlet

Special Canada 150 Jubilee Tea

Special Canada 150 Jubilee Tea

Special Canada 150 Jubilee Tea
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Travel: Movenpick Bangkok by Jenn Chan

Movenpick Bangkok

 

I was a water baby. Turn around at the beach and I was neck deep. Leave me to my own devices at home and I'd draw a bath. To this day I retreat to the water to recharge and refocus. That's why pools are so important to me! Mövenpick Bangkok has a really nice rooftop pool. Ultra comfortable chaise lounges sit in a specially designed area in 2 feet of water at the edge of the deep end. I posted up there for hours and hours and never once felt the scourge of FOMO; fear of missing out. Surrounded by lush greenery and a fully stocked bar there is no reason to leave. Ever.

 

Movenpick Bangkok Rooftop Pool
Movenpick Bangkok Rooftop Pool
Movenpick Bangkok Rooftop Pool

 

The lobby of the Mövenpick screams luxury. The tiling is so intricate and time consuming that the average home owner or non-mega corporation hotel builder would have a hard time justifying the cost. Here's how the conversation with your contractor might go: "we can put the marble in a regular pattern and liven up the design through wood details on the walls and crown moulding OR we can lay it in a pattern undecipherable to anyone save for those well versed in the matrix and that'll run you around... 40-50 times more." Tough pill to swallow, but the end result speaks for itself. The folks at Mövenpick decided to do the kaleidoscope tile AND ornate wood work. Everywhere. It's truly a feast for the eyes!

 

Movenpick Bangkok exterior
Movenpick Bangkok exterior
Movenpick Bangkok Check-In Counter

 

A bedroom is only as good as its bed. That sounds obvious, right? Well it clearly isn't obvious to everyone because I've stayed in a lot of places where the TV was the big expenditure. Or the bed frame matched the end tables, which matched the wardrobe which matched the dressers which matched the coffee table which matched the... you get it. And then you spring onto the bed only to find a limp, lifeless spring mattress. Maybe a puff of dust flies up. Maybe bed bugs. Maybe it's a hide-a-bed couch and you wonder what you've done to your friend or family member to subject you to this torture. "Why is there a bar directly in my back?" you ask yourself as you re-examine your life choices. At Mövenpick they spend money to make money. This bed is money! Combine that with an amazing spa-like bathroom, meticulous cleanliness and modern conveniences and you've got a home away from home you may never want to leave!

 

Movenpick Bangkok Room
Movenpick Bangkok Room

 

What do humans need to live? If you thought to yourself "food and water" and neglected to think about sleep and oxygen you better take a sober second look at how you're living your life. While I didn't try the water, though I'm told locals drink it and live long lives, I can attest to the food; delicious! The included breakfast buffet has something for everyone and the food is very high quality and fresh. This is not a place that sees so few guests it keeps its ingredients frozen to avoid spoilage leaving you with a reheated burger that feels like an icicle in the middle or veggies that don't quite make that satisfying snap noise when you bite into them. Everything at Mövenpick is top shelf! The perfect combination of service, location, ambience and luxury make this hotel a perfect option whether you're visiting Bangkok long term or it's a pitstop on your way to the lush paradises of Thailand's north and south. Highly recommended!

 

Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast
Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast
Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast
Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast - Omelette Bar

Movenpick Bangkok Breakfast - Omelette Bar

Movenpick Bangkok
Movenpick Bangkok
Movenpick Bangkok Views

Movenpick Bangkok Views

Movenpick Bangkok Views
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Travel: Akyra Manor Chiang Mai, Thailand by Jenn Chan

Akyra Manor Chiang Mai

 

 

Chiang Mai is a jewel in the mountains of northern Thailand! From the ancient, walled 'Old City' to the Riverside district to the mountainside temples overlooking the Valley containing the city of Chiang Mai, the sprawl of which would have awed its founders in 1296! There's a thousand and one things to do and restaurants to try. The experience has been described by people who have travelled more throughout the country as authentically Thai. 

 

Travelling by scooter is about 5 times faster than travelling by car. And on this morning, I left Jenn and a taxi driver, and the charming doormen at Akyra Manor in charge of the luggage, and took off on the scooter for a short tour, and STILL beat Jenn and the taxi to Akyra. Not having any documentations to check in to the room, I headed straight to the renowned Rise Rooftop Pool Bar, famous for its glass-sided, Aquarium style pool where swimmers become an aquatic mealtime show. 

 

Rooftop Pool

Rooftop Pool

Akyra Manor Chiang Mai Rooftop Pool
View from the Rooftop

View from the Rooftop

Akyra Manor Chiang Mai Rooftop Pool
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai Rooftop Pool

 

Akyra Manor Hotel is one of the top luxury hotels in Chiang Mai! As you walk in the front doors, you're struck by the irregular, birds nest like embellishments that crown the exterior. Once inside, modern furnishings meet kitsch meet ten foot candelabra chandelier, and a full sized horse lamp. As we were whisked what would turn out to be a futuristic, jetsons-like slice of modern luxury, we were ushered down curtained hallways, lighted from behind, giving the effect of a movie theatre atmosphere.

 

The door swings open to our suite and were greeted with a plush looking, leather bench, overlooking an 8-foot fishbowl tub, which sits outside on the patio. Above it, a chandelier of softball sized ball bearings dangle preciously, illuminating the bamboo growing on the outer edge of the patio, providing privacy for the bathers. A right turn into the suite, leads you into a bathroom fit for a 5 star luxury spa. A large sliding window leads you to a tiled path surrounded by small river stones to the outdoor tub. A symmetrical sliding door on the other side is a shortcut to the master bedroom. The centrepiece of the master bedroom is a slick double-sided wardrobe. One side conceals a large flatscreen TV facing the large King sized bed, the other side sports a halo lit mirror vanity and small seating space. The bed is a plush pillow top that comes with a pillow bar menu, which allows you a choice of 7 different types of pillows; seriously. We rang the front desk and asked for one of each and tested them out. A smiling staff member was at our door with our pillows within a few minutes and shared a good laugh with us having ordered all of them. On the wall behind the bed, inside the built in cupboards, are the master controls to the room, doing everything from dimming the lights, to closing the drapes, to turning off the tv. We slept well.

 

Akyra Manor Chiang Mai
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai Suite
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai Suite
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai Suite
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai Suite
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai Suite Bathroom
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai Suite

 

A breakfast buffet at italics is included with every stay at Akyra and the food is very good. Fresh pastries, delicious tropical fruit, delicious coffee, fresh squeezed juices and a selection that will make sure everybody will find something they will like. Every night they drop off a cocktail of the day for you to make yourself in your room. All the non-alcoholic ingredients are included free of charge, and there's an option to add the corresponding liquor at a very affordable price. Taking everything into account: the modern rooms, the world class rooftop pool, excellent food, perfectly adequate gym and beaming staff make Akyra an excellent choice for your stay in Chiang Mai!

 

Italics Restaurant
Italics Restaurant Breakfast
Breakfast Tower

Breakfast Tower

Italics Restaurant Breakfast
Italics Restaurant Breakfast
Make your own Cocktail In-Room

Make your own Cocktail In-Room

Akyra Manor Chiang Mai
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

"Give Peas a Chance" at ARC Dining, Fairmont Waterfront by Jenn Chan

Arc Dining, Fairmont Waterfront

 

Fairmont Waterfront will always have a special place in my heart. It is the first restaurant that we covered for  JennChanPhotography.com/blog, the food is amazing and we have made some wonderful friends amongst the incredible Fairmont staff. Recently returning from a life changing two month odyssey through Southeast Asia it seemed fitting that one of the first restaurants we visited was Arc! 

 

We arrived bright and early to a bustling lobby, sun shining through the signature mile high Arc windows and Kristyna, one of our favourite Fairmonters, waiting with her signature beaming smile. I ordered a latte and sat back and enjoyed the ambience and pleasant conversation. You will not have a bad meal at Arc, I will personally guarantee that!

 

Breakfast Menu

Breakfast Menu

 

I ordered the 2 Egg Breakfast and Jenn had the Pork Belly and Egg and the Spring Pea Toast. Perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs, an excellent chicken sausage, oven fresh bread toasted just right and delicious roasted potatoes. It is as good as it sounds and I know it sounds damn good! The belly has got to be the tastiest part of the pig; flavourful and tender. Combine that with an organic egg and a delightful parsley root purée and I regretted not ordering it myself. Next time! The Spring Pea Toast uses feta cheese, delicious, greens from Arc's own rooftop garden, peas and beans, the same organic egg atop a fresh slice of sourdough bread. I generally don't like peas, but I found this dish very appealing and snuck several bites whenever Jenn turned her back. A couple of glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice to wash everything down and that is a great way to start a day!

 

Bircher Müesli & Super Green Smoothie

Bircher Müesli & Super Green Smoothie

Pork Belly and Egg

Pork Belly and Egg

2 Egg Breakfast with Chicken Sausage

2 Egg Breakfast with Chicken Sausage

Spring Pea Toast

Spring Pea Toast

Spring Pea Toast

 

The Canada Place area of Vancouver is tourist central. I state that without a hint of negativity; it's a high compliment coming from me! Tourist areas are shining examples of your town that attracts people from literally 1,000's of miles away to take them in. Fairmont Waterfront is in the centre of centre. The rooms are amazing, the pool is absolutely world class and the food, as above, will suit any tastes or budgets. Tell them Jenn sent you and enjoy!

 

Arc Dining, Fairmont Waterfront
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Afternoon Tea at Trump Vancouver Champagne Lounge by Jenn Chan

Trump Vancouver Champagne Lounge Menu

The Trump Champagne Lounge is a vivacious space! In only our first 5 minutes people watching proved to be very interesting: posh hotel guests walking through the lobby en route to their luxury digs, friends meeting for drinks, an engagement party and satisfied diners exiting Mott 32 with food coma grins. Giggling and judging people quietly to each other Jenn and I ordered the Sparkling Afternoon Tea and the Infinite Afternoon Tea. I'd humbly recommend only one tea set per pair, but gluttony is in, in 2017!

Pink Flamingo Iced Tea

Pink Flamingo Iced Tea

The Sparkling comes with a glass of Bartolomiol 'Miol' Prosecco Extra Dry and the Infinite with a very sophisticated Laurent-Perrier Brut. The Prosecco had a nice hint of blackberry and was full of flavour and the Brut was very tart, which I like, and had a fruit aromas with a slight citrus finish; delicious! We also ordered the Bain de Roses and Royal Darjeeling from the venerable TWG Tea.

Laurent-Perrier Champagne

Laurent-Perrier Champagne

Infinite Afternoon Tea

Infinite Afternoon Tea

Our tea set arrived, amalgamated, and sitting on a very unique hexagonal pedestal which really showed off its wares! Scones, as fresh as I've ever tasted, with a very frothy Devonshire cream and house made raspberry jam and lemon curd; lovely! We plunged into the tower with the Salmon à la Bombay Petite Sliders. Think smoked salmon with a mild curry kick, very good! The Rolled Egg Sandwich followed and the Italian Truffle tapenade really shines through just as the cream cheese stole the show in the Cucumber & Dill sandwich that followed. My first experience with my favourite condiment in the world, Sriracha, in a high tea set and it was a good one! Duck, delicious, mixed with oyster sauce, awesome, the aforementioned Sriracha, and wrapped in a fluffy crèpe! A very, very nice finger sandwich! I could have eaten 50.

Infinite Afternoon Tea

Infinite Afternoon Tea

Finger Sandwiches: Cucumber & Dill, Rolled Egg Sandwich, Spicy Duck Crepe, Salmon à la Bombay Petite Slider

Finger Sandwiches: Cucumber & Dill, Rolled Egg Sandwich, Spicy Duck Crepe, Salmon à la Bombay Petite Slider

Warm House Baked Scones with Devonshire Cream, Homemade Raspberry Jam & Lemon Curd

Warm House Baked Scones with Devonshire Cream, Homemade Raspberry Jam & Lemon Curd

Some people claim that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well I'm going to make an official argument for dessert finally getting the nod. Stay with me. Cake contains eggs, eggs contain protein and protein helps to rebuild and grow muscle. Sugar affects the same pleasure centre in the brain as cocaine. Would you rather kids did cocaine than eat cake?? Would you?? Cheese cake pops, hazelnut chocolate cake, Matcha and strawberry rolled cake, white chocolate and raspberry mouse and raspberry rose water lychee Paris Brest. Cake, cake, cake, mousse and whatever the last one is, not a bad way to end a delicious meal! You could go just for dessert and leave very satisfied!

Pastry Selection: Matcha & Strawberry Rolled Cake, Raspberry Rose Water & Lychee Paris Brest, Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Pastry Selection: Matcha & Strawberry Rolled Cake, Raspberry Rose Water & Lychee Paris Brest, Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Cheese Cake Pops & Cotton Candy

Cheese Cake Pops & Cotton Candy

 

Having had no fewer than 30 different afternoon teas in the last year I can pledge that Trump does it as well as anyone around! Their service is amazing, always, and the ambience is beautiful. You will not be sorry you went in even if you are sorry about its unfortunate name.  They're making us forge by offering world class hotel accommodations, luxury condos, sublime spa services, a raucous nightclub and incredible dining in Mott 32 as well as the Champagne Lounge where we found ourselves enjoying our tea experience. I would highly recommend you checking out Trump!

 

Louis XIII Truffles Wrapped with Gold

Louis XIII Truffles Wrapped with Gold

 

Words: Scott Allan

Photos: Jenn Chan

 

 

 

Travel: 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Jenn Chan

The Original 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai

The Original 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai

 

137 Pillars House Chiang Mai won Best Hotel in Asia from Travel & Leisure's in 2016. That is a big deal, really big! Travel & Leisure is the premiere publication for travel! It is not difficult to see why they won either. The service is excellent, the grounds are stunning and the location is prime. 

 

The incredible service started even before we graced their grounds. 137 Pillars sent a car for us to our previous hotel. A car with leather, massage seats. Yes, that's right. JC also insisted I mention the cold towel and bottles of water they provided for the ride.  Having stayed in a completely different part of Chiang Mai we were delighted to see a completely different, and significantly better, area we may never have had occasion to venture to. Nawarat Bridge is mere minutes walk away, it's beautiful, and the surrounding Ping River area is filled with shopping and great restaurants!

 

As we pulled through the gates past the unassuming, white outer walls we were floored by the elegance of the entryway and the floating reception area surrounded by water. As we were led to our villa the plush, tropical vegetation and its fragrant aroma makes you forget where you are. 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai is a self-contained, tropical oasis! The beauty of the grounds cannot be overemphasized! All 30 of their amazing villas face to the centre of the property where a Borneo Company house, built in 1889 and boasting 137 pillars to support it, stands in all of its teak splendour. Now a posh restaurant, gym and small museum it has been restored to its 19 century glory and is absolutely beautiful. They don't make them like that anymore.

137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai
137 Pillars Grounds

137 Pillars Grounds

137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai Grounds

 

I would live in our villa. Add a kitchen in the walk in closet and the suite would sell for $1 - 1.1 million dollars in my neighbourhood. And it would sell quickly! The claw foot tub in the elegant bathroom overlooks a romantic outdoor shower. The deck, complete with ultra comfortable rocking chair, has a nice view of the croquet course and refreshing ceiling fan hums away over the plush patio couch. The bed is like sleeping on a cloud and the air conditioning was quiet and strong. So necessary in Thailand!

 

137 Pillars House Suite

137 Pillars House Suite

137 Pillars House Suite
137 Pillars House Suite Bathroom
137 Pillars House Suite Bathroom
137 Pillars House Suite Patio
137 Pillars House Suite Private Pool

137 Pillars House Suite Private Pool

137 Pillars House Dining Room

137 Pillars House Dining Room

137 Pillars House Dining Room
137 Pillars House Dining Room
Lobster Udon

Lobster Udon

Beef Tenderloin Burger

Beef Tenderloin Burger

 

Do you think 2016's best hotel in Asia has good food? Do you? Well it does. 

Incredible food actually! We were delighted to indulge in one of the best meals of our nearly 2 month Southeast Asia adventure. We started with a lovely cheese platter; blue cheese, Brie, cheddar with plum and shallots. We also ordered the 137's chowder, assorted seafood in rich white and Truffle soup base. It was delicious and hearty and fresh as a sly comeback. Foie gras is French for fatty liver. It was very tender. Like Elvis belting out a love ballad tender. We paired everything with a Lindeman's Henry's Sons Vrut Cuvée which was the perfect compliment to the cheese platter and extended into the seafood chowder and Foie gras course seamlessly.

 

 

137 Pillars Dining Room
137 Pillars Dining Room
137 Pillars Dining Room / Piano Bar
Cheese Plate with Wine Pairing

Cheese Plate with Wine Pairing

137 Pillars Seafood Chowder

137 Pillars Seafood Chowder

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

 

The main event was a Veal Angus Beef and some beautiful Lamb Chops. A filet mignon with a white truffle infused whipped potato and port wine beef jus. Picture mashed potatoes, fluffy piles of potato goodness, now add truffles and consider the awesomeness multiplies by 100. The lamb was very fresh and was amongst the best I've ever had. The dish disappeared quickly so I can only assume she concurred.

 

Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops

Veal Angus Beef

Veal Angus Beef

 

The service at 137 is top notch. The property is flawless, the pool is a perfect oasis and the food cannot be beaten! It is difficult to find a negative to 137. Out butler Toto was very helpful and a quick text answers all of our questions. It is amongst my favourite hotels of all time and you will not regret visiting!

 

137 Pillars Grounds at Night

137 Pillars Grounds at Night

137 Pillars Grounds at Night
137 Pillars Pool at Night

137 Pillars Pool at Night

137 Pillars Pool at Night
 

Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan