Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Grand Hotel, Bordeaux

In the center of Bordeaux is the Grand Hotel, with old-world traditional interiors.

The walls are covered with drapery-patterned wallpaper, but masterfully broken up with striped upholstered walls in the alcove near the window.

The upholstered walls are edged with braided fabric trim like in the days of Marie Antoinette.

The air-conditioning unit is hidden behind this brass panel, so there is no evidence of clunky modern technology.

I was also particularly intrigued by the old-fashioned brass light switches.

This bedroom is comfortable and cozy, but a little overdone and I wouldn't want to sleep in it every night. For a two-night stay it was perfect.

I have similar tassel tie-backs in my home office, so of course I felt right at home in this room. 

The compact bathroom still had the dated shower-over-the-bathtub set up, but I thought was nicely designed with the modern glass panel until I took a shower.

The panel didn't do a good job of containing the water and the bathroom floor got all wet. They should just fix and seal the glass panel instead of making it swing.

I love old-fashioned cross-handled fixtures. It's what I have all over my house too.

And everything is always better when you have a Nespresso machine in your room with free pods (although I've noticed some hotels now have packaged their pods and are selling them as part of the mini-bar selection. Boo!)

The service of the hotel is just as grand and efficient. We left a jacket in the closet and with one phone call, they mailed it off promptly to an address in Paris.  

The lobby and the restaurant also has old-world interiors. And I remember the breakfast to be quite extensive.

The hotel is also right in the center of the action in Bordeaux.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oz Gallery, Makati--Finally!

Oz Gallery is a unique home decor store in Makati that is long overdue.

Located in LRI Design Plaza on Nicanor Garcia Street (formerly Reposo St) in Bel Air, Makati--(where a lot of other furniture shops are located), Oz Gallery features one-of-a-kind pieces that are refinished or recreated by one of my favorite artistic couples, Sandro and Monica Olondriz.

This very low-key couple first started out doing wall finishes for some of the most beautiful homes in Manila. I say "low-key" because they never advertised themselves, and never even documented the work that they did!

It was only when flipping through my coffee table books, and Monica pointing out some jobs they did, that I realized that they've been at it for a very long time.

unique bar, designed by Sandro

I met Monica a few years ago after I told my cousin Jessica that I couldn't find a chandelier my heart desired.  "Why don't you just ask Monica to make you one?" she said.

"A chandelier? Someone can make a chandelier for me?" I was disbelieving.

"Hellooo, where do you think I got that--she made that for me!" she replied, pointing up at hers.

 old-fashioned chandelier with crystal beading

I lost no time calling her and a couple of months later, I had my own lovely chandelier being installed in my living room. 

Then I saw that they also did furniture refinishing, and walls, and all that other creative stuff.

I asked Monica to refinish an antique doctor's glass cabinet that we got from B's lolo's old house in Cabuyao.

They are so creative they can think of design solutions too, like this wall unit in Joanna's apartment.

When Monica told me they were finally setting up shop in LRI, I was so excited for them. Finally, more people can see how talented they are. (And it's right across Alliance Francaise--I could visit her right after French class!)

The nice thing about this couple is that they as easy to work with as they are talented. Sometimes I just look at my old furniture and imagine what magic Monica and Sandro can do with them.  I don't really need anything... I just like the idea of  doing something creative with them. 

Their design sensibilities are similar to mine and we appreciate the appeal of reworked vintage pieces. I tell them my thoughts on how something can be reworked,  they will get excited and generate even more ideas. The passion they have for the creative process is apparent in the detailing of each piece.

There is nothing commercial in this store--everything is of artisanal quality--with of course, Sandro and Monica as the artists!

The only downside of the shop is that the pieces are one-of-a-kind. You might drop by and see something you love--only to find out it has already been sold and just waiting to be picked up. So it's a downside if you're the latecomer but obviously an upside if you're the one who got first dibs!

One just has to keep dropping by to see what's new.

They have featured a few one-of-a kind pieces of other talented friends too, like the chandeliers of Sharmila Hiranand.  Monica says they will continue to do this.

Maybe when I finally get through my own bodega, I'll be able to rework my pieces and show them off also in Oz Gallery.

The problem with that is when I rework a piece (many times with their help) I want to keep it for myself even if I don't know where to put it.

If only Sandro and Monica documented, from the start,  all the projects they did and all the pieces they reworked, they could've published a beautiful coffee table book of their own.

Or why not a blog to document the process with some before and after photos?

Maybe in a couple of years I'll have a post that says, "Here is a coffee table book that is long overdue"--or  maybe in a few months, 'Here is a blog that is long overdue."

Much as I enjoy the exclusivity of their pieces and services, talent and passion like this must be shared with a greater audience. 

I can say this generously and confidently because I don't have space for anything more in my home. 

Monica et moi 

Oz Gallery
3rd Level, LRI Design Plaza
Nicanor Garcia Street
Facebook: Oz Gallery

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Les Deserteurs and Restaurant Will

I checked my Facebook page and under a friend's post, saw a link to an article of new Paris restaurants in NY Magazine. My FB friend's update said "Wish I was in Paris right now!"  

What luck for us, we were on our last day in Paris!

It would be sad to have a mediocre meal in Paris, a city of thousands of restaurants, when one can easily have an outstanding one by keeping an ear to the ground.  How timely this article was then--it was just published that a few days before.

I made a couple of phone calls and luckily was able to squeeze in two restaurants on our last day--one for lunch and another for dinner.

We walked over to Les Deserteurs in the 11th arrondissement for lunch. It was very close to where we were staying.

The place was small, with only about 24 seats. There were no tourists in the house, mostly locals, but there was also a photographer from a local weekly magazine covering the lunch crowd.

Les Deserteurs just has one fixed menu that is served to everyone. It was also reasonably priced.

First course was an in-season white asparagus.

I know we shouldn't have but we couldn't stop eating the sourdough bread. It was just too good.

Main course was a serving of lamb in a light but very flavourful sauce. I love how French servings are not overwhelming, being just right for one person.

The dessert of chocolate mousse with salted caramel ice cream on a bed of cookie crumbs and toasted sesame seeds was exquisite.

Later that evening, Bea met up with us at Will, in the 12th arrondissement. Will was just a couple of blocks away from Les Deserteurs--it's the same general area.

At Restaurant Will, we had a choice of entrees, mains and desserts, and it was also reasonably priced.

Since we were three, we could order more and try each other's dishes.

We each received a small serving of pumpkin soup as a palate teaser.

Between us we had squid ink "risotto" which as actually made of chopped radish.

The "cabillaud", a white fish...

And  the beef.

For dessert, the "eton mess"

And the chocolate dessert--which was very similar to the dessert we had at lunch but with a different presentation.

Chocolate, caramel, sesame seeds...

We enjoyed all our dishes and were happy to be able to try these new restaurants which are considered modern French. The food is straightforward, clean and delicately flavoured--no heavy hand of sauces to smother out the freshness of the ingredients.

 We stayed on until everyone left and were able to chat with Will himself.

Apparently, he also worked in a restaurant where the chef/owner from LesDeserteurs also worked --not together though, but one after the other.  That probably explains the similarity of their "all-chocolate" dessert.

with Will

Will had not heard about the NYMag article which had just recently been published so I got email address and sent it to him.   There are tons of restaurants that will be considered "new" to those of us who don't live in Paris, but if you want to check out what new young French chefs are up to, in their own new restaurants that are beginning to get rave reviews, these two are a good place to start.

Bon appétit!

Les Deserteurs
46 rue Trousseau, 11th Arrondissement, Paris; Tel. (33) 01-48-06-95-85
Metro: Ledru Rollin, Faidherbe – Chaligny, or Charonne.
Closed Sunday and Monday. 
Prix-fixe lunch menu 28 Euros, average dinner 50 Euros.

75 rue Crozatier, 12th Arrondissement, Tel. 01-53-17-02-44. 
Metro: Ledru-Rollin or Faidherbe-Chaligny. 
Closed Sunday and Monday dinner.  
Lunch menu 19 Euros, prix-fixe dinner menu 45 Euros, average a la carte 45 Euros.


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