Je me souviens…

· Food, Illustration, Travel

I remember the blue sky, the ideal temperatures, this panoramic view, from the top of the Mont Royal…

I remember how all the people I met were so incredibly nice. And when I told our bus driver I found the Montreal people always very galant toward the ladies, he told me about this very popular saying in Caribou-Land : “if ya ain’t pretty, be polite”…From what I got to see during those few days in Quebec, the proverb also works for the pretty … which gives us an incredible amount of lovely people by square meter.

I remember the lively streets, and how the Montréal people absolutely insist on using French on almost all road and shop signs. For example, whereas here in France, Starbucks Coffee is called just that, in Montréal, it is “Café Starbucks Coffee”, and all the “Stop” and “Go slow” signs don’t say Stop and Go slow (like they do in Europe) but “Arrêt” and “Lentement” …

I remember a work of art in Old Montréal, titled “Entre Nous” (Between us- by Andrew Dutkewych) that symbolizes the trasmission of culture and history by the witnesses of the past, but also exchange between humans (yes, it’s full of good intentions and all that)…for if you look closely, the two sides of the statue seem to show in “negative” two profiles looking at each other. Interesting!

I also remember our trivial jokes regarding “suçons” (hickeys in english) that are just maple syrup lollipops in Montreal, but you see, when in good company, even the tiniest of thing makes for a good joke!) …Jokes that we may or may not have repeated at least 10 times during (and after) the stay…I also remember the giant pine tree air fresheners on exhibit in the city center…

I also remember the “Bad Burger” (Bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and home made fries) that we ate at the “Bad Beef” ( Méchant boeuf ) , on our first night there. It wasn’t the best burger I ever ate, but the fun atmosphere and people around me almost made me believe it was.

I remember the tagliatelle pasta with spicy pancetta, basil and confit tomatoes as well as this fabulous chocolate marquise eaten at the Boris Bistro, in the shade, on the terrace.

… of our saturday night dinner at “La montée de Lait”, where you had to choose 4 courses out of all the ones offered on the menu. All combinations were possible : 4 main courses, 2 main courses and 2 desserts, 3 main courses and 1 dessert, 1 main course and 3 desserts … or 4 desserts for “wannabe” diabetics.

I remember all the ingredients that made this weekend so special and so social. What I very much hope for the future, is to be able to go back to Montréal … to remember it even better. (English translation by Bleu Marine)

From the street to the stars…

· Fashion, Travel

I didn’t get a chance to make an official announcement on the blog, but those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know that I left this weekend for Montréal for the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition. And I wasn’t alone in this mission since we travelled as a dream team : I have the honor of belonging to the JPG Ambassadors’ “Tribe” (composed of Big Beauty, Pauline, Modissimo, Matérialiste, PubliGeekaire, Dandies, Caroline Daily, Le Modalogue and Jules =a sort of JPG SClub7!) and my duty as an ambassador is to lend you my eyes so that you can see the exhibition exactly like if you had been there yourself! I was truly glad to be able to discover the set up imagined for the work of one of the most popular fashion designers of his time.

For Jean-Paul is kind of everybody’s favorite : someone who found a way to stay modest and close to the people, nonewithstanding all the success and talent that surrounds him, which makes him someone I admire even more. And the mood is set when we walk up the first steps to the exhibition : Jean Paul welcomes us himself in his cheerful voice, just like if he were here to open the door to his creations for us. All this thanks to a set of holograms and animations on the mannequins that made it seem like they were coming to life.

To start, the breton striped t shirt, THE one … in all it’s variations…

Then comes the “Boudoir” room, in which we find his famous corsets : amongst which the one made especially for Madonna‘s “Blond Ambition Tour” in 1990. I was also able to approach the “Nana” teddy bear of his childhood years since even at a young age, Jean Paul practiced sewing clothes on this obedient animal (which is now probably not as furry as he was in his best years).

And Nana was the first to test the conic breasts, long before Madonna  … but ssshh! don’t say it too loud, Madonna might be offended …

This said, Jean Paul had more than one muse to guide him in his creativity, for I was able to admire the muscle-hamstring-like outfit of Mylène Farmer for her 2009 Tour, and the one made for Dita Von Teese, the incredibly glamourous burlesque artist, on the occasion of a certain Winter 2010/2011 Haute Couture runway show.

But I think that my favorite outfit … is Kylie Minogue‘s space dress with the structured shells. I would find it totally wearable for a party that we, the ordinary folk might attend (well, it would require my taking it up a notch sports-wise…) : the perfect amount of originality, and glamour as a bonus. Now I only have to convince Jean Paul to lend it to me …

His feather creations also appealed to me by this exacerbated sense of detail, to the limit of the overload. And I’m not the only one to love it, Miss Gaga seems to agree with me …

Then the Punk Cancan room shakes us up a bit more, with the nail, strass and mohawk outfits. Incredible “Gaultier-ish” outfits.

… but punk also flirts with “cancan”, the Parisian collection I’d love to find, now more than ever, in a souvenir shop of the Capital, instead of all those sculpted plates, magnets or decorative snow globes! Eiffel Tower heels, how chic is that!

Of course, I didn’t take pictures of all I saw during this exhibition since I was torn between wanting to take in the moment, and wanting to have pictures to remember it by. Well, all I know today, is that be it in my memories or on the pictures, Jean Paul and I, it’s for life.

Pictures et drawings ©Tokyobanhbao. All right reserved

A great thanks to the incredibly chic Thoaï , to the wriggling and dancing Loïc, to the wonderful Sonia, the spicy Sarah Anne, to the chauffeurs, the cameramen and guides that invested themselves to show us the best of what there was to see and to help create the incredible magic of this weekend. (English translation by Bleu Marine)

Exhibition La planète Mode de Jean Paul Gaultier “De la rue aux étoiles” at Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal (from June 17th to October 2nd  2011)

Tanuki from Bruges

· Food, Travel

When I listed all my good addresses in Bruges, I deliberately put one aside : the one I’m going to talk about today : the TANUKI restaurant. Once again, it’s not the local cuisine I’m putting in the spotlight here … but why should we taste in Bruges only what is typically Bruges? (Yeah ok, a bit of bad faith here … I was desperate for japanese food this day, and was overdosing on fries … yes, I know that fries are not the ONLY thing available in Bruges … anyway, you get my meaning !)

From what I learned afterwards, the restaurant has been in Bruges since 1989 and it’s specialty is the Teppan Yaki (hot plates) ; in winter, you can also taste the Shabu-Shabu and Sukiyaki (japanese fondues). That day, I had opted for the 68 euros menu (yes, I’m splurging but we had decreeted that that day was a celebration day (yes, easy I know!) and you’ll see from all the different courses that they were worth it all in all.

Regarding the place’s decoration, it’s completely exotic, decorated in the most traditional japanese style, with a little garden and a fish pond. Just sitting down at a table made me more serene. The “Feng Shui” effect perhaps … but there are places like that, you just can’t explain, you feel at ease!

And you’re even more at ease when you’re brought 3 appetizers! (Stomach grumbles with pleasure). I unfortunately didn’t note the exact name of said appetizers (because on one hand I don’t read Flemish, and on the other, I didn’t listen to the waitress when she was describing the contents of the appetizers, I was too busy devouring them with my eyes!) So, following the menu’s order, I got a small asparagus and seafood salad. Don’t mind if the name of the courses are so totally uninspired, they are a spontaneous invention on my part! Perfect to get you started. Subtle presentation too …

Then come the squid fritters in a sweet sour sauce. Extremely refined, despite the fritter looks of it …

… And 3rd appetizer, ginger yellowtail. Apparently it’s some sort of dab. Once again, the dab was caramelized in a sweet sour sauce, probably soy-based. (If the Chef passes through here, please correct the deductions I’m making that might be erroneous!) … Delicious, just melts in your mouth!

Let’s move on to the main course : the choice was mine between Sushis or Teppan Yaki. I took the sushis, but also took a bite or so out of the plate across from me (for the blog’s needs, of course!) Hot plate beef. The sushis were pretty good, but once again, those from Toritcho remain undefeated to my eyes for the moment : I found the rice a tad dry …

Regarding the Teppan Yaki beef, you can watch the preparation of you plate … Cutting and chopping, frying and sizzling! It’s a whole show in itself…and the taste was as amazing as the show, the beef was more than tender … Magnificent!

But what just astounded me (well … in a good way!) was the dessert!! On a pleasure scale, for me, it’s a tie with the Dinosaurus … (the cook will be more than flattered to learn that his fine dessert is being put on the same level than the cookies from the local supermarket … no but for me, the “Dinosaurus” level means a lot!).

Seriously, it was a killer dessert : let me describe it, and you’ll tell me if I’m right : So in this happiness basket, fist off, two scoops of Sakura (cherry blossom) ice cream, with a half plum, half flower taste, next to which a few strawberries, and on top of it all, the apotheosis, the small waffle that contains a delicate Sakura leaf. But this waaaffle! Just imagine, the taste of a waffle, as crispy and sugary as it should be, with as aftertaste the slightly salty taste of the cherry tree leaf … So, who’s willing to pay for my daily Paris-Bruges round-trip ticket?

PS : a Tanuki is a small, slightly magical animal that kind of resembles a raccoon : it symbolizes chance and prosperity … and incredible meals too apparently! (English translation by Bleu Marine)

Restaurant TANUKI
Oude Gentweg 1

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