Saying Goodbye to The Kitchen God

The day after Trump’s inauguration, I was in Tokyo doing some food ‘research’ on route back from my pop up dinner in Niseko. An American friend of mine Elizabeth, who had moved there a couple years back, invited me to join her and some others on a march at Hibiya Park, one of the 676 sister marches planned around the globe in alliance with the Women’s March on Washington. About 650 of us, mostly expats, traversed the city in a respectful, quiet and distinctly Japanese fashion, in a neat double file to the side of traffic on the road.  Later that night, I returned to my Airbnb in Shibuya and watched as Gloria Steinem declared that “God may…

Mercato Interior Mercato's giant pizza oven was custom made in Italy Mercato Interior Mercato Dining Table Mercato Interior Mercato Warm Seafood Salad King fish carpacchio
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Mercato and Shanghai’s Farm-to-Table Movement

In just two short years since opening, Mercato is already an institution on the Bund and a fixture of Shanghai’s dynamic restaurant scene.  Jean-George’s first foray into coastal Italian cuisine and third venture in Shanghai is his most casual but perhaps most successful mainland China venture to date. 

Designed by Shanghai-based Neri&Hu, internationally renowned for their interior work at The Waterhouse, Mercado presents an upscale  atmosphere that is at once old-world–rustic and port-city-industrial. Stripping down a century of renovations to the building’s bare structural elements, Neri&Hu reveal the Three on the Bund’s original steel columns and complement them with reclaimed wood, sensuous leather and intimate lighting. The resulting atmosphere feels edgy and modern, unfinished yet organic, an industrial chic that is completely unique on the glamour strip of the Bund. 

Helming …

Autumn Soil. Photo by Scott Wright Limelight Studios Ultraviolet photo by Scott Wright Limelight Studios Descending underground for our first course Picnic in the park Drama in the Kitchen Ultraviolet Kitchen Photo by Scott Wright Limelight Studios
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Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet

Expectations are high when stepping into the black-lit altar of Paul Pairet. If your name is on the list for one of the ten coveted seats at Ultraviolet, you have probably been waiting three months for this evening. This is how far in advance the restaurant is usually booked. It is likely your birthday, or a special occasion, one that you wouldn’t mind splurging on. Since its opening in 2012, Ultraviolet’s price per head has increased 25% to 2,500 RMB, or $408 USD at last conversion.

An email directs you to Mr & Mrs Bund, Pairet’s other modernist French eatery on the Bund at 6:30 to be shuttled to ‘a secret location’. You sip on a glass of pear cider and size up your dinner companions for the night, a group of immaculately dressed strangers. A palpable sense of anticipation builds with every passing minute.

Already, elements are at work, influencing in your mind what Pairet calls “psycho taste”, the preconceived…

Sixi Village Tea eggs and baozi breakfast Sixi Village, Wuyuan Drying Eggplants, Wuyuan Wooden Door Carving, Wuyuan Traditional Wooden Home Little Likeng, Wuyuan
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Wuyuan, China’s Most Beautiful Countryside

In northeast Jiangxi province lies Wuyuan, a cluster of villages widely considered to be the most beautiful countryside in China.

A six hour bus ride from Shanghai, one can easily spend a few days wandering around its ancient villages, swimming in mountain springs, and staying in farmhouses along the way.

Getting around on your own isn’t easy here. Public buses connect some of the biggest villages with Wuyuan city but are infrequent. Unless you’re driving yourself, motorbike taxis and hired cars are the best option, and there are plenty of both at the central bus station in town. Our local drivers turned out to be great guides, all of them fiercely proud of their hometown and eager to show off the best of the area.

It is easy to lose yourself in the atmosphere of sleepy Sixi village, a cluster of white-washed Hui style houses surrounded by golden rapeseed fields. The air hums, as if time is momentarily suspended.  The only movement is …

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