Sichuan Adventures

Every other year I travel to China to spend time with my parents...

They live in Beijing but I try my hardest to see a new part of the motherland on each visit. Since the purpose of my trip is quality time with mum and dad, I don't take as many photos as I usually do, but when surrounded by beauty such as Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟) or Huanglong (黄龙) National Parks... it is hard to resist.

The Beauty of Sichuan | Skillet & Shutterbug
The Beauty of Sichuan | Skillet & Shutterbug
The Beauty of Sichuan | Skillet & Shutterbug
The Beauty of Sichuan | Skillet & Shutterbug
The Beauty of Sichuan | Skillet & Shutterbug
The Beauty of Sichuan | Skillet & Shutterbug

Sommelier's Table at The Connaught with Hélène Darroze

To describe Hélène Darroze as inspiring is an understatement. Her wealth of culinary experience and accolades speak for themselves, but I'm also in awe of her generosity and humility. So I felt a teeny bit starstruck every time she popped in to say hello in between courses at her Sommelier's Table lunch at The Connaught. A clever twist on the concept of a chef's table, Hélène designs each menu to match the sommelier's choice of wines. Today we discovered the world of Pinot Noir and the key ingredient was the cep mushroom.

Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug
Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug
Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug
Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug

Pink garlic, cep, parsley and lardo di Colonnata; served with the 2011 Pinot Noir, Terravin, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug

A cep lasagne with frog leg, ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano; served with the 2010 PInot Noir "Barda", Bodegas Chacra, Argentina.

Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug
Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug
Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug

Grouse Wellington with foie gras, cep, fig and whiskey; served with the 2011 Gevrey-Chambertin, Olivier Bernstein, Burgundy, France.

Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug
Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug
Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug

The signature savarin of apple and chestnut, dribbled with Francis Darroze's Bas-Armagnac; served with Champagne Eric Rodez, Blanc de Noirs, Grand Cru, Ambonnay.

Sommelier's Table at The Connaught | Skillet & Shutterbug

Every course was subtle and clever, and I particularly loved the intimate dining room with a view into their limestone wine cellar. You can find out more about this experience and make a reservation here. You won't regret it. Disclaimer – I was invited to dine as a guest but all views are my own.

Snippets From A Surprise Weekend

As a belated birthday treat, my wonderful friends surprised me with a weekend away in the Cotswolds. Here's a video of some moments from our trip:

To prepare for the long drive, we fueled up at my favourite local greasy spoon Kennington Lane Cafe. We stayed at a gorgeous house in Summer Lake near Cirencester, and explored nearby Sapperton. On Sunday we walked around Bath, including lunch at The Raven pub.

Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug
Watermark Cotswolds & Bath | Skillet & Shutterbug