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Kaliyoga, Spain – Pure Inner & Outer Bliss

November 16th, 2011


I have always wanted to visit a yoga retreat, and with a week free just for me at the end of  a wonderful European vacation – I booked in for a dynamic yoga retreat at Kaliyoga in Orgivy near Malaga, Spain.  The week has been everything I wanted and so much more.

From the minute we walked in to stunning mountain scenery and beautifully welcoming people – you could feel yourself letting go.  I was fortunate to have booked when there were only five of us as guests, which meant we really had a great opportunity to bond as a group, but to also get to exposed to so many more people (around 20!) from Kaliyoga and the nearby multicultural village.

Not only did we have two amazing yoga teachers for our morning and afternoon classes, but we were greeted by amazing staff, helpers, chefs, experts on nutrition, and had the options of so many different treatments and workshops.  This really made the week – from acupuncture, reiki, quantum and biomagnetic therapy to thai yoga, swedish and aromatherapy massages and raw food cooking workshops – there were some highly talented and friendly people – all there to help us take time out for ourselves, open our eyes internally, and encourage us to relax and rejuvinate.

Olga (a gorgeous Portuguese chef) ran workshops for us on her passion – sexy raw food and raw chocolate – which were a real highlight.  Going from eating ham, cheese, and wine around Europe to this amazingly delicious and nutritious food sent my body into total bliss.

We learnt how to make different flavours of chocolate from the superfoods cacao butter, cacao powder, and coconut sugar – our picks being chcolate with fresh mint, orange zest, a hazelnut and date filling, lemon & ginger, and fruit & nuts.  We also made a scrumptious take on lasagna – with marinated zucchini as pasta layered with marinated spinach, mushrooms, a walnut paste, and uncovered the secrets to a non cooked tomato sauce.

The week was nothing short of divine.  I had more depth in my yoga then ever before, was able to really let go – and left having had amazing mind, body, spirit, (and food!) experiences. I could have stayed for so much longer and I can’t wait to go back for more – perhaps for one of the detox weeks, or even for a bit longer as a volunteer helper (they have a fantastic program where helpers can take part in yoga and activities while doing a few jobs to assist with meals and maintaining the property).

It’s not often enough that we take time out for ourselves, and our wellbeing, and once experienced – your body just wants more.  No wonder they have so many repeat visitors!

www.Kaliyoga.com

Chiva-Som Thailand – Haven Of Life

June 13th, 2011

Recently I had a taste of Chiva-Som Luxury Health Resort on our very own soil at the Crown Metropol in Melbourne. My experience was nothing short of heaven on earth.

But what exactly is Chiva-Som Luxury Health Resort all about?

You could quite easily describe Chiva-Som in Thailand is a place to go if you want to experience peace, tranquility, luxury, comfort, and complete titillation of every single one of your senses. Not to mention it’s key benefit – redefining, rediscovering, healing and cleansing the body, mind and soul.

Chiva-Som is quite possibly one of the only places on earth that have mastered the art of taking the human body on a journey of relaxtion, rest, stimulation, health, detox and wellness. It’s quite simply a health resort, but there is nothing simple about it – there is a reason why is it the best in the world. The proof it is the best in earth? Well Chiva-Som is the only spa to consistently appear in the top 3 of the Conde Nast Traveller (UK) Reader’s Travel Awards. Now if that doesn’t say best on earth – not sure what does!

Chiva-Som has just celebrated 15 successful years and is located in the Royal city of Hua Hin on the Gulf of Thailand, 185 kilometres south of Bangkok. Nestled within seven acres of luscious tropical gardens, the beachfront health resort captures all of those airborne positive ions to begin the rejuvenating process.

There are 58 rooms within the grounds, from charming studios, through to the large and spacious fully contained Thai Pavilions which has everything from a ocean view jacuzzi to a private butler.

With over 200 treatments available, in addition to the 70 treatment rooms, the resort facilities comprise a kinesis studio, gym, watsu pool, flotation pool, large outdoor swimming pool, bathing pavilion with kneipp bath, sauna, steam, jacuzzi, and indoor swimming pool.

So what treatments are available? Well think of it and Chiva-Som most likely has it. Natural healing, physiotherapy, stress release therapy, kinesis, Thai boxing, Abhyanga, Tai Chi, Chi Nei Tsang, meditation, detoxification, weight management, inner peace, physical renewal, oriental therapies plus so much more which would take forever to list!

Now health and wellness isn’t just about what I’ve listed above. It’s not just about yoga or massages, but it’s about food. What goes into your body shows through the skin.

Indulging yourself in our award-winning Spa cuisine is easy. But indulging in organically-grown fruits and vegetables from the Chiva-Som garden is even easier, proving that low calorie, nutritious food can truly be a gourmet experience. Enjoy the elegance of fine dining in the Emerald Room or relax outdoors and the Taste of Siam restaurant by the sea.

Executive Chef, Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat joined Chiva-Som in 2003 fusing his background of Thai and European cuisine with a philosophy of health and nutrition. His popular signature dishes draw people to Chiva-Som from all over the world, and I feel very privileged that I had the chance to taste these dishes for myself, prepared by the master himself right here in Australia.

No matter what it is you are wanting to achieve or gain, there are many different packages available to suit your needs – or create your own. It’s no wonder Chiva-Som is a “Haven of Life”.

For more information, please visit www.TravelTheWorld.com.au

Chiva-Som At ISIKA – Crown Metropol Experience. Bliss.

May 16th, 2011

I recently had one of the most luxurious experiences, where I was pampered and traveled down a path of culinary perfection.

It was a taste of Chiva-Som Luxury Health Resort at ISIKA Day Spa at the Crown Metropol, Melbourne. Chiva-Som joined ISIKA only for a limited time, so that a piece of the resort could be experienced here in Australia.

Chiva-Som Resort brought their skills and their therapists from Thailand to Melbourne to treat and spoil visitors of the ISIKA Day Spa, with a collection of treatments – from heavenly massages to more intense physiotherapy. Although it’s not their entire range of treatments, it gave an insight into the skill these masters have.


But not only did they bring their therapists to indulge the guests, they brought the Chiva-Som Executive Chef, Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat – who created a mind blowing meal, not only unique and carefully designed, but extremely healthy by eliminating sugar, salt and oil.

So I think I should go back and tell you about my experience, right from the beginning.

I arrived at the Crown Metropol in Melbourne and greeted by the lovely concierge, directing me to the reception. “Mr. Erdedi, welcome to Crown Metropol, you are staying in the Health Retreat suite on level 26…”. It sounded very impressive. I gathered my luggage and made my way to the lift to go to the private section on level 26, which is not accessible to people staying in the normal rooms at the Metropol. Already, I was feeling a sense of exclusivity, but also seclusion.


I opened the door to my room and infront of me was a delicate room, with beautiful fixtures, neutrally toned calming colour scheme and floor to ceiling glass, with views over Melbourne CBD. I was in heaven. But in actual fact – heaven had not even begun.

I had time to drop my luggage, have a cup of herbal tea and get ready to go upstairs to level 27 for my treatments at ISIKA, by the Chiva-Som therapists.


Waiting in the retreat lounge, with a cup of aromatic herbal tea, it slowed down the heart rate, calmed my nerves and helped me tune out a little, so I could take in every little bit of my first treatment – a Deep Tissue Massage. My very kind Chiva-Som therapist guided me through to the treatment room, which smelt pleasant, lighting was dim and sounds of the forest in the background. I had stepped into my boudoir for the next couple of hours.


I got comfortable in privacy and comfort, and got ready to relax and be taken on a journey of experience, tradition and health rejuvenation. Using oils, my deep tissue massage began. And this is when I slowly drifted away… After some time, I woke up and turned over. It was time to do it all again, but on my front side. And again… I drifted away.

One hour later, I felt light. Refreshed. Somehow all of my tension diminished and I felt on top of the world.

The experience wasn’t over just yet.

Next up, another gracious therapist came into the room to give me my Chiva-Som Haven Body Polish. No Kenco chamois or sponges to be found. This is luxury. Chiva-Som body scrub was applied limb by limb and rubbed into my skin. Removing the impurities from my entire body. Smoothing the skin and stimulating cell growth. After a wash in my private shower, I was laying down again, having my body moisturised and nourished.

I can’t remember the last time my body felt immaculate.


After I had a nap, I went for a swim in the heated indoor infinity lap pool on level 27, a quick chill in the vitality pool and then 15 minutes in the steam room – all before I got ready for my superb Chiva-Som dinner.

Welcomed to the indulgent level 28 restaurant, ironically named ’28′, a detox cocktail was handed to me and I was taken to my seat which the place setting was gleaming.

If there’s one thing the Crown Metropol has perfected, it’s quality and service.

Chiva-Som Executive Chef, Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat prepared a meal beyond culinary heights.


 

Courses served up from the Chiva-Som menu included Thai specialties such as seared scallop, quinoa tabbouleh, mushroom confit and beetroot vinaigrette, black cod baked in mustard with lentil dhal, tamarind and mango chutney. For dessert, a poached pear which was absolutely beautiful and lightly sweetened – without any sugar. Every one of Paisarn’s dishes he has created for the mind, body and soul. So no salt, oils or sugar is used in any of his dishes. He uses natural and healthy ingredients to use instead.


After some exceptional wines, great conversation and a short stroll to my suite, I retired for the night.

Waking up the next morning was hard. It was probably the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. I honestly slept in the same position all night, without one single bit of back pain. I normally wake up in the morning stiff and with my joints cracking, but these beds at the Crown Metropol are simply amazing!

It was back up to the restaurant for breakfast. Now I don’t quite know how to describe it. Maybe in three words? VARIETY. INCREDIBLE. ORGANIC? Or maybe FRESH. CHOICE. UNFORGETTABLE? I can’t choose the words to describe the buffet breakfast at the Metropol, but one thing I know is that it’s by far the best one I have ever had in Australia. I’ve been to many resorts nationally, B&B’s, hotels, Day Spa’s, retreats and lodges, but none of them can compare to that of the one at the Crown Metropol. MAGNIFICENT.


So you are probably wondering what this article is about? Is it about Chiva-Som? ISIKA Day Spa? Or is it about the Crown Metropol? Well let me wrap this up for you…

Chiva-Som is no longer available here in Australia for you to try, BUT the REAL Chiva-Som is only a short flight away in Thailand, where the experience will surpass anything you could every expect and experience in your life. There is definately a reason why the likes of Elle McPherson, Dannii Minogue, Megan Gale, Kylie Minogue and Madonna visit this place annually.


ISIKA Day Spa is one of the the most luxurious day spa’s in the country, with an extensive menu to make your choice tough and therapists who know exactly what they are doing and how to look after you and your body.


Crown Metropol is clearly the leading hotel in Melbourne, with incredible choice for the palate, exceptionally well designed with the guests senses as a priority and service which cannot be matched.


These are the 3 reasons why I wrote this article – and these are the 3 reasons why I would do it all over again – no matter how much it costs.

Chiva-Som: www.TravelTheWorld.com.au

Hotel: www.CrownMetropol.com.au

ISIKA: www.crownmelbourne.com.au/spas/isika-day-spa .

For full information on Chiva-Som Thailand, please stay tuned tomorrow…

Are You Up For Spice I Am? I Am Up For Spice I Am.

May 26th, 2010

My great friend Jessica and I recently had some great things happen in our lives, so it was decided we would go out and celebrate with dinner and drinks. I had been wanting to try Spice I Am for a while, so I thought now was the perfect opportunity to do so. She was up for it too, so to Spice I Am we went!

We arrived at the Darlinghurst restaurant on time, and were kindly greeted with pleasant smiles and then guided straight to our table.

Spice I am is a modernised Thai restaurant, owned by Sujet Saenkham.

We asked for the wine list a few times, but once we got it, the waiter was genuinely apologetic and seemed happy we were there whilst remaining professional. He was well groomed and conversed easily with us.

An appropriate amount of time was given to look over the food and drinks menu. But the waiter was a little unsure of the menu, so he had to pop back to the kitchen to get answers to our questions.The restaurant is very dark, but I am still able to read the menu, just. We ordered our food and wine and waited patiently for it, all in good time.

Our bottle of wine comes to the table, the Stefano Lubiana Sauvignon Blanc from Granton, Tasmania ($65). The wine is superb, but the bottle was placed too far from us to reach, so we constantly had to ask for it to be topped up.

We ordered a few sharing plates, all of them being mains. Gai Pad Khing – Chicken breast stir fried with ginger, shallots, chilli’s, soy bean paste and shiitake mushrooms. An impressive dish, with a great flavour sensation. I’m a fan of mushrooms and they were delightful. Jess on the other-hand wasn’t 100% convinced by the mushrooms, but she loved the next dish we got, the Massaman Curry Nua – a very rich and delicate curry. It is aromatic and the tender slow cooked beef literally melted in our mouths. The beef was so amazing, with potato and eshallot, it made it a really warming and wholesome dish. Both dishes are considerably spicy, but not too spicy for me to handle.

The third dish we got was the Gaeng Kaour Pla Bai Cha Plu because it had ginger and we both enjoy ginger dishes and we also wanted fish. A spicy red curry with delicious crispy basa fillet, wild ginger (which has a real zing!) betel leaf and cha-om leaf.

It sounds like alot of food, but we felt like something more, so we ordered one more dish. I would recommend you get 4 main meals between 2 people if you normally eat larger serves of food. We got the Goong Ma Kham – fresh Thai King prawns with tamarind sauce on a bed of Chinese broccoli. The prawns are frozen fresh from a prawn farm in Thailand, locking in the freshness and flavour. It’s a subtle flavour, with the tamarind adding a lovely sweet yet sour contribution to the dish. It capped off our meal perfectly. Prawns are always an excellent choice for me.

Growing up, as a child my mother always made tapioca, but hasn’t in many many years. So for dessert, I thought I would get the Saa Ku – tapioca pearl with coconut and dark plum sugar sauce. The sound of it made my teeth hurt! Jess didn’t get a dessert because she was apparently full. But that didn’t stop her from poking at my tapioca. It was very sweet, but not so sweet my teeth hurt. It was a nice portion and presented nicely.

Pros: The food is flavour filled, lots to choose from and many different spices and textures between the dishes. The beef massaman curry.

Cons: Having to look for someone to fill our glasses of wine, maybe a little too dark, but not as dark as Spice Temple. Service could be a little more attentive, but it is in no means poor.

Pricing: Entrées from $4 to $16, Mains from $28 to $38, Desserts from $10 to $20.

Final Say: It was good that the chef came over to the table to introduce himself to us, the staff were very sweet but only after you made comment on something (such as the wine), the food is worth the price, the ambiance is average – good for a first date or somewhere that can break the silence. Overall it is a good restaurant, both food and venue presented nicely. Not the best, but definately not the worst. The food is definately what will bring me back again.

296-300 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst – (02) 9332 2445

Spice I Am - the Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Southern Thai Food At It’s Best At Rambutan

April 8th, 2010

As I stepped over vomit on the colourful Oxford Street, I wondered where the hell my friend Eve was taking me to dinner.

Walking up the street towards Paddington, I notice a shop front with dark bronze curtains in the window and deep lighting through them… That is where we are going – Rambutan.

We cross the road and walk into the dark and arcane looking restaurant you are immediately greeted by a sweet maître d’, who asked what name our reservation was under. “Your table will be ready shortly, please take a seat downstairs in the Tiki Lounge and we will come and get you once your table is ready”. We accept and happily move downstairs into the stunningly appointed Tiki Lounge. Quite often when you are asked to wait at a restaurant, you get a bit impatient, you might Visit FoxyBingo or get out a book to read. In this case because the maître d was so charming and the atmosphere was so welcoming we didn’t think twice about waiting. Passing the kitchen, you smell fresh ingredients. A Rambutan & sorbet bellini and a coconut & kaffir lime daiquiri carnavale coming up! Amazing cocktails by some of the best bar tenders I’ve seen work their magic behind the bar.

After a quick catch up with Eve over cocktails, we are called to our table. A cosy little table in the front window.

The venue is packed, but it’s not feeling like it’s over-crowded. It’s noisy, but it’s not unbearable. It’s the perfect environment for the moods we were both in.

So what kind of food do the attractive owners Joe and Milena serve at Rambutan? It’s Southern Thai food. The décor really throws you off as it actually looks nice (where most Sydney Thai restaurants look pretty cheap).

Looking over the menu, I read each item and take notice of the interesting ingredients. The meals are designed to share, so Eve and I pick a couple of entrées and a couple of mains.

Entrée -Betel leaves (Miang) with smoked trout & grilled chilli eggplant relish and steamed dumplings with chicken, prawn, sweet corn and plum sauce.

Main - Wok fried King prawns with pong gari coconut cream, baby corn and curry leaf and Braised wagyu beef, flat noodles, Vietnamese mint and black vinegar sauce.

The Betel leaves were carefully constructed, and superbly presented. Spicy, yet manageable. The relish works perfectly with the spice and the trout – it was so easy to eat, and so flavoursome. Not a huge portion, but very huge in taste. The steamed dumplings are so delicious too. As it is, I love chicken, prawns and sweet corn, so mixing them altogether and adding a sweet plum sauce with it, was just heaven for me. I would have been happy having this as my main, just alot more of them!

The pong gari coconut cream has an intricate flavour. Pong gari has something like 6 or 7 spices in it, so mixed with the coconut cream, they complemented eachother well, giving a wholesome texture for the king prawns, which for me take alot to fill me up! For something different, we got the Wagyu beef. The amazingly marbled meat was tender, with the taste of mint, but there was a spice in there that I just couldn’t guess. Whatever it was, completed the dish. It tied the sauce, the beef and the noodles together.

Of all the dishes, I most enjoyed the dumplings. I could have had them as a main and the king prawns as an entrée and feel perfectly filled.

Leaving space for dessert, I had a look at the menu again. Only three desserts to choose from? That suprised me a little, considering some of the restaurants I’ve been to lately have a huge range of desserts. I ordered the young coconut jelly with vanilla bean and passionfruit. It was then I realised it’s about quality – not quantity. This dessert was just incredible. The thing I loved most was the way they worked with the texture to get the most out of the presentation and the teaming of ingredients. In my mouth, its felt as good as it tasted.

Will I go back? Yes I would. It’s great for after work drinks and dinner, watching people rushing around after work down below and relaxing with friends in a contemporary venue.

Pros: Communal and tight layout makes you feel cosy, design and décor, service and bar tenders.

Cons: Such a great restaurant in such a dodgy part of town – but maybe that’s what adds to the charm of it? Sort of like the best house in the worst street. Expensive for Thai food, but it’s justified once presented and tasted.

Pricing: Entrées from $4 to $25, Mains from $8.50 to $34 (then there’s the market price whole fish), Desserts from $9 to $12. Cocktails are all around $16, with some exceptions, Sangria – $36. White wines from $36 to $64 a bottle, Red’s from $48 to $64 and Champagne $108 to $340 a bottle (or $18 for a glass of Mumm Cordon Rouge NV).

Final Say: Cool, calm, communal and collective. Unique and enjoyable food. Catch up with friends sort of place. Maybe not a quite date, but definately a second or third date restaurant.

Rambutan – 96 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst – (02) 9360 7772

Rambutan on Urbanspoon