Thursday, 21 August 2014

Meet the Mangosteen....

Breakfast today? Mangosteens. What, might you ask, are those? Well it's another exotic, completely more-ish fruit that I've just discovered here in Koh Phangan, Thailand. I went to market yesterday with my friend Kem and was introduced to many weird looking edibles, one of them being a most gorgeous tasting fruit, the purple Mang-Kut or mangosteen, only available between July and October so best book your Thai trip around that *wink*. 
Not as spectacular looking as the dragonfruit, the mangosteen nevertheless way upstages the latter...the taste and texture (for me anyway) is a combination of a loquat and a litchi. It opens simply - no knives please, in case you cut through and destroy the perfectly placed segments inside...all you need do is gently press on the sides and the fruit sort of pops open revealing the soft white flesh - see pic. Of course, like with most Thai food, mangosteens cost pretty much nothing, unless of course you're buying them at Fauchon in Paris! 

And check out the nutritional value of the mangosteen:
  • Delicious and juicy, mangosteen is one of the popular tropical fruits. It comprises an impressive list of essential nutrients, which are required for normal growth and development and overall nutritional well-being.
  • This fruit is very low in calories (63 calories per 100 g) and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, it is rich in dietary fiber (100 g provides about 13% of RDA), which can be very important for individuals who are concerned about putting on excess body weight.
  • Mangosteen is good in vitamin C and provides about 12% of RDA per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful water soluble anti-oxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against flu-like infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
  • Fresh fruit is a moderate source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin and folates. These vitamins are acting as cofactors the help body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Pretty impressive! The mangosteen also holds the title as Queen of the Fruits and having devoured about 20 today so far, trust me, it's a well deserved accolade. So I bow before you, majestic little fruit, and back to market I go, for more.

Pic by Allison Foat, copyright DIVA PR

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Enthralled by a Mall...

Until today, I'd  never really given a mall much thought, the way it looks and feels. I mean why would I?  if you've seen one mall, you've seen them all right? Wrong. Yesterday I visited the very new Central Embassy in Bangkok and was totally mesmerized by what I reckon is architectural design beyond anything I've experienced. As malls go I mean. If you think I was stunned, Lateral Paul was almost hyperventilating. Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A) London have created a masterpiece with this airy retail and hotel space (the latter is still being completed), situated in the former gardens of the British Embassy on Ploen Chit Road in Bangkok. Admittedly I know very little about architecture but my heart races when I see this type of creativity, design and innovation (I had the same reaction  to Tadao Ando's mall in Omotesando in Tokyo by the way). 

We've all been impressed by malls and glitzy plazas like Galleries Lafayette (Paris), the Bullring (Birmingham), Siam Paragon and CentralWorld (Bangkok), Omotesando Hills (Tokyo) and even Cape Town's V&A Waterfront on the Harbour's edge,  all amazing buildings in their own right and with their own signatures but truly, Central Embassy takes first place for me. Of course it's the newest on the global mall block and thus draws on the very latest in digital design and all that jazz and architectural blah blah. We hung around for hours, walking around slowly, level by level, admiring everything from the considered alive open spaces, light wells and skylights, to the sculptures, curves and lines of the escalators and banisters. Just gorgeous.

So whilst malls are neither here nor there in my universe I'll definitely return to this one, to absorb the beauty of the space if nothing else. My quest to perpetually acquire stuff is long since a thing of the past - at 50 I've come to embrace the Less-Is-More philosophy and I'd trade vintage shirt hunting at a street market in BK or a second hand store back home any day. I have enough Massimo Dutti and Paul Smith threads to last a lifetime and edging past a doorman with a superior attitude and a look of disdain on his face at Hermes, Vuitton or Prada is just a drag.

So then what's in a mall trawl for me? I want to be in a beautiful space and go where I can browse at stores with incredibly designed product (like the retro industrial and bluecollar work wear at Levi's or a concept store at Central) and then sit myself down and have a superb coffee in chic, cool surroundings like the Rocket Cafe in Siwilai at Central Embassy. This look-don't -buy approach is clearly not the objective of those creating these insanely beautiful shopping environments - they're made to attract well heeled feet that are ultimately attached to the black credit cards of the Big Spender and certainly they do achieve that. Good for them. Good for me. I'll mall it my way.

Fab coffee shop, Rocket

Central Embassy ->  546/4 Phloen Chit, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok, only a 5 minute walk from the BTS Phloen Chit.

All pics copyright Allison Foat, DIVA PR/ Cape Town

Saturday, 9 August 2014

A small market in Montagu in the Klein Karoo...

This is a small market that happens in Montagu on Saturdays...I've been a few times & there is always something divine I spy, usually to eat! Today it was these amazing delicate almond biscuits, made by a very nice Belgian gent with an accent. To be honest I've seen way more interesting markets & if I may say so, I think they could perhaps up their offering a tad. My eye did alight upon some of the fabulous items like mohair throws, divine olive oils, homemade breads, interesting craft items & wire works....
Take a turn but don't go thinking you're in for a mini Biscuit Mill. Take it for what it is and seek out the fabulous, as one does.  Montagu is one of my fave destinations...