the elusive bresse chicken

bresse chickenBresse chicken is one of those seemingly mythological creatures I’ve long heard about it, but never seen (or eaten) myself, kind of like a unicorn. The great poets of gastronomy wax rhapsodic over the flesh of these particular birds, which are raised free-range in eastern France and have the distinction of being the first animals designated with an AOC, or appellation. While I would have loved to chance upon a whole roasted bird, I was still pleasantly surprised to find a version of it on the menu at Camelia, the courtyard garden at Mandarin Oriental, where I’ve been staying on the rue St. Honore. In the hands of Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx the plump breast of the bird is layered in a terrine with black truffle and foie gras de canard, surrounded by fruity girolle mushrooms in a savory jus. I never imagined a bird could stand up to the intense aroma of truffle or the pungent flavor of duck liver, but this poultry more than holds its own. Satisfying as an appetizer, it only serves to make me crave the full bird experience.

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from the archives: massage of a lifetime

Mandarin Oriental Central Park view

High above Columbus Circle in Manhattan, the Mandarin Oriental has an over-the-top spa with spectacular views of Central Park. And while raising the bar for service and ambiance, it is also raising the bar on what the market will bear for a simple rubdown. With the recent surge of affordable qi gong joints popping up all over major cities — not to mention practically every nail salon now offering to rebalance your chakras for $20 — you’d be hard-pressed to pay more than $100 bucks for an hour of qualified deep-tissue attention. Even nearby, high-end day retreats such as Bliss and Sanctuary top out at $200 for a hot stone or lomi-lomi massage. However, in the rarified world of the Mandarin-in-the-sky, a no-frills massage will set you back about a cool $500. Read more HERE.

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under the spell of amber

My first Michelin-starred meal in Hong Kong turned out to be quite the doozy. Under the guidance of Dutch chef Richard Ekkebus, Amber at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental has two of those coveted stars. But wait, there’s more:  the San Pellegrino “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” Awards ranked the eatery at number 37 earlier this year. Not only is it the only Hong Kong restaurant on the list, it’s the only restaurant in Hong Kong to have made the list since 2005. (I’d been told the city is emerging with enormous gastronomic energy – this factoid only served to solidify my stomach’s growing expectations.) Needless to say lunch at Amber did not disappoint. From the amusing amuse of foie gras lollipops shellacked with beetroot to the perfectly-formed olive-studded focaccia, my meal was a languorous mix of creative aesthetics and fresh, contemporary flavors grounded in traditional French technique. Dungeness crab with crème fraiche, avocado, Granny Smith apple and cucumber was so composed I almost hated to mess the plate. Line-caught Atlantic cod was roasted with the skin on and served with salted celeriac and Iberian pork neck in a Cabernet reduction that perfectly played off the meatiness of the fish. For dessert a terrarium of tiramisu was inspired – so, too, the cheese trolley – yet the  bliss of dark chocolate gunaja with speculoos crumbs was downright genius.  This wasn’t at all what I expected of Hong Kong – but I’m so happy to have had my expectations thoroughly upended.

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vip arrival

One of the many benefits of staying with The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong is their VIP meet and greet service. After a sixteen hour flight from Newark it was a pleasant surprise to be met at the plane by this lovely lady who whisked me through immigration to baggage claim and into a taxi to the hotel. I barely had time to register my disorientation. Welcome to Hong Kong!

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just published: the apple of your eye

Spas in the Big Apple have become as ubiquitous as tourists: one on every corner, standing side-by-side, and often found in groups. Every run of the mill nail salon now has spa somewhere in its name. Storefronts cater to time-crunched pedestrians by offering facials, shiatsu and shoulder massage – nirvana promised in less than 15 minutes. Even department stores have gotten into the act, comforting weary shoppers with hot rock calf massages before sending them back to the racks. To wit: every major hotel has either opened a spacious stand-alone spa or has one in the works. It’s only a matter of time before full-service healing is as close as a call down to room service.

Yet some of the best places to find serenity in the city that never sleeps are often hidden in the most unlikely nooks and crannies, too: unmarked buildings with no signage, on the second and third floors of buildings without elevators, uptown, downtown, and even underground. For the uninitiated, the path to inner peace is about more than just knowing where to look – it’s about knowing who to know.

Luckily, you know us. So whether you seek the newest treatments, the hottest trends, or the most traditional therapies, New York, New York will melt away those little town blues and have you at the top of the heap.

Click HERE to download the full story as a PDF

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