Fridays in France: Six Decadent Places in Bordeaux

The Decadence Project: Bordeaux France

#1:  The Burdigala Hotel

Burdigala Hotel3First, let’s check into the ultra-chic Burdigala Hotel and let the refined elegance of the five-star oasis cover us like a soft cashmere blanket. Feel that? Ahhhh, that’s relaxation at its finest.

hotelEvery inch of the Burdigala is classy and chic, yet comfortable. No pretenses here, just lovely luxury.

Burdigala Hotel2At La Bacchus Bar inside the hotel, the region’s delicious wines are samples and nibbles served.

Burdigala Hotel4Every room, from the “regular” to the opulent suites, are designed to make you feel like you’ve died and gone to Style Heaven. (yes, I said that. Style heaven.)

#2: The Café Opéra

Cafe OperaDo you like your fries with a side of opulence? Then Café Opéra is calling (singing?) your name! Located inside Bordeaux’s famous Grand Opera House, the lovely cafe is perfect to stop in for a quick lunch on the terrace or inside the chandelier-dripping main dining room.

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#3: L’Autre Petit Bois

L'Autre Petit Bois4

L'Autre Petit Bois2…………….wine bars in Bordeaux are like churches in the Bible Belt: plentiful. But L’Autre Petit Bois is a stand-out that will leave you smitten. Not only do they serve a variety of local tastings, but the decor is unmatched. Chandeliers hang among the tree branches, furniture whispers of Baroque-style France and whimsical elements keep things fun and casual. Sip, sip!

#4:  Bordeaux Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux)

bordeaux cathedralII

BordeauxCathedral3Bordeaux features several stunning basilicas and cathedrals, all with their own charm and history, but the Bordeaux Cathedral (also called Saint Andres or St. Andrews) is a must-see. The Romanesque house of worship was originally built back in 1096 and has been continually renovated over the last thousand years. Dramatic interior architecture, including soaring rib-vaulted ceilings and pointed arches, will take your wine-infused breath away.

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#5: Walk the rue Sainte-Catherine

Rue-Sainte-CatherineI don’t know about you, but I love strolling through French streets. No purpose. No agenda. Just seeing what I might see. That means I’d love the rue Sainte-Catherine. Considered the longest street in Europe (1.2 kms!) it is lined with lovely shops, a fountain, a bell tower, and even a cemetery. Explore quickly, explore slowly, but take time to really indulge in all the little secrets that rue Sainte-Catherine wants to share.

#6: Place de la Bourse / Place Royale

Place de la Bourse

place_de_la_bourseAlthough gorgeous during the day, with it’s symmetry and jaw-dropping architecture, Place de la Bourse (Place Royale) is best seen at dusk. That’s when the square, built in the 18th Century in honor of King Louis XV, begins to glisten. As darkness falls, the surrounding buildings (and famous fountain!) are illuminated, suddenly adding a touch of magic to the monument.

The siren song of Santorini

  • A view of the town of Fira. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
    A view of the town of Fira. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
  • Boats docked at Nea Kameni. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
    Boats docked at Nea Kameni. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
  • The zig zag route to Thirassia. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
    The zig zag route to Thirassia. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/the-siren-song-of-santorini/article5006806.ece

Sweeps the culinary vote

Blend of Local Food on a Plate. Photo: Sonia Nazareth

  • Blend of Local Food on a Plate. Photo: Sonia Nazareth
  • Serving Qahwa Outside the Grand Mosque. Photo: Sonia Nazareth
      Serving Qahwa Outside the Grand Mosque. Photo: Sonia Nazareth

There’s much more to Omani cuisine than just sun-dried dates and fresh coffee, finds Sonia Nazareth.

Oman’s reputation as a land of striking contrasts — of desert sands and azure seas — is as well-established as its reputation as a culture of boundless hospitality. Dates and qahwa (strong aromatic coffee that combines a rich blend of freshly roasted coffee beans and pungent cardamom powder) are central to any ritual of welcome.

I remember people shaking their heads at me in despair, at a gesture so uncivilised, as my offering to pay for the aromatic coffee and sun-dried dates in the Bedouin homes I visited.

The capital city of Muscat does the big city thing and offers a variety of international cuisines. But Khargeen Cafe is perfect if you want to try local fare rooted in tradition. The waiter in this low-lit atmospheric restaurant — with its trees glimmering with fairy lights and the music of sizzling kebabs — takes brisk charge to keep pace with the stream of customers flowing in, “You’ll be wanting shuwa, everyone loves our shuwa,” he declares with pride. This traditionally Omani and Eid-celebratory dish of roasted goat or lamb, elaborately cooked in a large fire pit dug in stony earth, lives up to its succulent juicy and exceedingly tender reputation. It needs to be eaten with khubz rukhal, a wishbone-thin bread as light as a feather. Despite the fact that we’re partaking in a meal of shuwa without the accompanying camel races, and dances by men with shields and swords that usually go with this festive food, it sweeps the culinary vote.

The constant in traditional Omani cuisine, whether at home or at a restaurant, is all fresh ingredients and generous quantities. The one meal I ever partook of in an Omani household saw the table shifting uneasily under the weight of the feast upon it. Msanif (small patties of shredded meat, flavoured with a pungent coat of seasonings, covered in light batter and fried), Mishkak (bite-sized pieces of meat, basted in honey or date syrup, marinated in the juice of limes and skewered on date palm sticks); Samak bil narjeel (fish in coconut sauce). Besides being delicious in itself, the fish is a rich reminder of Oman’s sea-faring trade.

………….If scented candles could be made out of the air here, the candles would smell of an enticing mix of cloves, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and black peppercorns. These spices when ground together are called bizaar. The man selling them, with pride written all over his youthful face, recalls a time when Omani sailors set sail with cargos of frankincense, horses, dates and copper to trade for spices, silk and porcelain……………………….Fresh dates may be boiled to a pulp and strained through muslin to make a honey-like syrup. This is then used as a dip or spread for bread. The pulp is added to rice and other traditional dishes.

To eat or drink ethnic food as close as possible to its cultural context and in the vessels that were crafted for it can transform an everyday encounter into an extraordinary experience. But the feeling of cultural satiation stems from more than good food and drink. It stems from the generosity and kindness, which clearly makes any experience here more than the sum of its parts.