We then tuck into cooked oysters (the fisherman had thrown them on the coals
before we had a chance to stop him). “Not so bad,” Roux says, ruefully. “At
least they still have some flavour.”

A few hours later we are sitting around the slick mirrored bar of Roux’s new
restaurant, La Maison 1888, at the InterContinental Hotel in Danang. We
crack open crabs caught that day at the lagoon – some steamed, some cooked
in a sweet, sticky tamarind sauce – prepared perfectly by Hang, one of
Roux’s favourite Vietnamese cooks. We eat off white china and drink Roux’s
own branded champagne. The scene could not have been more different from our
earlier lunch.

After his success in London
with Le Gavroche (the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Britain) and in
Bray, Berkshire, with The Waterside Inn (the first restaurant outside France
to hold three stars for a period of 29 years), Roux has for the first time
ventured into Asia with La Maison 1888. He tells me he is relishing the
challenge. “I love this part of the world,” he says. “If I were 40 years
old, I would move here.”

He believes some of his affection for the country is down to the historical
tie between Vietnam
and Roux’s homeland. The country was under French colonial rule for nearly
100 years and there is still a connection and crossover, particularly in the
arena of gastronomy.

I saw street-sellers in Hoi An touting crusty baguette sandwiches made with
pork liver pâté called banh mi, an echo of the French pain de mie. The
baguettes are stouter than the French variety and baked without salt but the
flavour piques with the adding of nuoc mam, a fish sauce used as seasoning
throughout Vietnam.


Vietnam is renowned for its street food

The national dish, a noodle soup called pho, is a delicious consommé made with
shallots, sliced meat, rice noodles and handfuls of ripped fragrant herbs.
Some say it may originate from pot au feu, as the final syllable is
pronounced the same way. There is also a dish here resembling beef
bourguignon but cooked in rice wine, rather than red wine.

“The food in Vietnam is superb,” says Roux. “There are so many dishes that
I love.”

“For example?” I press him.

His eyes twinkle. “The problem is I can’t remember the names of them. I
confess I have made no progress with the language.”

Roux freely admits he is not trying to be a master of Vietnamese cooking. Nor
does he want to bring the two cuisines together in any way. “Fusion is
confusion,” he says. At La Maison 1888, it is his own classic French cuisine
on offer, which he says “is what I do best”.

But he is eager to visit local markets, to learn about Vietnam’s ingredients
and to try the country’s renowned street food. He clearly adores his staff
as he moves around the kitchen. “Without the person who washes up,” he tells
me, “I am nothing.” And I believe him. After a day in his kitchen, I have a
small sense of the teamwork involved to deliver his exceptional food.

Roux visits the InterContinental at Danang four times a year to direct the
kitchen, host dinners and conduct cookery classes, and I spend half a day
with him learning how to rustle up a three-course lunch: salmon in a puff
pastry with beurre blanc à l’Aneth; baby chicken “crapaudine” (spatchcocked
and pressed down, “like a flattened toad”) with pomme pont neuf and devil
sauce, and a tiramisu dessert.

A market in Hoi An

The menu was almost as intimidating as the company. There were three fellow
guests attending Roux’s class. One had excelled on Vietnam’s MasterChef,
another had written a cookery book, and the third, a Singaporean woman, ran
a pop-up restaurant out of her own home and had flown in specially for the
class. All I could offer was that my grandmother was an excellent cook and
there might be something in the genes.

While we set about breaking the bones of a chicken and removing its lungs,
Roux effortlessly demonstrates how to fillet a salmon, make a feather-light
puff pastry and flip a razor-thin herb pancake. His banter is smattered with
humour. “Leave the pancake to rest,” he says. “Everyone needs a rest, even a
pancake.”

When he introduces his friend Giancarlo Perbellini, a chef visiting from
Verona, Roux says: “Ah, Italian food. I think I was born in the wrong
country.” He is also quick with praise for his young team. “Perfect,” he
says to an assistant, and I can only imagine her high.

Meanwhile, I struggle on. At the instruction “add the chicken consommé”, I
stare anxiously at the two pots – one with chicken consommé, and one with
beef – and then copy my neighbour. When it comes to making sponge fingers
for the tiramisu, I splodge the unruly mixture all over the baking tray.
Roux is deliciously patient: “Stop sharply, and then turn,” he says, as I
awkwardly try to manoeuvre the piping bag. “It is never too late to learn,”
he adds encouragingly, and I do not know whether to be relieved or
devastated.

Michelle meets Michel

But the angst of my cookery class evaporates as I sit down to eat Roux’s own
tasting menu. After watching him and his team at work, I have a new profound
appreciation of each flavour, the poised presentation, every sprinkling, dot
and drizzle.

It may seem odd to come all the way to Vietnam to experience French cooking,
no matter how fine. But Roux’s presence here is not so much about him as it
is about his anointing of Vietnam’s cuisine – and that alone should do much
for the country’s deserved status as a gourmet destination.

When to go

The weather is at its best in central Vietnam from March to August (but note
that from June the number of domestic tourists increases).

Getting there

Vietnam Airlines (020 3263 2062; vietnamairlines.com)
operates direct flights from Gatwick to Hanoi twice weekly, and to Ho Chi
Minh City twice weekly; return economy flights from £497. For several weeks
a year, flights are routed through Frankfurt, increasing total journey time
from 12 to 14 hours.

Time difference

GMT plus seven hours.

Package

Experience Travel Group (020 7924 7133; experiencetravelgroup.com)
has a seven-night trip to Vietnam from £1,215 per person staying at the
InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort and including flights,
transfers, daily breakfast, a cookery masterclass at La Maison 1888, dinner
at the chef’s private table, and day trips to Hoi An, Hue and Lang Co. Four
times a year, the cookery masterclasses are hosted by Michel Roux.

Where to stay

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort £££
On a private beach with 197 rooms (one of them pictured below), two pools,
and an indulgent spa with a studio by celebrity podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez.
Doubles from £200. Danang is halfway between the old imperial capital Hue
and the ancient port of Hoi An. Both towns are World Heritage Sites and
known for their excellent cuisine (0084 511 393 8888; danang.intercontinental.com).

Where to eat

Morning Glory Restaurant £
This is Michel Roux’s preferred local choice, less than an hour from the
hotel, owned by chef-entrepreneur Trinh Diem Vy. She also runs cooking
classes at The Market, one of her other restaurants. Starters from about £2,
mains from £5 (106 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An; 510 224 1555; restaurant-hoian.com).

La Maison 1888 £££
This fine-dining cliffside restaurant at the InterContinental Danang Sun
Peninsula Resort serves Michel Roux’s classic French cuisine. Starters from
£16, mains from £27 per head, six-course tasting menu £75 excluding wine
(511 393 8888; danang.intercontinental.com).

Currency

The exchange rate is £1 to 35,428 Vietnamese dong. Cash is available from ATMs
across the country.

Visas/vaccinations

British passport holders have two options. They can obtain a visa before
arrival through the Vietnamese embassy in London. Alternatively, and this is
my preference, they can buy online an “approval letter” (from a private
agency such as myvietnamvisa.com,
which offers a very efficient service) that takes two to three days (£12).
You must print out the approval letter, which is required to board the plane
in the UK and also to obtain your visa on arrival (one passport photo is
also required and £27). There are no required vaccinations.

The inside track

Go for street stalls that look popular with locals.

Choose the Hoi An speciality cao lau, Japanese-style noodles with roast pork,
bean sprouts and herbs, accompanied by fresh coconut water.

Tipping is not expected.

Further information

Lonely Planet (shop.lonelyplanet.com)
is publishing a new Vietnam guide in July, available as a print guidebook
(£15.99) or an electronic version that works across a number of devices
including Kindles, Androids and iPhones (£11.19). Lonely Planet’s The Food
Book (£14.99) has a chapter on Vietnam’s seductive cuisine.

Read more

Win
a trip to Vietnam with Michel Roux

Complete our Travel Awards survey for the chance to win a cooking break in
Vietnam with the chef, Michel Roux, worth £15,000

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Article source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/vietnam/10979815/Danang-Vietnam-a-cooking-masterclass-with-Michel-Roux.html



July 21, 2014


By: Newswire



Travel Agent



AmaWaterways debuted its 2015 Europe, Russia, Asia Africa brochure. The new brochure introduces three new ships, a new destination and new theme cruises, as well as the return of the line’s wine and Christmas markets sailings.

RELATED: AmaWaterways Announces 2015 and 2016 Mekong River Itineraries Aboard the New AmaDara

Highlights of AmaWaterways’ 2015 Europe, Russia, Asia Africa brochure include:

Three New Ships:

  • AmaSerena and AmaVista – These new sister ships will offer travelers the opportunity to sail Europe’s waterways, including the Danube, Main and Rhine. The 164-passenger vessels will have Twin Balcony Staterooms, heated swimming pools with swim-up bars, salon services, fitness rooms, glass elevators and more.
  • AmaDara – This new 124-passenger ship joins AmaLotus in 2015, offering an voyage along the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia. The itinerary includes an overnight experience on an authentic yet contemporary junk, stops at UNESCO World Heritage Sites and time exploring the Khmer empire.  

New and Returning Theme Cruises:

  • In Celebration of Wine Cruise – AmaWaterways’ wine cruises make their return in 2015.  Traveling through Europe’s wine regions, these sailings will offer expert wine hosts, complimentary lectures, wine tastings and excursions to vineyards and cellars. (19 Departures in 2015)
  • Beer Cruise – A first for AmaWaterways, 2015 will bring the all-new Beer Cruise.  Hosted by beer expert Don “Joe Sixpack” Russell – author of a weekly beer column and three books – beer enthusiasts will enjoy beer pairing dinners, experiences, visits to breweries and local tastings. The new Beer Cruise will take place as part of AmaWaterways’ March 31 Tulip Time Cruise sailing and December 14 Christmas Time Cruise itinerary. (2 Departures in 2015)
  • Art Illumination Cruise – Art aficionados and aspiring artists alike can channel their inner Monet during this inaugural journey through France’s Normandy region onboard AmaLegro. (Embarking August 13, 2015) 
  • Jazz Cruise – Conducted in partnership with Jazzdagen Tours, this seven-night cruise onboard AmaLyra will offer jazz performances by a global assortment of musicians and immersive tours of a variety of ports, including the grand capital Vienna and towns like Durnstein. Guests can explore cathedrals and Baroque abbeys and take in the sights of Wachau Valley. (Embarking September 22, 2015)
  • Jewish Heritage Cruises – These itineraries dive into the legacy of Europe’s Jewish history and culture. Complimentary excursions include visits to World War II sites, historic Jewish synagogues and sightseeing spots European cities. Countries visited include Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. Optional extensions in Prague on The Romantic Danube and Lucerne and Zurich on The Enchanting Rhine are also available.  (4 Departures in 2015)
  • Christmas Markets Cruises – These cruises include feasts, festive décor, onboard entertainment and visits to centuries-old Christmas Markets in places such as Regensburg, Nuremberg and Vienna. Travelers will enjoy two itineraries in the Christmas markets, including Christmas Time Cruise (13 Departures in 2015); and Christmas on the Rhine. (11 Departures in 2015)

For more information, visit www.AmaWaterways.com

Related Links :

AmaWaterways Launches Booking Engine

One-on-One on AmaWaterways’ New Travel Agent Booking Engine

AmaWaterways Details New Ship, Cruise Program for 2014

Cris de Souza Named AmaWaterways’ Director of National Accounts

Article source: http://www.travelagentcentral.com/cruises/amawaterways-debutes-2015-europe-russia-asia-africa-brochure-47005

Contrary to a recent assertion, the scientific assessment of Tasmania’s World Heritage area was protracted and rigorous.

IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT Mark Poynter, in his attempt to establish that politics rather than science has determined the World Heritage decision in favour of the Tasmanian forests, fails to focus on the science and instead attacks the people providing the science. In the familiar sporting aphorism, he plays the man not the ball.

As one of those whose credentials are questioned, I can briefly refer to my lifetime of expertise as forester, conservation scientist and heritage assessor, advising governments, international institutions, the private sector and organisations.

For the record, my 40-plus-year career in forests and conservation has included the past 25 years advising on most aspects of World Heritage both in Australia and in South-East Asia, Papua New Guinea, the Middle East, Japan and South America. It is for this well recognised professional expertise and experience that I am retained, not for any political position.

Now to the science and the detail of the World Heritage processes which Mr Poynter does not seem to understand. All nominations to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee whether for new sites or additions to sites must be formulated in accordance with the scientifically based ‘Criteria for the Assessment of Outstanding Universal Value’ and in addition must meet the relevant Conditions of Integrity.

The Commission of Inquiry into the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests in the 1980′s, a host of subsequently published papers and more recently the Independent Verification Group all provided valuable scientific contributions to the formulation of the 2013 nominated additions. Scientific data and observations were not limited to the tall forests alone but included documentation on a diversity of attributes including archaeological, Aboriginal cultural sites, karst, fossils, caves, endangered species and rare and threatened plant communities.

Contrary to Mr Poynter’s assertion, the concept for extension of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) to include a continuous tract of tall eucalypt forest and adoption of an appropriate eastern boundary was being progressively formulated long before the Tasmanian Forest Agreement 2012 and was informed by a wide range of proposals, heritage values, documentation and other considerations.

The Forests Agreement, not surprisingly, picked up and included this proposal within its terms. Mr Poynter in this and previous articles, frequently refers to the 2008 World Heritage Centre field mission to Tasmania but omits to note that, notwithstanding the reservations and findings of the mission, the World Heritage Committee, at its meeting in Quebec later in 2008 (32 COM 7B.41) considered that report, but resolved to advise Australia that it “Reiterate(s) its request to the State Party to consider, at its own discretion, extension of the property to include appropriate areas of tall eucalyptus forest, having regard to the advice of IUCN…”.

The rejection of additions proposed by the field mission played up by Mr Poynter actually emerged as a reiterated invitation to Australia to nominate additional tall eucalypt forest. Always better if you get the full story. The Committee takes its scientific advice on natural heritage from International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Australia took up that invitation and by 2013 had assembled a nomination dossier that met requirements, including, importantly, the ‘conditions of integrity’.

Again contrary to Mr Poynter’s contention, the 2013 nominated additions to the TWWHA were not misrepresented as ‘minor amendments’. The Committee’s operational guidelines do not specify a minimum area for what constitutes a minor amendment though IUCN, the official advisory body to the Committee for natural heritage suggests 10 per cent as a guideline. While the nominated boundary change slightly exceeded this guideline, it was accepted because the lands included had been the subject of ongoing scrutiny and deliberation by IUCN and the World Heritage Committee, plus the Committee had invited such additions. It also included an existing national park (Mount Field) that had previously been flagged for addition. The Australian submission was responding to the World Heritage Committee invitation to consider an extension “….having regard to the advice of IUCN…” and that was done.

Longer than 10 minutes

As is the case with all additions, the 2013 nominated additions were subject to assessment and advice to the World Heritage Committee by IUCN and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). In the Phnom Penh World Heritage Committee meeting in 2013 reviewing the Australian extension submission, Committee members were briefed on the merits of the additions proposed and none disputed the Australian case for listing.

Before the Australian request to remove the extension area was considered at the Doha meeting of the World Heritage Committee, it had been scrutinised in detail by IUCN and ICOMOS and in May they recommended refusal.

The test for any removal which the 2014 decision was required to meet is that it must be “[a modification] which has not a significant impact on the extent of the property nor affects its Outstanding Universal Value.” Given the evidence before IUCN and ICOMOS, the proposed delisting had no chance of meeting this test.

The IUCN advice and the World Heritage Committee decision to refuse removal of the extension reflected that it would result in the delisting of outstanding stands of pristine tall eucalypt forest, much of it old growth; loss of ecological connectivity; removal of more than 24 Aboriginal cultural sites, including an ice-age archaeological site; removal of glacial landforms, karst, caves and critical habitat of endangered species – all documented – all of which would have had a serious impact on the integrity of the World Heritage Area.

Tasmanian forests: where politics trumps science

Peter Hitchcock’s article is in response to a recent opinion piece from Mark Poynter. Read the original here.

Similarly, boundary integrity would have been seriously impacted. Many of the values at risk were the same scientifically documented attributes and values that contributed to the case for the listing of the extension in the first place in 2013.

None of the Committee member delegates that I consulted with in Doha in 2014 had any doubts about the World Heritage values of the 2013 additions or that the proposed delisting would have a serious impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the TWWHA.

While the formal process for the World Heritage Committee to unanimously reject the Australian Government submission was brief, occupying less than 10 minutes of the formal meeting time, it was obviously preceded by the members having already considered and taken into account all the material and advice before them during the preceding weeks, including advice from IUCN and ICOMOS.

In response to comments on his article, Mr Poynter has already conceded he was wrong in his claim that “Further exemplifying the political interference is that the disputed areas of the TWWHA extension were listed before they had been declared as national parks. This is a first in Australia…” Anyone familiar with World Heritage process would be aware that this is incorrect. Any number of land parcels in Australia that were not national parks has been listed as World Heritage and there is certainly no requirement for declaration as a national park.

For example, in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area there are around 300 freehold properties. The Australian Government’s demonstration that any lands are protected and will be appropriately managed is the relevant prerequisite. Instead of a personal attack on the professional integrity of myself and others involved in this process, Mr Poynter would do well to understand the actual processes of the World Heritage listing and review system which is rigorous and based entirely on science and professional assessment, not politics.

Peter Hitchcock is an environmental consultant and a member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Article source: http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2014/07/21/4049273.htm

Backpacking in KK

Author: conserva

Article source: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/pampanga/opinion/2014/07/19/pangilinan-backpacking-kk-354742

VINCENNES, Ind. – A southwestern Indiana city is taking steps to keep an invasive beetle at bay.

Vincennes officials have approved spending $30,000 to chop down ash trees before they become infected by the emerald ash borer.

The metallic-green beetle came to the U.S. in 2002 and 2003 from Asia and parts of Russia. It has decimated ash trees in more than two-thirds of Indiana’s 92 counties and has been found in neighboring Daviess County.

Vincennes Tree Board member Ryan Lough tells the Vincennes Sun-Commercial (http://bit.ly/1p05zL1 ) that removing at least 50 ash trees before they are infested will likely cost an average of about $400 per tree. Waiting until the ash borer arrives could be much more expensive.

Fort Wayne has spent upward of $3 million to remove infested ash trees.

——

Information from: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, http://www.vincennes.com
 

Article source: http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/vincennes-to-remove-ash-trees-before-beetle-lands