Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
Copyright all rights reserved
Food photos are of real food with no photoshop
Palace by the Potomac…
The inimitable and intrepid Travelling Gourmet jets on Singapore Airlines to the city of wheeling & dealing, political Power and spooks, and stays in the…
MANDARIN Oriental Washington DC…I was very impressed with the luxurious Mandarin Oriental Washington DC, and its very good location within walking distance of the Washington Monument and many other famous sights. Where I stayed, I enjoyed stunning and spectacular views of the Washington Marina, the Potomac River, Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial as well as the splendid skyline of the capital. Two sleek boats in the Marina caught my eye and their names were inspiring. One was named “Patriot II” and the other “Freedom”. To be precise, the body of water is the Washington Channel which feeds in to the mighty Potomac River.
The large ergonomically designed bathroom has a separate and spacious shower as well as a bath tub. Really well designed and equipped with premium amenities. I loved soaking in the big triangular bathtub with a view of the Jefferson Memorial…a glass of Bollinger Grande Cuvee 1992 to hand. The cuddly fluffy pillows and firm mattress of the big bed made me sleep like a happy baby. Throughout this palatial hotel are intriguing Asian objets d’art. When I checked in I admired two Oriental silk jackets on display behind the counter. A clear glass teapot on a heater was filled with fragrant Jing Silver Needle Jasmine Tea, and the pretty lady at Reception kindly offered me a cup to welcome me. A very nice gesture which I appreciated very much.
The lobby’s colourful centrepiece is an exotic floral display.
MUZE for yummie food!
I savoured very eclectic cuisine and gastronomic delights in Muze by cheerful and knowledgeable Chef Adam Tanner. Modern American cuisine with Thai and Asian influences is the order of the day in this restaurant. Chef Adam’s wife hails from Thailand, the Land of Smiles, and he loves Asian cuisine. The Sashimi of Tuna and Salmon is really good and comes in chunky 6mm thick slices! Maine Lobster XO with Shitake Mushrooms is a real winner when it comes to gourmet food! Ich liebe es sehr! (I love it very much in German). Sticky Dan Dan Noodles is an authentic interpretation of the classic Beijing dish. Enjoying cosmopolitan epicurean delights here is “de rigeur”. While feasting, keep your eyes peeled…and you may just see some VVIPs that frequently appear on the world stage. …Yes, here is where the elite, rich and powerful Congressmen, Power Brokers, Senators, foreign Presidents and their paramours come for power breakfasts, lunches and dinners…They discuss crucial and important deals over good food and fine wines.My lips are sealed when it comes to naming the VVIPs that like to come here. I am nothing if not discreet.For something unusual, I recommend the mouthwatering hors d’oeuvre called the the Tropical Roll.It is a Sushi Roll with crispy Soft Shell Crab! Only available in season. A very pleasing American interpretation of a classic Japanese dish! I matched it with clean and crisp Eroica 2014 Reisling that had very good acidity and balance. Rieslings, especially German and Alsacienne Rieslings like Hugel always go well with seafood.
Captivating crispy CRAB! Super yummie! Marries very well with a good Riesling!
In MUZE, the discerning gourmet can savour authentic Asian dishes as well as new wave Modern American cuisine made from the freshest A1 ingredients.
They also have Wine tasting with captivating Canapes regularly…I love cooking with wine…sometimes I even put it in the food 🙂
From L to R, Emmie Lancaster, Director of Communications, Executive Chef Adam Tanner and The Travelling Gourmet TM
SAS = Swim & Spa!
My Breitling Titanium watch woke me up at 07:00. I love Breitling and I love Titanium. Titanium is 600 times stronger than steel…I brushed my teeth carefully, and then it was off to the high tech Gym and then the pool! I adored swimming in the spotlessly clean rectangular lap pool everyday although the water temperature was a little chilly. At 50 feet long you can swim laps and burn lots of Calories after enjoying delicious gourmet meals here. Never mind if the water is a bit chilly because when the water is cold, your body burns more Calories to maintain your body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. That is good. The water caresses your body as you glide through it. The high tech Gym is very nice too! As The Travelling Gourmet TM I work out daily. I have to after tasting all the food and wines! The tranquil and mystical Spa is also not to be missed. You can feel completely re-energised and de-stressed after having some treatments here including massages and facials for the ladies…
Chill Out Club Lounge
In the evening, the views of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial are spectacular. They shimmer and glimmer in the moonlight like the incredible icons that they are. Washington DC is a very magnificent city and very well planned by t he French architect, Pierre L’Enfant so many decades ago.. The exclusive Lounge on level 8 was very welcoming for breakfast plus tea & coffee throughout the day. Cookies and tempting snacks too are on offer. In the early evening, captivating canapes and Cocktails whet your appetite before you go for your gourmet dinner…Opulent and chic furnishings make you feel pampered and happy. You feel like you are in a posh gentlemen’s club in the Hamptons when you are here. From the balcony you get the best panoramic photos and stunning views of the Washington Monument!
Another big bonus of staying in the Mandarin Oriental is that it is only 15 minutes to Reagan National Airport or DCA. This made taking my flights a breeze!
Staying here made me think of one of my favorite songs popularized by Tina Turner, and interpreted with vim and vitality by Celine Dion sporting Christian Louboutin stilettos…much like Chef Adam’s masterful interpretation of Asian cuisine!
Mandarin Oriental Washington DC
1330 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington DC 20024
Tel: +1 (202) 554 8588
Splendid Sights of WASHINGTON D.C. !
L’Enfant magnifique de Washington …
The plan of the city of Washington was designed in 1791 by Pierre L’Enfant, and mapped the following year; a design which remains largely in place. The French have a saying, “L’Enfant terrible…” but Pierre L’Enfant was the exact opposite of that. Evidently, a man of many talents…Major L’Enfant (1755-1825), was French artist, engineer and soldier who had formed a friendship with General George Washington while fighting on the same side in the Revolutionary War. “L’Enfant magnifique”requested the honor of designing a plan for the national capital. It was an offer that national hero George Washington could not refuse. Many of my good friends and comrades are like Major Pierre L’Enfant, “Renaissance” gentlemen and ladies, equally at home with an M4 carbine, giving a lecture on the Ethics of War, or baking Pumpkin Pie from scratch…The area was largely undeveloped thus providing the golden ball of opportunity to the city’s founders…to create a brand new capital city. I love Washington D.C.. Due to Pierre L’Enfant’s brilliant design, it is very easy to navigate. Everything is on a criss-cross grid system…No fancy street names also.
On January 24, 1791, President George Washington announced the Congressionally-designated permanent location of the national capital, a diamond-shaped ten-mile tract at the confluence of the Potomac and Eastern Branch Rivers.
SPOOKS, Crooks and Weapons…
If you are fascinated by the exploits of Bond…James Bond, you simply must visit the International Spy Museum. This showcases the real life as well as fictional escapades and coups of spooks. From the Cambridge Spy Ring to alluring Mata Hari, you will find that very often, Truth is stranger than Fiction. In the world of espionage, spooks is the term for spies. Not many know that spying is the world’s second oldest profession. I will not mention what the world’s oldest profession is. This unique museum is very informative and educational too.
Come SPY with me…
You can call me Esmeralda…
When you visit you soon realise that more often than not, truth is stranger than fiction. In the world of spies, nothing is ever what it seems. At the start of your tour, you are invited to pick a cover and legend. At the end of your tour, you are tested to see if your have the makings of a spook…I admired 007’s Aston Martin DBG with hidden .30 caliber machine guns, rear Bullet-Resistant screen and ejector seat close up.
SOE and OSS
The work of the Office of Strategic Services, the direct forerunner to CIA or Central Intelligence Agency is also highlighted, as well as that of SOE. Courageous and intrepid men and women officers of the Special Operations Executive parachuted in the dead of night into Nazi occupied France and other countries to “set Europe ablaze”, as Winston Churchill put it. They faced terrible torture and death if captured by the Gestapo. Their ingenious secret weapons like the Lapel Knife, “Sound Suppressed” pistols and “Sleeve Dagger” are on display.
Daring, resourceful, indomitable, charismatic, highly trained in unarmed combat and silent killing…inspiring and intrepid Nancy Wake SOE, aka “The White Mouse’, once killed a German soldier with her bare hands…in the line of duty of course. She also attacked Gestapo Headquarters and lived to tell the tale.
Treason by a CIA Officer
Notorious CIA officer betrayed his country for money and caused the deaths of many US agents. The actual US mailbox complete with chalk marks left by traitor Aldrich Ames to signal his Russian KGB Controllers (handlers) that he had stolen Classified material for them is here too! Ames used the classic tradecraft method called the “dead drop” to exchange stolen classified information for cash with his Russian KGB handlers. In this amazing museum you will also learn the secret ways spies communicate covertly with their ‘handlers’ or case officers. Eventually arrested by the FBI, Ames was found guilty. US officials said there could be no leniency for Ames, who was known to the KGB by his code name of “Kolokol” (“The Bell”). His treasonous actions are thought to have led to the deaths of at least 10 US agents in the former Soviet Union.
The notorious Cambridge University Spy Ring is featured here too. Kim Philby was a “double agent” and officer of MI6 aka SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) who finally made his escape to the USSR after his “cover” was “blown”. If you want to study at a really good University, go to Oxford University, not Cambridge. Philby led a miserable and tortured life in Russia till his death. The Russians never trust ‘double agents”. Karma.
Russian NKVD Spymaster Felix Dzherzinsky’s chilling office with the “bookcase” that is actually a covert door that leads straight down to underground dungeons is on exhibit here too. Very perverse like the Nazi slogan in the Konzentrationslaeger, “Arbeit macht frei”. The so-called ”Father of the KGB”, Dzherzinsky Square in Moscow is named in his honour.
There are also exhibits on the notorious Gestapo in Nazi Germany.
Spy Puzzle…there is a secret coded message hidden in the innocent looking ruled box below…Can you decipher it? 🙂
The former head of the CIA’s Soviet operations, traitor Ames is the highest-ranking CIA officer ever to be exposed as a double-agent. Now deservedly serving life imprisonment without parole
The Company…and the Firm…
My Bond Moment…
It is fascinating to watch a series of short videos where real life intelligence operatives reminisce about their own secret missions…when they found themselves in a situation that could have been a scene in a 007 Hollywood blockbuster movie. My friend, Anthony Shaffer who served with the DIA, explained how he had to reassure an Agent that the room they were in was not bugged. Using an ordinary pen as a “Bug Detector” he “swept the room” and convinced the gullible Agent that it was secure! Blonde bombshell ex-CIA Officer and deep cover operative, Valerie Plame also shared her story of how she did a classic “brush pass” with a briefcase in enemy country. Yes, oftentimes, an Intelligence Officer in hostile territory needs the skills of a magician like Houdini. Sadly, her “Cover” was allegedly blown by Richard Hermitage and obese Karl Rove, at that time serving in the White House under President Geroge W. Bush…That is absolutely the WORST and most VILE action to happen when your own people throw you under the bus…the very people that are supposed to look after your six. DESPICABLE!
Secret Weapons…things are never what they seem in the world of Spooks…
The Exquisitely EVIL exhibit showcases the Villains of the blockbuster Bond movies from Francisco Scaramanga to Ernst Stavro Blofeld. many actors have played Blofeld, James Bond’s arch enemy…from Donald Pleasance to Telly Savalas in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.
If you watched Sean Connery in “Goldfinger”, at the end of the movie, James Bond defuses a thermo-nuclear bomb with very steady hands and nerves of steel. They have a replica here for you to see if your can defuse a bomb a la 007. I succeeded first time! 🙂 Mein Nerven sind auf Stahl ha! ha!
There is also a very amusing black iron bar like a chin up bar to simulate the undercarraige of a helicopter. How many times have you seen super-heroes like James Bond and others hold on to the undercarraige of a helicopter or the rungs of a ladder for 10 or 15 minutes?? Well, here you can test yourself and see how long you can hold on…most people only last 10 seconds! So don’t believe all you see in the movies! The bar rotates every few seconds to make your grip loosen…
Arguably the best Museum in Washington DC…Certainly the most fascinating!
At the Spy Shop you will find everything you need to be a spook, well…almost everything. For example, you won’t be able to purchase Commander James Bond’s Walther PPK in 7.65 mm…I personally prefer a Glock 17 in 9mm, a Glock 19 for more concealability or a Beretta 92F also in 9mm. Also I like the Sig Sauer P226 9mm, a very fine weapon.
International Spy Museum
800 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
*** The INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM is awarded The Travelling Gourmet’s BEST MUSEUM in Washington DC for 2016/2017
The immortal “Mission Impossible” theme based on the real life exploits of ex-Company officer “Bob” Maheu…
One warm and sunny Summer morning, I took a stroll to the Washington Monument. This stunning Obelisk is only about 16 minutes from the Mandarin Oriental. On the way, I ambled past the imposing USDA or Department of Agriculture. Have you had USDA Prime Rib of Beef? The USDA certifies beef and other food products produced in the USA. The Washington Monument is a very impressive obelisk that seems to reach to the sky above. The original measurement conducted in 1884 by Lt. Col. Thomas Casey is believed to have used four brass markers as a base for measurement. Those markers remain in place about 9 inches below ground off each corner of the monument. It’s possible the markers were at ground level in the past. A new plaza was installed around the monument recently, and “it’s clear that what was ground level has changed over the years,” Dru Smith, chief geodesist with the National Geodetic Survey has said. Now the new measurement puts the monument at 554 feet, 7 and eleven-thirty-seconds of an inch, as measured from the floor of the main entrance to the top. Ever since the stone obelisk was completed in 1884, however, the historic height has been recorded at 555 feet, 5 and 1/8 inches. Whatever it is to me and to other visitors, it is still MIGHTY tall!
The memorial to “Honest Abe” Lincoln immortalizes this great hero of America kept the United States of America whole and tragically fell to an assassin’s bullets. even when it is crowded there is a sense of his awesome influence on the USA. The statue depicts “Honest Abe” sitting serenely in a chair gazing out over a vista that includes the Korean Veterans War Memorial, and the somber Vietnam War Memorial carved with the names of those KIA (killed in action). I visited one afternoon and it suddenly rained…and rained and rained. It was the Monsoon rain in South East Asia. When the rain got less, I improvised an “umbrella” of sorts from the plastic bags from the gift shop where I bought souvenirs…and ran like hell. As the taxi drove off the eerie figures of the Korean war Veterans Memorial looked amazingly lifelike. The statues of GIs clad in rain ponchos and carrying .30-06 M1 Garand rifles of looked like ghosts on patrol in the paddy fields of Korea.
For those into details…
Exterior: Memorial walls, entablature, attic frieze, Doric columns, and upper steps—Colorado Yule marble; Tripods—Tennessee pink marble; Lower steps and terrace walls—pink Milford, Massachusetts granite.
Interior: Walls and Ionic columns—Indiana limestone; Statue and plinth—George white marble; Pedestal and chamber floor—Tennessee pink marble; Ceiling panels—Alabama marble saturated with melted beeswax for translucency; Ceiling beams—Copper alloy to form bronze and/or brass; Murals—Oil paint mixed with white wax and kerosene and applied to canvas.
Central chamber: Width—60 feet; Depth—74 feet.
Side chambers: Width—38 feet; Depth—63 feet.
Chamber height: 60 feet from floor to ceiling.
Chamber floor to top of statue: 30 feet 7 inches.
Statue: 28 pieces; Height—19 feet; Width—19 feet; Weight–120 tons (175 tons with pedestal); Cost—$88,400.
Statue’s head: Height—3 feet 7 inches; Width—2 feet 7 inches.
Plinth between pedestal and statue: 1 foot 7 inches.
Pedestal: Height—10 feet; Width—16 feet; Depth—17 feet.
Ionic columns: Number—8; Height—50 feet; Diameter at base—5 feet 6 inches; Drums in column—9 excluding capital and base; Flutes in column—24.
Groundbreaking ceremony—February 12, 1914
Cornerstone laying ceremony—February 12, 1915
Dedication ceremony—May 30, 1922
Cost of building–$2,957,000.
Awesome Occidental Grill
MAKING the most of the Occidental’s 110th Anniversary I went to celebrate with them by having a delightful dinner in this superb and iconic restaurant! In the city of concentrated POWER that is Washington DC…this is where the powerful, influential, famous and rich come to dine. Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, VVIPs in the government and federal agencies, spooks and celebrities love the Occidental. On the hallowed walls their photos, some autographed, look benignly down at the diners. A gentleman I have long respected, American hero John Edgar Hoover, the longest serving Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as indomitable Five Star General Douglas MacArthur, whose military genius defeated the Japanese in World War 2…are but two of the iconic luminaries who loved to eat here. If walls could talk, what top secrets they would whisper in your ears…
Just steps from the White House, Occidental Grill & Seafood is a DC dining institution with a long and chequered history. This iconic gathering place combines a restaurant with elegance & mystique with a constantly evolving, cutting-edge menu that makes classic American cuisine avant garde and very memorable.
Another Classic like the Occidental Grill and Seafood in Washington DC!
Cobb Salad by The Travelling Gourmet TM
To be continued…
More to follow…