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T / how i’m eating 2017 / ARTillery’s magic menu

Hello Quinoa Rainbowl! Nice to meet you!.

This week, a red headed birdy sent me a bit of magic!  Jen, whom you previously have known as coffee Yoda and professor of beans, is also a doctor of menus!  (Could mother of dragons be next?)  Over the past few months, she’s been working with ARTillery Cafe in Phnom Penh to give their menu a facelift, and what a great job she’s done!

When it first arrived on the scene in 2012, ARTillery was pretty much the first restaurant in Cambodia to enter the realm of the healthy that went beyond salads.  All of a sudden, raw, paleo, and gluten free, were buzzwords that became part of the Phnom Penh lexicon.  I loved their menu!  And it was a go-to for healthy fresh salads and fun plates.  But like all good things, I overdosed on things.

This is where Jen comes in.  She’s all about flavour, and has a genetic lineage to the healthy, nutritious and delicious.  ARTillery’s new menu is still incredibly healthy.  But it got kicked in the nuts.  Kimchi quesadillas!  Fa-waffles!  Every single macro bowl you could imagine!  And the dish that made me go a little nuts: paleo Disco Fries!

Fa-waffle!

So off to lunch I went today to deep dive into Jen’s garden of fun colourful things.  With a couple of fellow foodies, we went a little nuts.  Sadly not pictured are the Jump Start avocado, coffee, raw cacao and cashew milk smoothie I may or may not have devoured in one slurp.  Nor the Cachata (cousin of horcata of course), or Chunky Monkey (we were obviously in the mood for chocolate).  But I did get a snap of Jen’s amazing green fa-waffle with hummus and garlic tahini sauce (above).  It’s officially my new happy place.

I also learned that I couldn’t tell the difference between jackfruit and chicken today.  These tacos (below) were perfect.

Not your grandma’s tacos. These babies are jackfruit.

It’s healthy with a bit of a whimsy and magic.  Fully customizable bowls.  Protein, gut health, fermented things to your heart’s content.  I like the good things and the healthy things.  It’s exactly how I want to eat this year, and now that I’m desk-bound, my lunch hour just got a little more exciting.  I can’t wait to try that cauliflower bun.  If you’re in town, do wander down a certain brightly graffitied alley and give these guys a try.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang for cait+tiff. Please request permission for use.


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C+T / Alchemy Design, revisited

Tiffany Tsang

In January of 2015, we did our very first interview for the blog with the guys at Alchemy Design, a reclaimed wood furniture company in Phnom Penh. A few months ago, we caught up with Jonathan at their new-ish showroom in BKK1, and talked about how the company has changed since our first meeting, and all the fun stuff that lies ahead.

Tiffany Tsang

Before we start, you should know that they are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to, well, kick-start their international reach. Please, do yourself a favor and fund this campaign. There are very few companies that we have faith in like we do this group of awesome humans, and to have their work around the world would make this big blue marble even better.

The past few years have been full of growth for our friends at Alchemy, and when we first met, the company was basically three guys who liked making stuff, working on projects in the front yard when they had free time. Fast forward, and Alchemy is now one of the most recognizable and well-loved brands in Phnom Penh, ready to go international.

Tiffany Tsang Tiffany Tsang

The team has changed a bit, and that is no surprise in a city with almost constant turnover. Out of the original three, Jonathan is the only one still living in Cambodia, while Joel works from the US, and Willem is now back in Holland, no longer working with the group. They have grown substantially, and now have a team of 20 employees, working between the showroom and the workshop.

Joel now leads the design side of the business, and prepares the mood boards and overall design concept for all new pieces. Initially, the Alchemy “look” was industrial and rugged, with lots of re-bar and unexpected accents. They have kept some of those elements, but have shifted into a sort of Scandinavian-mid-century vibe, and it works.

Jonathan leads the production team and manages the in-country logistics, expansion, and probably a million other things. In some recent projects, they have partnered with lovely local interior/graphic designer, Nataly Lee, who has a crazy eye for beauty and detail. This combination of super powers has proven very successful.

Tiffany Tsang

Tiffany Tsang

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When Alchemy first started out, they focused mostly on custom home furniture, but that has changed as well and they are now working mostly with commercial spaces. They will continue to make furniture for home use, but the model is shifting to a more traditional retail set up, where they have options, and you decide if you want that thing. The amount of growth and reach in Phnom Penh is impressive, and you can see their footprint all over city, from the gorgeous Tonlé shop at the airport, to the clean lines of The Tiger’s Eye, and the uber-cool, always boozy, Elbow Room

Future plans are to keep roots in Cambodia, but to expand internationally, hence the Kickstarter. They have stayed true to their original mission, and are still sourcing wood from right outside of Phnom Penh, with an NGO that helps with resettlement. A number of Cambodian families are making the switch from traditional wood houses, to more sturdy concrete houses. The NGO connects Alchemy to the families so that they can purchase the wood, rather than the family have to pay for the junk yard to clear it out. They are also now working with an NGO in a nearby province, providing projects for capacity building in woodwork.

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When we were talking to Jonathan, he mentioned something remarkable. The traditional style of furniture in Cambodia is shiny, shellacked to an unnatural shade of orange, and usually has an elephant carved into it somewhere. Needless to say, the Alchemy style is a touch different than this. A few of the local team members in the workshop have started to refer to the Alchemy pieces as “awt saat” which literally translates to “not pretty.” It’s become somewhat of a team joke, but this new style of production has allowed these craftsmen to explore other styles of wood working, and become more involved with the design process. He says that many of them work on their own projects during breaks, and are constantly evolving. How cool is that?

Alchemy Design, we love you, and we think you are saat naa (very pretty). Keep going.

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All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  We’re not liable for the sudden accumulation of wood in your house.


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T / all the flips and the faces

Tini-Tinou---Circus-HeaderSo remember when we suggested that you run away with the circus?  I went and did it for a night. Thanks to the folks over at Phare, and its partner organization Phare Ponleu Selpak, I was front and centre at Saturday night’s show to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Tini Tinou International Circus Festival.  And of course I brought my cammy-cam, whom I’ve named Giorgio (more on me naming appliances in another post).

And I know you’re thinking, okay, photos of these ultra talented kids in mid-air.  The usual circus photos.  But what really took me on this show were the facial gymnastics being thrown by the Cambodian artists from Phare.  These guys know how to act.  And flip. And throw down mighty fine stories that kept the audience wrapt,  on their toes and gunning for the good guys and gals.  All with a spot on soundtrack with live musicians on traditional Khmer instruments.  There were also muscles.  Sculpted ones to boot.

If you’re in Cambodia, and are keen to see Tini Tinou, as well as opening acts from Canada, France, Australia and Indonesia, you’re not too late.  The show still goes on with one more tonight in Battambang, and from May 8-10th in Siem Reap.  Check out Tini Tinou’s website for tickets and venues.

01---Flipper 02---Faces 11---Flip 04---Landing 03---Fire-Show 05---Jumper 06---In-Flight 07---In-Flight-2 08---All-Up 09---Seats-and-Shadows 10---Dancing

 


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. We are not liable for any facial or bodily gymnastics that result from the circus.


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T / a jungle in the city

Plantation-Header

It’s been a bit of a busy month.  Weekends, nights, days, are all occupied with something and any free hours are devoted to House of Cards.  So when my partner’s birthday conveniently popped up last weekend, all I could think was surprise staycation.  We’ve got a lot of wonderful boutique hotels in Phnom Penh.  All bespoke, thematic and for all budgets.  This made it really fun to see my partner guess which we were staying at as we tuk-tuked en route.  The ones I lean on are the family of hotels owned by Marie and Alexis de Sureimain (together, they’re known as MAADS)   They’ve designed and curated such a wonderful collection of accommodations that preserve heritage buildings and architecture in Phnom Penh and further.  We love going to Kirirom Mountain Lodge when we need a respite out of the city.

But last week, I decided to stay in Phnom Penh and I booked us into MAADS’ The Plantation.   You would never guess it was in the middle of the hustle and bustle of an emerging Asian city.   And you would never believe that check-in is happening at the former Ministry of Labour.  And before it was a government building, it served as an administrative building linking the governing French and the Royal Palace, which is just a hop and a skip away.

Front-of-HouseThe Plantation’s front-of-house mansion dates back to the 1930s, and MAADS has helped to preserve it and reconstruct the parts which had been destroyed during the war in the 1970s.  And what a restoration it was.

Front-Pool

Hints of a former French colonial mansion.  This front-of-house pool is available for non-guests to use at a nominal fee.

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Original tiles are key for any heritage hotel.

The administrative buildings, built during the 1980s and 90s, that form the body of the hotel have been transformed into a sumptuous jungle from their purpose built and almost Soviet nature.  This entire section of the property is filled with lush, green, tropical foliage.  It all surrounds the pool, which is lined with tiny cabanas that allow for direct access.  You forget that it’s supposed to feel like 45°C out here.

The-Plantation---Back-Pool Tiffany Tsang Plantation-RoomThe rooms are so comfortable.  While their bones reveal their former administrative purposes, French architect Ivan Tizianel has transformed The Plantation’s rooms into minimalist havens from the heat, most of which look out onto the pool and all the greenery.

So for about 24 hours, we forgot about the week that lay ahead, and revelled in all of which was present.  In short: we didn’t want to leave, hop into a tuk tuk, and travel only 2km back to our regular lives.  


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for any flights of fancy.

 


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C / super famous pop stars (and me)

laura-mam

One of my favorite people in this city is Laura Mam. She was raised in California, says “hella” a lot. She moved to Cambodia a few years ago, where her family is from, but was forced to flee from the horrible garbage war 30-ish years ago. She is a crazy talented singer, and she is opening for Jessie J in Phnom Penh tomorrow night. She’s kind of a big deal.

Because she is a wonderful friend, she asked me to make her clothes for the show. I have been working on the looks for about a month, and finishing up the details this week. Buy that, of course I mean that a lot of things went wrong. I changed the design twice, I had to get mad and a little bit mean, and the week has been total stress-fest. The final touches for the looks are going on today, and I will be happy to see the back of it. But really, the actual back of it because that is where the cool details are.

I woke up this morning at 3:30 thinking about the neckline of one of the tops, and I have looked at the pieces so many times that I actually don’t know if I even like them anymore. So have been up for a LONG time today, and I’m pretty happy to see the sun come up, and am celebrating with a lot of coffee and 80’s Michael Jackson.

I wanted to post on the looks for the concert, but I don’t want to give too much away. She has some die-hard fans that would storm the gates if I ruined the surprise, so I have included a few photos of the materials that don’g give too much away.

braids

tops

died

More on the actual looks next week!

caitsig

 


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T / happy monday / time out, time in

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Photo Credit: Pedro Martinelli

Even though we’re in a Buddhist country, somehow the the crazy busies of the holiday season managed to creep over waters and borders.  This means that 6am wake up calls extended into my weekend, which was spent both at work and at play. On Saturday, my man and I had an epic little double date of a day trip with our pals Ammar and Elise.  On a pair of heavy duty Hondas, we drove out to the Cambodian countryside (because as we all know, Cambodia is only twenty minutes outside of Phnom Penh) and took a deep breath of fresh air, rice paddies and hidden temples.  Ammar inaugurated his GoPro and captured it all .  And today, I’m going to sit at home with a plate of Cait’s cookies, nurse this cold that finally wormed its way around Phnom Penh to me, and do all of the work on my computer and my new farm-bench dining table.

And that is how we hit the holiday reset button in Cambodia.


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Mama Heang’s Cookies

heang

Not many people come to Phnom Penh for the cookies, but that’s about to change. Mama Heang’s Cookies has officially opened for business, and the dark days of Phnom Penh cookie deprivation are over.

Cait has known Heang for years, and has been lucky enough to enjoy these cookies regularly. Friends constantly request these delicious, chewy, buttery, little flavor bombs, and sometimes Cait isn’t allowed to show up to parties without them. The cookies have been used to barter for favors more than once, and fair warning, they are highly addictive. prep

02---Dreamy-Walnuts

All good things start with butter, and these are really good. There is nothing diet-friendly in here, and no one is sorry. They do come in two sizes, so if you need just a few bites of heaven, get the smaller size. If you had a bad day, an especially good day, or you did something that counts as exercise, go for the big ones, you deserve it.

Because the business is just taking off, there are three types of cookies offered, for now:

  • Chocolate Chip
  • Chocolate Chip + Walnut
  • Walnut + Almond

Small size: $1 per cookie 

Large size: $1.5o per cookie

The minimum order is ten cookies (don’t worry, they freeze well), and Heang will deliver them to your home or office. Orders for cookies need to be placed at least 24 hours in advance, by calling Heang at 092 958 395. Delivery is $1.

10---Little-Dough-Balls-b

12---Morsels-of-Goodness

13---Piggy-and-Cookies

Mama Heang’s Facebook page just went live, and it would serve you well to “like” and follow along. She will be posting photos, new cookies flavors, and holiday specials. After all, cookie news is the most important news.


 

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Do not lick your computer screen, that’s gross.


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Guest Post / Alissa’s Phnom Penh Bucket List

Today’s post is from Alissa, who really needs no introduction on this site. She has just moved to London at the heartbreak of Phnom Penh, but made sure to do it justice before she left. 


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Last week, after four incredible years in Cambodia, I packed up my life into a few suitcases and moved to London. Living in places that are not your home, you come to build a home in the people around you. True to this quote, in the time leading up to my departure, I began to reflect a lot on how lucky I was to have had this period of time, in this place, and with these people. In order to celebrate all of these things (and to distract myself from The Feels), I created a bucket list of things to do in Phnom Penh, and asked my friends to share these experiences with me as a final goodbye. The result was beyond what I could have ever hoped for: I got to spend my final weeks enjoying the city to its fullest with my favorite people.

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While some items on the list were particularly memorable (ECCC trial, Killing Fields), restorative (meditation at Wat Langka), riotous (laser tag and ping-pong), or delicious (can anyone courier that Korean fried chicken to London?), I think my favorite part was how enthusiastically devoted to the cause friends became. A tremendous thanks to you all for making a goodbye as fun as possible!

Alissa-Grid---5-11-12

For anyone who is leaving a place, I recommend the Bucket List Method as a way to process the move. I also highly recommend all of the items below for those living in or traveling through the charming city of Phnom Penh (with the exception of watching a movie in 4D, which was like getting a massage from a robot). listy-2Alissa-Grid---13-15-17


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C / alissa’s werk dress

alissa-header

I hate business casual. I actually think its one of the things that makes life worse for all people because it’s like “be professional, but not too professional but you CANNOT wear the things you love, and basically its only ok if it’s those horrible black scratchy pants.” Clearly, I have a lot of feelings on this very important matter. So when Alissa presented me with some extremely lovely Cambodian fabric and asked for a work dress, I felt the need to make it not-horrible. This piece was actually conceived way back in March, here, and Tiff took some very pretty photos of Alissa at Nuk last week.

02---Alissa-By-the-Window

I have said it before, but it’s really easy to make a dress look good on a gorgeous girl like Alissa. Since she is leaving us/starting her PhD program in London (woohoo good choice!) in a few weeks, this will be our last shoot with her for a while. Unless one of us moves to London, which I’m not saying is going to happen, but I’m just saying that it could, because how fun is London? SO fun. Anyway, here’s Alissa looking sassy as hell in her werk dress.

06---Alissa-Looking-Down

05---Alissa-Back

08---Alissa-Reclining

caitsig


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

 


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C + T / The Lemon Tree

The-Lemon-Tree-HeaderPhillpe and Emeline met in Vanuatu a few years back. They were both working with NGOs and development agencies, dabbled in the private sector, and it was really only a matter of time before they made their way to Phnom Penh. They arrived just under three years ago, and we are so glad they did.

The initial goal was to create a place with homemade pasta, using local ingredients. Both have French backgrounds, and miss the food from home. They wanted to make a warm, friendly place for people to grab a healthy, and delicious, lunch, packaged in eco-friendly biodegradable containers. The Lemon Tree has a small, get menu, tacked high with French favorites, and as far as we can tell, they have blown past their initial goal.

Lemon-Tree-Menu,-Philippe-and-Emeline

The restaurant has only opened it’s doors recently, but we were lucky to use the space for our photo shoot a few months ago and check out the operation, and now we come back regularly. They are doing well, but not without a bit of a struggle from the neighborhood. Apparently, to some people, “quiet cafe that closes at 10pm” is the same as “all night sexy rave parties drugs and music and fornication and sin.” They are back on track now after managing some particularly feisty neighbors.

These two really care about their food, bringing in locally cured meats, organic fruit and veg, and importing all of their (delicious) dairy products from small vendors. They care immensely about the quality of the food and the atmosphere where it is eaten. They wax poetic about the complexities involved in making a quiche or the labor of love that goes into a duck confit or cassoulet.

The neighborhood community is supportive and encouraging of new businesses and new kids on the block. (The people, not the band; no one is encouraging of that.) The 308 Alley community is hip and delicious, making great company for this sweet little spot. The friendly crew down the road at Chez Flo often sends happy hour patrons to the Lemon Tree for dinner, and the love is sent right back.

Lemon-Tree---Food-Grid

Bar-and-Bloody-Kiki

The front garden of the traditional wooden house (that serves as both their home and the restaurant) is scattered with tables and chairs and plants and jungle bits right in the middle of town. A majority of the furniture in the place is from a local artist who works with reclaimed wood. The Lemon Tree is located on 308, just down the road from Mama Wongs and Chez Flo, and they put in a lot of hours to make the place look and feel as cozy as it is. After striking out with a few contractors, they enlisted the help of their visiting guests and went to work to create a beautiful and unique space. Five months later, things are running smoothly.

Though both have a vested interest in development and have worked in the field, the restaurant is not a training cafe, like many are in town. This is a place that works hard to employ good people and help develop their skills, and it is not charity. The restaurant brings in a variety of customers including the expat community that huddles around 308, but also the burgeoning community of young local professionals. During our interview, they mentioned more than once how impressed they were with their local staff and how have been lucky to have a great team full of young Cambodians, eager to learn and share knowledge.

And now, very important facts.

Restaurant family favorites: Duck confit and the quiche

Most popular menu items: La Plancha, Flammkuche, and a goat cheese and bacon salad.

Things to come: The team will be taking on brunch, bringing in new pasta recipes and trying their hand at falafel. Emeline will also be bringing some favourites from her mother’s home of the Reunion Islands.  Can’t wait.05---In-the-Kitchen

The Lemon Tree is located at #8b, Street 308 in Phnom Penh Cambodia. Look for the twinkle lights as you pass street 21. 


Photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.