Monday, August 6, 2012

Delicious Homemade Scones à la Julia Child

These are the easiest and yummiest scones ever and I just had to share. They are a Julia Child recipe and once you try these you will never go back to store bought again! They are super easy to make and quick too.

Here is the recipe and I'll type it out below as well...

Buttermilk Scones

Makes 12 Triangular or 24 Rolled Scones

3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon zest

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted for brushing
1/4 cup sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 425° F

In a medium bowl stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together with a fork. Add the cold butter pieces and using your fingertips (first choice) a pastry blender, or two knives work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. It's okay if some largish pieces of butter remain-they'll add to the sconces' flakiness.
Pour in 1 cup buttermilk, toss in the zest, and mix with the fork only until the ingredients are just moistened. You'll have a soft dough with a rough look. (If the dough looks dry, add another tbsp of buttermilk) Gather the dough into a ball, pressing it gently so that it holds together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead it very briefly-a dozen turns should do it. Cut the dough in half...

In the picture above Julia describes the way that she does it but I rolled it out to a thickness of about 1/2 an inch and then used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut them into hearts. Put them on a ungreased cookie sheet, brush with the butter and bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes until tops are lightly golden. Transfer the scones to a rack to cool slightly. There are best served warm but are fine at room temperature.

before baking

after baking

I served them with butter, jam, fresh fruit, yogurt and strong hot coffee. Yummy!!!!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sheer perfection in the Maldives!

I feel so bad that it's taken me this long to get around to writing this post! I've been so crazy busy with my business Principessa and building our fifth and final dream house! I have a new found respect for bloggers as sometimes it's just so difficult to find the time to do it? I obviously suck at it but I'm okay with that!

Our trip to Jumeirah Dhevanafushi  last year was probably the most incredible vacation we will ever have the pleasure of going on! Whoever said that money can't buy happiness has obviously not been here... :)

There are simply no words or pictures that can do justice to this resort. It's luxury to the power of ten!! This was our 3rd trip to the Maldives and we have loved every single resort we have been to which are Shangri La, One & Only, Alila, Huvafen Fushi & Six Senses Lamuu. I'm always astonished when I find people able to find anything wrong with any of these places. They are all perfect and some are just more perfect than others.

My hubby and I are always in search of the perfect resort/destination and I have to say we found it at Dhevanafushi. This place has it all! Best location, service, food, spa, villas. They didn't miss a thing here. Like all resorts in the Maldives they pick you up at the airport to transport you to the resort. The yacht was the nicest one we have been on yet and you get fresh towels and water for the voyage.
We weren't sure what to expect as we knew we had been upgraded to their brand new ocean pearls water villas. The main Island is beautiful and quite small and then the ocean pearls are 5 minute speed boat away with their own restaurant, infinity pool etc. It's not an Island; it's are just a cluster of ridiculously amazing villas and amenities suspended above the Indian Ocean.
Here is our welcome when we go to the main Island where we dropped off some guests...

This is some of the team that treated us literally like kings and queens. In fact, one of the only other guests at the Ocean Pearls while we were there was a Royal Family, I think from the Kingdom of Bahrain? However, when we first got there we had the whole place to ourselves it seemed? We were the only ones at the restaurant and infinity pool and after Roger & Ajung spoiled us rotten we moved the party to the infinity pool. Roger made us the most amazing Margaritas I have ever had, they plugged in our ipod and we had our own private pool party. Completely amazing!! They were so awesome and accommodating!
Lounge chairs on the tanning shelf of the infinity pool
lounger sunken into pool
The food was absolutely incredible. When we first arrived the menu was a little confusing and limited but they had just opened so I'm sure they have perfected it by now. They allowed us to order from the room menu that was much more expansive and it was absolutely perfect. No request was denied and all the food was some of the best we have ever had and we are huge foodies! One time over on the main Island we went for dinner at the restaurant there and had amazing seafood ravioli & incredible risotto. We asked the Chef at the Ocean Pearls restaurant if he could do it because it wasn't on the menu. He didn't have the ingredients but said he would do it for us the next day. The next day at lunch they couldn't wait to show us what they had done and it was out of the world. Even better than the other restaurant and custom made just for us. Thank you Chef!! xoxo

We did yoga every morning, sometimes the yoga instructor would take the speed boat over and we would do it by the infinity pool. One morning there was a beautiful rainbow over the Indian Ocean in front of us and it was hard to believe we weren't in heaven! Most mornings we took the speed boat over to the main island and did it in the yoga pavilion which was completely surreal!! Check it out below!! If this isn't the best way to start out your day in paradise I don't know what is?

We are also spa junkies :) The spa at Dhevanafushi was one of the most surreal, zen, beautiful spas I have seen anywhere in the world. To top it off my masseuse Ari had the most magic hands on the planet. I truly thought I'd died and gone to heaven! It had huge vaulted ceilings and tons of floor to ceiling windows. They slide open and you can listen to the sounds of the Ocean during your treatment. I simply can't imagine anything better...

Individual spa villas

The gym was equally amazing! It's a beautiful white building on stilts suspended above the ocean with high ceilings lots of glass and top notch equipment.

I was on the treadmill and my hubby was on the elliptical and he spotted a turtle right out front! I never would have seen it and it was the 3rd turtle he spotted on the trip (the other two we swam with!!!) so I started calling him the turtle whisperer. Below is the view from the treadmill.

Speaking of swimming with turtles we were lucky enough to get to do so twice on this trip! It's always been a huge dream of mine and has always eluded us. I was so happy as they are incredibly beautiful and so cool. They were so close we could touch them and we got to swim with them for quite a while.

One morning we were walking along the dock to breaky our friend spotted an octopus in the water. I have no idea how he spotted it because it had camouflaged itself. Had to share this video!

The villas were among the most beautiful we have ever experienced. I think they are approximately 3,000 square feet and luxuriously appointed. Perched above the Indian Ocean with your own private infinity pool, living room, dining room, two bathrooms, outdoor soaking tub and massive bedroom with huge vaulted ceilings and the largest bed I have ever seen in my life! I even got out my pink measuring tape (building a house I'm never without it) and measured the bed. It was 10 feet wide!! At night they close the curtains around the canopy and it's so romantic and the ultimate sleeping experience ever. There is a view of the ocean and infinity pool from the bed as well!

View from Bed
Villa entrance
Outdoor tub at night glowing with rose petals in it.

The resort is stunningly beautiful it's hard to fathom such a beautiful place exists on earth but it does! Here are a few photos from around the Island...

amazing bar on the beach

Infinity pool on main island

infinity pool at ocean pearls with main island in background

entrance to restaurant on main island

As I previously mentioned words and pictures really don't do this spectacular place justice (especially mine) but I did just find this link that has much better pictures than I took. So gorgeous you have to check it out!!

This place was over the top amazing and the people were so incredible they just made the experience that much more perfect. This is one of the few places that I have actually shed tears when I had to leave. :)

Well done Jumeirah!

P.S. I would be totally remiss not to mention quite possibly the best travel agent ever! Lindsey from Linara travel is amazing! We have booked the Maldives through him the last three trips. He is an expert in the area and has won many awards such as top travel specialist by Conde Nast etc. We don't usually use a travel agent but I wouldn't dream of going there without Lindsey's assistance. In fact we are starting to use him for other trips now too and he just helped me with a hotel in Delhi and is booking our upcoming Bali trip too! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Absolute Heaven on Earth!


1: a remote beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection : utopia

2: a distant, idyllic & secluded hideaway of great beauty and peacefulness.

Shangri La in the Maldives sure lives up to the description! If there is a more beautiful place on earth someone please tell me where it is!

We recently spent our second week in the Maldives at the Shangri La. While we really loved our first week at Alila it just can't compare to the Shangri La as it's honestly one of the most incredible spots we've ever been fortunate enough to visit. We went last year for my husbands 50th and loved the Maldives so much we ended up coming back.

We went to Shangri La last year and were among the first guests at the hotel for it's opening week. At the time it was almost flawless with just a few slight imperfections that quite honestly we expected being the first week and all. They told us to come back in a year and see how they could improve things to perfection. So we did :)

After leaving the first resort we saw many other couples going to other resorts that we hadn't visited yet and were lamenting and wondering if we should have tried something different as we rarely go back to the same spot twice. (too many resorts, too little time) All of those worries went away as we stepped off the jetty and were greeted by the friendly smiling faces of Jens the Manager, Raja & Barbara who we had met last year and were wonderful!! They welcomed us back and we felt like we had come home! They very generously offered to upgrade us to a tree house suite and it was completely amazing!! The villas and rooms at Shangri La are among the nicest we have ever seen anywhere!

Above is a video of our to die for treehouse with views of the amazing Indian Ocean and the sound of crashing waves on the beach. Sheer unadulterated bliss :)

private pool with tanning shelf...

Our villa host Iman was completely amazing and catered to our every whim all week long. I can't say enough about him and all the staff at the resort. Many remembered us from the previous year and we just felt very special and pampered all week long. They even gave us a cell phone to call Iman anytime we needed anything from anywhere on the Island.

Iman and Raja picking us up at our water villa to take us to the spa...

The spa was out of this world! My husband couldn't stop raving about his massage and my treatment was incredible as well. I did a yoga session in the morning in the beautful air conditioned yoga pavillion overlooking the ocean and the treatment in the afternoon. I've never been so relaxed and felt so peaceful and tranquil.

As much as we loved the tree house villa we wanted the chance to experience the overwater villas too and moved to one for the last two days of the stay. It was completely amazing as well.

They are on the lagoon side of the Island so you have the incredible turquoise waters and sunsets every night. Also, there is a wonderful day bed under a covered patio where we loved spending time day and night.

Sunsets from our deck in the overwater villa were stunningly gorgeous!

Each villa has it's own bikes and definitely part of the charm is riding them to breakfast, the spa or gym but you can also take buggies if you prefer. The buggies were everywhere and even waiting outside the restaurants when you leave like taxis in case you didn't want to walk or ride your bikes.

Hitchhiker on my bike after breaky :)

Last year when we went, I went on the Dolphin Cruise and it was one of the most amazing experiences ever. Completely beautiful and surreal as hundreds of dolphins swam with our boat the entire time. They were so incredible and words can't describe it. They are spinner dolphins so they jump out of the water a lot and spin in the air. They love swimming with the boat and playing in the waves. My only regret was that my husband had missed it, so of course this year I was dying to go again and have him see it for himself.

The weather wasn't great as it was quite windy so it got postponed a couple of times. Then when we finally went they really couldn't guarantee that we would see them which is understandable and obviously not something you can control. After about 1/2 hour of searching for them I was so disappointed as we didn't see any and last time they had already been swimming with the boat for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Then, we saw one jump so we headed in that direction and bingo, dolphins everywhere!! It was so beautiful and we got so lucky as there were hundreds again and they stayed with our boat the whole time until we finally had to go back...

Some videos of them jumping, spinning and swimming with the boat.

Everything about this resort is completely top notch and the food is no exception. Chef was so nice and we managed to get a few recipes from him too to add to our repetoire plus some extra couple of pounds to take home as well :) I think half my pictures from this resort are of food! Thank goodness for the amazing gym or we would have been even larger when we left.

We found another perfect spot to watch sunsets in front of the bar on the beach. 

. I honestly can't think of one bad thing to say about this place as no detail has been overlooked and although we very rarely go to the same place twice we were so glad we went back here and would even consider going a third time as well!! If we thought this place was flawless the first time it's now a well oiled machine. If heaven is better than this then boy are we in for a treat! :)