In a season for giving and sharing, of stocking the freezer and checking the lights, these are moments to treasure – special moments to share in twinship with the special one.

We are at home this Christmas time, after many Christmas spent far away from home – away from its relentless commercialisation.
We all have our favourite things about Christmas. Our Christmas tree and the little electric lights were brought out for the ritual of decorating it with enormous pleasure by me, born in Germany where the tradition of decorating a tree for Christmas is thought to have originated.
Our Christmas crib in the magical glow of little lights and graced by three large satin angels (courtesy of my mother) is my husband Jo’s creation. It contains mainly figures from Bangkok with additions acquired by us from various parts of Europe including England.
A red tablecloth, embroidered by my mother, covered our dining table – its centrepiece, a beautiful floral arrangement in a crystal container. Two stars, white and silver, were hung on two locations. We love this time. It can be magical – of Peace, Hope and Love.

Love can give us a fairy tale – all the sweets of life…. It is said “Love is only a word until we find the person who gives it a sense”. We would not disagree on that…
We wish all of you more happiness and good health to light up this Festive and Family time of the year. – Carina
Some more Christmas scenes from our house:

(Photos: © Joseph Sebastine/Manningtree Archive)

Happy Easter …..

…. From Bangkok, to all my blogging friends wherever you are in the world.
Paschal Lamb . as seen in Florence/Italy
The blessed palm leaf (from the Assumption Cathedral, Bangkok)
White stone egg from Burma (can you make out the carved details on it?)
White KPM Rabbit with Quails eggs in our house
China Easter eggs on display in Florence/Italy
Easter bunny in our house – what a load to carry


(© Photos: Carina-Joseph Sebastine/Manningtree Archive)

Sawatdi pi Mai ….

…. This is the traditional greeting in Thai for “Happy New Year”.

Today is the second day of Songkran (to read all about this festival go to Jo’s own website http://manningtreearchive.com/2014/04/14/songkran-the-spirit-of-the-moment/) which we spent largely at the Worldtrade Center. After some shopping, a relaxing footmassage and a light lunch, we went outside to watch the merryment and good-natured waterfights of hundreds of people, getting splashed with water occasionally as well.

What a nice fun day this was.

(© All photos: Carina-Joseph Sebastine/Manningtree Archive)


It is a very enjoyable time to be back in Bangkok right now. With the Thai New Year starting tomorrow and Songkran (The Water Festival) as well, the country is geared for a few days of festivities. We too joined some of our friends in the celebrations with a most sumptuous lunch at the famous “Lord Jim’s’ Restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Hotel. More about this in my next post.

Returning back to our home-from-home The Atrium Bangkok Hotel, we walked into our suite adorned with beautiful pink and white roses – courtesy “of the Management” Thank you, Khun Miguel.


(Photos: Manningtree Archive)

Risotto Primavera alla Cipriani

-Cipriani’s Spring Risotto-

With many of you starting to send out posts about the first signs of spring, which I sadly cannot do since I live in a tropical climate, I like to take you with me instead on a short journey ‘down memory lane’ to the beautiful city of Venice.


One of the domes of the Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Many many years ago a number of our international friends and I had a very noisy, and I confess, slightly boozy, but, oh so enjoyable Lunch at the world famous Harry’s Bar in Venice.


…..preparing our Bellinis

In fact it was one of those wonderful impromptu get-togethers one really cannot organise – they just happen!! And certainly nobody wants them to end quickly.


(Andrea outside Harry’s Bar)

The original plan that day was for all of us to meet at “Harry’s”, have refreshments and take Cipriani’s own boat out to the Island of Torcello to their beautiful and romantic Locanda – one of those wonderful little honeymoon locations , where we all were going to have lunch. But, one way or the other, we never made it to Torcello that day but remained in Venice until closing time! I of course now cannot, by the best will in the world, remember what each and everyone had ordered that day, except I do remember, that I had “Risotto primavera” (Spring Risotto) making use of many of the vegetables grown near the Locanda on Torcello. This dish was created and recommended to me by Arrigo Cipriani himself – so how could I refuse? It was a dish so divine, that I never, with all my travels around the world, have forgotten the smell and taste of this exceptional Risotto. He very kindly gave me permission to use this recipe in my own blog or book. And before I forget let me tell you – this dish is really very easy to prepare, so do not be put off by the length of the ingredients list. I hope that you enjoy this risotto as much as I did then and in fact once again only two days ago when I tried to recreate this for my post here.

For: 6
For the spring vegetables you need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
250 g of shiitake mushrooms; thinly sliced (I used button mushrooms)
3 small artichokes, thinly sliced (were not available)
1 tsp onion, finely chopped
4 small zucchini, diced (I used green ones)
12 asparagus spears cut into short lengths
1 large slice of red capsicum, cut into pieces
1 small leek, white part only, cut into short lengths
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Risotto you need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
150 g risotto rice (I used Arborio)
1.5 l chicken stock
40 g butter
3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Salt and pepper


To prepare the vegetables: heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then remove it from the pan and discard. Add the artichokes and cook for 8-10 minutes, then add the onion and cook for a further 2 minutes. Finally, add the Zucchinis (courgettes), asparagus, red pepper and leek, increase the heat to high and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.


To prepare the Risotto: heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes. Stirring the rice, lower the heat, add about 120 ml of the stock and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Gradually add more stock as each addition is absorbed. After about 15 minutes, when the risotto is half-cooked, add the vegetables and continue to cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the rice is tender and creamy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For a softer risotto stir in a few more tablespoons of stock.
Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

And the next time Jo and I are in Venice, maybe we find the time to once again enjoy Cipriani’s splendid hospitality.

Ciao Carina

Delicious Bangkok fare

Sa wàt dee kâ – Sa wàt dee kráp

Today I like to start posting some of the recipes which I enjoyed at the ATRIUM Hotel during our recent stay in Bangkok. This is a delicious BBQ often served in the evening by the Pool when the heat of the day has gone.

I find a cold Thai Beer is just the right ‘nectar’ to go with Executive Chef Kenneth Murphy’s Pork.

½ Pound Pork Tenderloin, shoulder or butt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
2 Tbsp Rice wine or dry Sherry
A few drops of red food colouring (optional)
2 Tbsp Tomato Ketchup
1 ½ Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
Some liquid honey
½ – 1 tsp of five-spice powder

Cut pork into strips approximately 2 inches wide and 5 inches long.

Peel garlic and mash it with a mortar and pestle or with a fork.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice wine or sherry, oyster sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, liquid honey, brown sugar, mashed garlic and five-spice powder. If using the red food coloring, add it now.

Place the pork in a shallow 9 X 13-inch glass baking dish. Pour the marinade over. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 hours. Remove the pork from the dish. Reserve the marinade.

Preheat the oven (425 degrees Fahrenheit for pork tenderloin, 350 degrees for shoulder or butt). Fill a shallow roasting pan with 1/2-inch of water and place in the bottom of the oven.
Place the pork on a rack above the water. Roast until golden brown, brushing 2 or 3 times with the reserved marinade (about 30 minutes total roasting time for the tenderloin, 45 minutes total roasting time for the shoulder or butt). The internal temperature of the pork should be 160 degrees F.

Remove, cool and enjoy.


(Beer-Photograph thanks to Wikipedia
BBQ Pork Photograph: Manningtreearchive)