CAFFEINE CRAZY

coffee-addictionI will be the first person to admit I love coffee – the taste, the smell and the ritual of drinking it with friends or while working. Whether it is good or bad for you, everyone has their vices and I figure mine could be worse.

Thank heavens I am not the only one who has an obsession with this black liquid . A recent survey (by Career Builder) showed that 46% of full-time workers are less productive without coffee, and I will chime in and say I am a nicer person once I have had one in the morning!

So who are all these people at work drinking coffee? Topping the list of coffee consuming professions are –

Scientists/Lab Technicianslet’s hope all that caffeine doesn’t impact their lab results, instead it inspires them to solve the world’s problems
Marketing/PR Professionalit is in the job description!
Education Administratorit has to be to relieve the boredom of the job
Editor/Writer think Newsroom and working 20 hours a day
Healthcare Administratoragain…. boring reports
Physiciansee it can’t be that bad if Doctors are drinking it

So where are all these caffeine addicts. You may be surprised to know they aren’t in the US or Australia, but are in Northern Europe.

The top 5 coffee drinking nations (per capita) are – Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and the Netherlands.

So while you are sipping on your coffee reading this, know that you are drinking one of the 500 billion cups of coffee consumed each year!

OLD SCHOOL WEIGHT LOSS

Fitness-Iq-LLC-Shake-Weight_wide
Unfortunately I was not be born with a model’s body, so I have to exercise to counteract my food and wine consumption. And being an avid outdoor exerciser, I always have a giggle to myself when walking past a gym and noticing people reading a magazine or book while they are on a treadmill – I mean seriously is the speed set on 0.5 to be able to do that?

But what is even more amusing is hearing about the latest fitness fad, only to see swarms of people who jump on board believing they can get fit and lose weight by expending no energy at all and still be able to eat McDonalds for lunch (trust me if one really existed I would be all over it!)

So what are the most ridiculous fitness inventions? Here are my top 5 –

1.The Thigh Master
Let’s start old school 1980’s with one of the original fitness “machines” sold on late night television. There wasn’t a lot of thighs mastered and the inventor, Joshua Reynolds, was also behind the Mood Ring, if you weren’t already sceptical!

2.Toning Shoes
Any sporting item promoted and endorsed by Kim Kardashian (the least sporty person on the planet) should be sounding alarm bells! Both the Reebok and Skechers brand have been proven to give zero toning ability.

3.Balance Bands
I really wish I had invented these. With zero “balance” powers (the placebos work exactly the same) millions of people have forked out $29.99 to try and improve strength and balance by via of a rubber bracelet!

4.The Face Trainer
Just in case you wanted to tighten 44 muscles on your face and look like Hanibal Lector while you do it – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hhZR8CS7cgA

5.The Shake Weight
Ohhh my favourite. With more than 4 million units sold, I am hoping that most of these are for spoof presents. A 2.5 pound spring-loaded dumbbell which works by mimicking an action that should be kept for the bedroom!

Unfortunately we know the ugly truth is that it takes plain hard work, dedication and some self-control or discipline in the eating and drinking department, which is not much fun.

What is the craziest fitness fad you have tried?

POP THE CORK!

champAfter a wonderful afternoon of champagne, lobster and even better conversation yesterday, I was asked why I had never featured such an important topic as Sunday brunch on WTF. After all, in some countries (most located in Asia) it is now an institution.

What constitutes a good one? In my mind quality – food, champagne, service and ambience.

So here it is… the world’s best Sunday champagne brunches (according to me and in no particular order)

Singapore
New comers to the island are generally surprised to learn of a great Sunday tradition – hotel brunches. Free flow French champagne, a buffet of lobsters, Wagu steak, amazing cheese platters and a chocolate fountain are stock standard at most of them. And don’t be afraid to bring the kids as the good brunches have an amazing Kid’s Room filled with jumping castles, face painting, special children’s menus and arts and crafts.
WTF Picks – The Four Seasons and Shangri-La (both amazing with kids), Grand Hyatt and St Regis (for adults)

Hong Kong
Not quite to the extent of Singapore, but there is still a good brunch to be found.
WTF Picks – The Ritz Carlton Kowloon for a view, Mandarin Oriental for old school style, Zuma for free-flow extended hours

Dubai
Brunch is held on a Friday in Dubai (Sunday is a weekday for anyone who lives in the UAE) and they do them bigger and better than almost anywhere in the world! But just remember to observe the local laws and don’t get too crazy once you leave the safety net of the hotel as others have been known to end up behind prison bars after too many drinks!
WTF Picks – Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah for over the top madness (a map is supplied when you are seated!), Spectrum On One Fairmont for a party, Planet Hollywood for families

New York
Not so much focused on the free flow of lobster and French champagne, NYC brunches are better known for serving Mimosas or Bloody Marys alongside your eggs benedict… and there is nothing wrong with that approach either.
WTF Picks – The Standard Hotel for fun and funky (loved this first-hand on Christmas Day), The Plaza Hotel for old school, Brasserie Beaumarchais to be seen

Shanghai
China has quickly followed their Asian neighbours and embraced the art of Sunday champagne brunches.
WTF Picks – The Westin has something for the whole family and the Hyatt and Shangri-La for style and service

Of course a brunch experience is always influenced by the company too, so choose your guests carefully!

Where do you think the best champagne brunch is?

OUTSOURCE ME!

Child-cleaningI am the first person to admit I am a HUGE advocate of outsourcing whatever I can.

I have been known to be somewhat of a control freak (I can hear my family screaming yes at this point!) but over the years I have managed to let go of the need to make sure everything is 100% perfect and give way to someone else having a go at it.

The fact is, we have been outsourcing personal tasks forever, it just didn’t have a label.

When I was growing up it was called working for your pocket money. And if you have ever had the opportunity to have a personal assistant I would put money on the fact that they have carried out some “non-business related” outsourcing task for you at some point, whether it be booking personal travel or paying a phone bill.

Generally the most popular tasks to outsource are – housecleaning, laundry and ironing, grocery shopping, dog walking (not sure what the point is having a dog if you don’t have time to take it outside), car washing and good old lawn mowing. But more and more people are slowly trusting others to pay their bills, or to buy a gift for their loved one.

So how do you get on-board the express train to “easy life”?

The 4 Hour Workweek is really the original how-to guide for ideas on better managing your personal tasks

But if you want to jump straight in you can try some of the following sites (sadly these are not available in all countries).

My favourite one – www.fiverr.com
Basically a list of offerings from people who will do “X” for $5. There are real some gems on offer!

www.taskrabbit.com
One of the better known (and tested) sites

www.elance.com
A great resource for small business with everything from logo design to building your website

www.fancyhands.com
For $25 a month your personal admin issues are solved

Now all this free time now means more time to relax. I am off to order a bottle of wine online that will be delivered chilled to my door in under an hour… now that is service!

PARTY OF 1

como1Last week I treated myself and headed off to Bali for 5 days of cleansing, yoga, walks and massages. I left family and friends at home, and went on this adventure solo on the promise that I would come back a nicer person. And the result…. I feel amazing.

I am used to travelling so much for business on my own I had no issue eating (or in my case drinking juices and soup) by myself, exploring the amazing local rainforest as a party of one, or just reading by the pool. I actually like my own company, well for 5 days at least.

I realise it is a luxury to be able to do this from both a time and money point of view, but if you can afford both, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

So where are the best places to go to have a fabulous healthy experience? Here are my top 5.

Como Shambhala Estate, Bali
This is where I spent last week. My visits to Bali are well and truly in the double digits and I have to vote Como Shambhala as the most special place I have stayed on the island, and certainly one of the best places in Asia I have visited (big wraps I know!). If you want to detox in luxury, this is the place to do it no question. But if detoxing is too hard core, don’t worry, as most guests were just there to enjoy all the wonderful amenities, fresh food and out of this world service. It is a place where “everyone knows your name”, as all the staff know who you are and the only thing I was asked to sign was the final bill.
http://www.comohotels.com/comoshambhalaestate

Chiva Som, Hua Hin
A two hour drive from Bangkok, Chiva Som is consistently voted as one of the best health resorts around. It lets you combine being pampered with embarking on changing a part of your life be it diet, fitness, stress or too much partying. It is located on the beach, as opposed to being in a remote location, so if you do want to escape you always have the option to go into the local town.
http://www.chivasom.com

Rancho La Puerta, Mexico
Started in 1940, this property is one of the original destination spas. Rancho La Puerta offers everything from mountain hikes, pilates, dream interpretation to make you sleep better, through to a cooking school using produce from its own organic farm.
http://www.rancholapuerta.com

Longevity Wellness Resort, Portugal
An eco-friendly resort located it Algarve, it provides spectacular views of the sea and mountains. On offer is state of the art detox treatments, fitness facilities that would rival the best gyms and Turkish baths to recover in. There are even medical “treatments” for people who want more than a facial peel.
http://www.longevitywellnessresort.com

The Farm at San Benito, Philippines
A holistic sanctuary that aims to rejuvenate through detoxification, working towards healing the body of any illnesses or problems. Set in the heart of the Philippine jungle it certainly still holds a luxury title as you can choose to have your massage in your poolside villa or on a secret garden terrace. The Farm is also one of the few health retreats that has a children’s program which includes arts and crafts, cooking lessons and forest walks.
http://www.thefarm.com.ph

So to answer the original question… am I a nicer person? Impossible to be some would say, but I think yes!

FRIES WITH THAT ORDER?

burgerTwo all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!

Aghhh the Big Mac… but over the past few years stock standard fast food has now become a staple menu item in some of the best restaurants around the world. No longer is McDonalds or Burger King the only choice for burgers, as no matter where you live in the world, there is always a good chance you will find a “fancy hamburger” somewhere in that city. And no, Chilli’s or Applebees do not count as fancy!

So where are the most expensive burgers to be found? And I am not including room service burgers in hotels (always over-priced) and the one off Guinness Book of World Records (does the book even still exist??) entries.

Coming in at number one is the FleurBurger 5000 (at Fleur de Lys in Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas) and it will set you back $5,000. Foie gras, a special truffle sauce, it is served on a brioche truffle bun with black truffles on the side. But the price is hiked due to the bottle of Chateau Petrus 1990 it comes with.

Le Burger Brasserie (Paris) in Las Vegas is number two with a $777 Kobe Beef and Maine Lobster Burger, caramelised onions, imported brie cheese, prosciutto and 100-year aged balsamic vinegar. The burger is served with a bottle of Rose Dom Perignon champagne.

New York City delivers the $666 Douche Burger – a foie gras-stuffed burger topped with lobster, truffles, caviar, Gruyere that’s been melted with champagne steam, a barbecue sauce made with coffee beans that have been digested (and pooped out) by an Asian palm civet and served in a gold-leaf wrapper. Yes only the most pretentious would eat this.

The $295 Serendipity Burger from New York’s Serendipity 3 restaurant comes with its very own diamond-encrusted solid gold toothpick.

London’s One Burger King restaurant offers a $200 Wagyu beef, white truffles, Pata Negra ham slices, Cristal onion straws burger in an Iranian saffron and white truffle dusted bun.

The $175 Richard Nouveau Burger( the Wall Street Burger Shoppe in New York) was topped with real gold flakes, 25 grams of black truffles, a seared slab of foie gras and aged Gruyere. And I say “was” ad unfortunately the store closed when banking wages plummeted.

The $120 DB Royale Double Truffle Burger, on sale at New York’s B Bistro and the Daniel Boulud Brasserie in Las Vegas, is stuffed with red wine-braised short ribs – off the bone – foie gras, a mix of root vegetables and preserved black truffle.

Indonesia’s Million Rupiah Hamburger, served at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jakarta, earns its place in the top ten with the $108 patty topped with foie gras, portobello mushrooms and Korean pears.

The W Hotel in Seoul serves up a $160 burger that’s topped with seared foie gras, a lobster tail and shaved black truffles.

Oh, and don’t count on getting fries with any of those, that is extra!

Where have you had your most expensive burger experience?

HAPPY NEW YEAR… AGAIN!

snakeAbout 6 weeks too late you say! Well this isn’t the case for over a billion and a half of the world’s population as Chinese New Year is celebrated this weekend to welcome in the Year of the Snake.

So where are the best places to experience this celebration? Of course China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and more recently in the Philippines and Indonesia. And there are plenty of places outside of Asia too – a Sydney claims to have one of the largest celebrations and you can also try LA, San Francisco, NYC, Boston, Toronto and London. For the more obscure locations Mauritius and Butte, Montana also host parades.

And instead of nursing a hangover on New Year’s Day post-partying, you should consider doing the following to ensure a successful year ahead.

- On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to go out.
- All debts have to paid by this time. Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who does so will be lending all the year.
- Everyone should refrain from using foul language and bad or unlucky words. Death and dying are never mentioned and ghost stories are totally taboo. References to the past year are also avoided as everything should be turned toward the New Year and a new beginning.
- If you cry on New Year’s day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, no matter what..
- Wear red… as it is considered a bright, happy color, sure to bring the wearer a sunny and bright future.
- Do not wash your hair because it would mean you would have washed away good luck for the New Year.
- Do not use knives or scissors on New Year’s Day as this may cut off fortune.

So don’t be surprised next week when anyone in Asia doesn’t respond to your email… we are all out setting off firecrackers and eating!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!