La Serenissima – Docking in Venice

The Grand Canal in Venice
The Grand Canal in Venice

Although Submerged by Crowds, At Least There Are No Gondola Traffic Jams in Venice


by André Gayot


The Riviera, the latest heir to the family of the Oceania Cruises fleet, lazily fondles the banks of the Lido. It is a chubby newborn, weighing in at 66,084 tons, that can host 1,250 guests in lavish luxury. From the upper deck, one can glance a mirage becoming real: the 117 islets, the 177 canals and the 400 bridges of Venice, the home of Marco Polo. The rising sun ignites the roofs of the palaces and brushes with a touch of silver the dark green lap of the canals. As we get closer, so appears the marvel, the crown of “La Serenissima” (The Serene, as the Republic of Venice was dubbed) — the Piazza San Marco and its two gems, the San Marco Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace. From this height upon the 15th deck, the panoramic view is sublime, unforgettable. The boat, almost still, lingers, leaving our eyes and minds the time to record the beauty of Venice. Then it turns cautiously to the left into the Canale della Giudecca to the terminal. Of the many pleasures on board the Riviera, this extraordinary moment alone could serve as the raison d’être of the voyage.

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Molecular Gastronomy and the Future of Food

Aerated foie gras, pickled beet, mashed plum, brioche at wd-50 restaurant in New York
Aerated foie gras, pickled beet, mashed plum, brioche at wd-50 restaurant in New York

All you ever wanted to know about Molecular food and are disconcerted to learn


by André Gayot


Due to our human condition, eating is an undisputable necessity, a possible pleasure, a subject of sciences (plural), and a topic of reflection. Rising above our basic mammalian status, the Escoffiers and the like succeeded in making eating a pleasure. However, not much has changed since the Stone Age when we knocked out aurochs with bludgeons, dug for roots with a flint, collected grains in the tundra and picked wild apples. As you may recall, the latter eventually generated a serious issue when Adam and Eve were ordered to promptly evacuate Paradise for this misconduct.

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General Motors Buys Stake in Peugeot

Cadillac, the iconic car of GM
Cadillac, the iconic car of GM

When GM means Grand Marriage


by André Gayot


I love reunions, reconciliations, rapprochements, consolidations, alliances, coalitions, engagements and weddings. They all contain a sign of peace and while they are not always evidence of love, in many cases they demonstrate the power of reason. That’s why I find myself rejoicing at the announcement that American General Motors plans to acquire 7% of French Peugeot. It’s the nicer side of globalization: a marriage of convenience and — even better — perhaps also a marriage of love.


GM (which in this instance could stand for Grand Marriage) has always loved things French. Perhaps this is because it was co-founded by William C. Durant who also co-founded Chevrolet with Louis Chevrolet of French –Swiss descent. Chevrolet later merged with GM, which baptized its prestigious machines with French names like DeVille, Biarritz, Orléans, LaSalle, Pontiac and Corvette. The name of its iconic brand Cadillac, synonymous the world over with luxury, elegance and quality, is borrowed from the French explorer Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac who founded the city of Detroit — another French name.

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Jaguar Suite at 51 Buckingham Gate

Jaguar Suite living room at 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residences in London
Jaguar Suite living room at 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residences in London

The Night of the Jaguar


by André Gayot


Undoubtedly, we are a car civilization. The automobile is an ordinary object in our spoiled world, a dream in the barren parts of the planet and a nightmare at a quarter to nine a.m. on the 101 freeway in downtown Los Angeles. We find cars a convenient instrument to go to the stores and take back home the stuff of which probably we bought too large a quantity at our local Costco. A car is more practical than a backpack and a bicycle, but more polluting — as we are told by ecology — and more expensive, as we can see by the price soaring at the pump.


OK, it’s our way of life. But some of us are in love with automobiles. They admire the beautiful machines, their engineering, their design and their power, regardless of the speeding tickets and hefty insurance premiums they may have to face.

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The Global Bistro

A bust of Lenin on the bar at Pravda in Wellington, New Zealand
A bust of Lenin on the bar at Pravda in Wellington, New Zealand

by André Gayot


Installed in a former butcher shop, where not much has changed since the nineteenth century except for a few recently added scars on the wall to render it even more authentic, Bistrot Paul Bert in Paris must be one of the most bistro-ish bistros of the world and possibly one of the most emblematic. The bistrot — with a ’t’ or without — is now a part of our lifestyle and an indispensible component of a gastronomically civilized city. We are well used to its format: the zinc bar, banquettes, white marble top tables, chalkboard menu, waiters clad in black aprons, steak frites and blanquette de veau, and the house red wine.


A similar setting, and may we say philosophy of joie de vivre and conviviality, reigns in New York’s Millesime, Chicago’s Bistrot Zinc, San Francisco’s Chez Papa Bistrot and Los Angeles’ Bouchon. Traveling on the bistro trail around the world is one way to avoid feeling like a stranger far from home.

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