Wednesday, April 21, 2010
That "Out of Bounds" dinner with Ian Wright
Here's Ian Wright saying a BIG "HELLO!" to all of you!
After years of following Ian on his travels all around the world on Discovery Travel & Living, I never dreamed I'd actually be able meet him one day. He is the best travel host ever, with his non-pretentious persona, spontaneous wit and humour. And he is exactly the same in person as he is on TV.
He very nearly didn't make it to Asia, no thanks to Eyjafjallajokull! His flight was brought forward an hour to 11am, and he was still in the taxi at 10am. The plane took off at 11.15am, and Heathrow closed at 11.20am that day.
Anyway, this is the dinner I was telling you about. Discovery Travel and Living together with Starhub threw a bash with Ian Wright, promoting his new series called Out of Bounds. Ian explores some of the least visited countries or regions (Syria, Cuba, Siberia, Okinawa, Sri Lanka and Venezuela) and finds out fabulous things and how to have fun there. See my previous post for Youtube previews.
He had just come over to Singapore from Bintan where he had a vacation with his wife. He was peeling and sunburnt. He even unbuttoned and partially took off his shirt to show us (see photo by Walter Lim). That raised more than a few wolf whistles.
"It was only two hours in the sun!", he lamented, exasperated at how easily he burns. "After all these years of travelling, I still haven't learnt a goddam thing!"
Ian took us through a hilarious slideshow of highlights from the countries he visited. There were lots of wonderful photos and sketches. Here he is in his "manties" ready for a wrestling match in Siberia. This was instituted as the "uniform" as a woman in disguise once beat all the men and won the championship. So they had to, ahem, ensure any female contestants would be exposed in future. Yes, I've heard of this, actually.
He had the audience in guffaws as he retold how he found vendors in superconservative Syria selling bizarre underwear with circuit boards (umm, can someone say scratchy loins?) which enable blinking lights and three tunes like Happy Birthday and Love Story. Later on, he found something even more outrageous - feathered bra and panties that fall off with a clap! Now you know what goes on when lights go out in Syria.
And THE travel tip to remember - if you ever want to get friendly with reindeer, pee on the ground/snow in front of you. And they will come to you. Yes, he didn't believe it at first either.
There were many tables at the dinner, but Ian made sure each one had some time with him. He never falls short of funny faces too!
The table of social media influencers - there were only 4-5 of us, so I am very lucky! Walter, Belinda, Ian and Jayden glowing for the camera. Eevon (not pictured) asked for a kiss, and got it!
Did I get a chance to ask Ian those three questions? OK, major #fail! Sorry, as predicted, my nerves got the better of me, and I got absolutely tongue-tied. But you can ask him anything directly - he's on Twitter @ianwrightey
You can follow Discovery Travel & Living Asia on Twitter too - @travelnliving for updates.
The dinner menu is inspired by the locales Ian visits in Out of Bounds. Catering was done by Novus.
Bread basket - good for hungry people! The dark rye with pumpkin seeds was the best of the lot.
Pelmeni: Siberian Meat Dumplings in Broth w Chives and Sour Cream.
The meat is traditionally pork, but was made with chicken instead, out of consideration for Muslim guests. The broth is pretty robust, and the sour cream gave it some lift.
Kakuluwo: blue crab curry with coconut and rice.
This is a Sri Lankan dish, and my favourite course. Tender, succulent and very generous lumps of crabmeat in fragrant curry. Rich and filling!
Palate cleanser of mojito sorbet (lime, brown sugar and mint). Cuban-inspired, obviously. No alcohol but it was very refreshing.
This must be from Syria. Lamb Shawarma. Grilled lamb on pita bread with yoghurt and hummus. Pity the pita was dry and hard. I think it had been sitting out too long. The well-marinated lamb was still tender though.
Quesillo: Venezuelan caramel flan served with fresh berries
The Venezuelan quesillo is actually a dessert quite familiar to us. It's like creme caramel. Enjoyable, with tart fruit.
Halfway through dinner, we had a game of Pictionary with two teams battling it out to guess items that Ian came across on his travels in Out of Bounds. Hey, Ian can sketch pretty darn well!
There were about 100 guests at the dinner, including Starhub board members, corporate customers and Discovery partners. Dinner dragged a little too long, and they had to cancel the autograph signing session. Bummer.
But in the end, after trying a few times, I got Ian to very graciously sign this. He was surprised to see a Subbuteo team set (everyone plays them in England but not so here). Well, you see, there's a famous Arsenal football player also called Ian Wright. Hubby is an Arsenal (lifetime) supporter, and he is also a huge fan of Ian on Discovery, so we thought this would be hilarious. I like what Ian wrote!
So, remember to tune in Thursdays starting May 20, on Discovery Travel & Living! I can't wait for the series to start. It looks really good.
Thank you, Discovery, and the team at MS&L for arranging this! I'm still pinching myself...
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