Live! at the InterContinental’s Champagne Brunch

There are some words in the English language that when said aloud can make you physically cringe. The New Yorker said the runaway un-favorite was “moist” along with “slacks” and “actually”. Time Magazine proposed “twerk”, “om nom nom nom” and “feminist” (for which it later apologized) among words that should be banned in 2015.

On the other hand, some words just make us feel good, like “mother”, “passion”, “freedom” and “fantastic”.

I’d like to add one more word to that feel-good list: brunch.

Brunch

“Brunch” calls up lazy weekend mornings, a sidewalk cafe, a good book and eating all your favorite breakfast AND lunch foods. It’s magical, really.

So when I heard the InterContinental was putting on a champagne brunch, I knew I had to go. If you missed it, here’s what happened, as it happened. (And not to worry if you did because there’ll be one every first Saturday of the month until May).

01 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham-62

11:40am – The brunch is called “Champagne on the Lawn” and as I walk by the 3rd story swimming pool, I wonder exactly what kind of lawn this will be. Parks in Saigon don’t exactly scream “picnic”, without the barbecue grills and picnic tables like back home. Greeters direct me up a set of stairs which opens up to…

02 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Lawn

Holy Hannah! An honest-to-goodness lawn… in Saigon!

I’ve been to the InterContinental countless times and never even knew this space existed, a proper, spacious green lawn with real grass.

There’s already a crowd on hand, sprawled out on checkered blankets, soaking up the noon sun.

03 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham-13

11:43am – It doesn’t take me long to doff my shoes and feel the cool grass between my toes. It feels weird, but in a good way.

04 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham-1

11:50am – We pick up a picnic basket and stake out a spot, but before even getting settled, I opt for a sangria. Nothing quite says summer to me like “sangria”. Mental note: Add “sangria” to my list of “good words”, right after “mother”.

05 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Basket

12:00 noon – We gleefully open our hamper like it’s Christmas morning and find it loaded with classic picnic fare: everything from sandwiches and charcuterie to fruit, nuts and brownies. We tear off chunks of baguette to go with the country salami. #omnomnom

06 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Salads

12:17pm – The brunch lasts until 3:30pm, so we need to pace ourselves. We walk around the perimeter and check out the live stations. The salad station features a Caesar salad and a bevy of cold salads. I’m in heaven because… CHEESE.

07 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Drinks

12:43pm – Sangria done, we head over to the bar. There’s a free flow of Veuve Cliquot champagne on ice, but we decide to start with cocktails. The bartender asks me what I want to drink. I look at the cocktail list and blurt out, “Yes, please!” because I want All. The. Things.

08 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Evian Mist1:10pm – Back at the blanket, the Evian spritzer girl comes by and we all get a blast of mist to the face… as you do. No need for the sun cream today, as it’s picture perfect picnic weather.

09 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Social

1:25pm – Thanks to the live band alternating between jazz and classic faves, the mood is chill. It feels great to celebrate the weekend amongst friends. And because it’s on a Saturday, not a Sunday, no work tomorrow! Did someone say “appletini”?

10 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham-14

1:37pm – Another round of cocktails. This one and the last one don’t count, though, because Appletinis are a technically a fruit and Bloody Mary’s are technically a vegetable and I’m still on the salad course. To health!

11 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Kids

1:52pm – We see some people we know across the lawn and go mingle. The crowd is definitely a friendly mix of expats and locals; there’s not an obvious tourist in sight. It looks evenly divided between fresh-faced thirty-somethings in their preppy summerwear and families towing small kids who play badminton in the far corner. We’re all here to enjoy a reprieve from Saigon if only for a few hours.

12 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham-37

2:03pm – What time is it? It’s selfie o’clock, of course!

13 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - BBQ

2:08pm – Salads and picnic basket properly dispensed with, it’s time to hit the BBQ where everything from salmon and chicken wings to jumbo prawns and beef skewers await. And bacon-wrapped everything. Because… BACON.

14 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Sax

2:17pm – Good food, good drinks, good friends and the saxophonist plays “What a Wonderful World.” Yes. Yes, it is.

 

15 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham-17

 

2:30pm – All played out, naps are in order…

16 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Ice Cream

2:31pm – … only to remember there’s ice cream with all the trimmings to be had.

18 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham-52

2:41pm – Because… ICE CREAM.

17 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Sky

2:50pm – All talked out, I settle down with this week’s book. I’m reading Atlantia, a story about people who live in an underwater world after an environmental apocalypse who long to see the sky. Yes, I realize the book is classified “Young Adult” and that technically makes me a 16-year-old girl, but in my defense, it was on the New York Times Best Sellers List. I eat a(nother) brownie to ease the shame.

19 - InterContinental - Champagne Brunch - James Pham - Tug-of-war

3:12pm – A flurry of last calls which in turn fuels an impromptu game of adult Tug-of-War. It takes on a bit of Ryder Cup-esqueness to it, as teams form. It’s England vs. The World. I hear a few shouts of “For England!” and reflect on the surreality of the moment. A picnic in the center of Saigon… on a lawn… on the third story… complete with a proper hamper and champagne and lawn games.

It’s been a good day.

InterContinental Asiana Saigon will host a Champagne on the Lawn event every first Saturday of March, April and May.
VND 1,750,000++ per person including free flow of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, wine, beer, cocktail and soft drink.

 

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