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April 25, 2007

Oh yes! Abalone here I come!

It's been two years that I haven't been able to go abalone diving because of the restaurant. This year...I'm ready!

We left at about 4:45AM to drive up to Fort Bragg, Mendocino. Took us just about 3 hours. When we arrived, many divers were already in the water getting a head start to take advantage of the lowest tide time at 8:45AM.

Water was crystal clear, though it started raining just as we got into the water. I haven't dived at this spot before where we needed to climb down a cliff by just a rope! I kept thinking...could this rope hold my weight!? As I saw all the bigger guys climbed down, I was convinced. It was quite a hike down through the rock before we're actually in the water, but once I was in the water, the game began!

It took me a few minutes to get myself back into the old habits, as to where to find, how to ply, oh and don't just get so excited about the sea unchins but let's get the abalone first!?

I had a great time, though it was tiring from the 6 hours drive! That evening we had abalone sashimi at the restaurant, well and of course uni also from all the sea urchins that we caught! Then for the next couple nights, we carried on with our sashimi, and simple stir fry. Two nights ago we had a congee hot pot which was soooooo good, with couple new wine that I will be putting on the menu very soon from a recent grand tasting of Martine's wine!
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The first one we opened was 2002 Château de Fonsalette rouge, with it's beautiful and what I would say is a signature bouquet. This is more expensive than wine that I usually carry but you will not be disappointed! And if you like the La Pialade from my menu already, it's time for you to splurge onto the next level! Then we opened one of the amazing Michel Gay's 2004 Aloxe-Corton. Another alluring wine. While it's already ready to drink and beautiful as is, I would only imagine how much more characteristic is going to come out in couple more years!

Cheers and bon appétit!

April 24, 2007

Easter Sunday-(part 2)

The following morning, Monte and I woke up early, bought coffee and walked down to the beach. There Monte had his first time playing in the sand and ocean. He had a blast and of course caught attention from everybody who're taking a stroll on the beach. It was a beautiful day!
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More pictures of the little guy playing on the beach, you can check out: A Day Off in Carmel.

After the beach was already time to check out from the hotel. Before lunch, we walked around town and found a store, Diggidy Dog. This is the biggest dog "boutique" that I've ever been to. And yes, I splurged on Monte. We found all kinds of outfits. Treats that they have are really good and the price isn't too bad neither.
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Walked across the street and I had lunch at Patisserie Boissiere. The dining room was very cozy, just like I was dining at someone's home. There I had my favorite French Onion Soup to start and follow by a minced beef shepherd's pie. Simple and comforting.
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Monte and I walked around a little more before we hit the road for some wine tasting. Carmel is really amazingly dog friendly that you would find doggy bag dispenser everywhere! Dog owners really have no excuse of not picking up after their dogs! IMG_4712.JPG

On my way to wine tasting, I was hoping to visit Carmel Mission Basilica. It looks really pretty from the outside! Too bad it was closed for some remodeling or construction work. I could only climb up the walls and took a picture of the garden. IMG_4729.JPG IMG_4732.JPGUnfortunately I only had enough time to visit one winery before it's too late to get back to the restaurant and start my dinner shift. I stopped at Chateau Julien Wine Estate. It was nice and quiet there. Well it was Monday, when everyone should be working ;) I found couple of wine that I like but too bad they don't sell it outside the winery. Therefore it's out of the question. Unless I decided to drive to the winery to pick it up everytime when I'm out? (An excuse for me to stay in Carmel again!? Hmmmm...)

April 14, 2007

Easter Sunday-(part 1)

So my new cook has been working out quite well and I'm comfortable leaving the restaurant in Simon's hand as well. While we closed for Easter Sunday, I decided I was also going to take Monday off for myself also, so that I could go away for a break for couple of days.

Sunday morning, I decided to drive down to Carmel, hoping to walk around some galleries and check out some restaurants. I drove off from the main street: Ocean Ave and found a hotel nearby that's walking distance to everything including the beach. It was just nice!

While most of the galleries were closed, there were still a few remaind opened, and were what I liked too, the modern abstract and the contemporary. Learned about a new artist: Inis. However not until I came home to do some research, to find out Inis is just his pseudonym. His real name is Francesco Gallo. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find that piece that I really like online, he used a lot of red and orange, it was like his "I Tre Tori" but the background was all hot orange like in a burning canyon. itretori.jpg Made me feel like it can just bring out all my fire from within. If I remember correctly, that piece is called "Torris". Another unfortunate is of course that's no where close to what I can afford at this stage. I was offered a big discount though... hmmm from the price of $9000... I didn't ask. ("Somedays..." I told myself. Just like my restaurant, if I'm determined enough. I can make that happen. I know I will!)

Then I walked into a store called Carmel Bay Company. Met a lady, Sally(I wonder if she's part owner?) She's so nice and gave me a few pointers as to where to dine and hang out. First I went to Cypress Inn, which is owned by Doris Day and Dennis LeVett. It's a total dog friendly hotel, where you'd find dogs all over. I first sat outside at the patio with Monte of course, had a drink but moved inside shortly. Forgot about Carmel is a tourist place after all, where many tourist from other states are more smokers friendly ;) As I moved inside to the bar & lounge, then I found out almost everybody has a dog sitting next to them. Monte found his love right away, another yorkie, but she totally ignored him. That was just cute...until he started barking. I hurried down my food and my drinks and got out. I wonder if I left soon enough before people started hating me :( (I can't believe I've got a barking dog now!)

For dinner, Sally suggested a few places. I walked to all of them and checked out their menus and decided to dine at Casa Nova. There I met their Maitre D', Marcello De Laurentis. He was so nice to show me their private cellar, the Van Gogh's table and I also met most of their staff, including the sou chef, who was kind enough to come out from the kitchen at a busy night to introduce himself to me.
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Marcello was so kind to join me at a nearby pub where we shared our restaurant experiences, he also gave me a few of their past private dinner menus that they hosted at the Van Gogh's table. He also walked me around town a little to show me where to have breakfast and lunch the next day. It was like Montepulciano revisit, where I had the Royal treatment from the Relais, and everybody was just nice and sincere, and wouldn't mind going out of their way to show a stranger their ways.

I had a great day and same as the little exhausted Monte!