March 9, 2011


...after almost two years, my blog is alive again! Thanks to my best friend, Vicky; the genius. After my site's hosting company upgraded their software, they messed up my emails, my site's pictures and my blog. Took almost two days before they got my email...etc, working again. However they denied the malfunction of my blog was caused by their upgrade, and they couldn't figure out what was wrong that I couldn't sign on to my own blog. There and then I was busy with opening OTD, followed by the long hours and non-stop working days at PICÁN... It was then put aside after I switched the hosting company.

Since I have time now, it would be nice to share my food and thoughts again. I started looking into fixing it. My fingers sure lost the touch already, and my mind is all about cooking and no more coding. A friend thought that should be an easy fix and agreed to have a look at it. Another two months past... maybe he really had taken "a look" at it! Then I remember this out of sight but always in my mind's best friend, who's a genius whenever I have those "programming blocks" back in those days in school! And just so happened we finished our 6 hours marathon phone call, I sent her my problem. In less than 3 hours, she figured it out and got it fixed. While it wasn't exactly the way it was I "demanded". She got it exactly how it was in another couple more hours! And in those hours, I know for sure she's probably watching some Chinese drama, cooking dinner, teasing me with her husband... UNBELIEVABLE! That's how good she is! And that's my best friend, Vicky Pang!

March 13, 2009

Monte's birthday 3.12.2009

It was Monte's birthday yesterday! While I had scheduled to have lunch with my ex-coworkers(Jean, Josephine, Danny, Joe & Linda) from the computer days, Monte joined us as well!

We had dim sum on Clement Street and Monte joined us in the restaurant. I sneaked the little guy in with his own carrier. He was such a good boy and behaving very well! (As if he knew he turned legal age in human years!?) He was quiet and alert the whole time. Joe made a cake for Jean, but I think it's also a cake for us for Monte! I wonder what would it takes to open a pet friendly restaurant like those in Carmel?

After lunch we went for a car ride where Monte was standing high in the car "waving" at everybody catching attention! We made a stop at Catnip+Bones on Chestnut Street. Monte picked his own treats, got a new jumper and a new toy which kept trying to steal his treats later in the evening(check it out from the pic below!)

Most of the time when we went for our stroll on Chestnut was already in the evening, and Catnip+Bones was already closed. Finally yesterday we made it in. Monte was excited as well and left a little "gift" for the owner Rachel! While I always like to support small businesses, Monte and I sure had visited many boutique stores for dogs. I found Rachel's store is by far the most reasonable! She is friendly, knows her products and loves animals and people! Customers and locals would just stop by to say hi and chit chat with her even they don't have pets! She has good merchandises, very cute outfits and everything is marked very reasonably. Monte and I had visited another pet store in San Carlos about 3 months ago, where they charged the same dog food for almost double compare to what I paid for at The Pet Club. Since Catnip+Bones wouldn't be buying quantities like The Pet Club but was still charging only about $1.5 more. This is the kind of small business we all should go and support!

BTW, Monte wouldn't stop drinking the "love potion for K9" they offer outside their store! Wouldn't blame him, I would take the whole bowl for myself too if they have some for me!? ;)

After having a little treat for Monte, he went to play with other dogs on the Marina Greens. Monte's still a little shy to play with strangers. I think it's because he doesn't play rough like other dogs. He had a great time rolling on the grass though. Maybe I'll just arrange a play day for him and Presley later...

Finally into the evening when we returned home, Monte got to dig into all his treats(I had only allowed him to pick one and the lamb link was the winner!) and I shook a Marker's Manhattan for myself. After all we got to had a toast for the day that the little guy turned legal age to drink, right!?

Cheers Monte!


March 12, 2009

Top Ten Smartest Dogs

Last I read about the top 10 was quite some years ago. I remember Labrador was ranked 2nd and big Poodle was ranked 1st! I was very proud of Juppa of course at the time while having my smiling yellow lab!

Today when I found lab fell off to 7th on the chart and Poodle was still going strong at 2nd! Now I wonder how is my birthday boy, Monte; a Yorkshire Terrier ranks? It's Monte's birthday today! Happy Birthday Monte!

Good Boy! The World's Ten Smartest Dogs
We've gathered a wide sample of dog breeds, sharpened their No. 2 pencils (you know, no opposable thumbs), and asked them to fill out a...

February 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Emma!

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February 12, 2009

Does this dog look fierceness to you?

Or would you any how describe him as, "wild", "aggressive", "frenzy", "menacing", "barbarous", "ferocious"? I'm running out of vocabularies. My customers know him, my UPS, Fedex guys all know him. However how do you get to know him first? It's because he is super friendly!

It was not the first time, that his little life is being threaten by a mail carrier. The first time happened about couple years ago. When he was only about 4 pounds! And today he is 5 1/2 pound.

Monte and I was in the restaurant, it was before service. I opened the front door to water the planters. He sure followed me from my back, not on leash obviously as we were hanging around inside to start with. However I didn't know the mail carrier was coming down the street. While I was watering the planters, he spotted the carrier and started running up to him thinking he would play with him. I screamed at Monte to come back. Before I could say another words, the mail carrier already held his mails high and hit him so hard that Monte flew back with a back flip and landed on the ground.

I took Monte with me and drove right to Emeryville post office to report that to the Post Master. I understand a mail carrier needs to protect their lives and watch out for themselves. However I also believe a "normal" person can justify and should be able to judge if their life is being threatened?

Last week, I got a notice in my mailbox about I missed a certified mail. First, I know I was home the day it was delivered. I had been home the whole day, therefore I didn't think the carrier had come up to the house to deliver it but just left a note in my mailbox for me to go pick up at the post office. I called this morning, complained about it and arranged for a redelivery with a note for the carrier to be sure to go upstairs.

Around 3PM, my door bell rang. Whoever that was, had just let themselves into the building without ringing the front door. So I have no idea of who would that be. By the time I got to the door, it was only less than a minute, but this person had already left to the elevator down the hall. I poked my head out from the door and that's when Monte walked out from the door behind me as well. We both saw the mail carrier, and Monte started running down the hall to him. I was screaming at Monte to call him back and at the same time I saw the mail guy held up a metal chain to hit him! I then screamed at the mail carrier instead to tell him "the dog's alright, don't hit!" He wouldn't stop. In fact he was walking toward Monte to reach out to hit him! At this time Monte was already started to run back. I picked Monte up and questioned the mail guy about his action was totally unnecessary. He started giving me a lecture about as long as he's in his uniform, he's entitled to do anything. Implying it's legal even if he killed my dog, as long as he's in his uniform. I was so upset, I just told him to give me my mail and leave.

Again I understand if it's even my last dog, a labrador, or any big dog. Even if Monte was furiously barking. However Monte was totally showing his friendliness, wagging his tail, with his bouncy run and hadn't made a noise. If I know it was a mail carrier at my door, I wouldn't even let Monte get close to the door, just in case. Just like when my UPS or Fedex guy came, when they rang the front door, I would pick up Monte everytime when they got to my house door. However this carrier made a mistake and didn't come in with normal procedure to ring my front door intercom but let himself in. It's my home, of course my dog is off leash in the house!

I just feel that if a person can't even tell or judge if his life is being threatened by a 5lb dog, he should just stay home! I understand his job nature has certain threats and I know many people got beaten before. However take the necessary measure and be real! What I experienced today and before were just plain animal cruelty! And this CANNOT be allowed!

I am not partial to my dog because I am a dog owner. It's just what is right and wrong. And common sense if you have!? I have a friend who would tell me don't approach her dog, because her dog is super protective and even she wouldn't know what her dog would do. I'll for sure take that advise! For the same reason, I know my dog! If I say my little friendly 5 lb dog is friendly and fine, then why would you still need to approach forward to the dog to hit him? I am also not addressing to all mail carriers because I had met some of them and they were fine with Monte! There were several occasions when Monte and I walked to the garage and it happened the mail carrier was at the lobby. And they were fine having Monte approached them. Therefore I take this as an individual issue and it needs to be addressed!
So who else can I seek help from, other than I will forward this note to the post master, post master general? While the mail carrier had also mentioned, "yeah, call the post master if you want!" So would the higher level executives really address this kind of issues or would they allow their staff to abuse their right?

Can someone help? If any of you agree with me, please feel free to forward this. Thank you!

February 11, 2009

Auntie Cynthia borrowed Aryn and "playing mom"!

Had a wonderful day yesterday! First went down to Santa Cruz for a meeting. Met up with a friend, Patti Hopp; whom I haven't seen or talked to since Aug last year. It was a beautiful day, Patti showed me around Santa Cruz a bit, watched some surfing and kite boarding. We then had a leisure lunch and catching up with each other of what's been going on for the last 1/2 year. Then I drove to San Carlo to pay Christine Chu a visit.

Christine had just gave birth to her twins about a month ago. They're just so cute! And Jonas, her oldest; was a charm. She let me played mom and fed her twin daughter, Aryn. "Yummy yummy" was all I could say! Darling and precious! Sweet babies! Her twin brother Caleb sure is a talker. He likes to make lots of noises. Asleep or not. You can really just stand there and stare at them for hours!

Have I mentioned it was just nice to have a chat with Christine and was nice to see her mother, auntie Julie; in the comfort of their home? Great meeting Grace as well. Jeff looked good other than a little tired from getting up for the babies. He lost some weight, but "I've been eating a lot!" he said. Men! They're definitely from another planet. Hate them for that! See for me, ate a usual...over dinner. (I'm protesting to Jeff, so I refused to get onto the scale this morning!) Wait I actually didn't eat that much over dinner. It was after dinner with all the extra that auntie Julie made! "Auntie Julie!!"

Just a really wonderful day! Now do I really want to be tied down by having another restaurant, or should I just work for somebody and be able to have some real days off and hang out with friends?

Anyway... cheers to all my dear "furenzu"!

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More turnip cake!

More turnip cake!
Originally uploaded by restaurantfurenzu.
The batch that I made for Chinese New Year was "Gone like the wind"! After receiving many requests, plus I was going to visit Christine yesterday, I decided to make another batch of the turnip cake. The turnip though, wasn't as good(young) as last time; I had only bought enough to make half the portion of what I made last. With the help from Elaine, it was done in only couple hours. I'm sure it'll be gone again soon as Jean and Josephine are coming over for dinner on Valentine's day!

January 25, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!


December 16, 2008

Wishing you all the best and a warm & cozy holiday!

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December 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Christine!

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December 8, 2008

Indoor skydive

A dear friend wanted to take me out for my birthday. I thought, how about let's do something fun and have a good laugh rather!? How about ride a bumper car? However I search all over google for "bumper car in San Francisco", and couldn't find anything. Then I remember I have been wanting to go to this skydiving place in Union City. So I suggested that to my friend and immediately reservation was made and we flew last Saturday night!

Here's a video from the night we went when an experienced kid was "showing off"!

December 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Virginia!

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August 9, 2007

Visitor from London

Good friend Chris visited a year ago, had a good time and decided it's about time to check on me to make sure my food is still good! ;) He emails me every now and then and tells me he had met people in London who knew my restaurant or had been to my restaurant! That's amazing! A customer also had told me when they were at an afternoon A's game and trying to decide coming to Furenzu for dinner, they heard someone sitting behind them were just deciding to go to Furenzu also! It just always excites me when I hear people talk about my tiny humble restaurant!

Since I need to stay put at the restaurant most of the time and couldn't go too far, during Chris' visit; we decided to go water rafting at Cache Canyon, something I hadn't done for more than 5 years! Karin and her assistant joined us also. Of course I was in charged of the food! Choices were limited because I had to make sure it tasted good while it's cold and it could toss around inside the cooler as we might flip the boat!

It was a hot day, so I had only made 3 dishes: Roasted sweet pepper and herbed goat cheese roll w/ balsamic reduction, organic yellow watermelon w/ prosciutto, and jumbo shrimp cocktail w/ Cynthia's cocktail sauce. Well the honest truth is, after being in the water for 3+ hours, anything would taste just great! ;) And of course we had a great time too!

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Oh, have I mentioned it was a HOT day!? Yes I got major sun burn on my legs! It was horrible and painful! Be sure to apply your sunscreen...and keep re-applying it if you're in the water!! :-S

July 29, 2007

July 4th, 2007

Juppa loved to swim. How could she not? She's a yellow lab. My 1st baby but sadly passed right before the restaurant opened. We used to go to this beach in Point Reyes a lot. We would go to Tomales Bay Oyster Company, bought oysters and picnic on the beach while watching Juppa swam.

July 4th this year, as usual; I closed the restaurant and decided to take a ride out there and see if I could get Monte to swim!? Yes I went to get oyster first, but it didn't feel the same as before. The place is now very popular, which of course I'm very glad they're doing well. Unfortunately it lost that personal touch and a little too commercial feel for me. Couldn't wait to get my oysters and be on my way. That little farm must have closed to 200 people there!

We drove to the beach which is only about 1/2 mile from the farm. Parking lot was filled with cars also. Bummer I thought, while I was really seeking some quiet and peaceful time on a day off. We walked down to the beach. Nice! Not at all crowded like the parking lot, but like how it's always been to me, no matter how gusty the wind or busy on the highway; as soon as you walked down to the beach, nice and quiet. All you hear is just light wave getting on the shore and gentle breeze blowing on your face. Surprisingly the water was warm! I had been to this beach many times on many hot summer days, water had never felt this warm to me. For a second, I had this scary thought: does it mean global warming is really getting that serious that even the bay water warmed up so much that it felt like in the Pacific these days?

It took Monte a bit before he would get his paws wet. I then took off my flip flop, got myself into the water and wishing I had a bathing suit that I could actually swim! Monte followed with a little hesitations. He swam! He finally did it! We had a great time and yes he really looked like a rat when he's wet!

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My dear Jean decided to stop by and spend the night at my house that evening, so that she could have an early start and help me out the next day at the anniversary party. Josephine also came. It was just nice to sit around and chit chat and eat of course. It's my first July 4th at the loft where we were able to watch fireworks from the balcony. It was really nice until... we could still hear all the illegal firework after past midnight!? That was a bit too much especially we really need our sleep for our big day the next day!

May 30, 2007

The New Bay Bridge

From today's news and paper, there's an article about a movie of the construction of the bay bridge. So I thought I may want to share some pictures that I took on Memorial Day while I was sailing in the bay...

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May 12, 2007

Just something fun?

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!

March 12, 2007

It's Monte's birthday today!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONTE! I just can't believe this little guy is already 1 year old, while I still wonder sometimes if he knows...his name? Sit? Stay...etc? I know for sure is he knows where his food box is and he knows to go over there to tell me he needs more food! He knows how to jump onto my bed and cuddle up with me. He knows when I'm mad but also knows how to look cute so I just can't scream at him! He's just such a MONTE!

monte1yrold.jpg IMG_4627.JPG A fresh hair cut by mommy, getting ready for the birthday!

IMG_4644.JPG IMG_4645.JPG I'm really ready to have the cake and the pastry even though I know any one of them is still bigger than my stomach. Oh, I did blow off the candle myself after this picture was taken!

"Okay, no more pictures please! I'm really ready to eat!" Monte said! IMG_4649.JPG

March 7, 2007

It's about time...

Yes it's been a looooooonnnnnng time. Many of my friends and customers started to ask, "was your computer got stolen again?" (No, thank goodness!) I admit, I just got lazy...well tired by the time I got home every night.

If you have been to the restaurant lately, you must've noticed the entire staff has changed. First my dish washer left around Thanksgiving(yes un-annouced again.) Then my manager before Christmas. Right after New Year was my cook(yes also un-annouced.) Therefore I have been working everyday since. It's alright, I'm actually very glad to be able to re-organize the kitchen and the way I like things to be done in the restaurant. However I must say, I miss that day off that I was able to go out to eat and get inspired.

So from last year to about a short and brief monthly photo tour?

After Michala's visit, Monte and I sneaked out one sunday sailing with Dave, and you can see how much the little boy needed a hair cut:

For Cecilia's birthday, we went to Coco500 in the city. It was a fun night and was just nice to catch up with old friends!
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It's Vivian's birthday. While we've never been to Angel Island before, we had Dave took us there on his boat and had BBQ on the island. It was a long day but it was a beautiful day and we had so much fun!
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Finally we were able to get an appointment for Monte after waiting for more than one and a half month. However it was totally worth it! Nancy's REALLY good! While I never had to bring Juppa(my last lab) for grooming, I did lots of research around the neighborhood trying to find someone not just cut dog's hair but definitely care and has a personal interest in the pet. And I found Nancy of Dog's Best Friend & The Cat's Meow in Albany. I asked to watch while she groomed, and I just love how she handled the dog. She's firm and tough when it comes to disciplining the dog. Even her cat helped when Monte wouldn't co-operate. He jumped on the table and helped distracting him a bit, so Nancy could worked him. Highly highly recommended!

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And now here's Mr. Handsome!

Before all the disaster of staff problems happened, I was able to go for a 3 days getaway for Thanksgiving. Vivian and I was going to stay with her uncle in LA, but the first night we decided to stay at Dave's mother's orange ranch right by Magic Mountain. When we arrived at 2:30AM, it was pitch black. However when we woke up in the morning, saw the view of the whole valley, tennis court on premise where I played every morning and afternoon, and not mentioning Mrs. M hand picked oranges to squeeze juice for us for our mimosa... We decided to extend our welcome and kept Mrs. M company for a few more days! :)

So here's what we woke up to in the AM and fell asleep to in the PM:
IMG_9519.JPG IMG_9496.JPG IMG_9535.JPG BTW, Mrs. M told us Dave and his siblings hand picked each rock from the ranch to build that fireplace with his father!

Monte had fun running all over the range also. Only was lost twice. He kept harassing Mrs. M's dogs, so we believed the dogs were trying to ditch him at the creek down from the ranch, not successful. Then they brought him all the way across the main road to a neigbor up the hill about a mile away. It was the neighbor who came over to let us know Monte's with their dogs! It was just hilarious but of course at one point my heart sank and thought I would be going home without the little guy!
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December finally came. Singkin took me and Anita to my favorite brunch place: the Ritz at Half Moon Bay for our birthdays. Along came a few of his friends also. After that was my Christmas tradition: to cut my own tree.
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Auntie Maureen's birthday is also in December. Turned out to be a slow night at the restaurant, therefore I was able to sneak out a little bit and dropped by at her party just to have a toss with her:

Another birthday celebration was for Boriana, owner of BORIANA; a store inside the ferry building in San Francisco imports food from Montepulciano, Italy. Her birthday was actually on the New Year Eve, but we celebrated it on the New Year day instead. It wasn't easy to find a restaurant that's open on New Year day. But I did and took her and her daughter to dinner at Cortez, then we went ice skating! We sure had a blast!
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June 22, 2006

Day 7-8 Hills to Water

As much as I would love to stay in Montepulciano forever, it's time to say goodbye. Don and Libby were off to Venice, while Ben and Kathy headed to Assisi, and I decided to skip Florence for Cinque Terra. With one last look at and from Relais San Bruno, we were all off on our ways.
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So I made it to Lerici. Found my hotel and got settled in. However I wasn't much in the mood of exploring. I think I just missed Tuscany too much and as I left, it felt like a reality check to a count down of days to come home. As much as I got so excited about the food and couldn't wait to come home to experiment, it's sorta depressing to leave and to find out the vacation was almost over.

I took the day very easy by an mild hike around town, love the colors of the buildings! Checked out the fish market and what I wanted to do the next day and pretty much just chilled at the balcony at the hotel to smell the breeze and enjoy the water view.

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June 15, 2006

Day 4-6 Just couldn't get myself to leave...

Thought about leaving this day to Florence for the public market. However everyday when I drove past the church that was just around the corner of Relais San Bruno, it was so hard ;) to convince myself to stay one more day for the Sunday mass. It was a gorgeous day. And the mass that I attended, must be a mass that after sunday school. There was a full section of kids. It reminded me when I was a kid. Went to mass and then played with all the friends afterwards at the playground.
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However much I would love to just stay in Montepulciano, this would be my last day. So I had taken it very easily. Just strolled around town, okay...did some damages in shopping at Maledetti Toscani, which was a fine Italian leather products shop and of course to buy that wheel of pecorino cheese and all sort of cured meat! Lounged at my front porch one last time to pretty much just smelled the air, then went back in town again to watch the sunset before dinner. I fell in love with Montepulciano. Too bad a Furenzu wouldn't work over in Tuscany, while everyone would be just like me to go there for the rustic Tuscan cooking; I would definitely try to think of a move there?
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For my last dinner in Montepulciano, Alberto had arranged for me to go a good friend of his, Pier's restaurant-Borgobuio Ristorante. Not only I met Pier, I also got a grand tour of the kitchen and the tomb under the restaurant by chef Alejandro Martinez. After dinner Pier had invited me to join him and his staff for a drink at his bar around the corner of the restaurant. There I met a friend of Pier, who's an artist and displaying his work in a gallery in Cinque Terra, where I was going the next day. It just turned out to be another wonderful evening and making unbelievable connections.

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*More pictures on Flickr.

June 14, 2006

Day 4-6 More of Tuscany

Finally a feeling of home...or did I just wanted to make that home!? This was the first night that I had a really nice and comfy bed to rest on, with a down comforter. Woke up early as usual but very well rested. I totally took my time to get up and get ready. By the time I walked into the breakfast room was already past 9:30AM. However it didn't matter because I wasn't the last one.
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Then the funny thing was to find out there were two couples who checked in the same day as I, one stayed on my left side and one on my right; and they were both from California also! Not only that, but all of us covered the bay of SF! Don and Libby were from Pleasanton, me right in the middle of Emeryville, and Ben and Kathy were from Novato! So hopefully very soon, we'll have a reunite at the restaurant!

Starting out with a nice breakfast, Alberto then told me he had already arranged lunch for me at La Porta, located in a small town close to Montepulciano called Montechello. When I sat at the terrace looking over the rolling hills of Tuscany, reading the menu that La Porta offered, I knew I was at the right place!

My only wish was Viv was still there, so that I wouldn't look too bad if I really ordered the whole menu. Well I still ended up ordering 3 dishes and matched each with wine that the owner recommended. I was hoping I could make it there again the next day to try the rest of the menu that interested me, but of course Alberto had other plans for me. Guess I just have to make it back next year! That Tagliolini al Tartufo(Tagliatelle with truffles) was so simple but really out of the world and sure was the best truffle I tasted!
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After 3 sensational courses and 3 glasses of wine, I was just glad the ride back "home" was only 15 minutes. All I did before my dinner was lay right by the pool and being under the Tuscan sun! Of course with the hospitality that Relais San Bruno offered, Alberto brought me another glass of wine already as soon as I found my spot under the sun. Could life offer anything better than this?

After showered and changed, with no doubt; Alberto already had my dinner reserved at Ristorante il Rossellino in the town of Pienza. While Don was also a wine lover, and heard of the wonderful dinner that I had the night before, he and Libby decided to join me for dinner. We of course then invited Ben and Kathy. I thought my restaurant was small, il Rossellino was half of my size and could only seated about 16 people. We were very lucky that Alberto could arrange for all of us to fit into this little restaurant, and met the owner Enzo. Ristorante il Rossellino was a little different from the two wonderful meals that I had. This definitely had more of a home cooking touch to it. It sure was a nice change before another big restaurant meal that I was going to have the next evening! Really nice touch of how Alberto arranged the dinners, so I wouldn't get overwhelmed.

Last but not least, I must thank all my dining partners, who were all so kind to share all their dishes with me!
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*More pictures on Flickr.

June 10, 2006

Day 4-6 Under the Tuscan Sun!

This got to be the highlight of my entire trip! Since we arrived so late in Tuscany from Assisi the night before, we just found any hotel we could to spend the night. The next morning, we drove to Montepulciano.

We tried to call around to find a "country" home for me to stay, but not much luck. Therefore I decided to just spend the day in Montepulciano, then drive back to Pisa with Viv and I might spend the rest of my trip in Cinque Terra or Florence. However fate changed everything!

IMG_3080.JPG Our first stop was at a ceremic place, Abracadabra; where I wished to find my cuppacino sets, but ended up with really nice platters! The owner, Remigio; was definitely a very charming guy, and all the pottery were made by his beautiful wife, Sabrina. After I got a really good bargain from Remigio(or at least that's what I thought!?), I asked him for recommendations for wine tasting. He walked me up to his friend's place La Dolce Vino, where I met Christian and Vali.
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We had a really nice tasting with Christian. He was very kind to open more than 8 bottles for us. During the tasting, I was asked how many days was I planning to stay. Unfortunate I wasn't able to find anywhere I desired, I told them I was leaving that evening. Vali was so sweet, not only she called around, she also called the wine association. Finally they found me Relais San Bruno! When we arrived, I knew I was in heaven, and this was where I started my "vacation"!
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As soon as we stepped out of the car, Alberto; the director of San Bruno was already there to greet us. He led us to the lounge, served us drinks, introduce the Relais to us. While we were relaxing on the swing, he already got us checked in. This was what I called service which I experienced in both Asia and Europe, but I hate to say, US still has a lot to learn about that! Alberto also made a reservation for us at Le Logge del Vignola, where I finally had a great meal in Italy! Also thanks to Christian, that he found a red eye train for Viv to go back to Venice, she could stay and join me for this fabulous dinner! Following were all the courses that we had, yes that's right, 4 desserts, and all the wine that matched with our courses. Just tell me I can go back anytime please! ;)
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*More later...
** More pictures on Flickr.

June 4, 2006

Day 3-Assisi

Finally we were in a collage town, Siena; where we found an "internet point", and paid 75 Euro to get online for a total of 2.5 hours between the two of us. I just couldn't believe it's so difficult just try to get online. Was I really taking what we have back home for granted: free internet/wireless at hotes, coffee shops, practically anywhere? Or is Italy really that 3rd world? Well, I got internet when I was traveling in China too!? Though students have discount at the internet point, it's still very expensive! While the world is changing so fast even doing research in library is mostly being done on computer, I just really wonder how the educating system is in Italy?

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We also picked up some cured meat, bread, marinated eggplant, cheeses...etc, then got on the road to Assisi in Umbria. Looking at all the farm houses, country homes on top of each rolling hills, I got excited. This is what I envisioned, and this is what I was looking forward to.
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In about 40 minutes away, we were getting a bit hungry. Looking for some spot to stop for our picnic lunch, we found that it's not like here along the freeway where you see "vista point" or "rest stop". Then we saw water! So I took the next exit, and just headed toward the water. We found a camp site! Perfect! And there's where we had our lunch, and a nice rest before heading out again. We really was lucked out! We saw a huge black cloud moving toward where we were while we were having lunch and just as we finished, it started to rain and rained hard! Thank goodness that I downloaded the Italian map to my GPS-TomTom the night before we left to Italy, it was so easy to drive around and have the GPS to recalculate the route and bring me back to the freeway.

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We arrived in Assisi in mid-afternoon. It's a beautiful town. So clean and well maintained. Walking through the town, it made me feel the residents are all very proud of where they live and take really good care of their residences. Almost each house has beautiful flowers displayed in front of their entries. Doors and windows are all made with quality wood. It just very pleasant and peaceful just to walk around.
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Then of course we have to visit each and every single pastry shop. However I hate to say I still like my French pastry better. Seemed to me the Italian has a sweeter tooth. Well the pastry and the colors of them made a nice picture though I think.
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We were ready to check out a restaurant that I really wanted to try: La Fortezza. Only we found out they don't open on Thursday, the owners were having a private feast as we walked in though :( We then went to Il Frantoio. It was nice but I have a feeling La Fortezza would have been what I really wanted. Oh well...maybe next year! I would say I had the same experience like the night before, great and impressive appetizers but sort of disappointed entrée. And the pasta that Viv had wasn't even cooked through. I found that even it was a quite established restaurant, the presentation of the dishes looked more like home cooking or a smaller restauant type. Had a great wine list though! At least I finally got some good service. I wasn't sure if it was because I had introduced myself as a restaurant owner?

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* More pictures on flickr.

May 28, 2006

Day 2

While it rained the whole day after we arrived, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise the 2nd day, and it was just a really beautiful day! Here was the view from our room:

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We had an early train to catch, so we went downstairs and crabbed a quick breakfast, stopped at a deli to buy some prosciutto and cheeses for our lunch on the train, and we were on our way to Pisa. We were really lucky to have such nice weather while the weather report predicted to rain for the whole week.

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After our tour, we walked into the town, looking for a restaurant. We checked out menu from about 4 places. Picked one, sat down, waited and waited before the server acknowledged us and brought us menu. Then waited and waited, and waited... Even the "looked like" owner guy saw us, but no one would come and take our order!? Servers sure saw that we were ready, but they were just standing in the back and talking to each other. I had it. We walked out and went into the restaurant next door. Menu was brought to us, but when we were ready to order, the server said the kitchen was closed.

I was really ticked at this point. Honestly, I didn't believe the kitchen was closed while other people were still getting food. And with the kind of service we were receiving, I hate to think: "does Asian has a bad reputation in Italy?" We left again. Walked further into town/residential area. Found another restaurant, sat down. The menu didn't really have what I was looking for, but it had my beef carpaccio, and there's the pizza for only 3.5 Euro, why not? That's what we had, and of course I could use some wine right away!

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After our snack, we're off to our gelato hunt again. We picked the one that had most "local" customers and long line. However our vote was still to Nuova!

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We were then ready for our next adventure. We rented a car from Pisa and drove to Siena. First taste of driving in Italy, people were nuts driving there! They had no manner and were really rude. It really didn't matter what the speed limit was, because people would drive at almost double the speed limit. If the speed limit was 90Kmh on the freeway/tollway, expect cars to tailgate you even if you were already driving at 130Kmh! It also didn't matter how fast were you driving already, if people(usually big trucks) needed to change lanes to pass cars; they'd just cut right in front of you and if you had a bad brake on your car, you're in big trouble! There were times that I had to slow down from 130Kmh to 60Kmh in less than 3 seconds! Better be alert and not sleepy when you're driving there!

We made it to Siena, found my old country home to stay at. It's a 300 years old farm house, but super well maintained. Marble floor all over. Very clean and solid. Even came with a very authentic Italian old gentleman who didn't speak a word of English. Therefore we had to write, and all hand gestures to communicate. It was past 9:30PM when we checked in. The amazing part was after we tried to tell him we were heading out for dinner and would be back around 12-1AM, he just gave us the key to the house!

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We made it to the Il Campo, and found a restaurant for dinner. We felt like we were eating in a cave where this restaurant was under a bridge between two buildings. We had really good appetitizers: Grilled mix seafood salad and a stuffed eggplant. Unfortunately the entrée: Grilled steak and pork chop were a bit of a disappointment.

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After dinner we had our drinks at one of the cafe/bar at the campo. As you can see in the picture. The first round, I got a big cup and the 2rd round I got a small cup. Not only that! The 1st round, I had a Bailey's coffee-really well made! And Viv had a glass of wine. I paid 3 Euro. 2nd round, I had ordered another Bailey's coffee while Viv was still working on her 1st glass, my coffee cost me 4 Euro by itself! So why were they different in price and size? Couldn't tell. We ordered directly from the bar at the cafe 1st and ordered from a waitress for the 2nd. A waitress who had an attitude and didn't speak much of English. I must say so far I didn't have much luck with services. I was very disappointed and bothered by it! Well we still tried to make the best out of it enjoying the view from where we were sitting at. It was a beautiful night after all.

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Then we found a smokeless bar, NICE! And off to our gelato hunt, but again not like Nuova! When we were ready to head back to the hotel, we couldn't help but kept up with our "new tradition", which we got to get lost somewhere. This night was worse. We were lost from 11-2AM. We definitely had been making circles, passing the street where we parked our car that we really should walk down but didn't. We tried to ask all people for directions, from cops to hotel concierge, to local residents... We were so lost! Eventually we found our street, drove back and lucked out that as soon as we arrived back at the hotel, it started pouring. By the time we got to bed, it was closed to 3AM and we were beat!

*More pictures on Flickr.

May 26, 2006

Now I'm back, and here's my report...

I admit I haven't been blogging. First it was because I have no internet access when I first arrived in Venice. Then I got too occupied and too tired every evening when I got back to the hotel. So I got calls from people asking about what happened? "Have you written anything yet?" "What? Still nothing?" ...etc.

So here I am...

Day 1

We first landed in Venice, spent one night there, and then off to Pisa and Siena the next day. Before I went, so many people told me about how charming and romantic Venice could be, hmmm...didn't quite find it the first day I was there. The food didn't impress me neither. Therefore I decided I would give it a second chance and planned to be back for couple nights before I flew back out to the States.

Viv and I were starved when we arrived, therefore we weren't too picky and just walked into a restaurant with a decent menu-Ristorante Gondola. What surprise me was the server didn't speak much English, and the wine list was just wine without the name of the wineries or vintages. Food wasn't what I expected neither. We decided just to order some appetitizers to start, tried the food first before ordering more. Good idea! After the three appetitizers, we were ready to take the bill.

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The cured meat was alright, nothing "wow" me as I usually like to say. The cheese was generous, but again nothing special and the server couldn't even tell us what were we having. Then the mussels, I thought they cooked with the sea water! It was so salty! Though the mussel itself tasted fresh, the sauce they cooked with just really bad! So we were ready for our gelato hunt!

After all these days, I must say the best gelato I tasted was in Venice, called Nuova ca' d'oro! Definitely the best! The pastachio that I had there was real pastachio! This is definitely the place!!

We also stopped at a place at Piazza San Marco for coffee and dessert. Unfortunately I forgot the name of the place, it's right across from Ristorante Quadri at the piazza though. Nice and comfy to have a break after all the walks around Venice!

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All tour books and everybody said the best way to see Venice is to get lost in there. Sure enough, not on purpose, we were sooooooo lost! We were pretty much circling ourselves for more than 2 hours before we finally found our way back to the hotel. We were just glad the bar/cafe right around the corner of our hotel were still open since we really needed that drink! And this was our adventure for the 1st day!

*More pictures on Flickr.

May 8, 2006

Off I go...

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So Vivian have been singing in the car this whole morning... "I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again..." So now that tune has just stuck in my head and I can't do anything about it!

I was going to have this adventure on my own, but things happened! Last Fri was Vivian's last day, and she'll be starting her new job in a week. She was supposed to station at the restaurant for me while I was gone. However the next morning after she quitted her job, she got an offer for her house and it was sold Sat morning. She immediately asked me to check and see if I can find a last minute ticket at a reasonable price for her. Sure I did, and here she is, going with me to Italy!! Though she'll be coming back on Sat while I'll stay until the following Thursday.

It's going to be a wonderful trip, and WE will be on our gelato hunt every evening I'm sure!

In less than 4 hours, I'll be in the air. I hope you all will still support the restaurant while I'm not there, and support my staff while they'll be working extra hard during the time that I'm gone. And if there's any complain, write to me and they won't get their chocolate from Italy.

Please check back often as I'll be posting all the food and pictures!


April 30, 2006

A taste before the trip

tonkiang.jpg On such a gorgeous day, Viv and I decided to meet up with Ward at the city for brunch. After driving around the city to scoop out a few breakfast place, we ended up having dim sum-Ward's request. We went to Ton Kiang, where Viv and I haven't been to a long time. The food was alright, but sure wasn't like how I remember least 3-5 years ago. Will I go back? Hmmm....probably no. There are too many good dim sum places in the city that offer better food for less or similar price range.

DSC03890.JPG After that I have to stop at my favorite Boulangerie on Pine to pick up my croissants for breakfast for the next few days! A trick for those of you who didn't know-wrap each of your croissants in plastic, put them in a ziploc bag. Then you can keep your croissants in the freezer for up to 2-3 weeks! (Well, if you can wait that long and not eating them!?) Just take it from the freezer the night before and toast it in the toaster oven before you eat. Croissants from Boulangerie will taste just like it's fresh out from the oven! BTW Ward, I actually had picked up the chocolate cake you were pointing at for you, but forgot to give it to you before we split...sorry, but hope you enjoy the SF style city book!

DSC03891.JPG We had a nice stroll on Filmore afterwards, checked out a few places like Bittersweets cafe, which I didn't know they have another one in the city where I had only been to the one at Rockridge in Oakland. And there's the Olive Oil and Specialities store.
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Then we were on the mission to check out a backpack that I've been longing to get. I have been seeing this new line of luggage of Samsonite on magazines and everywhere. I just love that orange! Only retail store that carry it is Flight 001 on Hayes, which will be perfect for me to also go pick up my monthly sake from True Sake! Sadly after I was holding the backpack in my hands, I didn't like it because it felt like I was carrying a box on my back. Too bad.

DSC03895.JPG Before we headed back to the restaurant, we thought it would be nice to sit out on a patio somewhere for a cocktail and enjoy the beautiful weather. We therefore went to Palomino on Spear Street. Weather was great, view was awesome and companies were superb, but the service and drinks weren't! Hmmm...time to head back to the restaurant for our own good service and food!

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Since I got the California Estate Osetra from the generous Tsar Nicoulai Carviar Cafe, I decided to have a munchies tasting night with my friends at the restaurant. While I was at the farmers' market yesterday, I had picked up some heirloom tomatoes and Italian basil. Also I bought the whole selection of the salami, prociutto and cheese stuffed pepper and fresh morzella cheese from Mastrelli's Delicatessen. Last but not least, a good variety of cheeses from the Pasta shop. To accompany all these food, of course we have to have our Henriot Champagne Rosé! Cheers-to another good day and good friends!

April 25, 2006


An "old" friend dropped by the restaurant last night. While it wasn't busy at all, it's really nice to be able to sit down and catch up over dinner. The best part was the spontaneous sailing after we closed the restaurant. Love those no agenda moments!

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Since this wasn't planned, sure I wasn't dressed for it and it was quite chill in the bay that I had to wrap myself with two blankets. However it was so fun and so peaceful I can so do it again at any moment! When we left the restaurant, it was already past midnight. I remember I looked at my watch and it was 2AM as we "park" ourselves out there and just let float, then I think I was watching the CBS morning news as we docked.

I had a really nice time, but next time we'll have to remember to grab our paté and cheese! Thanks again Dave!

April 22, 2006

Brunch at Sara & Joe

Sara & Joe, another couple of dear customers and friends I met through the business; invited me over for brunch this morning to show me books that they have about Italy. They had also invited Jane and a friend of theirs, Marilyn; who also brought me couple books about Italy. It was just very kind of them! So the following were what we had:

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April 20, 2006

What a day!!

Stealing a day off from work again today! I'm so used to getting up in the morning at 5:30am these days, so even on my day off, couldn't help it but getting an early start also.

I started my day with paying my bills, uploading pictures to flickr, replying emails, setting up appointments...etc. Then I went down to San Mateo to meet up with Vivian for lunch. I just needed to be by the water! Water makes me feel good! It makes me feel like it can just flush everything out from me. I felt like I was floating in this restaurant(even though the food wasn't the best), but tossing everything out into the water and let the water washed out all my sorrows, I felt good and at peace!

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Then we went back to Viv's place to do some staging, because she's trying to sell her house! Watched one of my flavorite movies: Eat, Drink, Man, Woman! Fixed myself a drink with the limited ingredients that she had in her house... We decided to head out to Palo Alto for dinner afterwards. We went to Zibbibo. Now that's the funniest part...for us!!

We just wanted to hang out at the bar/lounge to have small bites and drinks, and people watching! This one guy came over and asked if he could join us!? "Sorry, we're trying to catch up ourselves." Viv said, sorta nicely. The next thing, we noticed he ordered his second sidecar, an order of mussels and an order of oysters. 10 mins later as his food arrived, he wasn't there anymore!?

We thought he went out for a smoke but he was GONE!! The bartender came and asked us if we knew where he went? The next thing was we had all his food and drinks!!
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What a treat for us, but I couldn't believe what had happened! It's Palo Alto, not Oakland! He seemed decent and nice, but I just couldn't believe what I saw!?

I had customers who dined and went out for a smoke and come back into the restaurant to finish his/her meal and of course paid! That really was some scene for me! Especially for what I had been through laterly...was this another wake up call for me to learn really not to trust people!? What's about all the good faith in human nature anymore!? Viv and I had a great time enjoying his food, could someone do something like this!?

Anyway this off day isn't long enough for me, so I'm going to prolong it with a nice breakfast tomorrow morning! (Wondering what am I going to have...but I know for sure it's going to be something good!)

A few blogs ago I mentioned I needed to do something to bring my passion and motivation back. Therefore I decided to go to Italy, and once I decided; I met so many connections from Italy, like Diana and Umberto, got a nice phone call from their friend Paola, kept driving into streets named "Florence"...etc, listening to songs that has lyrics about Tuscany... I'm excited and so looking forward to my trip in May!

I'm hoping in my June menu, you're going to see some kind of marriage of Italian and Asian! I miss seeing my own smile and I miss hearing my own laugh. I know the vibrant Cynthis is coming back...slowly, but surely! I'm so excited to meet her again, so you better watch out!

April 16, 2006

A day of Laugh, Joy, Dance, Food, Chocolate, Champagne, Wine, FAMILY & Friends...ok & eggs

It's Easter! I decided to close the restaurant and have a day off for everybody. I'm glad the sun was out and turned out to be a nice day for the kids to hunt for their eggs! I think the pictures speak all!

Happy Easter! Enjoy and hope you all had a great & cheerful day!

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April 5, 2006


Something I surprised my mother before was when I told her I didn't really have to have kids of my own but was very open about adopting kids. I feel that if I have that much love to give to a kid, it really doesn't matter if it's my own! It would be the most wonderful thing to be able to provide and raise a kid (or kids if I could afford it), who really needs the loves and cares.

A customer, Robin; came in for lunch today. Through our conversation, she mentioned she has two 11 years old. I thought, "Oh! They were twins?" She said not, one was adopted about 4 years ago. She was one of the hosting families for the summer camp for these orphans. By accident, she was hosting again and found out this kid actually has a sister, whom she hosted that summer and they didn't even know about each other! The two girls have the same last name and pretty much look identical! They ran a DNA test and sure they are related. In couple of months, she will be officially become parent of this sister also. Bless her heart! What a wonderful story to know to start my day!

March 21, 2006

Visitors from Hong Kong

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It was a surprise to hear from Michelle! A friend I made about 2 years ago when I was back in Hong Kong visiting families. Her mother and my parents both have a condo in resort, Clifford Estate; in China. We met on the bus returning to Hong Kong.

I was with a friend who was there for the Chinese export expo. Overhearing our conversation, Michelle introduced herself. She used to study in the US and now she works for her mother who owns a factory in Hong Kong, Hung Fat Shing Industrial Co.; which manfacture glass and plastic, from jars and bottles to commercial glassware and decorative items.

She and her mother are here visiting friends and it was delightful to see them last night at the restaurant and made a new friend of theirs, Connie.

February 19, 2006

Finally a day off for me, but...

After the rush on Valentine's day, Tony and I had planned a day off on the 16th to go away and hide away from the restaurant and work. Though I still had to take care of couple things for payroll...etc. I was able to manage not to show up for a whole day was a big step!


We stayed at the Beach House in a one bedroom loft, with a penthouse ocean view. It was gorgeous! Though it was very cold, we still would like to keep the door open most time during the day, just to listen to the ocean. It was truely peaceful and beautiful!

However one thing led to another, it wasn't the most enjoyable day. I think part of the reasons also was because I was already quite stressed out from Valentine's day, getting pressure to create a menu for a private party for that sunday, anticipation of the review, and last but not least worries of the restaurant while I was so far away...

It was interesting to learn how a body react to your mind! It was nice to take a day off, but I think one day was really not enough and might have caused my body to get in shot? It turned out to be quite a stressful day and I was restlessly dreamed the whole time about disasters happened to the restaurant, mistakes that I made... Then the next day I was more tired than before I took the day off and woke up with severe stomach cram on a busy Friday. I hope I would be able to have 3 days off if I planned for a getaway next time. 1st day to try to slow down and relax, 2nd day to do some physical activities or anything fun, and 3rd day to rest up and gather my mind again to prepare going back to work?

We were both quite stressed out just trying to get out of town the night before. Though we had a really good meal in the city at the House! We ordered so much food(surprised?) that the manager who's serving us kept trying to stop us. Actually none of us had any food the whole day, I could have eaten a cow! The mussels was a disappointment, the quail was undercooked while the pork chop was overcooked. The flavors was very good though! Overall I like it and sure will go back, but I think it feels a little more French than Asian to me.

While we were at Half Moon Bay, I was really disappointed while I was suggested by two persons to check out the Moss Beach Distillery. Well afterwards, they both said just to be there for the view at the patio, not the food! We actually were seated by the chef-general manager, who told us the steamer was what people go there for. "We'll take that!" He also told us to get the Nori wrap shrimp, which was shrimps wrapped with seaweed and deep fried serving with chips...

Then I tried to ask our server about 3 wines that were on the menu. Obviously he didn't know anything about it, so he said he would go ask the bar tender for samples. He came back with a "cheat sheet" and started reading to me like a kid being asked to stand up in class to read a chapter from a book the descriptions of the wines which must have been written by the winery itself. ("You're kidding!" I thought! "In such a well known place?") He then asked me if that helped? "Not really, may I have samples of them?" He came back empty handed, and told me the bar tender told him there's a policy of only two samples could be given out. I started loosing my patience. I chose two and already knew most likely I wouldn't be back unless the food was really good! This time when he came back, I really knew I wouldn't be back! He brought back two samples of wine in two water glasses!!?? I wouldn't blame him, but blamed the bar tender and the chef-GM, who's sitting at the bar. Wouldn't they know better?

When the food came. I was ready to walk out. The $24 "steamer" was tasteless, with about 1/4 lb clams and 1/4 lb mussels only. And it tasted like the shellfish were already cooked, put into a pot, pour the diluted sauce on top, hit it up and served. Then the $16 Nori wrapped shrimp only has 6 shrimps, and the fries tasted just like ordinary fries you can get from a burger joint.

I started asking Tony, was I really spoiled by all the good food in the bay area? Was I really that picky? Or was the food there was really bad? I wish I had taken Tony to the fish market diner that I usually go, with really cool servers who're passionate and proud of what they serve.

Then that evening, we were back in the city to try out Fleur de Lys. I had high hope that I would experience the "Jean George" kind of service again... I was disappointed. We had already choosen the 2nd seating at 8:45PM, which there shouldn't be any rush to turn our table; I felt rushed the whole evening!

I watched other tables, so to be fair, I think it's just our server. She talked fast and I felt very rushed every time she showed up at my table. And when I have questions, I felt I was troubling her time too much. There were also couple times that she brought wrong utensils to a course that Tony had, and didn't bring utensils to me for a course that I had. The back server was the same, and it was surprising to me that it was the back server who not only dropped off the plates for us, but also introduced the food to us. However again, she was rushing and spoke so fast that I really wanted to ask her everytime, "I'm sorry, what am I having again?" However I was a bit hesitated to trouble her time!

The food was good, but...

I love truffles. Therefore when the first couple courses came, I was very happy to taste the truffle and the truffle oils. However after 3 or 4 courses from both mine and Tony's, I was totally truffles out. Too many courses with truffles/oil, and too generous in each course which it overpowering the food itself.

I think I would like to give it a second try, but won't be anytime soon. And as for Tony, he didn't seem interested at all.

Again was it because I was too spoiled? Or was I too picky?