May 21, 2012

Look Up for Good Food

I love finding what feel like hidden or undiscovered restaurants when I go out to dine. You know, that place that is up a set of stairs, in an alleyway, or looks ramshackle on the outside but is frilly and frou-frou on the inside. These days in Manila, I spend most of my time chasing big-name restaurants that are working hard to open up multiple chains across the city and that serve underwhelming food at classy prices. I mostly expect the same from my restaurants in LA, and even more so from restaurants located inside hotels. Thus, I was really pleasantly surprised by "Second Story" in the boutique Hotel Belamar in Manhattan Beach.

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April 28, 2012

How now Blue Cow?

I remember thinking that Casa was a really cool spot in the middle of Bunker Hill in Downtown LA when I went last year for dinner with a friend. One of the few places in the neighborhood that was still open and alive, sitting outside in the open air surrounded by Bunker Hill's skyscrapers was an experience I hadn't had before. Unfortunately, I don't remember any of what I ate. It just wasn't very good. However, when faced with the dilemma of taking a visiting friend out for a LA meal in Bunker Hill again, Casa seemed like the only choice (Starry Kitchen, which is a pretty decent restaurant that should be tried, just didn't have the ambiance I thought a visitor would be interested in.)

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October 18, 2011

Reflections on the Past

My most recent trip to Beijing did not start out very auspiciously. I spent most of the 4 1/2 hour flight curled up in a fetal position on the plane, suffering from a low grade fever, alternately sweating and shivering. I imagined myself getting pulled aside at the airport and being quarantined. I wondered if I would have to pay any fees if I were quarantined, and thought that given how expensive hotels had gotten in Beijing that it might not be a bad thing to get a free place to stay in the airport, even it if it was to prevent me from transmitting some horrible infectious disease to the masses. In one of the more lucid moments of my haze, I thought about how irresponsible it had been for me to get on the plane with my fever. I had recently finished a book about SARS, that chronicled how the epidemic was spread by unsuspecting but irresponsible travelers who got on their flights despite feeling terrible. I was one of those irresponsible people. I could be responsible for infecting 1.3 billion people. They would trace the vector back to me, I would be the super-transmitter.

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September 4, 2011

The Unfulfilled Promise of Louie

Bottega Louie lords over 7th and Grand in downtown LA from its magnificent white-walled, heritage space on the southeast corner. Marked only with LOUIE at the corners of the building in bold, gold letters, the restaurant, with its soaring ceiling inside and marble-everywhere space filled with the fashionably dressed, is as much a statement of Louie's self-assured presence as it is the return of trendy destination restaurants to the once maligned area. The extensive patisserie at the front, filled with incredibly delectable-looking cakes, macaroons, and other forms of sugar, gives hope that Louie is all that you were expecting and more.

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April 20, 2011

We Innovate... Don't We?

A quote in a recent Businessweek article about the latest tech bubble really struck me.

Hands waving and voice rising, he says that venture capitalists have become consumed with finding overnight sensations. They've pulled away from funding risky projects that create more of those general-purpose technologies - inventions that lay the foundation for more invention. "Facebook is not the kind of technology that will stop us from having dropped cell phone calls, and neither is Groupon or any of these advertising things," he says. "We need them. O.K., great. But they are building on top of old technology, and at some point you exhaust the fuel of the underpinnings."

I've been thinking quite the same thing for some time now. I think you can throw in the move to a service economy (and thus, away from manufacturing), as well as our focus on finance as a major "industry" into this mix of why our economy is tanking.

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January 23, 2011

The best pizza in LA

I tend to find high priced pizza to be something of an oxymoron. I associate pizza with late night post-party college face-stuffing, or with delivery guys who drive too fast, or with trying to save money when in Italy. Pizzas that cost twenty dollars generally annoy me unless they are the size of a small Uhaul. I've had my fair share of expensive pizzas that claim to use things like truffles, rare hams, and heirloom tomatoes that disappoint more often than surprise. Yet Pizzeria Mozza, part of Mario Batali's burgeoning restaurant empire, delivers pizzas that are worth every pricey penny. Rich in flavor with a substantive yet crispy crust and tons of topping choices, pizzas in Mozza show that expensive pies can indeed live up to their hype.

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January 1, 2011

A New (Beijing) Year

Well, here is the return of the Email Journal, since I'm back in China and I can't easily access any of my favorite pieces of social media. No Blogger, no Facebook, no Twitter. Also no Wiki'ing something, and even my own website is still blocked because I use address forwarding. From my brief experience, and from the analysis of some friends, it seems that censorship here has gotten bolder and more encompassing, while at the same time actually losing some of its effectiveness. The government wants to avoid social networks it can't control, and in their place have stemmed a number of China-specific social networks and micro-blogging sites that the government can exert control over. Yet on social networks of any kind, information has to be posted first to be blocked, and often those precious few minutes of being shared publicly is enough to send the information around the country. It's a cat and mouse game that's still playing out, but suffice it to say that the censorship annoys me and seems pretty pointless at the end of the day. Whatever though, the mice are still running around, and that means there's still hope for the future.

I'll get some time later to put this entry up on various blogs, but for now, I'm returning to the e-mail journal format. The memories!

Anyway, another trip to Beijing means its like exploring another brand new city. It never fails to amaze me how quickly China is changing, and how ridiculously wealthy cities like Beijing have become. Wealthy and expensive.........

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November 25, 2010

Take a Robot With You!

I am always on the lookout for cool products, and although I've had serious quality issues with Western Digital in the past, I can't help but want to grab this portable hard drive for my travels. It's a bit small now (only 500gb) but the case is just so cool that I'm having trouble resisting, even with the higher cost per GB. Ah, a sucker for marketing.


October 10, 2010

The scapegoat

There is something seriously sinister going on in our politics today. I have really been sad to see how many anti-other country attacks have been on the airwaves recently, and how many negative attacks in general dominate politics. This is the first major election I've been at home for in a while, and the 2010 mid-terms are aggressive, negative, and a sad reflection of "democracy in action."

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July 20, 2010

The Destruction of Old Beijing

They were supposed to stop doing this when the economy got better, when people had more time and luxury to protest and recognize that historical capital was just as important as money, when tourists streamed in and demonstrated how valuable the old parts of the city really were, and when the Olympics were over.

The sad truth of it all is - they have not stopped destroying the old city, and likely never will, at least as long as there is an old city to destroy. I remember hearing my local friends say that it was getting better when I was staying there in 2003 and 2004, that the government and the people were all looking at historical districts and old architecture differently. But, through my stay there, until 2007, I continued to see old neighborhoods get destroyed and re-built (in the most horrid ways) over and over again.

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June 23, 2010

Cooking co-op

Now, I realize I'm quite far from any of this, but I couldn't help but feel like I should blog about the concept of the dinner co-op when I read about it in the New York Times. Imagine, a group of like-minded (and hopefully similarly skilled) cooks/families getting together to share the burden of making tasty meals every night. Interesting no? You can read more about it here:

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January 14, 2010

Poor 8-year old!

I would say this article is funny, but it's actually quite sad - and a little scary. If these lists are all our security is composed of, then we've got serious problems. Especially if people can change their names and therefore get out of being screened. Uh - security hole anyone?

Yet the thought of a poor 8-year old getting patted down does bring about a smile as well as a head-shaking feeling of empathy. This quote from his Mom is especially endearing...: "I understand the need for security," she added. "But this is ridiculous. It's quite clear that he is 8 years old, and while he may have terroristic tendencies at home, he does not have those on a plane."

Read the full article in the New York Times here.

January 2, 2010

Advocating for a return to thinkers

Just came across a good article in the New York Times that can be found here. It discusses the ever-increasing obsession by both parents and students with careerism - in other words, how will the degree I get help me get a job?

I have always found this way of thinking to be counter-productive and false. While getting a job certainly is important (the size of those loans, my gosh!) your education should not be geared solely towards getting a job. A person who has the luxury to go to university should see that opportunity as one to grow their analytical skills, to become more creative, to harness their innovative instincts, to learn how to think.

I think from the time I did counseling in college, I have stated that the best thing you can do in college is to "learn how to learn." Everyone does it differently, and different tactics work for different people. Recognizing what you need to do in order to learn something is invaluable. It takes time though, and that is often a luxury people don't have. College is a wonderful opportunity to take courses in multiple fields and challenge oneself to learn things that one otherwise would not learn. The beauty of it? If you learn how to learn, the world (and all of its careers) really are your oyster. What is too hard for someone who can learn anything? :)

Okay, obviously not SO simple, but you get the drift.

December 16, 2009

Long live coffee and tea!

All the more reason to drink coffee and tea, a recent study has come out suggesting that regular coffee and tea drinkers are at significantly lower risks of getting Type 2 diabetes.

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December 13, 2009

Some dern good coffee

I admit that I am not a coffee connoisseur. I generally can't tell the difference between most popular brands of coffee (I acknowledge that many people like Peets over Starbucks, but I can't tell you why.) In fact, I'm so bad, that I even failed the Starbucks VIA challenge three times. So, how can I sit here and write about "good coffee"? Well, because Intelligentsia coffee is pretty amazing. Blue Bottle isn't bad either.

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November 17, 2009

Meeting Mr. Keller

Through some stroke of strange scheduling, the famous chef of French Laundry fame, Thomas Keller, came to Torrance for a book signing event. Lucky for me, it was at the local Borders, a mere minute walk away from my house.

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November 14, 2009

NYC: Food - Pork buns?

First, one word: Momofuku. Second, two more: Pork buns. This is where it is supposed to be at. This is supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread. Is it?

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NYC: Food - Why not, but why?

This city is all about hype, and we all know how much I love hype. Luckily I didn't really find much to hate here in New York. Just some places that I think are probably over-hyped and really not worth all of the fuss.

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NYC: Food - You could do worse

I recognize that I am a hard eater to please. If something isn't transcendent, I move to this complex value/connection/taste/emotion evaluation framework that basically boils a restaurant down to this - the food is fine (maybe even good) and I'm not unhappy I ate it, but it might be overpriced, over-hyped, overdone - something. These are them.

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NYC: Food - You will not be disappointed

Everyone has really different tastes, so there are very few spots that I feel comfortable recommending with no reservations. Thus, only two in the "You will thank me" group. But, there are lots of places that I enjoy and that I think others might also - but I don't think they are transcendent, and they have obvious weaknesses. That's this group.

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NYC: Kolache Mama - Cute logo, even better pastries.

I stumbled onto this little hole in the wall near Grand Central, but after having one of their sweet Kolache pastries, I'm convinced this is the next big trend in New York City.

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NYC: Marlow & Sons - Living up to the hype

Few of the really hyped up places I went to in NYC lived up to their reputations for me. Marlow and Sons in Williamsburg was one that did.

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Food in NYC

New York is supposed to be the best place in the US for food, with tons of celebrity chefs doing their celebrity thang there. I've personally always thought of the Bay Area as having the best food that I've had in the country. So, not to throw myself into the David Chang vs. the West Coast war, but here is a series of posts on the places *I* tried, and what I thought of them - categorized by my verdict.

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November 13, 2009

New York City

So I spent the last two weeks in New York City - a place that wasn't very high on my list based on two previous (and very short) trips there almost 10 years ago. This time, I was pleasantly surprised.

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Finally - a blog integrated into my main website so I can talk about stuff that's interesting to me without making a whole new website! And for you, finally a way to take me to task for all of my absurd opinions. Let's have fun!

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