365: Day 80 – A Little Earthquake

365: Day 80 – A Little Earthquake

It was about 4:30 in the morning when a small jolt awoke me and then immediately a strong jolt followed by some shaking. I did my obligatory check of news outlets and then was ready to try sleeping and then a small aftershock. Sometime shortly after I fell asleep again only to be woken up again at around 6:30 in the morning by a stronger after-shock. It felt like the shaking was an alarm clock that someone kept snoozing and forgetting to turn it off.

365: Day 79 – Do you like being famous?

365: Day 79 – Do you like being famous?

I stumbled upon a video on public speaking on YouTube and I am a sucker for business and self-improvement lectures, book, etc. The video is titled “How to Speak by Patric Winston”. It is a fascinating lecture by this professor at MIT, but the part that struck me the most was when he went into one of the reasons for wanting to be an effective speaker: to be famous. Before he discussed this, I dismissed it as something I’m not interested in and only wanted to hear about the other reasons.

When he came to the topic of being famous, he provided an anecdote about him sitting at a table with Julia Child and having many people approach her and wanting to meet her. He turned to her and asked her, “do you like being famous?” To which she replied, “you get used to it.” Professor Winston then told his audience, “you get used to being famous, but you never get used to being ignored.”

I have never thought of fame from this perspective and to my ears it was a profound statement. I would still never in a million years wish to be a celebrity, but I think most of us would like to have a certain level of fame that will elevate the platform and influence of our words and ideas. I would most certainly love to improve my position to maximize my influence and make a significant contribution to this world. You want to be in a position to deliver ideas and make them memorable.

If you have the time, I would recommend watching the below lecture.

365: Day 78 – Fantasy Travels

365: Day 78 – Fantasy Travels

There are two travel adventures I fantasize about: backpacking through Japan, and Camino de Santiago.

I fell in love with Japan and want to explore as much of it as possible for a month or more. Traveling from one city or town to the next be train and they get lost walking through the streets with my camera in hand. An observer of local life and trying as much variation of foods as possible.

The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage that runs along northern Spain from the Pyrenees to the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. It is nearly 500 miles long and takes about a month to complete on foot. I’ve seen parts of this pilgrim trail in my time in Spain and even a few pilgrims. I have desired to do this pilgrimage since I first heard about it in Burgos.

Both of these travel adventures will be ambitious, but I’ve got time to plan. 🙂

365: Day 76 – The Canals of Venice…no not that Venice!

365: Day 76 – The Canals of Venice…no not that Venice!

Los Angeles has its very own Venice canals, but by Venice I mean Venice Beach, not Venezia. You won’t find any business or tourist attractions here, just some beautiful walkways weaving alongside the canals and in front of some beautiful and eclectic homes. I originally wanted to write some tips and a little narrative, but I think the pictures speak for themselves. I love how some of these canals look just like a normal street would with homes having a walkway from their front door, through their front yard, and out through a gate to what looks like an ordinary sidewalk. Except of course that the roadway has been replaced by a waterway.

You can spend 15 minutes here or an hour, it’s really up to you. At a later date I will put together a little day trip itinerary to see some of the nearby sites and sample some of the eateries around here, but for now please enjoy these photos I took during our exploration of these canals.

I recommend coming here and just go up and down the canals at random, cross a bridge or two, and maybe with down the community lending library and read along the water’s edge. Don’t come with an itinerary, just walk, relax, and enjoy. You can access the canals from multiple points so I would just recommend heading down the the Venice or Marina Del Rey areas and then find the canals.

365: Day 75 – Siamese Garden (On my list to try)

365: Day 75 – Siamese Garden (On my list to try)

I came across this restaurant while exploring a cute little area of Los Angeles that I will post about tomorrow. The restaurant entrance has a very tropical feel to it and seems like it would be a beautiful place for a date around the sunset hour, and a great place to catch up with friends or family during the day.

The three most popular dishes seem to be Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and Green Curry. I am particularly interested in the green curry as it seems to be more popular than my favorite, yellow curry. For some reason, I think most people would be inclined to go for a yellow food rather than a green one…or perhaps it’s just me who thinks this of other people.

Looking through their menu, I also see a couple of other dishes that are not as popular, but seem quite interesting: Spicy Mint Noodle, and Panang Curry. The other thing I want to try is the Mango Sticky Rice: my favorite Thai dessert.

The restaurant has over 1,100 reviews on yelp and an average rating of 4 stars. On Google is has 272 reviews and 4.3 stars. Not what I would call excellent reviews, but very good nonetheless. It’s a $$ restaurant so it’s quite affordable. Not sure if I’ll make the drive down there for takeout during the pandemic, but definitely somewhere I’d like to come back to once it is safe to dine in a restaurant.

*I am experimenting trying to write posts about places I would like to try and things I’d like to do, so bear with me as I fine tune this to be more useful and entertaining. 🙂

365: Day 74 – Please enjoy this video during the brief pause

365: Day 74 – Please enjoy this video during the brief pause

I meant to write about another little area of Los Angeles to explore; however today proved quite stressful with a couple of work deadlines so instead of rushing through a little travel post, I am relaxing while enjoying some Gershwin.

One of the most beautiful experiences for me is listening to Gershwin at the Hollywood Bowl every summer. Listening to the silence of the crowd pierced by the piano, orchestra, and some crickets. Sip a little on your glass of wine and feel the cool summer breeze as you glance at the stars and moon above you. I am feeling incredibly nostalgic and saddened that this summer the Hollywood Bowl sits abandoned and the beautiful sounds of the Los Angeles Philharmonic exist only in my imagination.

365: Day 72 – Basilic

365: Day 72 – Basilic

Our reservation was 5:30 pm, the restaurant’s opening time and we were eagerly awaiting on a bench outside the restaurant. I love walking into a restaurant as soon as it opens because you get to see all the empty tables set and ready to welcome guests and it feels a little exclusive when you are seated before anyone else is. The restaurant has only eight or nine tables so it feels very cozy and intimate. You can fantasize about being transported to your favorite French or Swiss town, or you can be happy and content that you are on this charming little island in Orang County called Balboa Island.

The restaurant opened punctually and all the staff seemed friendly and polite from the start. The table was set beautifully and I loved the napkin rings with their little fork, knife, and spoon. We were brought our menus and without skipping a beat asked what we would like to drink and soon thereafter brought out the amuse bouche and with that began this wonderful French-Swiss culinary adventure.

Amuse bouche – Feta Toast: The wonderfully crispy toast with the feta and briny olives had me salivating while hearing the crunchiness as I bit into it. Like every good amuse bouche, it was a tease and had me wishing for more.

Soup Du JourMushroom asparagus: The soup of the day was a creamy mushroom asparagus with a very well-balanced flavor. Nothing was overpowering and it was not as salty as a lot of creamy soups out there.

Soupe A L’Oignon Swiss onion soup gratinée with gruyère toast: The onion soup was one of the best I’ve had. It was also great on the salt and the bread in the soup gave it a great texture.

Sea Bass: This was the fish of the day and it was cooked perfectly where the fish feels almost buttery and the creamy sauce was light enough to not overpower the fish.

Steak Au PoivreGrilled New York steak, black peppercorn sauce and baby vegetables: The steak had a goo flavor on its own, but the black peppercorn sauce is what really brought this dish to life. The vegetables were very flavorful as well. Often these are relegated to just being some extra fluff next to a juicy piece of meat, but this was not the case here: these veggies were great. The mashed potatoes on the dish were good, but I could have used about another bowl or two of these: they were quite good, and I liked that they seemed to have been squeezed out of some nozzle and topped with basil flowers.

Coq Au Vinmarinated, braised chicken, egg noodle and burgundy wine: I heard the name of this dish once when I was a child and I felt so fancy telling anyone about it. In the many years since I had a few versions of this dish and even cooked it myself (thank to Julia Child). I am therefore quite inclined to opt for this dish when I see it on the menu and this particular on was no disappointment and quite interesting. I’ve never had it with egg noodles before and it ended up being a very delicious addition. This too was also decorated with basil flowers.

Crème brûlée – This is a pretty standard dessert and one of my favorites. No matter how many times I’ve had it, I still get a tremendous joy out of breaking through that burnt sugar and digging out a spoonful of delicious creaminess with some bits of broken sugar and brining it to my mouth. This dessert here did not disappoint, but there was nothing unique or remarkable about this particular version. It was pretty standard and I am grateful for that.

Meringue with strawberry ice cream – This dessert was definitely more unique and I would highly recommend it! Given the choice between the two, I would still choose my beloved crème brûlée over this, no matter how standard and boring.

Once you’re done with your lovely meal, just enjoy the atmosphere of this cozy little restaurant and walk off your meal through the cute streets of this lovely Balboa Island.