Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day 2011

I felt like I should "fess up" on the board today. I wrote a brief note on my wife’s food blog promising that I would prepare a curry on this Father’s day Sunday. Long story short I got lazy and didn't. Instead we called some friends and met for a long lunch at an interesting cafe that Quay Po had discovered while she was checking out a neighborhood near a condo she was considering as an investment and possible "retire to" place. We picked a perfect day, just temperate and breezy enough to allow us to dine al fresco. We had a delightful meal, starting with sharing one of their large-ish salads. Our choice was the frisee/arugula with avocado, gorgonzola, apple, and toasted walnuts tossed in a light vinaigrette. We then each had the foie gras which was served in a very unique fashion worth mentioning. The foie gras had been tossed in a seasoned flour and flash fried at high temperature. It sat upon a layer that started with a slice of toasted baguette, in turn topped with a grilled orange slice and spiced apple. The presentation was gorgeous. The taste was good except that we all agreed the foie gras was perhaps slightly over cooked. For mains my buddy & I chose home made beef sausages with mash and a deeply rich shallot & red wine reduction sauce. Quay Po chose garlic prawns while her counterpart chose roasted salmon. Our choices were beautifully plated, and delicious, perfectly accompanied by a very chilled bottle of Prosecco to lend to the festive meal. All of us were too stuffed to consider dessert but we did have a round of espressos, which seemed perfect after the rich and slightly sweet meal.

I will say it again, my favorite moments in life are dining leisurely on good food with good friends. Good wine is a bonus. My best meal memories include camp fire steaks with hunting and fishing buddies, the time I was introduced to Caspian caviar and ice cold Polish vodka in a campy Berlin bar,  an exquisite Vienna restaurant, in candlelight with my lovely Krystle, more than one riotous drinking & eating parties with friends and colleagues in Tokyo, surprising and amazing Mexican food in Suzhou China, ice cold beer and ceviche from freshly caught yellow fin chopped on the wooden seat of a panga boat while drifting in the Sea of Cortez, the incredible cheese steak sandwiches in a hole-in-the-wall South Philly joint found purely by accident, the best ever veal shared in a Milano restaurant with a colleague from New Zealand, the biscuits & gravy in a cafe called The Rose in a west Kansas town the summer I did farm work so many years ago (the same town in which we had to fight our way through several "townies" that took umbrage at the attention one of our rowdy crew had paid to a local gal), the spicy pasta in a Rome trattoria where the good hearted owner fell in love with my wife and catered to her, and on our last evening there, walked out with us and hugged us with a tear in his eyes, and so many more memorable occasions. It seems to me that my life comprises these events in a series of exclamation points. It has been a very fortunate journey so far. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

An odd moment for a brief note

It is an odd moment to write a brief blog, and it has been months since last doing so, as my usual sloth still reigns supreme. I am sitting in the study and awaiting my wife who is upstairs freshening up for a late afternoon/early evening visit to friends of ours. They have a just delivered a new baby into their family, the Mum and Baby both doing very well. Outside on our dining room table, there is a large box of cupcakes (lovely things with creamy peanut butter frosting, sitting on top of orange-vanilla sponge). They and the bouquet of flowers she bought earlier today, are intended to make our visit a festive occasion. Of course she had to set up her cameras and lights to take pictures of these for her blog. It is that way for virtually every meal, as she explores the wonder and rewards of cooking. It has so taken her interest that little else seems to matter much these days. Having said that I am not complaining. It has been very good to see her occupied and enjoying herself. I am her taste tester, and aside from the extra pounds I have put on, it has been a good experience for me as well. However, I occasionally feel like like I am caught up in her hobby and am becoming more defined as "the blogger's husband". It seems a small price to pay. Anyone stumbling onto this blog can visit hers at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Taking a break...wish there was more

This morning I watched Singapore awaken from the 61st floor perch of my hotel room while sipping coffee. The weather is archetypal equatorial. It is hot, and incredibly humid at this time of day. In view are the Singapore River's entry into the harbor, the in vogue entertainment and restaurant venues along the Boat Quay and Clark Quay sides of the river as well as a large swath of the cityscape. As the sun rises, the mist of ground fog is noticeable. The whole process of sun against wet ground is easily observed from my vantage point, as the humidified mist rises up towards me. The view, while not opaque, is getting thicker, and for a moment I literally have my head in the cloud of ground fog as it rises and dissipates in the relentless sun. It seems to me that it is an apt condition for this languid Sunday morning in the land of Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling. In fact, the view from my skyscraping room includes the Raffles hotel where both English authors stayed during the late, pre war, and colonial times here.

From experience I know that in a few minutes the sun will have risen further and win another decisive victory over the wet ground. It will soon be hot enough that there will be no visible ground fog and the entire conversion of ground water to disconnected molecules will occur at ground level, invisible to the human eye. However, it won't be undetected by the human body's thermostat and anyone walking below will soon be perspiring in an involuntary but futile attempt to cool down. To their frustration, there is no evaporation to allow the heat exchange, as there are zero breezes to fan it. I turn back into the room, close the patio door, and lock out the heat & humidity. It is Sunday morning, and although the conditions call for a languid response, this is Singapore and there is no such response here. I am returning to the work on my desk as business demands call, and work overrides pleasure. I spent all of Saturday traveling to this city and subsequently meeting for five hours with young execs from two parties contemplating a merger deal. I have only ten days to prepare a report for the board of one of the companies involved. They have asked for an opinion, my opinion. Frankly, I am unabashedly proud of that while, but at the same time, I'm struck by the weight and gravity of the trust. My equatorial, Somerset Maugham inspired, reverie is soon to be forgotten. With a last brief thought that I probably had just had my entire weekend respite in those few minutes of sipping coffee and watching the hot sun and the wet ground replay their timeless morning tug of war, I am turning my thoughts back to the work. This is Singapore today. This is Asia today. I do not know how long, at my age, I can keep the pace. Most of Asia today is a very young, energetic, and impatient place. Almost every thing I do these days is laced with my own frequent furtive glances around the landscape for a place to recline and watch from a less engaged position.