Fresh baked “Fong Bao” from the oven – 方包出爐

Random musings & meditations straight from the oven. Hopefully some food for thought as well…

Archive for November, 2009

Black Friday – 黑色星期五

Over the summer I read a report that suggested this year’s Black Friday could be quite interesting due to the slow recovery of the U.S. retail sector. With that in mind, I decided a trip was in order. At first, Pie Pie Lo was not convinced but soon warmed up to the idea of crossing the border. That being said we were not crazy enough to be part of the midnight madness crowd.

So instead we left the house around 6:30am thinking there would be a long wait across the border. To our surprise, 20 minutes was all it took, with the help of the duty free store at the Truck crossing. The drive down south was a cautious one as the Washington state troopers were out in full force, taking advantage of all the bargain hunters speeding towards their destinations. At one point, we thought we got caught but to our relief the trooper decided to stop the car in front of us. Whew!

Once we arrived at our first stop, Pie Pie Lo and I methodically went to the stores on our list and looked for the things we wanted to get along with bargains that were too good to pass up. In all, we spent time at 4 places – Seattle Premium, Alderwood mall, Nordstrom Rack and Bellis Fair – and managed to achieve our objectives with a few pleasant surprises. Not bad for 14 hours of “work”.

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A few observations from this trip:

– Nordstrom Rack is AWESOME! (Even though I didn’t really buy anything there this time.)

– As much as I complain about the declining quality of Vancouver drivers, at least they still demonstrate a sense of courtesy, in most cases, toward other drivers. American drivers are a different breed. At one point while waiting to get out of the Nordstrom Rack parking lot, Pie Pie Lo and I were both shocked and amused to see how selfish some of our American friends were. Suffice to say that everyone could have gone out of the parking lot a little bit sooner if a little common sense was applied.

– What is it about Chinese food at the shopping malls and outlets? Every food court we went to, the longest queue is always the one for the Panda Expresses and the Man Chu Woks of the world. And it’s not just Caucasians. I saw African Americans, South Americans, East Indians, Filipinos, Koreans and CHINESES all lining up for sweet & sour pork and “chicken fried lice”. If Chinese food is not the most popular food in the world, I don’t know what is.

– For some reason Asians like to ask a lot of questions…….at the check out counter?!

– Make sure you have room in your vehicle before you purchase a big ticket item like a, ahem…., 56” TV?!

– Expect the unexpected.

– If you buy something at home, ask about and take advantage of the refund and exchange policy. It could come in handy in the future as well as saving you some money when you’re abroad.

– Oh, did I mention Nordstrom Rack is AWESOME?

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狂潮 – 方大同 (Khalil Fong)

只能用「驚喜」兩個字來形容這個新版本。方大同的編曲和演譯應記一功。更令我意外的是這首歌的曲與詞都是水準之作。「輝黄」這對經典組合果然不是浪得虛名!

RIP Excercise Ball

The following is a public service announcement for those like me who neglected to clear the area around the electric heater. The consequence is here for all to see.

The current state of the excercise ballThe burned scarThe wound

I have no idea what prompted me to check this morning but I’m sure glad I did. Come to think of it, everything could have gone horribly wrong had the exercise ball caught fire. While the heater in question is one that’s isolated and out of sight, it’s certainly not an excuse.

Chalk this one up as another lesson learned.

To Exercise Ball:

You’ve served us well in years past and it’s unfortunate it had to end this way. Not sure what will become of you but hopefully you’ll be recycled into something useful.

A November walk-around in Vancity

Lest We ForgetFirst of all, a very belated salute to all the men and women who gave their lives to preserve our freedom and way of life. Without their sacrifices, a lot of us wouldn’t be here to show our appreciation. And I sincerely hope that young people today, those who never had a chance to talk to a relative who experienced the war first hand, will not overlook the importance of Remembrance Day.

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Very thankful that my manager has made an exception to accommodate my Olympic volunteer schedule. Originally I was entitled to only 3 days off during the month of February and one of them was already booked to attend a few hockey games on Feb 18. With 6 weekday shifts and only 2 day-offs left, I was given the go ahead to use 4 of my regular vacation days to fulfill my volunteer duties. That helps a lot when I don’t have to juggle my work commute and work hours with my volunteer schedule.

One of many flocks @ Minoru ParkSince I had this week off and mother nature was so kind to stop raining for a day, I thought it would be a good idea to figure out my commute to the Richmond Olympic Oval since a lot of streets in the area will be closed 24 hours with very little parking to speak off. Walking suddenly becomes an option since I don’t live that far away from the Oval. As it turned out, it took about 40 minutes to get there from my home, cutting through Minoru Park on the way. That’s not too bad. The other option would be to take the special shuttle bus between the Oval and the Brighouse Canada Line station, which is a 15 minute walk from my home. But with 4 shifts that start around 6 – 6:30am, walking might be the only option during those hours.

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All aboard

After the trip to the Oval, I walked another 15 minutes to Lansdowne, took the Canada Line to Waterfront station and hopped on the Seabus to have brunch at Lonsdale Quay in North Van. Star Ferry it is not but given it’s been so long since I crossed the Burrard Inlet this way, it all seemed novel again.

Lonsdale QuayFresh halibut chowder

It was still mostly cloudy late morning when I arrived at Lonsdale but by the time I finished my beaver tail and halibut chowder, the sun has broken through for the rest of the afternoon. A brief stroll around the Olympic store and Granville mall, it was time to head back south. Not to home but YVR instead.

The Olympic Store

The airport has done a lot of renovations in anticipation for the Olympics and I, for one, thought they’ve done a fabulous job. It definitely has the look of a proper international airport, something that cannot be said about the dump that is LAX. And with the Canada Line in place, YVR has been promoting itself as a place you can eat, shop and hang out. So I did the latter, if only for a brief time.

YVRDirections

The new observation deck – located in the domestic terminal that looks nothing like the one I spent time in just a year and a bit ago – was, surprisingly, a nice place to relax and enjoy some quite contemplation. Not a bad way to end my afternoon.

View from the observation deck

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Here are the rest of my pics

Hot Pot – 拾下拾下

Dual soup baseThere is sort of a love-hate relationship between me and hot pot.

On one hand, I can’t think of a better way to spend a chilly evening than with family and/or a bunch of friends huddling around a pot of hot, steaming broth cooking, eating and chatting away. And I like the control/ freedom/ flexibility – whatever you want to call it – that hot pot offers. From ingredients to soup base to condiments to how you like your food cooked, the level of customization is without equal.

The full spreadThe companyThe reserves

But a few not-so-pleasant experiences in the past have gotten me, and my tummy, jaded about hot pot: Undercooked food. Bad mix of condiments. The feeling of not being “full”. Too much sour plum juice. And -“Hot Air/Yit Hey/熱氣”- the one Chinese word that doesn’t translate at all. So while I don’t mind having hot pot, it’s not something that I’ve actively pursued for the past few years.

Then in the span of a week and a half, I’ve gone hot potting 3 times and it seems to have rekindled my interest in this form of communal dining experience. Pie Pie Lo half jokingly said that we should have hot pot every night.  Well…I’m not sure about THAT…….

The Favorites

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