Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay

We have been to Half Moon Bay a number of times. In previous occasion, we always struggled to find a good place to stop. The parking is expensive and if after you parked you find the place to be too crowded or not ideal, you are out of luck.

During the Memorial Day weekend, our friend YM took us to the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay. You might think it is going to be expensive to even get in and park at the hotel. However, we were surprise, even on a holiday weekend, we were able to find a parking spot at the parking structure, free of charge. All we have to do is to inform the guard that we wanted a coaster access pass, and she immediate gave us a code for the parking garage. She even suggested to us where else we can park if in case we couldn't find a spot in the parking structure.

Beside the free parking, the beaches in front of the Ritz Carlton is gorgeous. Within a few minutes walk, we came to a stair way that leads us down to the beach.

From high above, we get to enjoy the spectacular view just like all the hotel guests. We couldn't even buy an outdoor meal there but we elected not too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Taste of Tropical

Hidden in the Sunset Area of San Francisco is this small and unattractive looking gelato outlet calle Marco Polo. If it wasn't our friend Jean, we would not have drive all the way to come to this place. I was never a fan of durian ice cream, as I have never tasted any that is made from fresh durian. And when I walked in to the store and decided what to buy, I saw a photo of soursop, asked the store keeper for a sample, and decided I would go with that. My wife picked the Guava and we didn't even bother to taste the durian. But after repeatedly urged by Jean, I decided to give it a try.

If you looked closely at the photo, I have actually tried them all before taking the shot. And they were all wonderful. They are not merely great tasting ice cream, but they brough out the favour of the real things.

The guava taste just like guava juice that was very popular when many years ago in Malaysia. I think it is still one of the more popular drinks now a days.

As for the soursop, I think it's the best way to taste the fruit. The favor is so intense and real, sweet with that pleasant sourness.

And last but not least, the durian gelato is the king. It reminds me of the durian kuih (concentrated durian paste) made by my grandma. You know it's real durian, but it isn't really equivalent to eating real durian. However, it is a whole new experience, and it doesn't make the whole place smelly, nor force you to brush your teeth 10 times before going out to meet other people.

This will no doubt be a must stop for us every time we go in town in the future.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crawfish at Crabdaddy

This past weekend, after touring a few houses with our real estate agents in San Jose, we stopped by a new place called Crabdaddy. It was mentioned to us by our friends who happened to just left San Francisco a month before we arrived.

We arrived at the restaurant just the time it was suppose to start it's business. However, there was a closed sign hanging outside, with some paper posted on the glass wall. Since all the glass was tinted, we really couldn't see inside. Without coming down to check, we thought it has been closed down or relocated. So we started looking for alternative and decided to try another restaurant. When we were just driving away, suddenly we saw the signed has been flipped and now it said "OPEN"! The staffs must have arrived late or something. We immediately drove back to the restaurant and we were so glad we did.

There many items on a one sheet menu. But I believe their main attraction is their Boiled Crawfish, dipped in spicy Cajun broth or source. And there are four level of spiciness. The also have shrimps and Alaskan Crab served in the same source. We went with a pound of crawfish, some deep fried oysters and Cajun fries. The crawfish came in a double plastic bag filled with the source. Crawfish is like mini lobster. Just that they are very small and not much meat in it. The head has all kind of stuff in it and kind of juicy. You can squeeze out something from the craws but since they didn't provide any tool, I guess you aren't expected to do anything with them.

The source is also filled with garlic, and it is quite spicy despite we only went with Medium, next to Mild. If you plan to visit friends afterward, make sure you take something to neutralize the garlic.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Vietnamese Food Truck at Stanford

Working at a new company, one of the most difficult things is to find some regular places for lunch. I tend to eat alone during lunch because of my unstructured schedule. I could go to lunch at 11.30am one day, and at 1.30pm on another. Unless someone asked me, I seldom go out with others. As a result, I don't go to a sit down place very often. I hate sitting on a table waiting for food to be served.

Unfortunately around Menlo Park, there isn't really anything quick and easy. I spend about two to three months going to Safeway to get their prepackaged sushi for lunch. The sushi is fresh and tasty, and there are usually some tables to sit outside the grocery store, but it just isn't satisfying.

About a month ago, I stopped by Stanford University to visit a open house for the new Huang's Engineering Building. On my way back, I decided to stop by the Tresidder Union to get a Subway sandwish. After the quick lunch, on my way to my car, I stumbled upon a food truck which seemed to sell Asian food.

Few days later, I took the trouble to drive to Santa Teresa St, and went into the truck for the first time. The truck is set up to have a rolls of food on each side. Most of the items are identical on each side. You would pick up a container, add rice or noodle, and any of the ten or so entrées and come out from the back of the truck. Then the container will be weighted by a Vietnamese lady on a scale, and she will tell you how much it costs. She also has a few coolers of drinks, in can and bottles. To my surprise, a can of coke only costs 50 cents. I would have to pay close to 30 cents sometimes at a grocery store.

There are a big variety of food served by the truck. I almost always ends up with the same items, like green curry chicken, fried fish, teriyaki fish, some vegetables and an fried egg roll. But I am not exactly consistent with the amount I take. Sometimes my lunch only cost $5.50 but other times it goes up to $7.

It is not exactly easy for me to come here since there is limited visitor parking around. The parking isn't free either. It cost $1.50 to park for an hour. A few times, I drove around to all the visitor parking areas and ended up leaving and eat elsewhere.

Once the food is purchased, I could walk just a couple of minutes to the eating area outside Tresidder Union. There you can see all kind of people. Students, university staffs, construction workers and may be others like me. There are always plenty of seating and I feel at ease enjoying my lunch.

This past week, I happened to park my car in front of the truck. It was very late, almost near the time they were leaving. Luckily the lady told me that's still food left. When I came out of the truck, she gave me a discount saying because I was late! I didn't mind of course. Half an hour later, when I return to my car, the truck was still there to my surprise. It turned out the truck battery was drained, and since I happened to be in front of the trunk, I helped the owner jumped started the car. I was glad to help, and because of that, I think they recognized my face.

Since then, every time I purchase food from them, the lady just ignore the scale and gives me a good price. I started feeling bad and did ask her if she was sure.

I am glad I can find a place to relax and enjoy good food during lunch time. There are plenty of other places at Stanford I have yet discover. But I will sure try out the other ones very soon.

Here are a couple of links if you wish to check them out:



Friday, September 10, 2010

Peninsula Open Space Preserve

This past Labor Day weekend, we took an afternoon to venture to the West side of Route 84 off of I-280. I have heard from a coworker the mountain are nice and the drive is windy.

We headed up hill and in deed the roads are very windy, not unlike our previous trip to the Big Basin National Park.

However when we reached a certain point, where we found a restaurant at a cross road, we decided to head back. We didn't really have any destination and our cell phones have lost all signal for us to look up any place of interest. Relying on our GPS, we were brough to a stretch of Old Honda Rd where the width of the road barely allow one car to go by. It was heading up the hill. At one point, there was no tree but the dried out grass. I suddenly felt nerveous because I have no idea where it is taking us to and I can't see behind a turn. So I decided to turn back and take a bigger road.

On our way back on Skyline, we past by a parking lot and decided to stop and look at the scenery. We stumbled onto a place called the Pennisula Open Space Preseve - Windy Peak. That may not be the exact name and I will have to look it up. After only a 10 minutes hike, we are at a peak where we can see the whole valley on one side, and the pacific ocean on the other. It was indeed breath taking . I am glad we found this place and we will definitely return whenever we feel like looking at the great scene again.

San Bruno Fire

I don't watch live TV that much these days and didn't even know something terrifying had happened before my sister in Bangkok alerted me to it. A major gas line has exploded in a housing area just 20 over miles North of where I live. It looks terrible from the photos and videos posted on line. So many houses burned down and I hope no more people other than the reported lost their lives.

It is also bad for those who lost their house. They can't just rebuild on the land in the near future. I hope they get all the assistance they need to get back to their feed, from the government, insurance companies and all the aid organizations.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay

It was a warm Sunday afternoon, the day before the Independence Day. After church service and lunch in Milpitas, our friend suggested we should go to Half Moon Bay to cool off. At the time we left, it was about 94 degree in San Jose.

This was our second trip to Half Moon Bay. The first time we were there, we managed to find beach with paid parking. However the beach wasn't very pleasing. This time, we went South of Route 92 to the Ritz Carlton. Our friend, being there before directed us straight to the guard house leading in to the hotel. We asked for a parking pass to go to the Coastal Access. With the passcode, we were able to park our car at the parking structure for free. From there we could get to the hotel, the cliff, and also go down to a beautiful stretch of beach. It's indeed a not so well known spot in Half Moon Bay. Before we left, we also witness a Sunset wedding right on the cliff next to the hotel.

When we got to Half Moon Bay about 45 minutes after we left San Jose, the temperature around at the Pacific Coast were at least 20 degree lower. It was indeed a brilliant idea to go there an cool off.

World Cup Final in San Jose

Before moving to the Bay Area, I looked forward very much for this year World Cup. Back in Chicago, I had only a couple of friends who watched soccer once a while. I did manage to put together a couple of gathering and pulled some friends together during WC '06. However they were more of social gathering than soccer party.

However, when after arriving here, I thought I would find more friends who are into soccer. And I ended up watching all but one game by myself, or with my wife, just barely. So when the final game came, I decided I would join a crowd and found out a local TV station were showing the game on the street in downtown San Jose.

Early in the morning, we got ready and drove to downtown Mountain View. Since we didn't know what to expect in San Jose, we'd decided not to drive down there. Instead, we took the VTA Light Rail off Castro. We were probably the only two person wearing any kind of jersey on the street. There were no soccer atmosphere on Castro, although I knew at least an Irish pub showing the match.

This was the first time we took the Light Rail. The Mountain View station is the last station at the North end of the line. Each one way ticket is only $2 flat. We bought the $4 ticket which allows unlimited rides within an eight hour period. However, when we arrive in San Jose 45 minutes later, no one ever came to check for our tickets.

The trip to San Jose, as I said, was a long one. The line goes through a few cities; Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Milpitas, Santa Clara and San Jose. It passed by many well known companies such as Nasa, Lockheed Martin, Cisco, etc. Nevertheless, we will probably not take the light right to go to San Jose anymore in the future because it simple takes too long.

We we arrived in San Jose near San Carlos and 1st street where the screen was set up, a few dozens people has arrived. Many of them have brought their own lawn chairs and found good space in front. We had thought of bringing lawn chairs but again had no idea if there would be too many people. San Jose Earthquake has also setup some booth and games for kids to get involved in. They have players and cheer leaders going around talking to people, trying to promote the team. I could no recognize any of the players.

By the time the game was starting, the crowd has grown bigger. There must have been a least 500 people. It may not been any where close to Madrid or Amsterdam, or even San Francisco Union Square that day, but it sure beat watching the game by ourselves at home. It must have been one of the best soccer watching experience I ever had. And the more important thing was our team won the tournament, and crowned the World Champion.

It was not our first time in the area. Once we had to pick up a package from Fairmont Hotel close by. And it was good we had been there because that's our little secret rest room place. They even have an entrance on 1st street, near their Spa, right where the rest rooms are.

It was a good day, once I would remember for a long time.

Recent memories

I started this blog in September, 2010. So many of the events mentioned here before this are recollections. However, majority of them are still fresh in my mind. That's the reason I am writing them down because one don't get many chances of starting a whole new life in a new place in a life time.

A quick recap

November 2009, a week before Thanksgiving ...
- Landed in the morning at SFO, picked up by my the person interviewed me on the phone, went straight to the company. Met a few people. Left for the airport at around 4.30pm. Took off and went back to Chicago. That was my quick trip to the Bay Area.

January 2010 ...
- On a cruise ship ported at St. Thomas, Virgin Island. Phone rang unexpectedly and was told they offered me a job.

End of March, 2010 ...
- Last day of work in Chicago. Flew to SFO to look for housing. Visited a dozen apartments and finally decided on a house in Mountain View. Spent last day driving around. Visited Half Moon Bay, and quick drive to San Francisco.

April, 2010 ...
- Moved out of house in Chicago, and started brand new job in the Bay Area. Moved into new rented house at the end of April.