Monday, May 20, 2013
Pretty much anyone who likes fine dining have heard of French Laundry Restaurant but there is a secrete gem in the wine country that's less famous than French Laundry but equally as good. I'm talking about The restaurant at Meadowood.
Like French Laundry, it's the only three Michelin Star restaurant on the US West Coast. Chef Christopher Kostow did an amazing job to lift Meadowood up to obtain that coveted third star. Is it better than French Laundry, no it isn't. But it's not worse than either. I would put them on par. The best part is both restaurants had different take on their food. I would say French Laundry is the ultimate classic French cuisine on the West Coast. Meadowood, on the other hand, is the ultimate nouveau cuisine on the West Coast.
Chef Kostow somehow takes ingredients that I don't think would go well together and made them sing. Most of the ingredients are something I'm familiar with but would never had paired them together.... and that's what's ingenious about Chef Kostow. The atmosphere is formal and yet relaxed. It feels like a place I can come once a month and be fine with whereas French Laundry feels more like a place where I go once a year. Meadowood Restaurant just had a nice ease about it. The service was perfect so was the food. I can't think of anything to complaint. It was just pure perfection. So next time you are on your way to Napa, put Meadowood restaurant on your to do list. Your taste buds will thank you.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I love going to Hawaii and I especially love Waikiki. I know it's very touristy and such but I love the fact that you can shop if you want to shop or you can just relax on the beach if you want to. Often it's one or the other. And as my reader, you know I love to shop!
One of my favorite place to stay when I'm in Honolulu is the Pink Palace, aka the Royal Hawaiian. It was remodeled in 2008 and reopen in 2009. My first time staying there was in May of 2009. I don't know what the place was like before, but I definitely like what I saw the first time I stayed there.
I thought the rooms are nicely appointed and spacious. The only complaint I have, a fairly minor one, is that the bathroom is small.... but it is still nicely done with marbles and such. I suppose one goes to Hawaii to go to the beaches and not stay in one's bathroom....
One of the nicest amenity is that Royal Hawaiian has a roped off area right on the beach. As you can imagine, Waikiki beach is often packed like sardine with oodles and oodles of people. But at Royal Hawaiian, you get the Royal treatment. They have a section roped off with chaise lounges and umbrellas for the hotel guests. All you have to do is get up in the early morning (not hard to do because of time difference between mainland US and Hawaii), put a towel on the chaise lounge of your choice, then head off to breakfast. That chaise lounge is yours for the day. Easy and simple. Just the way I like it.
Given the location of the hotel, you would think it can get noisy at night. Luckily because it's somewhat tucked away off the main road, it's relatively quiet when compare to hotels that are right on Kalakaua Avenue. So next time you are heading off to Honolulu, put the Pink Palace on your consideration list. You might just have the time of your life. Oh and don't forget to grab a glass of Mai Tai during your stay here. Royal Hawaiian is the place that invented it after all....
Friday, May 10, 2013
If country French decor is your thing and if you are looking to stay in the Sonoma wine country area, then Hotel Les Mars should be on top of your list. It's a very nicely done hotel. The finishes were quite good. If I remember correctly, the shower dial was from Waterworks.... and Waterworks stuff is really top of the line (meaning pretty much the most expensive bathroom hardware you can buy). The bed was comfortable and room was spacious. The only complaint I would have is next to Hotel Les Mars, they are building a barn shed structure while I was staying there. Let's just say the construction workers did not wait till 9AM before they started working. Despite the double pane windows, I can still clearly hear everything. But I get it, when staying in downtown of any town, you will hear city noises. As far as I can tell, construction was near the end stage so I'm sure by the time summer rolls around, it would be done. Cyrus used to be the go to restaurant in Healdsburg but it had closed since. Hotel Les Mars is in the process of coming up with a brand new restaurant. It would be interesting to see what they come up with. Our in room breakfast was not bad. I remember reading about how crappy it was on Tripadvisor. I think the hotel has since put in a roof top kitchen to do their breakfast while waiting for the kitchen downstairs get renovated. Once that's done, I'm sure Hotel Les Mars will be the best place to stay in Healdsburg.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
I guess this week is all about wine country for me. LOL. Anyhoo, if you get a chance on not looking to spend gazillion dollars at French Laundry, Bottega is a totally competent restaurant to eat at. I actually had a not so good impression of Michael Chiarello from the Top Chef Master on Bravo when he was a contestant on the show. I thought he was arrogant and full of himself. Well, he may be that, but Bottega was surprisingly good. The price was very reasonable. The pasta I had were all on point. The dessert, I thought it was going to be merely ok, turned out to be the highlight of my meal. All in all, I wouldn't mind going back there. If I was local, I would probably eat there once a month if not more frequent because of the quality of the food and price point. If you are expecting French Laundry type of food, then this place isn't for you. But if you are looking to have a good meal at reasonable price, then put Bottega on top of your list.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Can Thomas Keller do no wrong? Well, apparently he's not capable of doing bad food.... even if the food is an add on behind one of his restaurant in Yountville. Addendum is only open Thursday to Saturday. For $16.50, you can have a choice of either their famous buttermilk fried chicken or barbeque between 11:00am-2:00pm. Try both but buttermilk fried chicken was my favorite of the two. It's the best buttermilk fried chicken I have in the SF bay area. They were finger licking good. You can order the food online and just go pick it up. I would highly suggest that as I'm not terribly fond of waiting in line for any food unless it's French Laundry for $100 (as if!). A definitely stop by if you are craving for a quick bite in the wine country.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
I knew about this project for awhile but I finally saw it in person last week. It's a beauty. Yes, I'll admit that it's kinda useless in terms of being practical. But isn't all art that way? We don't need art to breath and we certainly can't eat it when we are hungry. However, art fulfills us on a different level. Just by looking at these LED lights flashing on the bay bridge made me happy. Yes, I use the word happy because it brought some joy into my life and made me smile. While not all art makes one smile but powerful art should invoke some kind of emotions be it sad, surprise, angry, etc. In this case, the Bay Lights made me happy. At the end of the day, I just want to smile a little and I'm glad the Bay Lights was able to bring a little bit of joy into my life.