Wednesday, May 29, 2013

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2013

I went to San Francisco Decorator Showcase house few weeks ago.  It was fun.  Good to see some very well thought out designs.  Quite inspirational actually.  Here are some of the highlights for me:

I like the scroll lines on the wall in the dining room done by Heather Hilliard.

The green wall in the master bathroom was pretty amazing done by Habitat Horticulture.

The master sitting room was pulled together very well by Zoe Hsu.  Love the light from Coup d'Etat.

The Atelier was probably the best room for me by Antonio Martins.  It felt very cozy.  Love the burlap installation.

Last but not least, the penthouse retreat by Karen Villanueva was very nice.  Love the thinking outside of the box idea of spa room in the residence.  Luxury at its best.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

MeiYinTang at Sotheby's Auction House

There are very few Chinese porcelain collections today that has an impeccable taste and quality.   The MeiYingTang (Hall among Rose Beds) is one of those very few old school collection that still exist today.  The collection was assembled for over half a century and has a traditional European connoisseurship that you don't see anymore.  Pulled together by Gilbert and Stephen Zuellig (brother), it is perhaps one of the last bastion of European collection of Chinese porcelain that will ever be sold at auction. 

Sotheby's got the prize because Nicolas Chow, Deputy Chairman for Sotheby's Asia and the International Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, is the grandson of famed Edward T. Chow who advised Zuellig brothers early on.  After the death of E. T. Chow, Giuseppe Eskenazi (the foremost Chinese ceramic dealer in the world) became their advisor.

Currently Sotheby's just finished selling the Part V of the collection.  The first part of the collection was sold on April 7, 2011 to a tepid result because people were skittish at that time due to rumors of deadbeat buyers from China (the buyer of Bainbridges vase which sold for 43 million pounds on November 11, 2010 ended up not paying for it... it is believed the said vase was sold in early 2013 for about 25 million pounds), which led many collectors to feel nervous about bidding against someone who may not pay.   Since then, the MeiYinTang collection had done much better at auction.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Apex Suite at Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas

I know I have written about Mandarin Oriental Hotels at Las Vegas before but I had to write about the Apex Suite.  It really is one of the nicest suite in the hotel.  The room offers 270 degrees of views.  More selection of views than any other suite type in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Las Vegas.  It's not the most expensive suite in the hotel (there are three categories that are even more pricy) but interestingly, it's the only suite with the mountain, the city center, and the strip view. 

The 1700 square feet room is spacious in any standard.  You get an entry area which lead to a dining room with a bar with living room adjacent to it.  Walking pass dining room, you have a small enclosed kitchen on one side and a quarter bath on the other side.  Once you pass those two areas, you have a nice generous size working space with a large desk where you can write to all your friends and telling them wish you were here (if you still write a postcard)!

The working space has two double doors that lead to the master bedroom.  Needless to say the master bedroom is large with amazing views and an attached full bath that is to die for.... free standing tub with mountain view, steam and rain shower, etc.  Pretty much any amenity gadget you can think of, this bathroom has it.

Do yourself a favor, either you are here for a special occasion or just because, stay at Apex Suite for at least one night.  It's really worth the money.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

The restaurant at Meadowood

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

The Pink Palace of Honolulu

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

Hotel Les Mars at Healdsburg

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

Bottega by Michael Chiarello in Yountville

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

Addendum At Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller

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

Christian Louboutin Louis Strass Men's Flat

Any fashionista would have heard of Christian Louboutin!  It's the golden standard for shoes in my opinion.  Lately, he had turn men's footwear world upside down and inside out.  For the longest time, men's shoes were really boring.  But in 2010, Christian Louboutin debuted his men's collection and changed everything.  Now his shoes are pretty much the staples for male entertainers be it Reggie Bush, Penn Badgley, Robert Downey Jr, Kanye, Pharrell, etc.. I especially love this Louis Strass Men's Flat; the detail of Swarovski crystal all over the shoes is just amazing.  The price is pretty amazing too.  But then again, the saying goes "if you have to ask how much is it, then you can't afford it" definitely rings true here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Bay Lights

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.