Archive for June, 2011

Best Chicken Dish for The Price – Aberdeen Cafe 香港仔(佛利蒙市)

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Francis has an ideal job for any golfer; he can come out to golf any day of the week any time he wants. On this sunny Thursday, he even came out to Sunol Valley Golf Course with two of his colleagues. Email me if you want to apply for a job at his company. After golf, we went to join his wife Winnie for dinner at Aberdeen Cafe 香港仔 in Fremont.

Francis and Winnie had been there many times and knew exactly what to order. The “must-have” there was Steamed Chicken with Chinese Tea 古法茶皇雞. On the surface, this dish looked like an ordinary soy sauce chicken 豉油雞. However, as soon as I put a piece in my mouth, I could sense the tender meat with very pleasant tea aroma. Some other restaurants might serve chicken as delicious as this but not at this price: US$8.50 for half chicken. If you are looking for food in the neighborhood, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Other than chicken, the Sea Coconut Sweet Corn Soup 海底椰花旗參燉雞湯 was also excellent: simply 甘甜潤肺.

Aberdeen Cafe 香港仔
46831 Warm Spring Blvd., Fremont, CA 94539
Tel: +1-510-659-0888

Organizing a Banquet in Palo Alto? Try Ming’s 明苑(巴洛奧圖)

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Soon after our return from the Mediterranean cruise, Mrs. FoodLover got a call from one of her best friends asking us to a dinner gathering. We didn’t think much of the purpose for this dinner until we entered this large private room in Ming’s 明苑 in Palo Alto. We sensed that it had to be some special event. After other guests arrived, we finally realized that it was the 6th Wedding Anniversary of this couple; the guests were those who helped organize their wedding banquet six years ago. A few of these friends even conducted an international background check on the groom before advising the bride to walk down the aisle.

Needless to say, we had as much laughter as food at this delightful dinner. I had had dim sum and dinners at Ming’s before and was never impressed. Surprisingly, the food this time was pretty good. It shows that the chef is capable of preparing decent dishes, especially when you know the restaurant owner.

Ming’s 明苑
1700 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303
Tel: +1-650-856-7700

It was the 6th anniversary of one of these couples.

Best Way to Cook a Lobster – 4Gats

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

On our last day in Barcelona, we went out to look for a memorable dinner. Thanks to TripAdvisor on David’s Samsung Galaxy S II, we found ourselves in front of 4Gats. While we were determining whether we should go in, a lady came out to ask us what the problem was. We said no problem and followed her to one of many unoccupied tables.

After we sat down, nobody came to serve us for at least five minutes and I was asking David whether we should walk out. As soon as we were ready to stand up, a waiter came to ask for our order. He was pretty nice and later we figured that he was the only English speaking server in this place and was too busy taking orders around the room. Even we didn’t have much communication with other Spanish speaking waiters, the service was OK except that Christopher’s steak took a long time to arrive.

I enjoyed the Rice with Lobster while sipping the house wine (4Gats Chardonnay) and listening to a mediocre pianist playing some ’50s and ’60s songs. The waiter did warn me that Rice with Lobster would take at least 20 minutes to prepare so we had a few appetizers to start the dinner. The dish was so good I could taste lobster flavor in every grain of rice. The place was full when we left at 10pm.

Carrer de Montsió, 3, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34 933 024 140

Magic Fountain of Montjuic, Barcelona

Demonstrator camping out in Tree House in Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona

Ham stall in La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

My First Paella in Barcelona – Cerveceria Alex

Monday, June 20th, 2011

We spent a few hours at Gaudi’s marvelous Sagrada Família in the morning and met the daughter at Boqueria Market where we found quite a few fruit and juice stalls. There were all kinds of fruit juice to choose, any combination you might imagine. We found that the juice was priced at 2€ per cup near the entrance to the market and 1.5€ as we went deeper inside.

At around 3pm, we were ready for lunch but almost all the restaurants around the market were full. We wandered around the neighborhood and found ourselves in a town square, the Plaça Reial. There were several restaurants with outside sitting; we picked one in a shady corner. We started with a bottle of local wine. I had seen numerous restaurants displaying Paella on their windows before and couldn’t resist to order a Mixed Paella.

While we were waiting for our food, a dancer came by to entertain whoever cared to be entertained. How about the food? It was as good as it looked. For the rest of my stay in Barcelona, I would ask for Paella whenever possible.

Cerveceria Alex
Plaça Reial, 16, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34 933 18 63 10

Sagrada Família

Plaça Reial, Barcelona

Enjoying good food with dancer in the background

Fruit and Juice Stall in Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Seafood Display in front of Salamanca II Restaurant by the Beach, Barcelona

Taller de Tapas, Barcelona

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Checked in the hotel in early morning but the rooms weren’t ready until almost noon. We were ready for our first meal in Barcelona when Phyllis and David came to our hotel at noon. We wanted something light and took the concierge’s recommendation of a tapas place nearby.

At 1pm, it was a little early for lunch by Spanish standard and we were seated right away. We had a jar of Sangria which had extraordinarily high level of alcohol. The tapas were not bad but not exceptional. I like the Grilled Squid and Steamed Mussels the most.

In the following couple of days, I would see a few other Taller de Tapas restaurants around town. This must be a popular chain.

Taller de Tapas
Plaça Sant Josep Oriol, 9, Barcelona
Tel: +93 301 80 20

View of Old Town Dubrovnik from Srd Hill

A tourist taking picture of an ant in Barcelona

Demonstration along La Rambla, Barcelona

Internet Hot Spot – Hard Rock Cafe, Venice

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Why would we eat at a Hard Rock Cafe in Venice? Simple. That was the only Wifi hot spot we could find. After walking around under the sun for a few hours, we were looking for a place to sit down for a drink and to check our email. This Hard Rock Cafe allowed us to reach the cloud for an hour. To get connected, the server needed to copy my ID (driver license in this case) before assigning me a password to log in. She said that was government regulation. I didn’t know Italy had such tight information control!

In addition to drinks, we order a Jumbo Combo which included Santa Fe Spring Rolls, Hickory Smoked Chicken Wings, Onion Rings, Potato Skins and Tupelo Chicken Tenders. The food tasted the same as you would expect of a Hard Rock Cafe anywhere in the world. Not bad.

Hard Rock Cafe Venice
Bacino Orseolo, San Marco, 1192, I-30124, Venezia
Tel: +39-04-15229665

Blue Mediterranean Sea

Kotor, Montenegro

Piazza San Marco, Venice

Mysterious Meat – Hotel NH Leonardo Da Vinci

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Before visiting Vatican City, our tour guide took us to lunch at the Hotel Da Vinci restaurant. As usual, we had sparkling wine and red wine. The salad was alright. Main course was a piece of meat served with carrot and potato. I cut a small piece of meat and tasted it. It seemed to have texture of chicken meat but didn’t look like chicken. Mrs. FoodLover thought it was pork. A gentleman at our table said it was veal.

A few weeks ago, I heard that somebody in China turned pork into beef by adding some space-age chemical to the pork so that they could sell it at higher price. I didn’t believe that then. Now I do.

Hotel NH Leonardo Da Vinci
Via dei Gracchi, 324. 00192 Roma. Rome (Italy)
Tel. +39 06 328481

The Colosseum

Saint Peter's Square

A Taste of Florence – Ristorante IL Bargello

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

After visiting the Accademia Museum and checking out jewelry stores on the elegant Ponte Vecchio (“old bridge”), we were led to lunch at Ristorante IL Bargello in Piazza della Signoria. Again, we were served sparkling wine and red wine to quench our thirst. Atmosphere of this place was relaxing and food was decent. I especially liked the vegetable lasagna.

Ristorante IL Bargello
Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy

Dome of Basilica of Saint Mary of Florence

Cute little car

Overlooking Florence from Piazzale Michelangiolo

Lunch in the Medieval Village of Eze – Cafe Cascogne

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Our ship arrived the port of Villefranche at 10am. We joined a tour to see  three of the French Riviera’s most intriguing cities : Nice, Eze and Monaco. Eze is a charming medieval village perched on a craggy peak 1,400 feet above the Mediterranean. Due to late start of the excursion, we didn’t get to the restaurant for lunch until 2pm.

Cafe Cascogne was a nice little restaurant with several tables outside the front door. Our group was promptly seated in our reserved area inside as we arrived. Decor was simple and comfortable. As soon as we settled down, the server brought  us each a glass of sparkling wine to whet our appetite (he skipped our boys without asking their age). Patrick saw a jar of juice-like liquid on the table and started to fill his glass only to find that it was red wine. I later noticed that sparkling wine and red wine would be served at all the lunches arranged by these tours in France and Italy.

The food was decent but not outstanding. It was definitely better than most “tour meals” I had had on previous trips.

Street Performer in Nice

The Beach along Promenade des Anglais

Overlooking the Bay from the Rock of Monaco

Casino Monte Carlo

Dining Onboard Celebrity Solstice

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

After taking a three-hour city tour upon arrival of Barcelona, we boarded the Celebrity Solstice to start our twelve-day cruise in the Mediterranean. The ship departed the port at 5:00pm and we were ready for dinner. We were among the first parties entering the main dining room, Grand Epernay Restaurant, when it opened at 6:15pm. Sitting near the window, we could enjoy both the food and beautiful sunset.

Food quality was very good comparing to other cruises we had taken before. For dinner, there were two menus: “Classic Dinner Favorites” which was the same throughout the cruise, and the Chef’s Menu which changed every day. While I was happy to try something new every meal, Christopher stuck to his favorite New York Sirloin Steak every single time.

Pictures below should give a general idea of the kind of dishes served onboard. They were not the greatest I ever had but the environment, service and family made each dinner enjoyable.

Celebrity Solstice at Barcelona Cruise Terminal