Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Started by a celebrity chef from Hong Kong, Xiyan, which means feast of happiness, specializes in Chinese cuisine with other Asian culinary inspiration.
The evening's 12 course dinner (+ 1 on the house) was an absolute delightful dining experience for me. Every dish on the course was unique so I found myself looking forward to the next dish. Moreover, portions were just right, leaving enough for second servings.
Second row (L-R): Jacky Yu (celebrity chef and owner of Xiyan), me, Xinyi, Lindsay (Xinyi's sister), Jackson (budding actor and Xinyi's brother; First row (L-R): Parents of Lisa (Xiyan's partner), Xinyi's parents.
Before we left Beirut, we got together with some colleagues to say farewells.
Restaurant Pinocchio @ Monot, Beirut (12 September)
Us with Cho family: Cho san, Agnes and Yun chan; Yeoh san & Houari
Hickies @ Gemayze, Beirut (12 September)
Hickies before the crowd came in
Us with Pablo & Houari
Second drinks: Vodka Redbull
Us with Pablo (holding on to his Mojito)
Red-faced me having a tequila pop and Houari looking on. Speaking of looking, what is Pablo looking at....or rather who?
Happy Houari! =)
We discovered a new drink that night. Liquid coccaine. 3 of this is enough to get you high.
Liquid Coccaine recipe:
1/2 oz Bacardi® 151 rum
1/2 oz Goldschlager® cinnamon schnapps
1/2 oz Jagermeister® herbal liqueur
Tequila Pop recipe:
1 oz tequila
1 oz 7-Up® soda
Vodka Redbull recipe:
2 oz Absolut Vodka
I can Red Bull
3 fresh mint sprigs
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz Sagatiba Pura club soda
Casper & Gambini @ Verdun, Beirut (13 September)
A belated post from Singapore.
We accompanied our friend Houari to Iftar on September 9 at Cafe Al Kahwa along Bliss Street in Beirut.
Cafe Al Kahwa on Bliss Street crowded with customers breaking their fast
Besides Hommos and Moutabal on the left side, I forgot what to call the others. Anyone care to venture?
Soup. Although I would much prefer Algerian chorba frik.
Main course of minced chicken (again I forgot its name)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
It was an enjoyable flight. We upgraded ourselves to business class. Much to our delighted surprise, we were upgraded again to first class this time for the second leg of the journey from Dubai to Singapore. It was a Boeing 777 with fully reclinable seats.
My stint in Middle-east (Lebanon) and North Africa (Algeria & Morocco) has officially ended.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Live in Europe, Work in Asia: My Visit To Istanbul (6 - 10 Aug)
As part of an upcoming big corporate meeting I was helping to organize for my company, I visited our distributor in Turkey to support some materials preparation.
My hotel was located at a very tourist friendly Taksim square in the European part of Istanbul. The distributor's office was situated on the part of Istanbul on the Asian continent. Every morning during my trip, I had to leave Europe, where I'm sleeping, by car to go to work in Asia.
During my visit, I was recommended to visit Odakoy, where I took this impressive picture above. In the foreground is the Odakoy mosque. In the background, one of the three bridges connecting Europe on this side to Asia on the far side is showing.
A lot of restaurants and pubs can be found around Odakoy mosque. Because of the nice seafront view the place offers, the restaurants and pubs were frequented by tourists and local alike. A row of bazaar is also located between the pubs and seafront marketing all sorts of souvenirs, arts and crafts and even second hand books.
Odakoy was definitely a cool discovery for me during the trip, except that I was alone and it got kind of boring.
A Farewell Party
It seems kind of strange that after being based in Lebanon for over 3 years, this was the first time I was invited to the house of a Lebanese and it was for Xinyi and my farewell.
But when we arrived to his beautiful home, we discovered to our delight that our host had spared no efforts in making sure that we were comfortable and well fed. The fare was a sumptuous spread of cold cuts, cheese and wine. Besides, his wife made us the much-touted-in-the-office "monkey bread" and an American cheesecake to top up the dinner also attended by several colleagues.
Yummy Cheesecake courtesy of Mdm. Derkaloustian
Nice and Monte Carlo: 17th - 22nd Aug
About the big corporate meeting I mentioned in the Istanbul section above? It was held in Nice.
For me it was a nice gesture from the company (no pun intended) because I've visited Algeria on the south side of the Mediterranean sea and resided in Lebanon on the east coast, so visiting Nice allowed me to see the north side of the sea.
Actually, it was torturing to go to Nice for work. While the alluring pristine Mediterranean beckons, I had to force myself to think about the smooth execution of the corporate meeting (I was one of the organizers. We had a great team of organizers by the way...)
Nevertheless, I was able to explore the Cote d'Azur using non working hours such as evenings or during my morning run. Here are some of my photos:
Le Meridien, where we resided and its surroundings
A night shot of the corniche along Cote d'Azur.
Deck chairs enjoying the coolness of evening.
A lovely beach side restaurant was the place for our first dinner since arrival. Prices were a tad steep.Official welcome dinner was organized at this place, La Petite Maison. I was told it is a famous restaurant.
The beach is crowded with people! I cannot understand why? The beach is that great, they have pebble instead of fine sand. However, the scenery's great!
Two outdoor cafes somewhere in the old town Nice, called the Vieux. I cannot pronounce the name accurately in French without someone laughing.
On the last day of our meeting, our Monaco distributor hosted a dinner for us in Monte Carlo. Some of us got so high that everything was a blur.
I'm now officially unemployed!
My final day in Beirut is 17th August. (Opps another typo....it's supposed to be 17th September)
Meanwhile, what shall I do in Beirut? I still have 6 prepaid gym visits to spend.
Me and new Algerian transfer employee to our team in Beirut on my last working day
Friday, September 05, 2008
Singapore is set to host an F1 race this month. Due to land scarcity, the F1 track is actually a make shift track from normal road and the race will be held at night. Probably, this is to minimize traffic flow problems caused by road diversion for F1?
Anyway, either Trulli don't know what he is talking about or it is true. If it is true, then my country is doing slipshot work at this upcoming F1 race. The race is going to be held soon and no one had bothered to test the condition of the F1 circuit? *Throw up both arms in disgust*
However, I would urge Mr. Truli not to worry. I counting on it that another news article will appear soon along the lines: "Minister says F1 track is safe". As our ministers are paid to know everything, there is nothing to worry about....NOT! =P
Motor racing-Trulli says Singapore still a worry for F1 drivers
Reuters - Friday, September 5
By Alan Baldwin
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Sept 4 - Formula One drivers are still fretting about the sport's first night race less than a month before Singapore's new street circuit makes its debut.
"It's a new circuit, we don't know much about it, the schedule, the times of running. we all are a little bit concerned about the night race and the poor weather which might occur there," Toyota's Jarno Trulli told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix on Thursday.
"It's a big question mark for everyone, we mustn't underestimate the situation."
Singapore will become the second new venue this season after last month's Valencia street race when the southeast Asian island state hosts the 15th round of the championship on Sept. 28 at the tail end of the monsoon season.
Unlike Valencia, which staged a couple of junior formula races on the street circuit a month before the grand prix to iron out any problems, Singapore remains untested.
"In Valencia they did a good job, so I am confident they can do a good job for Singapore," said Trulli. "But the location is different and the climate conditions are different.
"We are all a little bit uncertain because we probably don't have enough data. I haven't seen the circuit layout but that's not the problem. The problem is we don't know if the circuit is good enough, if the surface is good enough, if we have enough run-off areas, if the safety is good enough for a night race in wet conditions.
"There are several question marks and several concerns. I'm not saying that I don't want to race there, but that we might encounter some more problems than in Valencia."
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
September's here finally.
The month of August saw me doing a lot of travelling and no blogging...
August 6 ~ 10, I was in Istanbul.
August 17 ~ 22, I visited Nice in France and Monte Carlo in Monaco.
August 23 ~ 31, I returned to Singapore for vacation (a week!)
September is going to be my last month of expatriation. I am repatriating to Singapore in the middle of this month.
But more about this later.
I went to Singapore and all I got was a lousy....
...Portable Hard Disk!
I bought it when I visited COMEX 2008.
Is COMEX an abbreviation for Computer Exhibition or Communication Exhibition? I never can tell but it is the largest IT exhibition organized in Singapore annually.
COMEX is therefore a much anticipated affair as Singaporeans are flocking there to look for the latest bargain price on digital cameras, notebooks, printers, mobile equipments and other electronic products.
I hate crowds. If I hadn't wanted portable hard disk, I wouldn't have gone. After going around some of the booths, I shortlisted my choice to 3 brands:
Their prices were about the same: around SGD125 (USD90) for 250GB. The difference was in the bundling. For instance, Imation comes with a free protective sticker and a pouch.
Long story short, I went for this Western Digital one:
I got it because I thought it was the best looking among the 3. I am such a sucker for product design when it comes to shopping. I bought 2 additionally for Xinyi and her friend KK. I hope they don't regret my decision.
Ramadan and Mid-Autumn Festival
When I returned to Beirut, it is the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic fasting month. For the Chinese, we are anticipating the Mid-Autumn Festival that falls on the full moon of August in the Lunar year.
The difference from our Muslim brethens is that, we eat.
We eat mooncakes. A lot of them!
It is a sweet cake-like pastry with a very sweet lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk filling.
The mooncakes I bought looks something like those in this picture. The round egg yolk filling resembles the moon.
To be exact, Muslims also eat a lot of during the breaking of fast during Ramadan. Especially the sweet stuff. Come to think of it, we're not so different after all. Everybody eats a lot of sweet things and gain a lot of weight. Only difference is that their practice is just a bit more restrictive in that they have to fast a little during the day.
So I bought some mooncakes to be brought back to Beirut. Somehow I got a discount buying mooncakes from Marriot hotel Singapore, which is rather known for their mooncakes.
Anyway, my intention was to bring some mooncakes to my Asian colleagues working in Algeria. Somehow, the moon in Algeria is especially big and them being far away from home during this occasion, so I thought it might be a nice touch.
.... RAMADAM KARIM & HAPPY MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL to ALL!!!