It's amazing how fast time flies! Last October, 4 friends and my husband, Peter went on a weekend road trip from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe to attend the Valle de Guadalupe Food & Wine Festival. We had a blast! 3 delicious days of food and wine tasting bliss! I feel fortunate to have a group of travel friends that want to eat, drink, explore and enjoy...with no drama.
It's March and I feel like the festival is already around the corner and it's time to start planning this year's trip. Plus housing gets booked quickly. Last year, we rented a house on Airbnb.
Our 2018 itinerary...
Oct 5-7, 2018
Day 1: Oct 5, Friday ...12:00 pm ...We met at a friend's house in Mission Hills and took an Uber to the border then walked across to meet the driver that was booked with Yaha Tours. I've been on several hired car service tours to the Valle and their Mercedes van was comfortable, clean and definitely the nicest.
Our first stop was Soriana supermarket where we bought supplies for the weekend. It was important to stock up since we didn't know where the nearest supermarket was by the house.
Mexico City was never on my travel bucket list because I heard that it was dangerous and I thought that it would be a large version of Tijuana. (I like Tijuana but I can drive there.) I received an airline voucher and on a whim decided to visit because of a travel tip from a friend and a cousin. What a fantastic trip! Peter and I were wowed by the tree lined streets, the architecture, the variety of food and the art. One of the top cities that I have visited! We loved the city so much that we went twice to celebrate my Birthday.
I love Hong Kong! It was the first city that I visited on my first trip abroad (age 6), it was a yearly family vacation destination when I was living in Manila and it was the last trip I took with my dad in 2007 before he passed away. Everytime I visit, I feel like I am there for the first time. It always feels new and with an abundance of new places to visit and foods to taste.
The Goose Trip at
Conwell House, G/F,, 34-38 Stanley St, Central, Hong Kong
Kam's Roast Goose
Po Wah Commercial Centre, 226 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
If you love fashion....and admire iconic English designer Vivienne Westood... and love her Rococo collection and Orbs visit..
Vivienne Westwood Cafe
Harbour City, 3 - 27 Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Love pubs! For a great selection of beers in a cozy and friendly environment...
Garley Building, 45-53 Graham St, Central, Hong Kong
Dine on Sichuan and Peking dishes (their roast duck is very good) surrounded by art.
The Monogamous Chinese
59 Caine Rd, Soho, Hong Kong
This bar feels like you are in a mysterious secret den....
1 Pak Tse Lane, Central Hong Kong
My grandparents would take my dad to the "Grand Dame of the Far East" when they were in Hong Kong and now whenever I am in town, I visit too. Elegant, beautiful...
Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
On our trip to London last October we visited Shoreditch, a district of East London which is known for it's street art and it's gentrification. I spent a semester in London in the 90's and have visited twice after but had never have been to this area. I loved it! The art, the gritty cool vibe and the creative air. It reminds me of the Meatpacking District and the East Village in New York. Fascinating!
Dark Sugar ...memorable chocolate indulgence
141 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB, UK
HKK ...their Saturday Duck & Champagne Brunch is extraordinary
88 Worship St, London EC2A 2BE, UK
Poppie's Fish and Chips
6-8 Hanbury St, London E1 6QR, UK
Shoreditch Street Art Tour ...3 1/2 hours walk.... excellent way to explore the area.
On a trip to London last October, a friend and I dined at HKK in Shoreditch. I ordered the 8 course tasting menu which featured beautifully presented modern and creative Chinese dishes and after I tasted the Peking duck, I knew I had to return before the end of my trip.
Peking duck is a dish that brings a great memory. I remember the first time I tasted it was on my first trip abroad to Hong Kong age 6 with my parents. I remember the glistening duck being brought to the table and my Dad having his photo taken beside the carver. (I need to find that photo) I remember being taught how to assemble the pancake, duck skin, scallion, cucumber and sauce. I remember the first bite, the crunch of the skin, the tangy sweet plum sauce. I remember my Dad looking at me to see my reaction. Ever since that first taste, it is one of my favorite dishes and if I were asked to choose what to eat for my final meal, Peking duck would be on the list.
I went onOpenTable.com to make a reservation and saw their Duck & Champagne lunch available on Saturday which was a deal compared to the regular price.
The cherry wood roasted Peking duck that Saturday, was one of the best I have tasted in my life. It was "I will remember this meal forever" fantastic. Plus I loved the modern elegant ambiance and the attentive staff was impeccable. Because the restaurant is not large or overcrowded, I felt like I was eating in a nice home. It was a phenomenal lunch and I am surprised that I've thought of it daily since we arrived from our trip.
Like millions of people around the world, I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The minute the iconic opening song played, I got goosebumps and wanted to cry. I felt like I was transported back to childhood and felt the exact same excitement and awe when I watched Star Wars for the first time. Han Solo still has swagger and Princess Leia still rocks! I was happy that the movie was awesome. I went home, went to the Star Wars Facebook page and made a comment on how I wished they would re release the Star Wars trilogy in the movie theaters before the next installation.
Last April, my wish kind of came true when I flew Japan Airlines business class (JAL 65, Boeing 787-8) using American Airlines points from San Diego to Narita and the Star Wars Trilogy was on the movie list. Watching Star Wars in the air, while being served champagne, sake and Japanese meals is not how I envisioned watching the movies, but it was one of life's unexpected delights and the flight was exceptional.
I am always game for an epic gastro trip and one of my joys is traveling with close friends and family to eat and try new cuisines. One of my best friends, Carmina (aka @thecrazycook_ph) visited San Diego with her family in May. She read about the burgeoning Guadalupe Valley food and wine scene in the and wanted to visit.
We invited Candice, who recommended restaurants and the seven of us drove into Mexico on a beautiful Wednesday in May.
Our first stop was at Doña Sabina Bandera's La Guerrerense in Ensanada, the street mariscos cart made famous by Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations in 2012. I heard lots of great things about their tostadas and was intrigued. I bit into a sea urchin and clam tostada and my first thought was that is is not chilled (most raw food that I eat in the States is refrigerated) followed by the taste of pure fresh seafood deliciousness. The tostada was phenomenal and I can see why they were invited to be a vendor at Anthony Bourdain's Pier 57 food hall opening in New York on August 1, 2017.
I love destination weddings aka a perfect excuse for a vacation especially if the one getting married is family. When my cousin announced that he was getting married in Costa Rica, we excitedly booked our flight and made made plans to share a condo rental with other cousins. I did not know much about Costa Rica except that it was a popular surf and nature destination and I heard that many Americans were buying property and retiring there.
Last May, we flew from San Diego to Liberia and stayed in Tamarindo which is in the Northern Pacific coast in the province of Guanacaste. My cousin booked a 2 bedroom apartment at the Diria condominiums which is across the street from the Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort. On our first night, we met with other wedding guests and walked around town. My first thought was that it reminded me of how San Diego must have been in the 60's and 70's. A laid back, casual, unpretentious family friendly beach town. I was charmed.
I love tasting menus and I love them more when they are served surrounded by glorious city views. We attended the Chef's Celebration Dinner at the Founders Room on the 34th Fl of the University Club. The past few months at work have been busy and challenging and a beautiful seven course dinner with wine pairings by six top San Diego chefs savored with good friends was a much appreciated treat.
Flashback Friday! On March 2011, I visited Cambodia to celebrate the Birthday of one of my closest friends Carmina. We were a party of nine and stayed in Siem Reap, explored the city at night and toured the Angkor Archeological Park during the day. I had read that Angkor was a vast lost city in the jungle but it exceeded my expectations. I was awed by the size of Angkor (seventeen times bigger than Manhattan), the intricate design of the temples, the beauty of the bas-reliefs and the mystery of the area. It was humid, there were many tourists (including some that were extremely pushy and cut us in line when we were trying to take a photo by a tree) but it was one of the most magical places that I have visited.
Some photos from Angkor....