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UK Day 7-8

4/25 Mr. Awesome’s birthday! :D

I’ve always liked Covent Garden. Yes, it’s very touristy, but it’s still fun to relax and watch the street artists or check out cutesy shops. Mr. Awesome also indulged me and we spent quite a while in Radley to peruse the lovely items. I fell in love with the Radley design 4 years ago and always kind of regretted not getting anything.

The drizzle got worse as we decided to go look for a Boundary Dragon. The dragon at Temple Bar did not disappoint. (We walked pass the one at Farringdon without noticing it, and we had to retrace our step and found it in the middle of the street, a little to inconspicuous.) Dragon Map

Personally, I prefer cream tea over high tea. But it seems difficult to find a nice place for cream tea in London, and it’s Daniel’s birthday; it cannot be too shabby. The last time I was in London, I did some research and settled on Afternoon tea at the Capital hotel. It was intimate, quaint and delicious. Nothing but the best for the birthday boy!

This time, the tea room was packed. I guess everyone decided to take shelter and have a cup of tea in the miserable weather.

Friday evening, a handful of museums are open, and since afternoon tea (at 4) and dinner (at 10!) were both in Chelsea, we went to the whimsical Victoria & Albert museum to walk off the desserts. The museum at night was like a nightclub! Too bad that some of the exhibition area was closed.

The grand finale of the day is — Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Dinner is the second restaurant run by Heston Brumenthal and it is specialize in British food, especially those were seemingly forgotten and little known by the world. The menu was researched by food historian and such, and the end product was surprisingly exotic.

To start, we have the famed meat fruit. It does live up to the hype and then some! I absolutely love the smoothness of the liver parfait paired with mandarin gelatin, which not only provides aesthetic pleasure but also create a balanced, delightful experience in the mouth. We followed it up with spiced pigeon and powdered duck breast.

2 days before we were to leave London for Vienna, I found out that a good friend of mine from grad school has moved to London (again!) I messaged him on Facebook right away and fortunately they don’t have plans for the Saturday and a impromptu lunch double date was settled.

But first, Wallace Collection awaits. Wallace Collection is a less known (by tourists) gallery that housed an impressive collection. I visited it a few times back in 2010 because I took Art History prior to going to UK and of course I had to see the arts that I studied in class in person.

Lunch was at The Shed, a restaurant we learned about from Esquire channel. I honestly didn’t remember what kind of food they serve and I was happily blown away. Check out the photos I took. It’s just half of what we ordered, but we were too busy eating!

As far as I remembered, we ordered 2 dished from cured meat, cuttlefish, beef cigars (Nelson’s favorite), pan fried goat cheese, lamb chips, pigeon, honeycumb crunchy!

What a way to say goodbye to London!

(to be added, pics: dragon, tea, V&A)

There was a time in my life when I watched a lot of TV shows. I ingested and digested them, and wrote down what they made me feel and think. The habit eventually waned as distractions are made more readily available in the small rectangular form. At least that’s what I suspect. TV shows seized to make me think and feel as much as it used to. In fact, nothing seems to be important enough to warrant a thorough examination and consideration. Maybe I got jaded. But maybe it’s because I started to allow things, big or small, to simply brush by without leaving much of an impression.

Lately, I found myself being obsessed with two shows that many people might frown upon: Odd Mom Out and UnREAL, on Bravo and Lifetime respectively. I discovered both shows after they were already a few episodes in so I binged watched to catch up. That’s probably why I feel like I suffer withdrawal now that I have to wait a full week for the next episode.

Odd Mom Out is about a Upper East Side housewife, who grew up in UES, instead of married into, but still find herself not quite fitting in the UES lifestyle of the riches. Some of the portrayals are quite outrageous but I found the humor rather endearing. Color me impressed when I found that Jill Kargman, who played Jill Weber, the main character of the show, is not really a career actor. She is in fact the author of the book Momzilla, of which the show is based.

UnREAL is scripted show about behind-the-scenes of an The-Bachlor-esque show. Some criticized that it is not a realistic portrayal of such shows (anyone find it ironic?), but it’s top quality drama and I enjoyed it immensely. Even though I cannot stand this type of reality TV, UnREAL completely sucked me in.


Modified Bee’s Knees

2oz gin
3/4oz lemon juice
1/2oz St. Germain
1tsp honey

used Bummer & Lazarus. Way too herby. Can use a lot more St Germain and/or honey.

Pink Lady

1oz Hendrinks (or 24)
1oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
0.5oz St. Germain

Shake well with ice

top off with club soda

*I used Tonic; however, it’s not necessary since I’ve already had St. Germain as the sweetener. Tonic also introduces a hint of bitterness which might not be idea for this drink.

1 oz Gin
2 dashes Celery bitters
1 bar spoon Dry Vermouth
0.5 oz lime juice
top off with Tonic water

* some cucumber might go well too.


Current list:
Bloom (England) brought back from UK!
Bummer & Lazarus (Treasure Island) distilled from California grapes!
Nolet’s Silver (Holland) very perfurme-y
Broker’s (England)
Sipsmith (England)
Junipero (San Francisco)
St. George Terroir (Alameda)
St. George Botanivore (Alameda)
Tanqueray Rangpur (England)
Sipsmith Sloe Gin (England)
No. 209 (San Francisco)

Hendrick’s (Scotland)
Beefeater 24 (England)

Tanqueray No. 10 (England)
Leopold’s American Small Batch Gin (Colorado)

Adnam’s First Rate Gin (UK)
Monkey 47 (Germany)
Citadelle Reserve (France)
Old Tom (England)
Death’s Door (Wisconsin)
Blade (California)
Bombay Sapphire (England)
St. George Rye (Alameda) dislike

Want to try:
Dorothy Parker (NY)
The Botanist Islay Gin (Scotland)
Berkeley Square (England)
Venus Gin Blend No 1 (Santa Cruz)

Thoughts: there’s a surprising amount of gins from the bay area!

This is old fashioned, but whatevs… here’s my Gin sites:
The Gin is In
Gin Foundry
Gin Reviews
Juniper Diaries
The Gin Queen
The Ginstress


Day 1. 你最近看的電影
Kingsman: The Secret Agent.
Colin Firth, gentleman spy, gadgets… 看了預告就知道這我是非看不可. 不過現在我對動作片越來越挑, 其實看之前並沒有很大的把握. 於是當Daniel說她要在家做他的project, 我很開心地自己跑去看了. 看完之後才覺得後悔沒有把他抓出來一起看. Kingsman 絕對是我會想跟他一起分享的一部片. Kingsman 不管是動作,幽默,節奏跟音樂我都非常喜歡. 於是…我看完的下個周末我又把Daniel抓去看一次. 本來還有點擔心只隔一周就重看會覺得疲乏,或是不會有同樣的感動,或是沒有太多新的東西讓我發掘. 結果我只個是多慮了. 即使大部分細節都還歷歷在目, 在電影院看第二次時我還是一樣開心. 唯一的不同之處是本來讓我很緊張的地方我沒那麼緊張, 本來對我來說太血腥的畫面, 我已經有心理準備,所以只用餘光去看XD 另外, 因為我第一次去看時是個周一晚上, 電影院裡其實頗冷清, 裡面的觀眾幾乎都是自己去看的. 第二次是周六下午,幾乎滿場, 全場一起笑, 一起驚呼, 這種感覺實在不錯.

Day 2. 你看過最多人物的電影
真是奇怪的題目. 如果是說有名字有情節的人物的話… 我想應該是 Paris, je t’aime 吧. 18個故事, 每個故事大多都有兩三人. XD

Day 3. 你看過最長的電影
應該是The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (201 min)
回顧我的電影清單, 發現好幾部電影都比我印象中的長. Intersteller 169min, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 179min, The Wolf of Wall Street 180min!

Day 4. 你多次向他人推薦的電影
A Single Man(2009)
這部片剛出來的時候, 我單純因為Colin Firth 就把它列為必看片 (雖然我也沒有說他每部電影都有看), 後來發現 A Single Man 原著是 Christopher Isherwood 寫的, 就更感興趣了. 因為Isherwood 是我最愛的詩人 W.H. Auden 的mentor兼好友. 那年是美國第二度(?)經濟蕭條的開端. 好多人被裁員, 而我卻毅然決然地辭了職, 跑到社區大學念英國文學與藝術. 在藝術史課中, 我們談到 Art for Art’s Sake 的概念. 而 A Single Man 對我來說正是電影形式中 Art for Art’s Sake 的表現. A Single Man 的故事很簡單, Tom Ford 基本上只取出了書中的一小部份來琢磨呈現. Isherwood 的小說除了與電影同樣深沉的悲傷之外還非常犀利. 而 Tom Ford 的電影充分運用光線, 色彩/色調, 音樂來傳達用言語無法精確掌控的境況 — 主角的心境以及外在環境.

Day 5. 你很喜歡而且片名中有地名的電影
(可以列兩個嗎? XD) Casablanca 與 In Bruges

Day 6. 帶給你回憶的電影
真籠統的題目,一時之下浮現腦海的是 Grease 2. 小時候在電視看到,第一次看到就愛上了. 反倒是沒看過受好評的 Grease–因為我討厭John Travolta. (直到2010年在倫敦看了 Grease, 不過還是沒看過去扶塔的電影版)

Day 7. 曾讓你落淚的電影
又是 A Single Man. 現在每當想沉溺在悲傷的情緒裡時就會重覆播放 Counting Crows 的 Round Here 或是看這部電影. 但其實應該很多電影都有讓我哭過. 目前想得起來的有 A Little Princess(1995). 好不容易又想起一部: The Painted Veil. 這部實在拍得很美, 配樂又棒!

Day 8. 最喜歡的一部動畫電影
最近的是 Wall-E. 感人又可愛. 但是我覺得不提一下 The Little Mermaid 我對不起自己 XD

Day 9. 為了導演而去看的一部電影
Much Ado About Nothing (2012).
不過與其說是為了 Joss Whedon 導而看的, 不如說是為了他的劇本, 加上是設定在現代的 Shakespeare, 並且有眾多Whedon universe 的演員參加. Whedon universe的演員有: Amy Acker, Reed Diamond, Fran Kranz (Dollhouse), Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher (Firefly)等. 另外 The Avenger 基本上也是因為 Joss Whedon (還有 RDJ) 而看的

Day 10. 你對片中臺詞朗朗上口的電影
通常是一部電影可能會有一句印象比較深刻的. 像是 In Bruges:”You’re an inanimate object!!!”, A Few Good Men:”You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.” Independence Day 的總統speech (我小時候整個背起來 XD)
但其實A Few Good Men 印象更深的是 Tom Cruise 的 “don’t tell me what I know, or don’t know; I know the LAW.” 因為我小時候超喜歡他 >//////////< Day 11. 想和家人一起看的電影
好難想…. Casablanca 好了. 想跟男友一起看. 但是我不小心把逼他看一部他沒興趣的電影的quota 用在 Grease 2 上了. XD

Day 12. 從其他媒體改編,而你覺得優於原作的電影
Jane Austen’s Book Club. 小說很普,但電影有Hugh Dancy XD 還有 the Hunger Games. 小說讓我覺得我浪費了好幾小時的人生… 但電影拍得很好

Day 13. 讓你心情很好的電影
很多電影都讓我心情很好, 但再提Kingsman或Grease2 就太老套了. All I Wanna Do(1998) (原名Strike!) 故事是私立女校的學生在發現學校有意跟另一個男校合併後, 想盡辦法破壞合併案的故事. 我一向喜歡設定在女校的故事.

Day 14. 讓你感到悲傷的電影
唔… 好像一直重複答案. 直覺就想回答 A Single Man. 不過認真想想, The Grand Budapest Hotel 也讓我看完頗感傷.

Day 15. 你覺得非常可怕的電影
Saw 2 (?)
我生平最受不了穿刺傷之類感覺就很痛的東西, 我記得之前跟拍拍貓住的時候, 從房間出來覓食她剛好在看Saw2, 我目光不由自主地移向電視, 短短幾分鐘, 看到了一堆超噁心的東西 T^T (still traumatized)

Day 16. 如果由你編寫電影史,一定會列上去的電影
Sin City (這題想了好久).
當初看 Sin City 給我很大的情緒衝擊, 跟去年看完 The Grand Budapest Hotel 的感覺很類似. 對我來說 Sin City 在電影史上有一提的必要.

Day 17. 重看過最多次的電影
很多電影都重看過,不知道哪部看最多次… The Rock, Assassins, Casablanca, Grease2, The Firm, A Single Man, The Fifth Element, HotFuzz,Equilibrium, Once, Independence Day, The Little Mermaid

(竟然忘了寫 A Parent Trap. Lindsay Lohan小時候好可愛. 更重要的是, A Parent Trap 的故事改編自國小圖書館裡我最愛的一本書: Das doppelte Lottchen by Erich Kästner. 我還買了德文版的來讀, 但是發現童書的德文怎麼那麼難啊 XD)

Day 18. 和最多人一起看過的電影
奇怪的問題, 跳過

Day 19. 讓你看到睡著的電影
The Bourne Supremacy.
不是因為很無聊 XD 這部不巧是我movie hop的第二部, 然後那天又很想睡, 就睡著了… 到現在還是不知道Supremacy在演什麼, 但感覺也不是很重要 XD

Day 20. 想看而一直沒看的電影
很多哩… The Master, Melancholia, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Sunset Blvd.,2001: A Space Odyssey, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Donnie Darko

Day 21. 你看過最難懂的電影
Transformers (?)
我看電影的最大困擾就是無法分辨角色 XD Transformers 更是糟糕, 根本搞不清楚誰是好人誰是壞人

Day 22. 你希望自己能在片中軋一角的電影

Day 23. 預告片詐欺的電影
這題我還真的想不出來. 通常我可以從預告片很準確地知道我會不會喜歡該片. 硬要說的話應該是 Cinderella (2015), 預告讓我以為有不少動作場面(!?), 但其實就是中規中舉的真人版童話故事, 拍得很好就是了

Day 24. 一部缺點很多但你喜歡的電影
I Am Number Four. 老實說, 我只知道我看得很開心, 然後Chun覺得很不可置信. 我相信這部電影應該有很多缺點. XD

Day 25. 改變你的想法或習慣的電影

Day 26. 配樂令你印象深刻的電影
The Firm(1993) Dave Grusin 的配樂陪我走過好多地方, 以前不管去哪玩, 都會帶著它的原聲帶. 到現在聽到 Mitch and Abbey, 腦海還是會自動浮現車子開過空無一人的郊區而掀起一片金黃色的落葉的景象. 同期的還有 Hans Zimmer的The Rock, 高中時辦營隊還因此迷戀上一個會彈The Rock主題曲的男生 XD

其實喜歡的配樂很多, 但是90年代的配樂在心目中還是有無可取代的第位. 近年很愛的有 Abel Korzeniowski 的 A Single Man, Alexandre Desplat 的 The Painted Veil, Daft Punk 的 Tron: Legacy, Alberto Iglesias 的Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Clint Mansell 的 Smokin’ Aces, Ludovic Bource 的 The Artist

Day 27. 畫面令你印象深刻的電影
Con Air 裡 Steve Buscemi 跟小女孩玩家家酒那幕, creepy又溫馨. 如果不指特定一幕的話, Equilibrium, Smokin’ Aces, Sin City, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow… 等等

Day 28. 你覺得不知道在幹麻的電影
A Serious Man 應該是Coen Brothers 的電影中我最討厭的一部. 我不在乎電影內容/故事是否毫無意義/沒有進展, 但這部真的是看得時候痛苦, 回想起來也很痛苦.

Day 29. 感覺全世界都看過但你沒看的電影
The Godfather 系列, Star Wars 系列, 2001: A Space Odyssey

Day 30. 你最喜歡的電影
喜歡的太多, 點出任何一部都覺得不太公平

All Good Things


All good things must come to an end. 說來容易, 想來灑脫.

但猛然回首, 發現自己漂離所重視的人事物, 而那些人事物, 也已自己默默離開.

My obsession

I am consumed. My mind is filled with an intermittent rush of sorrow accompanied with repeated music and fragment of images.
I’m not sure how to get out of this involuntary obsession.

Should I overload myself and force a reset? I’m afraid that I’ll be into it even deeper.
Should I get allow it to run its course? I’m afraid that it will not end.

But I know that it will pass, sooner or later, just as my other obsessions. Yet, they always possesses a false sense of eternity which induces panic.

These book have no made George nobler or better or more truly wise. It is just that he likes listening to their voices, the one or the other, according to his mood. He misuses them quite ruthlessly–despite the respectful way he has to talk about them in public–to put him to sleep, to take his mind of the hands of the clock, to relax the nagging of his pyloric spasm, to gossip him out of his meloncholy, to trigger the conditioned reflexes of his colon.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
American Sniper (2014): Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, Peter Morgan
Birdman (2014): Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole
Boyhood (2014/I): Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland
The Imitation Game (2014): Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven M. Rales, Jeremy Dawson
Selma (2014): Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner
The Theory of Everything (2014): Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten
Whiplash (2014): Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Steve Carell for Foxcatcher (2014)
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game (2014)
Bradley Cooper for American Sniper (2014)
Michael Keaton for Birdman (2014)
Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything (2014)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night (2014)
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything (2014)
Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl (2014)
Julianne Moore for Still Alice (2014)
Reese Witherspoon for Wild (2014)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Duvall for The Judge (2014)
Ethan Hawke for Boyhood (2014/I)
Edward Norton for Birdman (2014)
Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher (2014)
J.K. Simmons for Whiplash (2014)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette for Boyhood (2014/I)
Laura Dern for Wild (2014)
Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game (2014)
Emma Stone for Birdman (2014)
Meryl Streep for Into the Woods (2014)

Best Achievement in Directing
Richard Linklater for Boyhood (2014/I)
Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman (2014)
Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher (2014)
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game (2014)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Boyhood (2014/I): Richard Linklater
Birdman (2014): Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
Foxcatcher (2014): E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler (2014): Dan Gilroy

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
American Sniper (2014): Jason Hall
Inherent Vice (2014): Paul Thomas Anderson
The Imitation Game (2014): Graham Moore
The Theory of Everything (2014): Anthony McCarten
Whiplash (2014): Damien Chazelle

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
The Boxtrolls (2014)
Big Hero 6 (2014)
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Song of the Sea (2014)
The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013)

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Tangerines (2013): Zaza Urushadze
Ida (2013): Pawel Pawlikowski
Leviathan (2014): Andrey Zvyagintsev
Wild Tales (2014): Damián Szifrón
Timbuktu (2014): Abderrahmane Sissako

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Birdman (2014): Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Robert D. Yeoman
Mr. Turner (2014): Dick Pope
Unbroken (2014/I): Roger Deakins
Ida (2013): Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski

Best Achievement in Editing
Boyhood (2014/I): Sandra Adair
The Imitation Game (2014): William Goldenberg
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Barney Pilling
Whiplash (2014): Tom Cross
American Sniper (2014): Joel Cox, Gary Roach

Best Achievement in Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game (2014): Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar (2014): Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Into the Woods (2014): Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
Mr. Turner (2014): Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Best Achievement in Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice (2014): Mark Bridges
Into the Woods (2014): Colleen Atwood
Maleficent (2014): Anna B. Sheppard, Jane Clive
Mr. Turner (2014): Jacqueline Durran

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Foxcatcher (2014): Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
The Imitation Game (2014): Alexandre Desplat
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar (2014): Hans Zimmer
The Theory of Everything (2014): Jóhann Jóhannsson
Mr. Turner (2014): Gary Yershon

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Selma (2014): Common, John Legend(Glory)
Begin Again (2013/II): Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois(Lost Stars)
The Lego Movie (2014): Shawn Patterson(Everything is Awesome)
Beyond the Lights (2014): Diane Warren(Grateful)
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (2014): Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
American Sniper (2014): John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin
Birdman (2014): Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga
Interstellar (2014): Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten
Unbroken (2014/I): Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee
Whiplash (2014): Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
American Sniper (2014): Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
Birdman (2014): Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014): Brent Burge, Jason Canovas
Interstellar (2014): Richard King
Unbroken (2014/I): Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014): Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould
Interstellar (2014): Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014): Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer

Best Short Film, Animated
The Bigger Picture (2014/I): Daisy Jacobs, Chris Hees
The Dam Keeper (2014): Robert Kondo, Daisuke ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi
Feast (2014/I): Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed
Me and My Moulton (2014): Torill Kove
A Single Life (2014): Joris Oprins

Best Short Film, Live Action
Aya (2012/I): Oded Binnun, Mihal Brezis
Boogaloo and Graham (2014): Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney
Butter Lamp (2013): Wei Hu, Julien Féret
Parvaneh (2012): Talkhon Hamzavi, Stefan Eichenberger
The Phone Call (2013): Mat Kirkby, James Lucas

Sticky Toffee Pudding

(modification: 1/2 of dates, less baking time)

pre heat over to 360f

200g dried dates (Medjool) , stoned and chopped
250ml black tea (not too strong)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Put the dates and tea in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes to soften the dates. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Set aside.

85g unsalted butter , softened
175g golden caster sugar (superfine)

Beat the butter and caster sugar together with electric beaters until pale and creamy

2 eggs , beaten
½ tsp vanilla extract

Gradually add vanilla extract and eggs to the mixture and continue beating

175g self-raising flour (1 cup flour, 0.5teaspoon salt, 1.5 teaspoon baking powder)

Turn the beaters down to a slow speed and add the self-raising flour, a spoon at a time. Beat until all the ingredients are well combined.

Fold in the date mixture and pour into a buttered ovenproof dish or brownie tin.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is just firm to touch.

Toffee Sauce:
50g brown sugar
50g unsalted butter
70ml double cream

putting the sugar, butter and cream in a pan over a low heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Cook until the sauce is a lovely toffee colour.

Cream of Celery soup

refernce: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cream-of-Celery-Soup/?scale=8&ismetric=1

55g butter
340g celery, chopped
70g onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
35g all purpose flour
5g salt
a pinch of white pepper
710ml chicken stock
710ml milk

saute veggies in butter, add flour, salt pepper mixture to roux.
add chicken stock and milk

cook for 15+ minutes, stir constantly.

2014: Movies

I haven’t been watching as many movies as I used to. However, when I looked back to my list, I realized I’ve watched a surprising number of wonderful movies.

Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
A Most Wanted Man
Ruby Sparks

Brief Encounter
The Wolf of Wall Street
People Like Us
St. Vincent
The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1

Portrait of Jennie*
A Delicate Balance
A Good Woman
Star Trek: Generations*
The Hundred-Foot Journey
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Flowers in the Attic
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
I’m the Same, I’m an Other

Step Up All In

2014-15 TV First Look


9:00 CBS Madam Secretary (Téa Leoni <3) 9/21 9:00 ABC Galavant (fantsy/musical/comedy XD) 10:00 ABC American Crime (Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton) 10:30 FOX Mulaney (stand up comedian) 10/5 Monday 9:00 CW Jane the Virgin (10/13) Tuesday 8:00 ABC Selfie (Karen Gillan) 9/30 Wed 8:00 NBC The Mysteries of Laura (debra messing :|) 9/17 9:00 FOX Red Band Society 9/17 Thr 9:00 NBC Bad Judge 10/2 9:00 FOX Gracepoint (David Tennent) 10/2 9:30 CBS The McCarthys 10/30

Lavender Fizz

2 oz Gin
1 oz Lavender Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
Shaken with ice

2oz Club Soda


We had breakfast, we packed, we hopped in to a van and said goodbye to Austria.

We stopped by Linz for lunch. Daniel and I found a cute hole in a wall cafe in a quiet alley not at all far from the busy town center/market place which is filled with tourist-friendly restaurants offering bilingual menu with bright pictures. This place, on the other hand, looks like one where locals go for lunch during a business day. And the language barrier kind of proved that.

I forgot how we ordered, but I remembered using the little German that I could still muster and a lot of pointing and making English sound German. On top of getting us food, I also successfully ordered a glass of Weißwein, which was delightful.

We also bought some kind of dessert at a street cart. I tried to use German only but English blurted out when I exhausted my vocabulary. Nevertheless, my effort was complimented and the dessert was very tasty.

It started to rain as we approached Czech Republic. It was actually quite beautiful. My impression of the journal was green and silky grey.

Maybe it was over hyped, maybe we simply LOVE Hallstatt too much, I was not blown away when our driver (so kind!) gave us a tour around the town and took us to a hill to take in the town of thousand towers. Yeah, it’s red and cute, but I’m cold and wet and sore and in a poopy mood.

The town was extermely touristy, even more so than Hallstatt and in a different way.

There are cute places and the food was wonderful and wonderfully cheap. I was just not in love, which wouldn’t be a problem if it was not dubbed the MOST BEAUTIFUL SMALL TOWN (in the world?)

However, now that I look through the pictures, Cesky Krumlov indeed looks lovely.

Basil Cocktails

CORZO Lemon Basil Cocktail

2 parts CORZO Silver
1 part premium triple sec
1/2 lemon
3 basil leaves
1/2 part simple syrup
Club soda

Muddle lemon, basil and simple syrup in a chilled glass. Add ice, triple sec and CORZO Silver. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

Gin Basil Smash:
10 fresh basil leaves
2 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 ounces good quality gin
ice cubes

In a cocktail shaker add basil leaves, simple syrup and lemon juice.
Using a wooden muddler, crush the basil till bruised and fragrant. You will notice the liquid will start to turn slight green in color.
Pour in gin and ice cubes. Add top to the shaker and give the drink a good shake until the outside of the cocktail shaker is freezing cold. I always know when to stop because it starts to get too cold to hold any longer.
Strain into a short cocktail glass, add additional ice and garnish with basil leave if desired.


UK day 5

4/23 almost a great success
Daniel wants a proper English breakfast, and even though LSE does serve English breakfast (Toast, Tomato, Hash, Sausage, Bacon…), it was subpar. And that’s being generous.

So I had to find the BEST place. (Because, allow me to reiterate, the trip had to be puuuurrfect.)

And I did. :)

The Full English pop up cafe is within walking distance in SOHO(, but of course we took the bus.)

The food was great. It seemed to be the same as what they served at LSE (bacon, egg, sausage, tomato, etc), but man, everything tasted DIFFERENT. The cafe was thinly run, but it was not busy and we were not in a rush. Toward the end of the meal, our waitress the owner came over for a bit of chitchat, and I was talked into ordering her Sticky Toffee Pudding. (Well, I wanted the Sticky Toffee Pudding, but I was full already.) Poof, am I glad that I ordered it! It’s sweet and warm happiness but the sweetness doesn’t kill you. Ugh… I wanna go back now.

Next, the planned was to leisurely walked along south bank of the Thames as it was one of my favorite things to do when I was in London last time. However, because of the timing issue, it turned into a powerwalk, and we didn’t even get to properly enjoy my favorite market — Borough Market.

We watched the recently damed Angela Lansbury play a eccentric psychic in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit. I’ve always like Noël Coward’s quick-wittedness. However, I didn’t enjoy it as much as did a local production of Private Lives (not even Toby Stephens’s or Kim Cattrall’s production.) Nevertheless, now Angela Lansbury is on my list of Stars I’ve seen in Person. Plus, the rest of the cast member did a wonderful job. I think I’m just not that into this particular script.

After the show, we revisited Nando’s because it’s fast and relatively tasty. After filling out tummy to ready ourselves for alcohol, we headed to The London Gin Club (at the Star at Night.) This is one of the places that I most looked forward to for this trip. Gin Tasting!

At the London Gin Club, you can do gin tasting (usually in the form of Gin & Tonic with garnish carefully selected to pair with a specific gin), gin cocktails and other things. We focused on gin tastings as we want to try as many as possible.


We chose from the following 4 tasting menus:

Tasting number 1 (£23) is
1) HAMMER 40% lime : coriander led, crisp, dry easy drinking gin
2) HEATHER GIN 47.3% rhubarb: Complex , savoury with sweet over tones & light citrus notes
3) ZEPHYR 43% blueberry/lemon peel: Using elderflower & elderberry this is sweet, fruity & lightly floral
4) DA MHILE 42% plum: Earthy, almost minty with rose & cloves

Tasting Number 2 (£26) is
1) KRAHN 40% cape gooseberry : Smooth and balanced with subtle juniper and light citrus notes
2) DOROTHY PARKER 44% blueberry/orange : Using Hibiscus this is a tangy fruity gin with notes of warm spice
3) ORTHODOXY COLOMBIAN 43% rocket/lemon : zesty with light ginger & cinnamon hints, finshed with a subtle vanilla notes
4) SYLVIUS 45% garnish lemon/juniper: Aniseed through and through with hints of lemon, dill and caraway

IMG_3149Our BRAND NEW OVER PROOF tasting menu £26

Flavor Spectrum:
Dry: Brokers/Lime
Floral: Bloom/Strawberry
Citrus: Tangueray 10/Grapefruit peel
Savoury: Adnam’s First Rate/Olive & Thyme
Sweet: Old Tom/Lemon Peel
Spice: Monkey 47/Plum
Aged: Citagelle Reserve/Orange Peel
Liqueur: Hayman’s Gin Liqueur

We opted for the flavor spectrum, duh.

Adnam’s First Rate gin blew me away with its rich flavor. I regret not bringing a bottle back. (You can only buy Adnam at selected Waitros or a Adnam store. I didn’t have time to make the trip.) Instead, I got a bottle of Bloom because it was my second favorite and the bottle is just too beautiful. Monkey 47 is very interesting too, and it reminds me of Leopold. Speaking of Leopold, they have a bottle of Leopold on the shelf at The London Gin Club, but it’s not on the menu. So I asked the knowledgeable gin server/pourers about it. Turned out, they just acquired the bottle not long ago and most of them haven’t got a chance to try it. Our server took a whiff, and said, “yeah… smells like American gin.” Do I sense a bit of British snobbishness in there? Lol.

The program of the night is The 39 Steps. I watched it 4 years ago with Hsin Ying and found it extremely funny in its execution. I watched Hitchcock’s movie afterwards and that made the memory of the play even funnier. So of course I needed to share this experience with Daniel.

And he loved it. ;)

UK day 3-4

4/21 Canterbury
It took us a while to figure out where SouthEastern platform is. After grabbing some last minute breakfast from Mark & Spencer, we were on the high speed train to Canterbury!

At the very beginning we decided that we would do a day trip even though a week was not nearly enough for London alone. The candidates were: Paris (because taking EuroStar across the channel just sounds too cool–expensive and Paris for sure desire a dedicated trip of its own, even though I never really have the desire to go), Rye (my favorite small town–but 1 day would not do it justice), Cornwall (cornish pasty, the Eden Project and other stuff I read on historic fiction–too spread out for a day trip), Bath (Sally Lund’s buns! Jane Austin, pretty and nice things–too touristy and I don’t think Daniel will get much out of the place), OxBridge (oldness, snobbishness, Detective Lewis, punting.)

Eventually Daniel picked Canterbury. Probably because of Canterbury tales.

The weather was, contradictory to the forecast, BEAUTIFUL.

The guys at Canterbury River Tours were as cute and funny as they were when I visited 4 years ago.

Lunch was a fish & chip shop that the tour boy recommended, snack was Cornwall pastry and dinner was Nando’s.

We were going to The Bar with No Name that we saw on Esquire channel but I was too tired.

4/22 Kew Gardens

Before heading to one of my favorite place in London, we stopped by The Original Maid of Honours for picnic pastries.

The first thing that greets us after we got in was the peacock. He waited until a good number of people started to gather, and then he barked, open his “plumage” and did his circle dance. He did it so many times that I was able to take many pictures for his open butt butt.

Kew Gardens was as lovely as I remembered. My favorite section this time is the rock garden. It might not be gigantic or exotic, but it is so exquisite and full of life. I would like a garden like that!

After the Kew Gardens, we had some time to kill before heading to the Goose to watch the Chelsea Atletico match. Daniel opted for Harrod’s instead of Chelsea Megastore.

I like Harrod’s, but I never ventured out of the food area. From a few quick glances, the rest of Harrod’s is pretty much like other department store, granted fancier. Food Hall on the other hand is like an amusement park for me. All the tea, biscuits, terrine, oysters… If only it were so crowded.

The match was not worth mentioning; however, I had one of the best Ale I’ve had at the Goose — Tribute Ale. So I had two.

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