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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Milano has canals – but they are nothing like Venezia’s – more like London, Camden Lock in particular.  Located in an industrial part of town, many bars and restaurants line both sides of the canal.  We went by metro, got off at Porto Genova and walked over.

Next to the canal, we wandered into the courtyard of a block of apartments where there are several artist’s studios, evidenced by the display of the work some of which are for sale.

Apparently, the canal was built in the 12th century, the construction of which was overseen by Leonardo da vinci.  It belonged to a system of Lombardy canals which served as Milano’s major transportation network until the railways were built.

The banks of the canal are lined by street vendors – handbags, incenses, etc.  We had dinner at the Trattoria on the left (see photo below) which will be the subject of the next post.

The canal does not look healthy but there is a flock of ducks – one adult herding 15 or so ducklings.  You can see them in the photo below as a line of dots on the water.

Close up of the ducklings. Every city needs some “wild” life.

Obikà is a chain of restaurant that specializes in mozzarella cheese.  Here is a link to their website.
This one is located on the 7th floor of La Rinascente opposite the Duomo, with an eye level view of its roof.  This is the only building tall enough to offer this view.

We discovered this restaurant after having finished our lunch at the cafe in the next section – we were too focused on getting a view and ignored the menu.  Too bad  – as I would love to try the mozzarella.  The tank with the tan color mozzarella balls is labeled “Affumicata” which means “smoked”.  Hmmm.

There are seats at the bar where one can see the dishes being prepared – think sushi bar.  The ambiance feels like and the name sounds like a Japanese restaurant, but apparently the word Obikà comes from “obiccà”, the word in the Neapolitan dialect meaning, “Here it is.”

Mozzarella balls, various kinds of dried meat (proscuito, parma ham, …), tomatoes, basil leaves, oil and vinegar form the basic dish – I can see adding or mixing the basic dish with pesto, other kinds of hard cheese, arugula, roasted vegetables …

I did not see them in NYC but apparently they have a restaurant in the IBM atrium on the corner of 57th and Madison.

We were in Milano for 4 nights and due to lack of planning, managed to miss Milan’s annual international furniture show (Salone Internazionale del Mobile) by one week. While we were there, I saw ads on the street and local press for special events in museums, galleries and shops which were held at the same time – I so definitely am coming for it next year.

While Milan fashion can be seen easily outside of Italy, it is not so for furniture from the design capital of the world.

Driade‘s flagship store is located on via Manzoni 30 in a converted palazzo.  It is artfully stuffed with an ecclectic collection by top international designers.

There are multiple rooms, both indoor and outdoor spaces, all impeccably put together in a way which makes it look natural, unlike a typical showroom.

The staff was very friendly as I was curious about the cost of shipping over the border and avoiding Italian sales tax- there can be savings and it is not difficult to organize.

Their 2011 catalog – “L’arte di Abitare” which can be downloaded or viewed online here is really a great resource as it presents the pieces in various home settings – not just a photo shot against a solid background.  Particularly true for the last quarter of the catalog.  Not until reading this catalog do I realize Philipe Starck is so proliferative.

I look forward to our visit to Barcelona next month where I will check out Vinçon – the other furniture store where I would not mine living in.

This is our first trip to Milano – the place to shop in Europe.  So we had a mini tour of shops.

10 Corso Como is located at the far end of Brera in Milan, a bit off the tourist trail.  The complex is inside a row of 4-storey buildings and includes a large retail space converted from a commercial garage. The street-facing side of the building houses a hotel that has only three suites (aptly named “3Rooms”).  At the back, the retail space is divided into sections each displaying a collection of branded goods (generally small elite labels) from around the world.

Their goods are selected to reflect a certain life style – best described as hip, quietly luxurious, design conscious and international (some products co-branded with Comme de Garçon). There is also a simple graphic motif that unifies the whole retail concept – circles and amoeboid shapes- which were used throughout the store in their display and on their branded goods.   Apparently, they have a very cheerful online shop and branches in Tokyo and Seoul.

The second floor of the retail space houses two galleries and an art book/music/design object shop.  The founder, Carla Sozzani, was an editor at Vogue, Elle, etc in the 80’s and started a photography gallery and publishing company – Galleria Carla Sozzani which morphed into 10 Corso Como.

What made the place so attractive to me is the amount of green plants they have stuffed into the courtyard, piled up at the entrance, and hung off the balconies. They have effectively created a cool (both temperature and attitude) urban oasis.

This entire hotel-shop-lounge complex can easy fit somewhere in Tribeca, Chelsea, or the meatpacking district of New York.

We got here just as the place was opening; the lounge, bar and cafe sections were still closed.

The organic graphic motifs are echoed throughout the bar and lounge – wall decors, furniture. While the lofty space has a post-industrial air about it, there are few straight lines and 90 degree-corners in the interiors.

We spent the whole morning there. Later, the cafe opened …

Like many hotels and clubs in Europe, their in-house DJ releases compilation of music – their sound is not clubby or lounge-y –  it is compiled by themes but most tracks have a light world music feel.  Their website allows sampling of the tracks.  I got their “Best of” and am happy with the selection.

After Macau, we had another chance to enjoy Portuguese food.  My sister’s friend – MW- invited us to dine at this restaurant on the 8th floor of the Hotel LKF, which is in the epicenter of Lan Kwai Fong area.  As several lots on D’Aguilar Street is under construction, new bars and restaurants have opened on Wyndham street above and the hotel provides a direct passage between the two levels.  It was a Friday night and the bar/club scene was in full swing; people were hanging out on the streets effectively merging the bars and restaurants into one big party.

The food was great and it was not meant to be a fusion with local flavors.  I would say it was better than Litoral in Macau (see earlier post).  We had clams in garlic, white wine sauce. Garlicy, finger-licking good.  Grilled prawns …

The obligatory Bachlau dish –  I don’t remember what it was called and did not care much about it.  Nevertheless, it was done well as I can imagine it being oily and heavy, which it was not.

The roasted suckling pig is one of the best I have ever had.  Its skin is crunchy and the meat melted in the mouth. And you do not have to order it ahead of time unlike Litoral.  It was unavoidably a case of cholesterol overload.

The young chef, Martinho is from Portugal and had won various prizes in Europe before starting out in Hong Kong a few months ago.  He was very friendly and came over several times.


Big casino hotels appear in clusters in Macau.  There is a cluster at the Outer harbor (新口岸) anchored by the Grand Lisboa at one end, the Mandarin Oriental at the other, and with the Wynn, MGM Grand, L’Arc, and Star World scattered in the middle.  Another cluster of hotels is located at the Cotai strip where we were staying.

Bank of China, Hotel Lisboa and Grand Lisboa (picture above from left to right) – one can walk from the bank to the casinos easily – how convenient ! The fountain in front of the Wynn can be synchronized to music and performs much like the Bellagio does in Vegas.

Further down the street, looking back at the Grand Lisboa (picture below).

The Grand Lisboa looks a bit like a monstrous sprig of cauliflower during the day, but at night with the flashing and synchronized patterns of light, it looks spectacular. The reflection of Grand Emperor’s giant neon sign makes its even more dazzling.

The Grand Emperor neon sign is about 10 floors high.

Neon-lit casino hotel jungle.

The pawn shops located conveniently at the street corner are just as brightly lit by neon as the casinos.

This is the view out of our hotel room window (16th floor) day and night – Hard Rock, Crown and Grand Hyatt – the City of Dreams – all on the Cotai Strip – the reclaimed land located between the islands of Taipa and Coloane.  The pool belongs to our neighboring hotel complex – the Venetian.  The facades of the four hotel buildings across the Strip act as a giant message board where big Chinese or English characters scroll from one building to the other.

Every hotel in Macau has some attractions at the reception area.  One of the entrance of the City of Dreams casino hotel complex is a bigger than life mermaid swimming au naturel in an imaginary waterscape.

As you can see, as a scale – the lady with the mop shows how big the projection surface is.  The mermaid is about 6-foot tall in 20-foot deep water while the jellyfish is about 2.5-foot tall.

The Wynn casino hotels has two buildings, an entrance to Wynn Encore is much more subdue than the main, but behind the reception is a wall of 100’s of fluorescent jellyfish, gracefully swaying, rising and falling against a wall of metallic tiles.

They are interestingly not animated.  I have seen such a display before in a zoo-aquarium under natural light. Wonder what the ultraviolet light will do to them, mutant jellyfish ?  But the whole thing is ever so mesmerizing to watch – wish I made a video of this wall of jellyfish.