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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Our second touristy meal in Milano was a dinner at Savini.  The restaurant is inside the Galleria and shares a corner in the middle with Louis Vuitton.  It also happens to be directly across from a McDonald  (see earlier post about Al Mercante).  The Galleria was very much alive with people so it was fun to have dinner in the arcade and watch the shoppers.  This place is used by both tourists and Milanese.

The Galleria was beautifully lit.  Not sure why they put that red, blue and green lights. Kind of destroyed the ambiance.

We chose a table in the back row away from the velvet rope. The service was good and it was entertaining to watch the maitre’d going up to cajole shopping-fatigued diners to come inside while they were inspecting the menu.

The restaurant has a gelateria, a cafe & pastry section, a produce shop (Savini Gusto) and a tasting room for their branded produce (big enough for a busload of tourists, downstairs).  The romantic ambiance of the dining room on the mezzanine level and a view of the arcade behind huge glass windows is special. Every one chose to sit outside in the arcade.

While the surroundings were lively and the service attentive, the food was relatively underwhelming – it was carefully prepared and tasted alright – not very exiciting.

However, the olive oil was quite tasty so we bought a bottle – apparently one of five varieties they carry under their label.

A perfect place for a light meal, an espresso or a dessert in the middle of every thing.

While we were visiting Milan last Spring, we ate here one night. This restaurant was mentioned in the Michelin Green Guide (not the restaurant guide).  It is centrally located and has exterior seating in Piazza Mercanti – just around the corner from Piazza Duomo.

Some of the fish looked as if they are ready to jump out of the ice, “frozen” in motion.

While the quality and choices of food were unremarkable, it was not expensive, and the atmosphere and service was good.  Perfect for tourist.  It was a nice evening out for us.

Veal – Milanese style in Milan !

Osso buco

On the other side of the piazza was a McDonald.  Coincidentally, two of our evening meals in Milano were eaten from restaurants that are opposite a McDonald (the other one being Savini inside the Galleria) – evidently, we were going to touristy eateries. Before our next trip to this city, we must get some restaurant recommendations from a Milano cognoscenti.

On my last day in Berlin, while wandering in Mitte, it came to me that my eyeglass frame by ic! berlin must somehow be related to this city.  After googling the brand on the street, I discovered that their original store was located at Max-Beer-Straße, which is only two blocks from where I was.  So a random walk in this part of town became a pilgrimage.

The store was rather minimal, but unique in its use of old loudspeakers stacked up to form the service counter; and all the glasses were stored in carts that were once used on planes to store meals and drinks.  Honestly, the idea of using the carts is cute but impractical as you cannot see the merchandise directly. The storekeeper has to remember where all the different styles of frames are stored.

My frame was getting old.  So I have to buy a new frame from the mothership – the original store. For the merchandise, check out their website – ic! berlin.

Old glasses …

Brand loyalty is not my thing – after all, I believe “variety is the spice of life.” and there are so many different things out there waiting to be experienced. However, there are a few exceptions.  Eyewear is one.  I got my first of ic! berlin frame (model roman) about 5 years ago after a pair of Silhouette titan rimless.

The German shopkeeper spoke flawless English, and helped me patiently to narrow down the choices to a final selection (model hotel neutor, graphite). For friends who have not seen me for a while, that’s what I am wearing now. (The photo below reminds me of smiling eyes in a cartoon especially after you stare at it a bit.)

The few things I want to say about this German brand of eyewear (founded 1999)  is that the frames are handmade, super light, have great shapes, made from sheet metal and feature patented screw-less springy hinges.  The image is that of hi-tech minimalism, and the designs won them many prizes apparently in Japan.

same old hinge design, different model, same material, different finish

Since I did not stay long enough in Berlin to add the lens, the new lenses were fitted in Hong Kong. The optician also sold ic! berlin frames and was keen to compare prices. I might have paid a little more as there is no sales tax in Hong Kong.

Gotta love their ironic storage tube, the top of which is shaped like a giant screw. Yet their patented design is famous for being screw-less.

I passed their arch-rival Mykita which was just round the corner on Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 6.  Mykita, founded by ex-ic! employees in 2004, also features a screw-less hinge design but ic! berlin’s hinges certainly look sleeker in my opinion.

ic! berlin also have great lens cloth.

By the time I finished my shopping, it was dark.

Berlin was great city to visit. Take a look at two my earlier posts about Berlin: Axica, the Reichstag.

While looking ic! berlin up on Wikipedia, I discovered that they collaborated with Freitag in designing a eyeglass frame for truck driver.  See this link about the frame and go here for my earlier post about Freitag.


Addendum: in 2014, I got a third pair of ic! berlin, Harmonic Oscillator, see the latest post here. In 2017, I got a fourth pair – cinja s. – click here to see it.

When I came back from vacation in Southern California (19C), I was shocked by the 28C difference – apparently Switzerland just had a cold snap (-9C).  Under such circumstance and after the post about hotpot/fondue for winter, I have to say something about the warmer season.

This past summer we got ourselves a BBQ.  We have a bit of outdoor space so this is perfect.  Apparently, among the Europeans, the Swiss are really into BBQ.  It was very easy to find the equipment – from disposable stove made from an aluminum foil tray to small charcoal grill for BBQ afficiandos, and even SUV-sized stainless steel gas cooking stations like those in the US.

Never owned a Weber while in the States. They are common here but much more expensive (like everything else). After I bought this unit, I later found a model that has electronic ignition and a thermometer in the lid which would really be useful. Should have gone to Hornbach (the Home Depot equivalent in Switzerland) first !

Propane gas was brought from a gas station. There were lots of discussions in expat forums about whether it is safe to import a unit from the US or Europe as all are confused about the fitting of the valve, etc.

This is the last time this grill looks so perfectly clean. My only complain about this product is the grilling surface which comes as a single piece.  Don’t get me wrong, it is beautifully machined.  But it is heavy and it would not fit into the sink.  A lot of moves are needed when cleaning it. I would prefer if they provided two pieces which can placed adjacent to each other to form the surface, and can be washed separately.

The fact that the Swiss loves BBQ is evidenced by the marinated packs of meats on sale in the supermarket.  The marinate is brown, tastes rather salty with a hint of spices but not sweet.  After a few times, I am bored with the flavor.

One of our favorite is chicken wings – prepared with LKK soy chicken mariante to which I added extra ginger, mirin, star anise and some honey. It is really great when the wings are freshly grilled, the skin puffs up and the meat is moist.  Another favorite is grilled olive oil-drenched skinny asparagus which were slightly crunchy when they come off the grill. Yummy.

Another piece by Vangelis which is much warmer than and very mainstream when compared to the earlier posted Memories of Green – the piece that was used in the movie Blade Runner.  Other than the “Memories” in the titles, I do not know the connection between these two pieces, if any. It could have been used in the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire.

The images in this youtube video have nothing to do with Vangelis.

It is a very very soothing piece of New Age.  Perfect for me who is jet-lagged. Goodnight and sleep well.

I arrived in Quebec at night and took some pictures of the Fairmont Chateau Le Frontenac which are posted here. When I woke up the next day, this is what the place looks like under a wintry sun. 

There was hardly any person or traffic on the street – very quiet.

Looking out of my hotel window from the 11th floor – this is much more interesting than the views from the airport hotels at which I recently stayed.

St Lawrence river, flowing east, downstream towards the Atlantic.

St Lawrence river and the port.

Behind the port, above the hill are cannons, and the citadel.

I took the funicular down to the Marche Champlain area.

Quaint shopping street – rather quiet on a Friday afternoon. Bought some maple syrup butter.

Pretty convincing mural, especially at dusk.

Quebec city, Canada – a short trip taken over the weekend before Christmas 2011.

By the time I arrived in Quebec city, it was quite late. The Jean Lesage airport is far given the small size of the city. It snowed the day before and it was freezing that evening. This castle-like building is the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, my room was on the 11th floor of the taller building inside.

St Lawrence river and the port area.  The hotel sits on a bluff overlooking this area. It is apparently designated a United Nations World Heritage Site.

 There is a funiculaire that goes down to the port. Ignore the “ouvert” sign, as it was not.

Across the park from the hotel is a row of restaurants.Port  museum.

Côte de la Fabrique –  on my way to the main shopping street – Rue Saint Jean.

I wandered down this street (Rue Saint Louis) to find a restaurant recommended by the hotel concierge for solo diner – Conti Caffe. I ate at the bar, interesting but busy decor, food not bad, friendly staff.

Back to the hotel.

Back inside the toasty hotel interior. May be because it is winter, the room rate of this hotel is less than what one will imagine a chateau like this one would charge.

Daytime views of Quebec – see next post.

I cannot remember how I found this vimeo clip.

“Address is approximate” is very clever and the music by Cinematic Orchestra really brought it to life. Well done.