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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mango Carribean

Today is our special day. The day we signed our eternal lease. No..not the mortgage, I am talking about our wedding anniversary. The last few years, we have agreed to go and try out new cuisine/new restaurant and splurge a bit. Last year we had the famous Anh’s family crabs in SF. The previous year we had kaiseki dinner in Santa Clara.

This year, we decided on Caribbean cuisine. It’s a bit hard to find restaurants in Bay Area that serve Caribbean cuisine. Yelp, is our source and confirmed that there were two. Mango Caribbean in Palo Alto and Back A Yard in Menlo Park. We inclined to try Back A Yard even though the place isn’t as fancy as the competitor in Palo Alto. But, alas, they closed the whole week after Christmas. So we settled with Mango Caribbean.

Hubby said that he went to a Caribbean restaurant before by the name Mango Café. Jatbar.com confirmed that there was a Mango Café before but it’s now closed. Mango Caribbean is actually in the same location as the Mango Café. I guess it changed ownership.

Okay, cut the crap. We went there around 3 PM. Yeah, weird hours to go for a meal. There were two occupied tables. A few ladies on one and a couple on the other. The couple was just finishing up and left when we were looking at the menu. We had some ideas in mind of what to order, but we couldn’t be ordering the same jerk chicken. So I decided to order seafood, instead of shrimps, I opted for snapper.

Mobay, our appetizer looks a bit plain when it arrived. The shrimps looked pale and didn’t seem to be seasoned at all. On one bite, it’s a bit bland. The plaintain on the other hand was sweet which went well with the coconut rice underneath it. But then, that blandness disappeared and replaced with warmth. The warmth kept building up to be a fire in our mouths afterward. No wonder the waitress warned us before hand. I noticed some tiny bits of pepper on the plate once we cleaned it up. I think they used habanero. It was good, but there’s a layer of oil on the plate, which I couldn’t quite figure why. Maybe the shrimps were blanched in the habanero infused oil ?

Hubby ordered Reggae Platter, which is jerk chicken with red bean rice and stir fry mixed vegetables. I ordered Little Ochi which supposed to be grilled snapper, but I seriously thought that what I got wasn’t grilled, but more like deep fried. So the difference between our order was just the chicken and snapper but the rest were the same. Rice and red bean cooked with coconut milk. Mixed vegetables was a nice touch to the platter. It could have been a healthy combination if only it’s less greasy. We couldn’t figure out what oil they used. Could it be coconut oil ? It had a bit sweetness to it, but other than that, the mixed vegetables were not seasoned at all.

Jerk chicken. I saw jerk chicken on one of Bourdain’s show about Jamaica. The chicken in the show looked dried and covered with spice. But the one hubby got was very tender, meat fell of the bone kind of tenderness. And there wasn’t much rub spiced on it. Not much taste in fact. My snapper was the same, not much taste and pretty bland. Fish wasn’t sweet, maybe it wasn’t fresh, that’s why it was deep fried ?? ha..ha.. who knows. I guess that’s why the waitress offered hot sauce. I said no to that, but hubby said yes. It’s a good thing that he did, because the sweetness of the ‘hot’ sauce helped with the taste of the otherwise bland dishes.

I’m curious as to whether that’s how the food should taste or they could have done a better job at portraying Caribbean cuisine. I guess, our next stop would be Back A Yard.




Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Do you give christmas present ?

A coworker asked for my opinion. She and her family agreed on not exchanging christmas present this year. They don't have kids in the family and would like to change the family tradition of giving presents. So she went and told the boyfriend to not exchange christmas present. Boyfriend agreed. But her room mate told her that her boyfriend is going to get her something so she should get him a little present. So she wanted my opinion.

In my situation, my family never had a family tradition of giving presents. Heck..we didn't even get birthday presents. You get presents when you did well in school. That's it. It may sound harsh, but that's how we grew up. When I married, my husband started giving me christmas present so we exchanged presents for a few years. Until I called a stop to it. But this year I did get him a jacket. I didn't expect him to get me anything because I know we agreed on not exchanging presents.

So that's what I told my coworker. But she said that she would be upset if she did get him a little present but he didn't. :) My other coworker said that she should get a little something but hide until he presented her a present.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My First Nutcracker


I called my hubby a few days ago. We're going to watch Nutcracker. He was surprised. Did you win the mystery voice contest, he asked me. I couldn't surpressed my excitement. I laughed out loud and told him how at last minute, I was able to come out with the answer and also be the third caller to our favorite station, KLIV.

Even with the free tickets, it took a while to convince hubby to go to the show. He said he'd rather go watch Shark than Nutcracker. Well, I didn't doubt that. But we never been to any ballet show, so it's going to be an exciting experience. I was planning on what to wear already. :)

So today is the day. We left home around 11:30 and planned to go to Dac Phuc first for lunch. Dac Phuc was just not as good anymore. The bowl was too small so the bean sprout couldn't get wilted properly. Anyhow I couldn't wait to watch the show.

When we approached the San Jose Center for performing arts we saw a bunch of boys and girls forming a choir outside. We didn't pay much attention and just walked straight in. Surprisingly there were quite a lot of guests today for an afternoon mattinee. Our seats were in the orchestra section. The view was perfect, straight line to the stage, about 30 feet from it. Close enough to see the dancers and their expression but not too close that we have to look up.

When the light dimmed, I realized that there was a space underneath the stage for the orchestra. Silly me..of course, it's a ballet. Well..first timer.

Early this morning, I googled nutcracker to get an idea of the storyline. But then again, every performance will slightly differ. So was this one. So having a programme book before the show will help, according to my google result. I was ready to spend a few dollar for the programme. But turned out that it's given out for free. Wonderful.

All in all, it was an interesting performance. I was fascinated by the costume, the decor, music and the dancers. I found that watching ballet was quite similar to watch movie. But balled doesn't have dialog so it's important to watch the body language of each of the characters. The first few minutes I was overwhelmed by so many things going on the stage. The act started with the hussle and bustle at the Tannenbaum's household getting ready for Christmas party. There were at least ten or even more dancers moving around the stage. After a while I only tried to focus on the center of attention.

The show lasted about two hours. Even hubby admitted that he enjoyed the show. It's hard not to. The costumes were so colorful, pretty and sparkly. The dancers were handsome and pretty and their performance was awesome. On the negative side, it's quite expensive though for a family of four considering that the cheapest ticket could take $30 out of your pocket.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Presents

One local charity today reported that some kids won't find presents under their Christmas trees. They reportedly gathered 'only' 40,000 gifts instead of their target of 50,000 gifts. That's big because Christmas presents are serious issue here. Everybody...I mean EVERYBODY should get a present on Christmas. Either you're a kid or an adult. Meanwhile some kids in some third world countrie have to work in sweat shops to help their parents make some money for dinner.

If your parents, uncles, aunties, friends, neighbors want to give you presents, fine, take them. But, don't make it a big deal of not getting a present. Gifts giving is good. It helps the economy. But not getting one is not going to kill you.

And who to say that those people who requested presents through charity group really the needy ones ?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ever wonder ?


How Do You Know if You Married the Right Person
by Mort Fertel

During one of my seminars, a woman asked me a question. She said, "How do I know if I married the right person?"

I noticed that there was a large man sitting next to her so I said, "It depends. Is that your husband?"

In all seriousness, how do you know? How do you know if you married the right person?
Here’s the answer.

EVERY relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse. You anticipated their call, wanted their touch, and liked their idiosyncrasies.


Falling in love with your spouse wasn’t hard. In fact, it was a completely spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything. That’s why it’s called "falling" in love - because it’s happening TO YOU.

People in love sometimes say, "I was swept off my feet." Think about the imagery of that expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something came along and happened TO YOU.

Falling in love is easy. It’s a passive and spontaneous experience.

But after a few years of marriage, the euphoria of love fades. It’s the natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.

The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship, but if you think about your marriage, you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage.

At this point, you and/or your spouse might start asking, "Did I marry the right person?" And as you and your spouse reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when marriages breakdown. People blame their spouse for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment.

Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most obvious. But sometimes people turn to work, church, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances.

But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage. It lies within it.
I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you’d feel better. But you’d be in the same situation a few years later. Because (listen carefully)
THE KEY TO SUCCEEDING IN MARRIAGE IS NOT FINDING THE RIGHT PERSON;IT’S LEARNING TO LOVE THE PERSON YOU FOUND. Sustaining love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It’ll NEVER just happen to you. You can’t "find" LASTING love. You have to "make" it day in and day out. That’s why we have the expression "the labor of love." Because it takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it takes WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make your marriage work.

And, make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your spouse) to succeed with your marriage.

Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise program makes you physically stronger, certain habits in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger. It's a direct cause and effect. If you know and apply the laws, the results are predictable - you can "make" love.

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I found that article and just loved it. I heard some sort of the same thing before from a person in the past. I wanted to keep this article and read it again. I want it as a reminder for my selfish self at times when marriage doesn't taste like honey. :)

December my favorite month





I am sure everybody has a favorite day (Sunday, maybe ?) or even favorite holiday (Christmas that falls on Sunday, so Monday is still a holiday..ha..ha..). But beside those I also have a favorite month which is December.

The whole month of December just speaks of h.o.l.i.d.a.y. All the decorative lights and the Christmas songs. All the discount in the malls and online. All the excuses to go out shopping and spending money because it's once a year and it's holiday.

Beside all those festivities in December. I also believe it's a month of wish comes true. I can't speak for all others that received the Christmas presents they wanted. But years ago when my younger brother decided to get married before me. And my relatives all feel like they should ask me when I'll get married. Yeah..relatives everywhere are all the same when it comes to being nosy. To their question of when it's my turn to get married. I answered with a serious face, it's going to be in December. They all said : is it true ? See, you give them an answer and they doubted instead. So I laughed and said no, I was just joking. Yes, I was joking because I didn't even have boyfriend at that time, let alone getting married. It was 1999 then, and guess what, I DID get married in December, a year later in 2000. Coincidence ? I'd rather think of it as a wish came true. I finally found my soul mate.