Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Belgian Delicacies

Selection of Belgian pralines we ate today.
Early this morning I walked the few blocks to London St. Pancras station and departed for Brussels, Belgium. The security at the train station was surprisingly lax, reminiscent of the way airports used to be before everyone became paranoid; metal detector, belt for luggage, and you're finished, bring all the liquids you please. About 2 hours later and we left our first train and boarded a 2nd for Antwerp.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Google Sketchup

Google Sketchup high power bicycle light.
From time to time I find myself trying random 3d design programs just to play around and see what comes of it. Not sticking to one is somewhat cumbersome because I generally forget most of the workflow and commands from one to the next, however it is fun while it lasts. Yesterday I decided to give Google's 3d modeler a try; Google Sketchup 8. The aim of this program seems to be ease of use over shiny beautiful hyperrealistic models that you see coming out of 3DS Max and Maya, but the end results are still impressive nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Church's Footwear Service

Casual suede Church's brand shoes - The culprit
A little bit of a rant today. During my last trip to London in January I picked up a pair of high end shoes to replace a pair of sneakers that were both out of fashion and destroyed. After a few recommendations from my fiance, who as you all know knows more about shoes than most I decided on a great pair of casual suede leather shoes from Church's Footwear.

Church's Footwear began as a family shoe making business in 1873 and built up a remarkable reputation as  some of the finest men's shoes coming out of England. They received such wide acclaim that they became James Bond's (Pierce Bronsan era 1995-2002) go to shoe. Know for their extraordinarily high quality, and classic men's styling they became a well known gentleman's shoe.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Holiest of Beers

I'm not much of a drinker, but I do enjoy trying new beers from time to time. My most recent tasting was of a very unique beer brewed by Belgian Trappist monks called Achel 8° Blonde. The beer was served in a Trappist style glass (similar in shape to a goblet) and had a huge foamy head that looks like a french vanilla float. Underneath all that foam was a nice dark blonde beer with a wonderfully pleasant rich fruit and floral yeast aroma. The taste is of sweet malt with some hop bitterness, light bodied with creamy texture, just amazing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Moving Picture

I just had the pleasure of watching a wonderful Japanese movie called Love Exposure. It's a 4 hour long epic about 3 emotionally damaged teens in Japan locked in a love triangle. Yu, the main character, is a misguided son of a priest who is doing anything to find his Mary (read Virgin Mary). The other parts of the love triangle are Yoko; abused by her father runs away with one of her father's many girlfriends, and finally Koike who was brought up by an over bearing father and is now the leader of a brainwashing cult.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Luxury Elven Heels

Frontal view; goat suede on the sides,
sheep leather for the upper and tongue
and rawhide lacing.
My fiance has completed another set of shoes, and this is one of my favorite designs to date.  They incorporate goat suede and leather made from sheep. This is her first boot style heel, but I think it came out great. The first thing that came to mind, much to her dismay, was that they look like elven shoes. I may be a bit biased, but honestly I don't think these would be out of place a shelf at Saks or Nordstrom selling for a few hundred dollars.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

豆苗, Dau Miu, Snow Pea Sprouts, A Vegetable By Many Names

Dau miu: snow pea shoots stir fried with garlic
When I lived in Hong Kong I used to go to many local dim sum restaurants and the people I was with would always order a stir fried green leafy vegetable dish.  It was one of my favorite vegetable dishes there yet I had no idea what it was, and nobody could really explain it in English when asked. Tonight I went to have some crispy duck in London's chinatown...I know, again in Chinatown, I should have rented a place there. There I finally found out that this magnificent dish is actually the shoots from snow pea plants steamed with garlic.

These are one of the most delicious vegetables that can be stir fried and are considered a Chinese delicacy. If you haven't tried this it's a must. I don't remember seeing this on the menu in any Chinese restaurants I've been to in the US, although surely it's available in the Chinatowns of larger cities such as New York and probably available in quite a few places in California. So rather than search through all of the Chinese style restaurants here's a quick little recipe for it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cycling in Belgium

Belgium cycling map courtesy of fietsroute.org
This week I've been planning a trip to Belgium towards the end of the month. I haven't been there before, nor do I know anyone who has been or anyone from there so I figured it would be the perfect place to go explore. We'll be taking the Eurostar from central London through the Chunnel, through northern France and into Belgium, stopping in Brussels. A 2 and a half hour journey by train is a lot nicer and more relaxed than 2 and a half hours of dealing with security and customs at an airport for a 40 minute flight.

While researching how to get around northern Belgium I found that they have an extensive cycling network with more then 2500 miles of cycling paths criss-crossing throughout just the northern half of the country. Most of these are long distance routes cutting through most of the major towns and cities, and even crossing borders into Amsterdam and the Netherlands. This is a great contrast to what is seen in the US where you're lucky to have a narrow bicycle lane in a city. Admittedly some cities have nice networks for cyclists such a Denver/Boulder and Portland Oregon, but they pale in comparison to a country wide paved network of paths set apart from the larger vehicles like cars and trucks.

I'll be sure to post a few pictures if I see anything of interest. I'm not entirely sure what to expect from this country other than cycling, chocolate, and beer. Actually those 3 things should make for an exciting trip.