Sunday, April 29, 2007

Première Moisson Outremont

We all know la boulangerie Première moisson in Montreal. How can one resist the pastries and arguably the best croissants outside of France. I did not realize the outlet at Outremont on avenue Bernard had seating in the back. I was worried that it might be just a tad bit crowded on a Sunday morning, but it turned out to be very nice indeed. Quite easy to find as it is just diagonally across the junction from the famous Outremont theatre. Great place for a casual meeting.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Muir Woods

If you are ever close to San Francisco, the Muir Woods park is definitely worth a visit. It's not as rugged and pristine as Gatineau Park and nowhere as big, but the giant sequoia redwoods only exist in a few places in the world. This is a sunken moisture rich environment that is necessary to keep the towering water-hungry trees alive, especially as they are not particularly deep-rooted. With a bit of imagination, you could almost be on a different planet. Thorough enjoyment requires time to pause and to reflect, and to explore the less beaten paths (most of the main trails are a little over-used). If one is prepared to be rugged, it might be an interesting experience visiting after heavy rains, with proper footwear of course since it will be very muddy. That might make it even more out-of-this-world.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Straits Restaurant - Santana Row

Santana Row is a nice spot in otherwise mediocre San Jose. Straits Restaurant is elegant and at the same time casual. Why can't we have restaurants like this in Ottawa? At dinner time, a fun-loving yet stylish crowd turns up around the bar as much as at the tables. The chef serves up great Singapore food. The satay is excellent and the beef rendang strongly recommended. I'm quite sure almost everything is quite good. It's not the most economical in the Bay Area, but then again, the price is worth it for the atmosphere. Will definitely visit again.

Monday, April 16, 2007

House of Shields - San Francisco

The Web 2.0 Meetup and Drinkup was here. This is one historic bar in downtown San Francisco. The walls probably have stories to tell that would overshadow each one of us. Look up at the ceiling the next time you are there as it's beautiful. Or google it and you will likely find some images of it on Flickr. But nothing beats being there with the star-studded geek crowd that was there this night. It was an eclectic mix that was almost unreal, some very rich, others very smart, some very young, others more like me (i.e. remembers Web 1.0 well), and the very artistic.

Monday, March 05, 2007

One and only one Tremblant trip this year

Winter wasn't much of one, not much snow to speak of here. Lots on the west coast but that's too far to travel just for the white stuff. Just lots of rain at the front and tail end of it. Managed just one trip to Mont Tremblant the whole winter, a repeat of last year's condo visit. Only this time, I did not manage to find time to organize it, and had to let someone else take over. It went really well though, and was the first time I managed to catch a breather after months of hard work. I managed to get a ride up there with a friend on March 3rd, originally planned to go up late afternoon the 2nd but the weather was a little treacherous and I was late getting back home anyway. Did not feel terribly fit up at the top of the mountain. When the snow melts, I have to make sure that I get back to my regular tennis sessions. No, I'm not really into gyms as I like doing exercise outdoors.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Food at Maclaren's mediocre? Not the smoked salmon sandwich.

It's kind of going around that everything on the menu (other than the drinks) is mediocre at Maclaren's on Elgin. I mean, the draw of the place are the wide screen TVs (for sports viewing) and the pool tables. Strangly though, the smoked salmon sandwich is really good. It comes with chunks of smoked salmon, not slices of it. It's almost like a salmon steak sandwich. The only thing is that the salmon tends not to be able to stay in the sandwich, so your hands smell like you've gone fishing, not a good idea if you intend to shoot pool after that.

Maybe the rest of the menu's gotten better too, I mean it could just be me having bad experiences from before, and the salmon's just improved with the rest of it?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

West Coast Celtic Originally From Ottawa

Amazing band. It was a fantastic show at the Irish Village and the band had as much fun as the crowd, this being a homecoming show, sort of. I had so much fun I'm almost tempted to travel just to see them again. You know it when a band has it together when they've got that something extra compared to the run of the mill - both chemistry and synergy as a group.

While I'm at this, I might as well do a shameless plug for a friend of mine. They (the Reverb Syndicate) are doing a CD release show on September 23rd at Zaphod's. It's a totally different type of music from west coast celtic, but they too have lots of fun playing what they enjoy, so it'll be cool (a.k.a. groovy or wicked for you time-travelling types).

Friday, August 11, 2006

Strongly recommended: Won Ton House (Ottawa)

Finally got to try this restaurant on Wellington west of Parkdale. Recent gentrification of the area has continued unabatedly but this place, like the Bagel Shop across the street, has been around for years through the ups and downs.

All I can say is that I'm definitely going to be back there again. The food is good, and the dining room cosier and friendlier than the large Chinese restaurants in town, yet better maintained than many of the smaller ones. It's much more than just Won Ton, so don't let that rather simplistic name fool you. It's a full-fledged restaurant.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Singaporean style buffet in Ontario

The only way to describe what a Singaporean style buffet is to someone in Canada is to go for one. The closest I've seen is at a place called Mandarin ( They have a number of locations across Ontario. I stopped by their Pickering location on the way back from Toronto. It's just behind the Petro Canada Station at the corner of Kingston Road and Brock Road, convenient if you are connecting between the 407 and the 401. Roast beef, barbecued pork, sushi, prime rib, mussels, fresh shrimps (Singaporeans read: prawns), chicken curry, deep-fried shrimps and scallops, "everything you could want" salad, your usual chinese dishes, black forest cake, cream caramel, bread pudding, ice cream. There's also the usual "Canadian" chinese food such as chicken balls, egg rolls, hot and sour soup. The wonton is not all that great but everything else was delightful.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Kitty Lake Cabin

We arrived at the Algonquin Park Shall Lake ranger station (pass office) at about noon only to be greeted by the largest number of black flies I have seen in the 4 years I've been in Canada. Apparently the ranger knew what he was doing as he was wearing a really good bug jacket. I thought I could tough it out but all my tropical jungle experience did not help this day. "You picked the peak weekend for bugs," the ranger said.

Fortunately we only had a short paddle to the Kitty Lake cabin, which is in fact before the short 90 metres portage across to Kitty Lake from Farm Lake. The cabin is amazing inside. There are four bunk beds, a picnic table, a wood burning stove (which we did not use as it was way too warm), and enough space for two small tents (not that we were going to erect any). The black flies gave way to mosquitoes at sunset. Good thing we had a cabin and the drums we brought with us to entertain ourselves. Sunday was a little better for bugs as it was a little sunnier. But one finds them swarming in the shade away from the wind, as we did on the protected side of a point on Booth Lake that morning.