Monday, July 30, 2012

Greetings from Bali

Hi everyone,

Sorry we've been MIA lately. We are currently still in Jakarta, recovering from my sister's wonderful wedding in Bali. It was truly one of the most beautiful weddings I've been to (except for our own, he he). Check out this website of a star that my new brother-in-law bought for my sister and presented during that night.

We only had a brief 4 day stay in Bali, most of which were filled with wedding activities. We wished we could stay longer, so hopefully next time!

Here's a sneak peak from the gorgeous ceremony venue at Tirtha Uluwatu and the reception venue at Ju Ma Na at the Banyan Tree in Bali. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fried Chicken at Addendum

I have always wanted to try the fried chicken dish at Ad Hoc, which is one of Thomas Keller's restaurants in the Napa Valley. However, they only serve the fried chicken every other Monday, and reservations are quite hard to get. My friend told me about this fried chicken shack behind Ad Hoc called Addendum, also owned by Thomas Keller. It seemed like a really good alternative, especially considering the more affordable price and that I would not need to make any reservations.

Dan's parents live pretty close to Napa, so on our last visit to their place we took a day trip to Napa and finally made our way to Addendum. The shack only opens from Thursday to Saturday, 11 AM to 2 PM. We were a bit worried about the long lines, so we came a little bit after 11--there was a short line already, but not too bad and it moved pretty quickly.

The shack was located behind Ad Hoc's parking lot. There's a mini-garden area surrounded by picnic benches and trees; it's actually quite a cute area. I also really appreciated the shade! Napa weather can be quite hot during the summer, and even though I like to be outside, I can't be out in the sun for too long. It was nice to be able to sit in the shade.

There's only two items on the menu: BBQ pork or the famous fried chicken. We knew that the fried chicken is what people would recommend getting, which we did, but we didn't know if we could eat two orders of fried chicken. So we ordered one of each. Each dish cost $16.50 and comes with two sides that change periodically. During our visit the side dishes were boiled potato salad and corn succotash. We also ordered the Hoc Pop for dessert. Our total bill was about $40 (not including drinks - since we brought our own), which was quite pricey for a picnic lunch. But considering the fried chicken dinner at Ad Hoc is $52 per person before tip and tax, this was definitely a great and (relatively) more affordable alternative.

We sat at one of the shaded picnic benches and waited for our food to come. There's a runner who brings out the order in recyclable bag and containers. I think it took around 20 minutes for the food to come. You can also call in advance if you are in a hurry and they can have the food ready for you.

We were really looking forward to finally trying the famous fried chicken, and I was a bit worried that it would not meet my high expectation. After all, it's just fried chicken. I took one bite, and I understood what they hype was all about. The skin was breaded perfectly and was crunchy, but the inside was very juicy and moist. I didn't even notice that it was actually white meat because it was very very moist. There was also a slight saltiness from the skin, which balanced out perfectly with the yummy cornbread.


While I was monopolizing the fried chicken, Dan started to eat the BBQ dish--pork short ribs, which was also served with corn bread. He really enjoyed the ribs. I liked it too; the meat was definitely very moist, but I prefer my rib with wet BBQ sauce. This particular one was a dry rub, so I didn't feel it was super tasty and a bit mild for my taste.
Both the side dishes were quite good. They were very simple but good dishes and the perfect accompaniment for our picnic lunch.

The portion size was quite generous. I think ordering one of each was a tad too much for us (although we still managed to finish).

We picked up our hoc pop dessert, which was their homemade push pop. I think it was pineapple coconut. It was very mild and actually not too sweet. We both felt the hoc pop was just ok and for $5, quite pricey. But again, this is Napa. :)


Overall we had a really enjoyable picnic lunch at Addendum and would highly recommend it. Be prepared to spend about $50 for a two person meal. We were there in the summer and the lines were not bad at all. If you have always wanted to try Ad Hoc's fried chicken but haven't been able to get reservations, come here instead!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My First Mattress Run

One of the ways to accumulate hotel points is to do a mattress run, which means to "stay" at a hotel purely to accumulate points. Radisson Hotels had a big night hotel giveaway whereby during the promotional period, you'd earn 50,000 points for staying at any Radisson hotel. This was a really good promotion since 50,000 Radisson points is more than enough for a 1 night stay anywhere in the world (think Europe where a 1 night hotel stay at one of the nicer Radisson blu's could cost upwards of $300-$400 US). To earn those points, we just needed to stay one night at any Radisson, and I found a great weekend rate at the one not too far from where we live for $79! So by spending $79, I earned enough points to redeem for hotels that would normally cost 3-4 times more.

Hotel lobby

Dan actually did this at the end of last year when they had a similar promotion. But this was my first time doing it under my account. We checked in really late after a friend's wedding on a Saturday night. The front desk receptionist was courteous and thanked me for my membership, which was interesting--hadn't got those remarks in a while. :p I felt a bit funny for "checking in" even though we were not staying at the hotel.

Seating Area

We were given a room on the 5th floor, which was the top floor of the hotel. As soon as we walked out of the elevator, there was a really chic seating area. It was really nice, and it almost felt out of place, since the rest of the hotel was very old and in dire need of renovations.

The room was a bit older and probably could use some updates, but it was not horrible. I noticed that the bed was a sleep number bed, but I could not figure how it worked!

The bathroom was on the small side with a bathtub, and again could probably use some updates. I noticed a lot of "gold" colors (mirror frame, sink and tub/shower fixtures), which gave it a very old-style feel.

We hung out for 5 minutes and then went back home. I had Dan check out from the hotel the next morning. Overall, it was a pretty easy way to earn 50,000 points and I'm looking forward to spending those points elsewhere. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Giants Game - Club Level Seats

Dan is a huge Giants baseball fan. I used to not care at all about baseball, but he has slowly turned me into a Giants fan. :) For his birthday, I got him tickets to a Giants game, and not just any tickets--club level tickets! For those of you not familiar with baseball, club level seating is almost like a "first class" ticket in the airline world. You have a separate entrance, separate floor, separate bathrooms, more "high end" concessions, and of course a great view of the game.

SF Giants Stadium

We were really looking forward to going to the game and experiencing the club level seats. We came a little bit early, and found the "entrance" to the floor which was a covered elevator and reminded us of a Virgin America airplane with the purple-ish mood lighting.

This was my first time in club level, so it was cool to see all the different memorabilia displayed along the walls. 

After reading many Yelp reviews online, I somehow had it in my mind that this floor would be uber-exclusive. And turns out it was slightly more exclusive, but it was still very crowded and there's still lines everywhere. :)

The farmer's market concession stand was really cool though. They definitely don't have this in the "common" concession areas. :)

We were pretty hungry by the time we got there, and a trip to AT&T Park is never complete without garlic fries. So, our first stop was to get the garlic fries. Dan was really hungry so he also ordered a corn dog.

Garlic Fries & Corn Dog

A lot of reviews on Yelp mention that we should order the Triple Play at the Carvery. There was already a long line by the time we got there, and I had Dan wait in line while I walked around and explored some more...hehe.

Triple Play

The triple play was basically three mini sliders which consisted of brisket, turkey, and ham sliders. The buns were really good, and the meat was also quite tasty. And for $10, it's really not bad.

View from our seat

We were seated on CL 222 row D, which was right around the 3rd base section. This was probably the best seats we've ever had, and we could really see the field and the plays really well.

As usual, I was craving some sweets, so I went for a walk back to the farmers market and got myself a strawberry shortcake. The strawberry shortcake was just ok. The strawberries were good and sweet, but there were too many strawberries and not enough shortcake. The cake was also a bit too dry. We both preferred Bakesale Betty's strawberry shortcake in Berkeley.

Overall we had a great time seating in the Club Level. It definitely was nicer in a lot of ways. Generally better seats, shorter lines everywhere, and somewhat of a more "exclusive" feel, but still very crowded. I think next time we want to try sitting closer to the dugout and maybe rub shoulders with some of our favorite players. :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fleming's Steakhouse

We have a "tradition" to go to a steakhouse for Dan's birthday. It's funny, but there aren't a lot of really good steak places around here. And we felt like we've been to a number places so far, so we're running out of places to go. :) Let's see--we have done Morton's, Ruth Chris, Arcadia, Spencer's, Birks, Forbes Mill, and Alexanders--so we wanted to go somewhere we haven't been. We decided to try Fleming's Steakhouse this time around. I had been to Fleming's a LONG time ago, when I was in college, and remembered it as being really good. Thinking back, it was when I was in college when I didn't have that much experience eating at nice restaurants. :p At any rate, we were set to give it a try.

Dan joined the Flemings' mailing list, so we actually got an offer for a $25 credit. The timing was perfect! We booked a Saturday night dinner which was easy enough to reserve online. Fleming's is located in Palo Alto, at the Stanford shopping area. We arrived on time and were promptly seated in a nice booth. They also acknowledged the note on the reservation that it was for a birthday, and let us know that they would be giving us a special treat.

We ordered the Fleming's Salad, Lobster Tempura, Filet Mignon, and the Fleming's Potatoes. They brought out the bread which was served warm. I always really appreciate places that serve warm bread!

And they actually split the salad for us, which was nice. The salad itself was ok, nothing special. It had lettuce, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, tomatoes, onions, and croutons.

Fleming's Salad

My lobster tempura came next. It was quite good and I was surprised that the size was actually pretty big, even though it was considered a "small plate/appetizer". There was a mayonaise-y dipping sauce and a small side of Asian salad which really complemented the lobster tempura.

Lobster Tempura

The filet was actually just ok. We didn't enjoy it as much as we thought we would. It probably isn't fair that our last great steak was at Peter Lugers in Brooklyn, so our bar was set a bit high. The meat just wasn't as soft and juicy as we would have liked.

Filet Mignon

The Fleming's potatoes were actually quite good. It was actually the house specialty and tasted like cheesy scallop potatoes.

We were contemplating whether to get dessert or not and finally decided to go for it! We got the molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream & chantily cream. The chocolate cake was good, and we surprisingly really enjoyed the chantily cream. It was served cold and tasted almost like ice cream. We're usually not big whipped cream fans, but this one was just quite special.

The birthday boy

At the end of our meal we got a box of chocolate truffles for Dan's birthday, which was a nice gesture.

Overall it was still a good meal, but we were not blown away. Price was actually pretty reasonable - especially considering the $25 credit.