Friday, December 31, 2010

Prospero Año Nuevo


We thank THEE for the year gone
And pray to THEE to bless the new one

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Happy New Year 2011
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....... ooO Ooo

Monday, December 27, 2010

Souvenir Shopping in Asakusa


It's fun shopping in Asakusa though the prices may not necessarily be cheaper than in the Omotesando district. There are hundreds of stalls on side streets and on the main alley leading to Sensoji Temple. But it's hard to get close to some stalls  (like the cookie shops) on Sundays when it seems a third of Tokyoites are congregating in the area.


No wonder the cookie stalls are mobbed. Check out these goodies which are wrapped so attractively. Who wouldn't be thrilled to receive a box of these freshly baked treats?


The cute knick knacks above are cell phone accessories or possibly something you can put into your key ring or hang from the handle of your handbag. I like the miniature wooden Japanese dolls best though I didn't buy any.


These cloth made dolls are beautiful to behold. Note the price for each doll - from 2,000 yen to 5,250 yen or US$24 to $64.00 at $1 to 82 yen. Behind the dolls are paddles with two feather shuttlecocks.


There are also many kimono and fabric shops in Asakusa but my personal choice for buying vintage kimono is the Oriental Bazaar in Omotesando where the selections are better, the fabrics are of good quality and prices are reasonable.

After a long day of "window shopping", here's my reward:


The best shopping I experienced in Tokyo is at the food sections of department stores. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in these places so I can only dream about it till my next visit.

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Images by Charie

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas


Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Merry Christmas


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Photo by Charie

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Parkside Grille - Portola Valley

The table is set with poinsettias

Appetizer: Ahi tartare in wontons with chile soy glaze

Appetizer: Homemade mushroom infused mini meatballs

Appetizer: Grilled chicken satay

Choice of Entrées:

Chardonnay poached river salmon in citrus beurre blanc with
garlic mash potatoes and braised Delta asparagus

Grilled organic hanger steak, Dijon butter,
fingerling potatoes, arugula Blue Lake string beans

Dessert: chocolate cake or gelato with homemade biscotti

Great Christmas party under the redwood trees. Enjoyed my salmon in citrus beurre blanc. It was really flavorful. A friend who had the hanger steak said that though it was delicious, the meat was a little tough. Everyone enjoyed the appetizers. Another entrée selection was the wood roasted oven breast of chicken. It was hard to steer the group to the table to start lunch. They lingered a while longer in the bar area where the appetizers where spread out over the counter. For dessert I had the chocolate gelato with homemade biscotti which to my surprise, I ate to the last drop! The staff was on top of everything and service was attentive and smooth.

Parkside Grille is located at 884 Portola Road, Portola Valley, California. http://www.parksidegrille.net/home.html

And a Merry Christmas to all!

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Images by Charie


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Christmas Holidays in Tokyo

A glittering tree at the Swarovski boutique in Omotesando,
the Rodeo Drive of Tokyo

Inside Omotesando Hills Mall


A jewelry store in the Ginza district

Sparkling lights and banners herald the new year

Christmas trees line the main street in fashionable Ginza

Happy Holidays to passengers at Narita Airport

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Images by Charie

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hungry in Tokyo?


The art of plastic food display reaches its zenith in Japan. No other country in the world has such a wide array of the most delectable plastic dishes (and not limited to Japanese food only).


Surrounded by Japanese restaurants, this window display announces an Italian pizzeria in Asakusa. Italian food has an affinity to Japanese or Asian cuisine as noodles = pasta. What differentiates them is the sauce.


At this noodle restaurant close to my hotel in Hanzomon, you need to get an order ticket from a machine with instructions in Japanese. So I took the menu and compared the Kanji characters of the combination dish I wanted for dinner with that of the machine but nothing matched. I narrowed down my choices by the price indicated on the menu but still couldn't find a match. So finally I gave up and stood by the counter until the chef was free to help me. He was very accommodating as he had seen me figure things out for a few minutes but as he had a steady stream of customers, couldn't get away immediately. Finally, after figuring out which button to press, I fed the coins necessary to pay for my meal and handed my ticket to the chef and voila!, I had a nice soba (buckwheat noodle soup), a bowl of rice and deep fried chicken a few minutes later. It was interesting to observe the chef as he made the soup. First he dipped the noodles into a hot pot to soften them and then put them in a bowl before adding flavored soup and some scallions. It was all so well orchestrated. I was mesmerized! The combination I ordered is called Mini Torikara Don and costs $9.00.


Lunch at Narita Airport prior to departure with mackerel, a bowl of rice, miso soup, cucumber salad, sweet almond jello and green tea. While it appears to be a lot of food, the portions are small enough to fill but not to feel overfed. This meal costs $12.00.


No surprises when ordering food as window displays often show the price of each dish. And how aesthetically beautiful a lot of these displays are! This one has a mask and mini folded screen.


For dessert, these cookies are some of the most coveted sweets on Sensoji Temple grounds. You can buy them fresh and warm. What's interesting is seeing how they're made in these flat, fish shaped iron griddles. Then you really want to try one but the queues are long. And the crowds on weekends just sweep you off. So you walk away empty. Next time.

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Images by Charie

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Balay ni Charie Celebrates its Fifth Year

Kids on their way to their classroom

One of the most heartwarming experiences I've had while visiting the Philippines has been meeting grade school kids through the Balay ni Charie School Supplies Program. According to Room to Read, "World change starts with educated children". And how do we keep economically disadvantaged children in school? Balay ni Charie helps children stay in school by providing them with the tools they need, namely: pencils, pens and paper. While we take these items for granted in more prosperous countries, many children in the Philippines can barely afford to buy the school kits necessary to succeed in their studies. With the generous support of friends and family, Balay ni Charie was able to reach out to 600 kids at Conrado Barrios Memorial School in Roxas City, Capiz last November. We are looking forward to helping more children for many years to come.

Grade school kids at Conrado Barrios Memorial School


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Photos by Charie

Early Morning at BayBay Beach

Mantalinga Island in the distance

The best time to take a walk along BayBay Beach in Roxas City is early morning when the rest of the city is still fast asleep. Except for annoying stray dogs, the beach is yours to enjoy. (The city really needs to address the burgeoning population of stray dogs as they often scare away would be strollers.)

Low tide. No fishing today?

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Photos by Charie



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Sunday, December 05, 2010

At the Roxas City Fresh Market

Pan de sal and mamon are my favorites

Sinigang and ginisa mix for that special flavor

Red egg with tomatoes and onions, yum!

Time for a little chit chat

Sorbete, ice cream, ice drop - there he goes

Nothing like a camera to bring out that smile! Thanks, guys.

Tricycles are so handy

Colorful outdoor stalls

Fresh produce and my favorite, melanzane (eggplant)
 
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Images by Charie