Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bridal Shower and Barbecue

When we were back in the US, Michael's mom and dad were so kind as to throw us an amazing bridal shower and barbecue dinner, with all of his immediate family members (brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, nephews) and cousins showing up to fete us.  It was incredibly sweet and loving and wonderful.
Michael's dad had two kinds of ribs for us, one barbecue and one dry spiced (both were delicious), and pounds of shrimp from the Outer Banks with cocktail dipping sauce.  Michael's mom had made all kinds of salads and slaws, including a huge bowl of fruit salad that I couldn't resist.  There was also platter upon platter of antipasti, with pickles, olives, peppers, cruditĂ©s… After dinner, the men and women split up, with the women going right next door to the house of Michael's great aunt.  It's so nice that she is neighbors with his parents.

Her house is beautiful, with lots of picture windows and hardwood floors.  She also has a big yard with a pool.  

The women played a few bridal shower games while sipping white wine (with the prizes being colorful umbrellas) and then I got to open my presents.  After that, we all stood around sipping coffee (very very  strong coffee - just the way I love it)), eating these amazing, irresistible, whipped cream sponge cake fresh raspberry desserts out of big wine goblets, and just chatting about everything and nothing in particular.

Finally, the women all trooped back to Michael's parents' house, where the men and kids were sitting around chatting and watching TV.  We all settled into some gliders and lawn chairs in the back yard, around a huge citronella flame, and proceeded to just tease each other and have a good time hanging out until nearly 1 am.  It was a lovely way to end our hectic trip in the US on such a high note, and in such a warm and welcoming manner.  

The very next morning, we headed out of Cleveland airport on a 6 am flight, with layovers in Las Vegas and San Francisco, before we eventually landed back in Hong Kong nearly 30 hours later.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fruit - Lychee Season!

I love these fruits.  Lychees are in season right now and they are impossible to resist.  I like them better than longan and also better than rambutans.  When ripe and in season, lychees are so plump and juicy they seem ready to burst at the merest provocation.  The best are the ones with very thin skin and small seeds.

The ones in the markets now are firm but also springy to the touch, because they have so much juice.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Admission as a Hong Kong Solicitor

Well, folks, I have just been admitted to the Hong Kong legal community as a bona fide solicitor!  The swearing in ceremony was before the Honorable Justice Ao at the High Court in Admiralty on Saturday morning.

The High Court is located at 38 Queensway Plaza, in an old, 1970s or 1980s era building.  There are many court houses.  I was going to the seventh floor, for court 14.
 This is the view from the High Court, out to Victoria Harbour.  Pretty stunning right?  I really liked the floor to ceiling glass windows.
 The Lippo building is massive from this perspective.
There were so many friends and families there - all of these people were there for the other two admittees!  I was being admitted with three others from work, and collectively we had enough guests to only take up only a few seats.  By the time we all filed in, the court was standing room only!
 We had to wear robes, with bibs!  It made me feel important, though also a little bit cheesy.  I broke out the high heels for this occasion.  But unlike the barristers, solicitors don't get the wigs.  I'm kind of tempted to be a barrister just to get the wig.
The whole oath taking ceremony was actually quite involved (especially compared to the US).  Here a solicitor has to be "moved" by another, the move being a whole introduction by the mover, including where I was born, where I grew up, my education, my honors, my extracurricular activities, etc.  Finally, the mover confirms that all the proper papers had been filed, and there were no objections to my being admitted.  I was then called up to the podium to read my oath, and after I read aloud the oath, I had to sign the book.  At the end, we were all given an opportunity to speak.  I kept it to a few simple words of thanks, but I had to address the judge as "My Lord," which felt a little bit ridiculous, but thankfully I managed to suppress the giggles.

Here, my coworkers and the solicitor who moved us.

Afterwards, we went to Cafe Grey to celebrate.  It was a beautiful day, albeit hot and humid.
A lovely brunch with friends, looking out upon a lovely view.  Saturday mornings could be worse!

 A nice platter of oysters to start, with a variety of sauces.  I always go for the shallot vinaigrette.

 My friend's very pretty seafood platter.
 My empty shells.  I love oysters.
 Michael's burger with gruyere cheese and the most tantalizing truffle fat fries.  Cafe Grey makes a good burger.
 My carne asada steak, paired with black beans slow simmered in onion and bacon, topped with a mango sauce and thinly sliced corn tortillas.  It came pretty overcooked so I decided to be that awful restaurant patron who sends it back.  I felt really bad about doing it, but the second time it came back, it was spot on and fabulous, making my high maintenance move feel worthwhile.
The food was pretty good, but unfortunately, the service was really bad…it was disruptive and weird and confusing and unfortunately took away from the overall atmosphere.  I usually don't care about this stuff, but the service was so disjointed and completely out of step from the quality of the food, the atmosphere of the restaurant, and definitely the price point, that it was a bit annoying.  This restaurant is usually a well oiled machine during the week, so I am not sure what happened this time!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wedding Suit - A Tailoring Experience at W.W. Chan

Michael found a wedding suit!  Well, I mean, not really.  But he finally found a place to get his suit made.  After lots of agonizing and careful review, we decided to go with W. W. Chan, located on the 8th floor of the Entertainment Building.

The hardest part was probably picking the fabric, and then also finding a tailor that we felt would do a good job.

We went to Tai Pan Row, tcny, Jim's Tailor; considered Ascot Chang and A-Man Hing Cheong.  We looked at fabrics from Scabal, Loro Piano, Zegna, H. Lesser, Ariston's.  We considered all the weights from 210 grams to 280 grams.  We looked at a "true" black, a "light" black, a "dark" black.  (We mistook a few midnight blues for black).  We touched, rubbed, compared, contrasted.  We learned the difference between a 100, 110, 120, 130.

Once we made a decision the process was remarkably smooth and fast.  Shiny black buttons (kissing but not overlapping), thinner, notched lapels, slim cut, ice blue lining, double vents.
 Here, Michael is getting his measurements taken.  They get a bit intimate!
After they measured him, they put a mock jacket/vest on him and pinned his measurements.  Does the "M" stand for Michael??
Michael goes in for his fitting in two weeks!  Follow up post to come.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Back to the Mat

So, I'm really excited to announce that Pure Yoga is opening another (!!) yoga studio in Hong Kong.  This one is opening in Hutchinson House, which is right next door to my office building, which means I am going to be able to go to a lot more yoga classes during the day than I was able to previously.  I am not happy that this overpriced chain is opening yet another studio, in another move to solidify its already dominant market position (life in Hong Kong is a textbook study of antitrust principles), but this development means I will dramatically increase my yogi attendance in the next few months (read: have no excuse to avoid yoga classes).

Because I am really really not a morning person -- I can never make it to the gym or the studio before work despite my best reasonable efforts -- and  I am usually so tired after a long day at work, that I end up not going. 

I've been running around so much lately that I've finally only had a chance to return to the mat last week.  Upon my return, I realized how I've missed it terribly.  I love how much it centers me and how good I feel in my body afterward.  I think there are very few things in life better than conquering an old pose - you could be trying for years to get into flying arm balance or crow pose and then suddenly one day you are in class and you pop up and you do it, and you hold it.  That is all kinds of amazing. 

It's also really fun to discover new poses too - or just more rare poses that you don't get to do all that often.  For me, that would be the grasshopper pose, or maybe firefly (so many animals, I know).  It occurred to me as I was trying to fly during class that so many of these poses are essentially breakdancing moves.  Again, fun!

But, I must also say, returning to the mat after a long hiatus?  Ugh. So painful.  I'm sweating more, breathing faster, my joints feel creakier, my muscles are more easily sore.  I can't wait to be back in tip top yoga shape.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Lunches

I feel like a dinosaur whenever summer rolls around and we have summer associates.  Summer lunches?  Summer associates?  Law school?  These kids are so young.  I can barely relate.  And it stuns me to think about how excited and cheerful and enthusiastic I was about the law firm, and learning, and life in general.  Whoop de da.

One perk, when I actually have time to enjoy and partake, is the summer associate lunch.  I'm glad this institution hasn't gone away yet.  The other day we went to Cafe Gray in the Upper House, a very nice establishment and a summer lunch staple.  I made a friend.  Then I ate him.
He was really delicious though, perfectly seared and with just the right smokey flavor, with the freshest and most tender eyeballs (they were full of liquid and ready to pop - a sure sign of a fresh fish - sorry if that is too much information), and he was already perfectly de-boned. 

The roasted garlic and slice of caramelized lime made the perfect topping.  I cared less about the bed of fennel and roast peppers that he rested upon -- I barely touched those, even though they made a beautiful contrast to my friend's light red skin.  I did not eat the eyeballs, but I did make sure to get all of the cheek meat - as I've said before and I will say again - that is the most tender part.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Brunch at Kinsale in Kennedy Town

Last weekend, on an insanely hot Sunday, I went to Kennedy Town to grab some lunch with friends.

It was super chill.  Something about being so close to the water, maybe?

The restaurant, Kinsale, has these huge glass doors that open out to the water, but on that day the doors were firmly shut to keep in the blessed air conditioning!

 The portion sizes here are pretty big. 

It felt nice to be back in Hong Kong.
Michael likes to joke that I hate Kennedy Town because of one bad experience I had apartment hunting at the Belchers; I totally don't!  I think it's a really quaint mix of old and new and you can totally see how fast the area is gentrifying.  There are lots of old buildings like this:
But then there are also really fancy new high rises.  Plus, I'm sure the sunsets are pretty amazing.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fun Family Photos

The garden at home was blooming.  We took a bunch of candids one night, as the sun was setting.  Too bad my sister wasn't home to be part of the family fun!

First up, using the selfie stick:
 With my grandma:
 With my mom:
 And then, just for fun, this is a picture from when Michael's parents came to visit.  This was on a Sunday morning in Long Island, right before we departed for our dim sum adventures in Flushing.  I love the assortment of heights in this picture.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tasting at India House


I was going to put up all these beautiful pictures of all the food that we sampled for the wedding, and go into my typical food critic role, until I realized that that isn't going to work.

I don't want to ruin the surprise!  You'll just have to wait and see what we chose.

On a side note, I was a little bit embarrassed to admit this before, but now I think I will just say it: I had not seen the church or the venue for our wedding before this trip.  I mean, of course I saw pictures on the web.  And with flickr, instagram, google images… you can do a lot these days.

But being physically in these spaces?  Yes, only barely three months before the wedding.

I feel like that admission opens me up to a lot of criticism from wedding gurus and planners or else just brides in general… but I was not successful in sourcing a venue on my last trip to the US (in August of last year) and we needed to pick a venue before June of this year (obviously).   So it was up to my trusty fiancĂ©.  He did a great job.

As for the church, Michael went to wikipedia and reviewed each and every Catholic church in Manhattan.  The church we originally wanted was under construction so we needed to find another.

After we narrowed it down to a short list, I asked my trusty friend (who is also a bridesmaid in the wedding) to help us take some pictures and scout them out.  She was fantastic.

So, seeing both venues on this trip, I have to say I could not have been happier with both choices. Yay!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dinner at Hearth

As previously mentioned, Michael's parents came to New York in the last week of May to meet my parents.  It was a meeting that was a long time in coming and it's unfortunate that it took so long before they met, but it was hard to coordinate with our living so far away now.

Because Michael's parents came a long way, my parents hosted Michael's parents in a nice hotel room in midtown.  The room was a corner unit and had a pretty sweet view of Central Park.

We went to dinner in the East Village, at Hearth.
The food was very good - simple, focused, fresh.  We had red wine, a light salad to start, pork loin, steak, pasta, a whole steamed fish…the bread here was also superb.

Dinner consisted of a lot of talking and laughing.

We took a lot of pictures.