Art · Asian · Birthday · Cooking & Kitchen · Food · Life On The Road · Photography · Restaurants

Postscript to Post


1.  For good measure, to ensure that I tidy up the ends and not leave my glorious readership of 4 (one of whom is married to me) hanging on the identity of Mystery Man, the answer to the “Who Is It?” of my previous post is (as stated in the tag):  Bill Turnbull, who apparently is also a busy beekeeper.

2.  The place where we had dinner at was:

Sapporo Teppanyaki
91-93 Liverpool Road
M3 4JN
T: 0161 831 9888
F: 0161 839 4030
M: Location Map

If there’s one thing I cannot be too modest about, it is that I know my Asian food, from the many years living and growing up there,  and a lot of travelling around the Continent.  I may not be a good cook, but I love to eat, and I eat a lot (although that applies to any cuisine, but Asian foremost).  This place is very good — quality and generous meat cuts, and an array of seasoning/sauces as you would find in the teppanyaki houses in Asia.  The place would be especially fun for groups, given all that razzmatazz the chefs put into preparation and presentation.  You get your show before your food, in other words.

The website encourages Friday and Saturday night bookings to be done 3 weeks in advance.  — If that gives you an indication how busy they get.  So book in advance.  Caveat:  the place is not inexpensive.  The sushi and noodle bar menu is pretty reasonable; the teppanyaki table could easily cost at least £25 per person for a starter and a main course.  But for those special occasions or business meetings — good place.  One more note — branches in Liverpool and Glasgow.

3.  Finally, an unrelated update.  I received an unexpected email on my Flickr account from the Art Director of Philbrook Museum in Tulsa OK.  A friend and I had driven down there in the summer to take pictures of the garden — to test drive my Canon Rebel T2i.  What sticks to my memory was the sweltering heat that day.  106°F, thank you.  This is the text of the email:

Hello Miss Chicago,
I was wondering if I could use any of your images you took at Philbrook in Tulsa. I’m the Art Director here and always in need of different perspectives and photos for our website.
Thanks so much,
-Kim O’Meilia
Art Director
Philbrook Museum of Art

I am still getting to know the tricks of my camera.  So the email is a boost, and such an encouragement.  And yes, I replied immediately with the permission.  :)

Philbrook Museum of Art:  2727 South Rockford Road · Tulsa OK 74114 · 918 749-7941
View of the House
View of the house, pond and part of the gardens
The Art Gallery inside. They have a pretty extensive First Nation and Native American Indian collection.
The resident cat who sleeps in the gazebo as if she owned it.
Asian · Birthday · Food · Life · love · People

“I’m A Celebrity. Get Me Out of Your Camera”

Ever had one of those panic-filled, embarassing moments when you wished you could instantaneously burrow a hole into the ground and hide in it?  Happened to me right on my recent birthday.  And it involved a “celebrity” of sorts.  So read on.

To celebrate the day, C and I decided to cap it with dinner at a Japanese restaurant.  C picked Sapporo Teppanyaki at the Castlefield Centre (Manchester).  He had been to the one on Duke Street in Liverpool a year ago and had raved about some of the “tenderest beef” he has ever tasted.    We arrived around 7.  The place was sparsely filled, with only one group seating full.*   We sat next to a newly dating, couple,**  them to my left, and C to my right.  We had the spicy tuna for starters, and I ordered the lobster teppanyaki and C got the beef fillet in teriyaki sauce.***

While into our starters, another couple came in and were seated next to us.  The woman sat next to Craig while her husband (hereinafter referred to as “Mystery Man“) was further over to her other side.  They pored over the menu for a while and the woman occasionally turned to C with polite conversation (e.g., have we ever been to this place before, were we celebrating something, pointers how/what to order, etc..).  Later, C quietly turned to me and whispered that he thought Mystery Man looked familiar and that he might be in some program on TV.  He couldn’t remember his name though and said he had a funny feeling it was “Nick Something“.  In attempt to quench his curiosity though, C took out his spankin’-new Android phone (which he hates) and began his Google-sleuthing, angling the phone away from the woman beside to avoid detection.  Every now and then, we turned back to polite chit-chat with our seat-mates and “oooohed” and “aaaahed” along at the chef’s knife- and flame-throwing maneuvers.****  After some time though, C frustratingly complained that the dang Android phone wasn’t coming up with answers.   In the tone of a mastermind to his accomplice, C told me to “look closely at the guy, and remember what he looks like.  When we get home, we can google again and see if he is who I think he is.”  Hmmmm….  The thing is, I really am not very good at this.  C had given me a similar assignment a couple of months earlier.  We were visiting Fountains Abbey when he told me that one of the women in our group might be an actress in a daytime soap, whose name he could not recall.  He had then told me to “memorize her face” so that we can do our google- and wiki-research when we got home.  The problem is, I had not quite developed “English eyes” yet (still haven’t) :  i.e., Every platinum haired, skinny, put-together English, stylish, middle-aged woman looked like Helen Mirren to me.  So when we got home then, the Google “identify-the-mystery-person” project failed largely because none of the possible results matched the image in my head — which was … Helen Mirren, and of course, we weren’t looking for Helen Mirren.

But back from the tangent, back to earth, back to Sapporo Teppanyaki. I groaned back to the Godfather :  “Not again!  I can’t do this!  I don’t know who he is.  I can’t tell him from Adam, and I don’t think I can remember his face”.   The guy, FYI, looked the typical pale, slim, British nerdy/geeky cute, — which is every third or fourth male person you see on the street.   But still, wanting to be helpful, I thought of the next best thing.  I pulled out my ol’ reliable iPhone, and pretended to be taking pictures of C, when in fact, the camera was trained beyond him…. right onto Mystery Man.  And so while a commotion was going on as the Chef danced on the next table, I clicked and clicked on Mystery Man.  Now how’s that for “documentation”?  Pat on the back, Miss Chicago.  Well done.

Towards the end of the meal, at that the uneasy lull between wrapping up the main courses and the dessert menu came chit-chat again.  C feebly toyed with his Android phone, and we decided to snap a picture of ourselves.  But the Android was new, and C fumbled through the menus to get to the camera.  So I, being the fabulous techie that I am, puledl out my iPhone and clumsily tried to take shots from the front facing camera.   And this is where the drama/action begins. Suddenly, Mystery Man gallantly comes to the rescue… when he volunteers to take the pictures for us.  UH-OH.  Anyone with an iPhone would know that the camera always displays at the bottom left corner, the last picture taken.  And in this case, it would precisely be that one of MR. MYSTERY MAN himself.  Once he held the iPhone, he would see that I had surreptitiously taken shots of him! Flustered, I tried to “clue” the hubby into the situation we were in.  He was, of course, blissfully clueless.  At this point, I tried to take any — any — random shot with the camera just to block the last shot recorded and jabbered something about setting the camera up (as delaying tactic).  But I fumbled and failed.  Mystery Man assured us not to worry —    “I am familiar with this, ” says he, “I know how to work it.”  Wow, ok.  Off from my hands and into Mystery Man’s…. the camera with Mystery Man’s own picture as the last shot.  I’ll never know if Mystery Man caught the photo that I took.  Most likely he did.  But he was nonchalant enough, or polite enough, to not say nothing of it.   When he left to go to the rest rooms, C finally asked the wife point if he was the host of some regional (Northwest) TV show.  She said yes, but clarified that he worked for national television.  He was with the BBC Breakfast show.  Apparently, the BBC is relocating some of his studios out of London and into Salford (in the case of the Breakfast Show).  And thus Mr. and Mrs. ________’s look-see into Manchester.  Below is the picture.  Can you guess who he is?  (Clue:  No, his first name is not Nick.  But it has one syllable.)

Final Notes:  The food was excellent.  The couples on either side of us were very nice.  The day was perfect.  Happy, funny, birthday to me.



*Usual Japanese teppnayaki style : 4 long tables connected on the ends to form a big square.  One-sided bar-style seating, with the chef(s) performing in the middle in front of a modern gas-powered teppanyaki griddle.

** Of course, I knew they were newly dating.  Women can “sense” these things.  And sometimes we overhear conversations.  Accidentally, of course.  :)

***  Wow, did I really just list down what we ordered/ate?  Can’t believe I did that.

****Ok, so I am slightly more blase in general but let it not be said that I could not feign enthusiasm enthusiastically.

POST POSTSCRIPT:  04/21/2011.  Mr. Turnbull will be staying on with the BBC Breakfast show and will be making the move up north.  Go Manchestah!

British · British Food · Food · Life · UK

Treat or Treats

Reading through my journal notes, I found this one written about a year ago.  I’m re-posting it here, — another story about life in the UK.  Note:  this was written a couple of months after we got married in Chicago, and I moved across the pond.  :)

Today is a day of FIRSTS, and SECONDS.

My first time to tag along to C’s [i.e., the hubby]  racecar sprints.

My first time to Aintree, home of the Grand Nationals (supposedly one of the most difficult horse steeplechase courses in the world). See:

My first try at a right-hand drive vehicle; and my first to revert to a manual transmission in many years.

During the lunch break of the sprints, C and I each had a medium-sized whippy ice cream more popularly known as “99”. This awesome to-die-for piece of heaven on earth is a huge, rich, creamy, milky mass of the whitest ice cream on a cone, with a little Cadbury chocolate flake on the side. You can opt to have raspberry syrup swirled on top of your ice cream. C did, I didn’t. 99s are popularly sold in soda fountain set-up moving stores (fairly large trailer-type vehicles, with open windows on the side). I love them because, unlike American ice cream, they are not overly sweet. They just taste….rich and full. I had that as dessert after a lunch that included ham sandwiches, cold chicken legs, a “Walker salt and vinegar crisps” (chips in the US), and a can of coke. Admittedly, I felt slightly guilty to indulge in dessert.

But when C clocked his personal best time today, and finished a very close 3rd in his Class, we decided to celebrate, and went back for a second round of 99 whippy ice cream. It tasted just as good as the first. This time, I felt double the guilt I had from the first one. After all, in a span of 3 hours, I had all of 198 (99, 2 times).

When we got back home, I went straight to the weighing scales. I weighed a grand total of 8 stones (dreadful and unprecedent — go figure that in lbs). Groan. I promise to have none of that for the rest of the week. :)

Happy Saturday!

More on the Whippy wonder 99 :

British · British Food · Christmas · Cuteness · Favorites · Food · Holidays · Music

Your Royal Sweetness

I love British cakes.  I specially love the creamy ones which, though laden with stuff, are never overwhelmingly sweet.  At least not to the level of their sugar-packed American descendants.  The Christmas cakes are such interesting visual treats as well, to add to my delight.  A sampling from the local Sainbury’s for instance:

A “madeira cake” —

How cute is that? A sleeping polar bear, and note the little Christmas pudding beside it!

    A fruit cake:

Reindeer and sleigh....

A…. chocolate cake (I think)….

Rudolph, someone squished your red nose onto the packaging!

and an “iced cake” (fondant) with a small poinsettia decor —

Prettily decked with a little poinsettia....

Speaking of poinsettias (and other Christmas icons), we have no tree or Christmas decor in the house, on this my first Christmas in England.   According to the Hubster, his Christmas tree is probably the one we saw at his parents last weekend.  Since he had spent his last 5 Christmasses with me in the US or Canada, he left the tree to them instead.  So, 2 nights ago, when we stopped by the Co-Op, and I picked the reddest poinsettia on the last minute to brighten up our living room.   Well, hopefully it’s doing the trick best as it can:

Yes, that's an antique safe that we use as a side table in the living room.

I cannot believe that Christmas is but 6 days away– the calendar pages are just flying.  I have yet to catch the Holiday spirit.  We did our Christmas shopping for (his) family three days ago, …. in addition to the gifts I brought over from the States, at a huge mall called the Trafford Centre.  The hubby reminds me that I haven’t chosen yet what I want for a Christmas gift.  But truth is, I don’t know that I want anything.  At this point, I am just overwhelmed with the stuff I have yet to move across an ocean.  And, I honestly am alright without a fancy gift for Christmas.  It’s really not the material things, and I mean it.  Besides, I’m also thinking to myself… “man, don’t you get it that for a change I want to be surprised?”  I just don’t want to be bothered wracking my brains for something that he has to buy. 

Anyhoo, the hubby is (fingers crossed) done with his site consults next week, and we can spend more time together going around, enjoying Christmas without being hampered by work.  Maybe we can watch a good movie, or drive around, or watch a play or concert.  On my agenda of “to-do’s” in this life is a live experience of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College …. but realistically that will probably come a couple of years from now still.   I keep reminding myself I should stop feeling like England is a place I just visit.  It is in fact supposed to be “home” for the next couple of years, until we move to the US “in due course” (his words).  So I really want my first English Christmas to be Christmassy, and really memorable.  I want to be able to recall it in a flash and vividly.  Hopefully, we’re getting there, on our way to the holiday spirit, …. and counting. :)

Chicago · Cooking & Kitchen · Family · Food · Friends · Holidays · Life On The Road

Thanksgiving Post-Op

This is largely a stub post, so I don’t forget what happened this year on Thanksgiving with me on this side of the Atlantic, and the hubby on the other.  I returned to Chicago from CowTown the day before Thanksgiving.  Did the usual 9 hours straight, with multi-purpose stops…. gas, use the restroom, and grab a quick drink or cookie.  At the end of the drive, where all I ate was a  cheap hotdog and lots of blueberries (let those antioxidants at work while I drive), I was, well, tired and hungry,– surprise surprise.   The nice coincidence is that my best buddies who are based in Kansas City were in Chicagoland area — for a totally different reason other than to visit me.  They took the time out to drag me out of my apartment for food.  We went to the new Sun Wah.  “New” because it  moved from its former home of 20 odd years on Argyle  a few steps east, on Broadway.  Sun Wah is one of the  hubby’s favorite Chinese restaurants in Chicago.  Well, actually, one of many.  He loves Chinese food (I wonder why?  :)), and agrees that the Chinese food in Britain does not compare to the ones in the US.  Notwithstanding the sizeable mainlander Chinese and Hongky population in the UK.  We ordered a white fish in black bean sauce, a large portion of honey pork belly and char-shiew (see below….)

bittermelon in beef,  ma po tofu, and soup (their “small” fed all 3 of us a bowl each plus spare); we also had 3 portions of rice, 3 rootbeers and a coke.   Burp.  I was a piglet, and we had a ton of leftovers to box up to bring home.  The bill came to a grand figure 51 dollars which included a 10.25% tax.  That means, pre-tax the bill was around 46 dollars or roughly under 28 British pounds.  Best of all, it all tasted delicious.  I don’t know that you could get a deal like that in the UK.  I went home stuffed, exhausted from the long-drive, and too happy to be back in my own bed.  I had the perfect sleep.  

Next day, … Thanksgiving, great….  What do we do? I had totally made no plans, having hit the ground running and kept going since I flew into the States 2 weeks earlier.  Carla and Rose (my Spanish teacher) were supposed to come over to my place for dinner.  But Carla has a new apartment, and this time, we agreed to use her kitchen.  As expected, Rose was late (to be fair, she had to work, even on Thanksgiving, …. ay pobrecita!), and Carla could only make the salad (following everything in the recipe book to the letter).  We had no turkey, … so I whipped up what best I could manage.  Anyway, in the end it’s all about having good wine and wonderful conversation and bonding time.   Never mind that I was half-groggy most of the time. :)  

Around 8:30 I had to go home over Carla’s insistence that I just sleep over.  I still wanted my own, familiar bed.  We were planning on our Black Friday activities just as I headed off.  I promised Carla I would look into the coupons I could use the next day and would call so that we can plan which stores hit the next day.  That call didn’t happen.  I intended to wink, but woke up the next morning.  But no one took it against me.  Carla let me sleep in heavenly peace without calling to follow up. 

I still woke up at 7:30 the next day, and yes, we did the post-Thanksgiving American tradition of shopping like it was an Olympic sport, although we played like a Third-World team.  Never mind, we saved more money that way. :p

Yeah, Thanksgiving was alright.  Wish you were here, hub. ;)

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.  ~H.U. Westermayer  

American · Asian · CowTown · Favorites · Food · Life On The Road · Restaurants

Comfort Food

It’s a funny thing about being away :  When I come “home” to the US, I catch myself “missing” food I used to take for granted.  I want tastes that are familiar.  Sweetness that’s sinful; saltiness that shoots your blood pressure out of the stadium; and deep-fries that churn out oil shamelessly, in OPEC proportions.  I want huge chunky pieces in my ice cream, drippin’ juiciness in my hotdogs, everything with “everything on it” overflowing from containers that can barely contain all that weight.  Yup.  I want the all the overload and diversity that American food is known for.   

And all this gets deadlier in CowTown (can you guess yet where that is?) — where I drive down to everytime I fly back to Chicago.  Middle America is not known for healthy food.  Not here where you can buy $10 worth of food for $3.  But after a stressful day taking care of client’s needs, I feel the need to reward myself with comfort food.  Now more than ever, when I will be returning soon to a country where I can buy GBP2.00 worth of food for GBP10.00 –AND be charged 10 pence for ketchup.

Since I arrived less than 10 days ago, I’ve swung quite a broad range of food.  Ethnic to American.  I’ve eaten at ChoGa while in Kansas City (Overland Park, actually, in the “Kansas side” of Kansas City).  I love Korean small plates (“banchan” — appetizers that generously come with your main course) :

and my favorite main dish from that restaurant is the “seafood and mushroom soon to fu.”  Very spicy (*Korean spicy is DANGEROUSLY spicy) and …. healthy. :)

And good ol’ Culvers for a big, fat juicy “Deluxe bacon” hamburger:

and oh-so-comforting dessert, i.e., my strawberry shake —

Yum, yum.  I’m lucky that I have a metabolism that still hasn’t given up on me.  I hope it never does.  There’s too much food out there to enjoy.  And anyway, let’s not forget that on days when I work and overwork, I do the “appropriate” thing of settling for good ol’ this —

La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin. 

British · Food · UK

“Bee British”

Even for a non-breakfast eater like me, I love the full English breakfast.  There’s nothing like it.  The heaviness and sinfulness of it all.  It’s a “The Works” kind of morning meal.  You have tea or coffee, and milk and juice, toast with marmalade, beans, bacon, sausages, sometimes black pudding, mushrooms, sunny-side up eggs (called “fried eggs”), baked beans and grilled tomatoes.  You can ask for “sauce” which translates to “ketchup”, or “brown sauce” which translates to ….uhm… some brownish sauce.

A couple of weeks ago, I was indulging in a bit of retail therapy at a local mall (Note:  Purchases count —  Zilch.  NONE.  None with these kinds of prices, sorry).  By 2:00 p.m., the ol’ tummy began to complain and I decided to look up the food court perhaps for a pie and coffee.  I came across a little “french cafe and boulangerie” with a sign announcing that “English Breakfast is Served All Day”, and I happily tell myself — yup that’s what I would like to have.  So, in I go, and precisely THAT, I ordered.


At the end of lunch, as I was waiting to pay, I noticed my unfinished toast moving.  When I moved the bread aside, I found a wasp (bee?) that just won’t go away.

Kept moving around — and wouldn’t leave —



But hey, when in Rome, right?  And therefore as part of my cultural immersion in this side of the pond, I do as the British.  I —


I paid up, said my polite thank-you’s, and left the place with nary a complaint.  In fact, for a while I debated whether to do the responsible thing of warning the food attendant, lest she be stung while clearing the plates.  My recently-acquired sense of propriety however tells me the more prudent thing is to let it be, and just walk away.  And that I did.

That night, I told C about this experience, every little detail —

Me :  …. and then I found a WASP in my food.  I mean, I don’t mean a WASP white anglo saxon protestant like you.  I meant a wasp-wasp.  You know, the insect.  

C (with British calm and reserve):  Oh you did?…

Me :  Yes, I did.  And you would be proud of me, because I reacted in a very British way :  The very British thing to do when you see a wasp creeping on your toast….

C :  (cutting in)  YOU ATE IT?

Yup.  Gotta love them.

Food · Restaurants

Munching in Manchester

A favorite eating  place in the UK, be it in London or Manchester, is Wagamama.

Food is good.  Service is efficient.  It’s nouveau cuisine in a Zen environment, with none of the pretentiousness of many hip pan-Asian food places.  The seating set-up is bench type.  The menu is a one-face affair, and the specials are on the paper “place mat” in the seat.

I got the Wagamama ramen in Manchester, at the Printworks last week.  My choice had chicken and veggies (mushrooms, etc.) swimming in vegetable broth.  I like that the taste is clean and uncomplicated.


For a while I struggled whether or not to have dessert, as this particular baby caught my eye —


White chocolate and ginger cheesecake?  Curious combination.  But I was full, and thought I had to delay gratification on that one (hence my notation — promise to myself).

That thought however held for a good 10 seconds.

I was weak, and gave in.

w4  WAGAMAMA!  Talk about heavenly.  This one tops the cake.  Ooops.

w5  I am happy to find out that Wagamama has 3 restaurants in Boston (in Harvard, the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, etc.) and one in DC.  None in Chicago yet, but hey, we have WowBao.


Food · UK · Uncategorized

Eating Like You Brit It

I have a list of places in Britain to see, which we strike off as we go.  C has truly been “forced” to stop and smell the roses — slow down more and visit the wonderful places in his own country, with me around.  Which is a good thing.

So last weekend, we headed out for a day in the Lake District.  One of the advantages of being “centrally located” in the UK is that going North, or South, is equally within manageable distance.  Just strike out and go.  Anyway, as an old friend who travels often to Europe with the Navy often says, “you can’t lost in an Island”.   That brings me comfort that if at any point my car should hit a big body of water, I can just say “ooops” and turn back.  Not knowing which particular town, village or city around The District to stop at, we randomly chose one from our faithful reference, the Reader’s Digest Travel Guide to Britain (yes, how sophisticated, no?).  Finger stops at — ta dah! — Windermere (idem sonam — “Wind the Meer”), punch that into the SatNav” (English translation for “GPS”), and yes, we’re good to go.

When we got into town, we parked our car and decided to walk towards the Lake — which is probably a good idea considering we were in THE district.  My impressions:  Clean and beautiful.  The terrain of Windemere busily curves up and down, left and right.  So different from the flat, rigid grids of Chicago.  We had a nice sun and a friendly winds, the day was perfect.  A lot of people out,  — fabulous. :)   I loved the simple, sturdy architecture of the homes facing the lake, and their beautiful windows that view out to the Lake.  And of course, the Lake.

Love the windows above the entrance that spans two floors

Boats! 4019872550_cc5e0cf6c9

4019095259_b300d9504a 4019842560_64c78a155b

At some point in the about 2 mile walk down to the Lake —

“Are you peckish now?”

I swear.  I do NOT speak English —

“Am I WHAT?”

“Peckish.  PECK-ISH.”

“Peckish? oh THAT Peckish.”

English translation :  “feeling the beginnings of hunger.”  Mental note to self:  Really need to add that to growing arsenal of English words/vocab.  And how coindental that right in front of me I should see a sign for “award-winning CORNISH Pasty”.  Nice association.  Cornish — which I usually associate with “hens”, paired with “peckish” pangs.  And importantly, I’ve never had a Cornish pasty.  Thank you, Cornish Corner Cafe Bar & Takeaway for my giant Pasty —


Yeah, nice and fat.  Nicely overloaded with stuff.   And the view inside the little devil —


That was delish.  And yeah, the “mushy peas” on the side as well.  A bit like baby food, but good.

4019838910_2e0796ac0d We will be back to this area.  Next time, we’ll pick another town, which I am sure will be equally beautiful.  :)