I have redefined retirement at age 23. I have a lifestyle where I do the things I like, with the time I have and still get paid for it. I designed my freedom these two decades, traveling to more than 40 countries. I run a successful business doing consulting works as a Corporate Writer, Corporate Emcee, Event Producer and a Workshop Facilitator. I am also a talk-show host on an Internet Radio station with two programs "A Course In Miracles for Work-Life" and "Freedom Speaks". Life is Healthy, Rich & FREE! You can design this lifestyle according to your willingness. I hope mine will inspire you to achieve that freedom too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The World Eats - Venice, Italy

This is the whole restaurant. Hardly any more room for big group of diners.
Notice the ingenious way of placing a shelf above the table to place the wine decanter and glasses.

It was Venice, Italy.  Many years ago.

We had a whole day on the islands.   The best time you could have in Venice is to walk and walk and walk.  Enjoy the people, the canals, the loudness of it all.  The romance, the scent and the pretty scenery.  It was merely shopping and eating.  What else would you do in a place that is so colorful and vibrant?  Just be merry.  To read more about my feelings about Venice, click here.

Then, we stumbled upon an adorable restaurant (I can't remember the name of the restaurant, I tried, something Osteria ...).  From its front facade, it was so small, so narrow that when we walked through the door and entered, we looked and discovered to our amazement, the interior walls were just as wide as the size of the door.  Right at the rear, which is not to far ahead, was the counter and the kitchen.  The tables were made for only 2 diners.  A small group would have crowded the place and filled it to its brim.

And yet, we found to our delights, the most inviting food ever.  That was the first time I tasted Polenta, a cornmeal mush, a traditional Italian food, even older than pasta.  It actually looks like our nasi hempit, or ketupat.  But the polenta we had at this restaurant was soft and smooth.  Other polenta that I had after that experience, was a bit coarse and bland.

The next first taste I had at the restaurant was the risotto with squid ink.  I never knew that we can eat squid ink.  The way they cooked it then was so good, I looked out for this dish when I am back in KL.  For many years, KL restaurants didn't have such dish with squid ink.  Then, later I found that they have squid ink spaghetti.  But that was different from risotto.

The most memorable has to be its tiramisu.  It was out of this world.  I have never tasted so "pure" a tiramisu I could drown in its rum or was it cognac?  After that, no tiramisu has come close to that intoxicating taste I had in Venice.

I do believe that taste is also influenced by the atmosphere and the ambiance at the time of dining.  This feeling permeates into the food, may it be polenta, squid ink risotto or tiramisu, and this exquisite thoughts had made the food so delicious it edged into my DNA.  After all these years, I remember ...

I think, even if I were now sitting in the same restaurant, ordered the same dishes, it would not taste the same as they were 10 years ago!

Polenta, Bruschetta, fried mushroom and something else.  Oh yes, those glasses are wine - for lunch.

Risotto in squid ink

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The World Eats - Hong Kong


When I think of a short trip to a tourist city, it should be 5D/4N.  Cost should be under RM2,000.  The flight should be comfortable with in-flight service, include good food and movies.  Flight should be under 4 hours.  Stay at a 4-star hotel, close to shopping malls and streets.  Also, take a turn around the corner, there's the subway for easy transportation to all the interesting places.  I can sleep in.  Wake up to lots of things to see and do till late.  It has to have a mild weather so that I travel lighter. 

With all these conditions, two places will come to mind for a short easy and breezy break.  For me, definitely Hong Kong and Bangkok are the cities that will satisfy these criteria. 

Cathay Pacific and MAS do offer all-in return flight for under RM700, perhaps once a year.  So, you can look out for such offer and book a trip.  My choice of hotel is The Cityview Hotel in Mongkok, close to lots of shopping streets and malls, especially eateries.  It is a 4-star hotel.  Their rooms are bigger than some other 4-star hotels that I have stayed before.  The moment we step out of the hotel, just 3 minutes walk, we will get to Ladies Night Market and the Electronic street.  Turn left and you are on Nathan Street.   From the hotel entrance, 2 minutes to step into Yau Ma Tei MRT station.  All these conveniences for under RM300 per room per night. 

If you book a Free & Easy package from any travel agent, staying in the same hotel, 4 Nights + Airport Transfer + half day city tour, it could be about RM1,000 per person, twin-sharing.  Plus the flight, it is RM1,700 per person.  Still a good way to take a 5 days break.  Why not?

Then, when you are there, you may want to try out one of my favorite beef ball noodle at Soy Street, close to Ladies Night Market or Sai Yong Choi Street.

The shop apparently has a self-declared title called the King of Beef Balls.  I do believe so because the beef balls were so crunchy and fresh that I went there for breakfast three days in a roll.  There were just too many choices of different recipes that I needed to try as many of the dishes as possible within the next few days.

So, the first day, we had beef ball with noodle, plain beef ball with stuffing, fish ball with fat noodle.  Second day, we had fish ball with stuffing, beef ball with fish noodle, fish skin dumplings.  The third day, oh ... we had so many other stuff ... please look at the menu yourself and make your pick.

Everything is just so mouth watering, it has left a deep deep desire that we must go back to the place for another three days of breakfast this year.

You look at the price, they are very reasonable.  The portion of the noodles were huge too.