Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sonoma. After spending the morning on organizing the book tour, and getting things ready to go for Japan, I went to Sonoma. Had tea with Linda and took my Dad out to dinner at the "Happy Garden" Chinese restaurant. It was so-so, but my father enjoyd being out. It started pouring rain and the temperature dropped this afternoon ... BRrrrr...

Another thing you'll never find on my table...

Chinese give cat food a whole new meaning
From Jane Macartney in Beijing
The Times

EVERY day thousands of cats are transported to Guangdong province in southern China.

They are destined not to become the pampered pets of the country’s new rich, but to be served up at the dinner table.

The trade is one that merchants seem eager to keep out of the public eye in a country where pet shops have sprung up to meet a growing demand as incomes rise.

While no laws exist to regulate the business, at the Baishazhou market in Wuhan, central China, two cat traders were startled this week when a local reporter paused to take photographs.

They had collected about 1,000 cats, taken to the city by rural cat-catchers. The terrified animals were crowded into large wire cages.

All were alive, but most were silent, apparently too exhausted and traumatised to do more than mew faintly. The traders loaded about fifteen cages, each crammed with cats, into the back of a van for the animals’ final journey to Guangdong. Chinese have for centuries eaten a startling range of creatures. Southern Chinese particularly relish the taste of wild animals, believing them to be rich in nutrition.

Wild civet, banned since the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) scare, is believed to boost the immune system. Snakes are reputed to increase a man’s virility, and the smooth-skinned salamander is believed to clear acne.

In the markets of Guangdong, cats cowering in small cages are a common sight. At the Nanjin poultry market about forty stalls sell cats, which are divided according to size. The larger the cat, the higher the price. A cat weighing more than 3kg (7lbs) can fetch 70p a kilo, while smaller animals cost about 40p a kilo.

A local newspaper quoted one trader as saying that he sold up to 300kg (660lb) of cat meat a day. He said: “Today I’ve sold 200 cats. Tonight another 100 will arrive. No matter how many you need, I can satisfy demand.”

Catching cats offers an alternative source of income for farmers in China’s poorer central provinces who sell them for up to 40p each. One Guangzhou restaurant offers a braised cat meat dish for £3, but charges £12 for cat stewed with snake and chicken. The owner said: “The cats are domestic cats and are clean and cheap. In winter we have more customers than in summer. Only local people eat cat, not people from other provinces.”

The Guangzhou City Food and health quarantine office said that there were no regulations regarding cat meat.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Another We-Eating. Michael was too ill to join in person, but Jo-Ann & I enjoyed our meeting, Michael joining by speaker phone after we'd finished our enjoyable Japanese-style brunch. We took photos to memorialize our theme.

Brunch Menu: Barazushi, Ajitsuke Daikon, Tempura Shrimp, Kiri-gobo, fresh organic farmer's market baby greens with miso-mustard dressing and cherry blossom carrots, oden, miso soup, organic stawberries in birch sugar, and a good Merlot.

We started at 10:00 and ended at 2:00 -- mid-way Jonathon & the kids turned up and wanted to swim in my frigid pool -- if they could brave it! So they took a Swedish dip, and returned later. We all went walking across the Golden Gate Bridge afterwards enjoying a spectacular view of the city and good looks at the cables and structure of the bridge underneath us. Back to my place for some hot chocolate/tea and to warm up!

Sunrise at Sunrise Pointe. Waking up early this morning, I was treated by this beautiful scene. I had to take a snap and share!

I am up bright and early to make barazushi for a Japanese-themed brunch this morning for stoking the creative juices of the creativity group... more later.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Farewell to Remember. My friends at OAI threw a farewell lunch for me today celebrating my 22 years with the company. We enjoyed a fabulous feast at Chaya, and moving around the table I enjoyed visiting with all. I was presented with a Mont Blanc pen with enscription "From Friends at OAI" and a most beautiful bouquet of flowers. It was lovely to have such appreciation.

Hugs and warm wishes, and interest in my new endeavors as a consultant were all part of the mix.

What a send off to the future!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dinner tonight. It's President's Day, and I took some time to enjoy some 'play' time with my Dad. I picked him up, took him to lunch at his favorite buffet... then we went to see Duma at the Rafael. What a fabulous movie. VERY worth seeing. A little too intense for tots, but great! Dad enjoyed it too.

On my way home I checked messages... uh oh... my Doctor's nurse calling. I called her back. oh yes, that little matter of a certain test. Don't I have to keep a certain diet before completing? Yes, hmmm... it's on the back? When? Well.. yes I'll do it, but I happen to like a lot of the raw vegetables it prohibits, and well, then there's the matter of the raw meat... well of ... ahem. I DO enjoy raw tuna and it's on the menu tonight, and again I'm making it for a friend on Thursday. Bad? How do I know what's in it? I trust the source.. why, well, I only buy from a trusted source in Japantown. Can I SEE what's in it.. well, no.. (oh I'm just putting my foot in it futher, I'd best give up this conversation)... I see, yes, I'm sure Doctor will have something to say to me about it.

All caution tossed to the wind, and well, as to the matter of the incomplete test, it will have to wait until next week.. as I enjoy my tuna pokki tonight -- photo above of tonight's dinner. I'm going to do seared black-sesame coated tuna with a ponzu/green onion sauce for Thursday.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lunch at Il Fornaio, Palo Alto. I enjoyed a marvelous lunch with Wilma this afternoon. It was unseasonably crisp and cold in Palo Alto, but we were tucked away inside and enjoyed Italian 'comfort food', with a little splurge on some drinks to toast to what's up next. I had a Bellini (peach juice & white wine blend).

I met Paul at Standford shopping mall and did a little pre-trip gift shopping. (Yes, I'm off to Japan next week!)

I also had some fun with my new roommate -- my iRobot Roomba. What a cute creature! He took care of all those dust bunnies under the bed while I was reading a book... wow!