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Friday, October 16, 2009

Grandpa

Today we held the funeral for my grandfather 趙諒公. He was a hundred years old, counted in the Chinese manner. He was a 才子, a renaissance man, who excelled in a variety of subjects including poetry, calligraphy, Chinese opera, and 圍棋. While his accomplishments in the cultural fields and his work are well known, what has not been mentioned much is his cooking skills.

He was an extremely talented and skilled home cook. While he only cooked occasionally, he enjoyed making dishes that required good techniques. He also liked experimenting with classical dishes and inventing new combinations. It is so unfortunate that none of us was able to convince him to write a cookbook, which would have been fascinating.

My grandfather also has a very good palette with very high standards. Family legend has it that he once threw a plate of food prepared by the maid out the window into the garden when he thought the food was not up to his standards. There are also stories about him pouring bowls of noodle soup onto the floor to show his displeasure with the quality of cooking. While his actions are a bit extreme, it was hard to argue with him when he was most likely correct and could show you how to do it.

My grandfather was a unique talent who not only lived a long life, but really enjoyed himself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fan

Dyson has re-invented the fan, which has no blades. He is just too cool.

Monday, October 12, 2009

6 Billion

The economic slowdown has claimed another fashion victim; one of my favorite designers, Yohji Yamamoto, has filed for bankruptcy protection. Anyone out there with 6 billion yen to help?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Primo, Where's the Heat?

Recently Maria and I met some friends for lunch at Trattoria di Primo located at 台北市復興南路一段107巷14號1樓. Primo is actually more than just a restaurant, it has an area that sells cheese and wine. Since I was there to eat, I didn't really look too closely at the market. Base on a quick glance, the cheese selection seemed pretty good.

The space of the restaurant is quite pleasant, mostly white walls and table cloths with brown leather chairs. Primo is quite popular and the tables are spaced tightly, but not comfortably.

Primo's menu consists mainly of antipasti, pasta, pizza, and dolci, however, pizza seems to best thing to order. This is because near the entrance of the restaurant is an oven by a Japanese company that claims to be able to heat up to 600C. Primo's menu also emphasizes this hot oven and claims to bake Neapolitan-style pizza in around 90 seconds.

We ordered four different pizzas and the prices range around NT$300 to 400. While we waited for the pizzas to arrive I was busy drinking Pellegrino. The restaurant offers unlimited Pellegrino or Acqua Panna for NT$50 per person. This level of generosity was surprising since typically restaurants pad the bills with the mark-up on beverages.

When the pizzas arrived I was slightly disappointed. The pizzas' ingredients were good and the flavors were fine. The problem was the dough. The bottom was not crisp and charred enough.

When we left the restaurant we passed by the Japanese oven again. This time I noticed the temperature reading on the oven was around 298C. I suspect this was the root of the problem. Typically in order to produce a good Neapolitan-style pizza the oven needs to be much hotter. The oven at Lombardi's in New York City has a temperature of around 450C. The ovens at La Notizia and Da Michele in Napoli both exceed 500C. It seems Primo should know the importance of high heat since it is one of the first to use the Japanese oven capable of reaching 600C. What I don't understand is why Primo doesn't turn up the heat and make some better pizzas.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Back to School

I am back in school again, this time not as a student but as a teacher. Early this summer I was offered a part-time position at the School of Architecture in Shih Chien University to teach third year design studio. Yesterday was actually the first day of class. Classes started late for the third-year students because they were involved in a workshop with students and professors from Germany at the beginning of the semester. Now things are back to normal and I am at the school two afternoons a week.

I have twelve students in the studio. This semester we are exploring ideas about movement in architecture with a community athletic center. The project seeks to explore the relationship between the movements in the program and the space that contains them. Instead of an architecture that is about attractive appearance and structural stability, can a building’s form and space imply movements of its use and the dynamic qualities of the site?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quote | Chairman

He is more popular than ever, the chairman is like Giorgio Armani.

- Mao Zedong memorabilia vendor in Hong Kong.