Monthly Archives: February 2012

Blame your illegal man cave on your wife.

In the US we’re quite used to seeing politicians apologizing to their wives so blaming your wife is a new one to me.

Image by: Sam Tsang

In Hong Kong, real estate is everything. Most of the old timers have made their entire fortune from playing the property market. So when it was recently discovered that Henry Tang had built an illegal 2,400 square foot basement underneath his home people in Hong Kong flipped their lid. The anal permitting here in Hong Kong rivals even that of my native San Francisco! And by more than doubling the size of his property, Tang increased its value exponentially.

In the above photo, protestors outside Tang’s house protest his basement; early on in the race Tang was cast as a pig and his rival Leung Chun-ying as a wise wolf.

But then it gets even more interesting! Instead of simply accepting blame, Tang tried to both blame his wife and pretend that he didn’t know about the renovations while also saying that he did know, but didn’t want to cause any more marital issues as he and his wife were already struggling, thanks in large part to his extra-marital affair. Yes–this is not the first time his wife has had to do more than stand by her man.

From the SCMP:

With wife Lisa Kuo Yu-chin by his side holding back tears, Tang said: “No 7 [York Road] is my wife’s property. It was my wife’s idea and I knew they were illegal. Since we were experiencing a low ebb in our marriage, I did not handle the matter swiftly. I take full responsibility for the incident.” Tang co-owned the house until 2010.
Here is an alleged floor plan for a giant theatre, wine cellar, Japanese bath, gym and bathroom… what Tang was calling extra grocery storage that he didn’t know about! Now correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this a lot like a ginormous man cave to you?

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Great lasagna alternatives.

Continuing my little Sundance / winter weekend entertaining series… I thought I would tackle the ski-weekend entrée in a post all it’s own!

For big group dinners, and in the winter especially, it seems like the default entree is lasagna, which makes sense because it’s:

a. delicious
b. a one-pot meal
c. can be scaled as large as necessary
d. can be vegetarian
e. (and I think this is the biggie) can be made ahead of time — even frozen!


Image from Alana D. Davis.

I honestly spend hours poring over cookbooks and recipes for hours all in search of the perfect lasagna alternative… and the funny thing is… sometimes even with the best laid plans you end up making the make-ahead thing right before the door bell rings, but anyways! When you do make ahead you feel so prepared and your guests benefit as they get to enjoy you more. The great thing about all of these dishes, too, is that say you’re making something for tonight… you can double the batch and freeze half.

I’m sure you’ll think I’m completely out of my mind, but I’ve actually checked entire frozen casserole dishes and tupperwares, flying between San Francisco and Salt Lake City. The plane’s underbelly is so cold, the items are always rock solid when they get to the other end. Now that we’re in Hong Kong it’s not as feasible, but I have taken things like red pepper jelly and granola along with me to spice up menus!

So here’s my master Sundance recipe list. Hopefully it appeals to you, too, as we’re approaching the mid-end of winter and are maybe sick of soups and lasagna, but are still up for heartier, one-pot dishes.

Hazelnut and butternut squash lasagna. All the basic principals of lasagna but a very different and healthier take on it as the noodles are replaced with squash. I find it very annoying to peel hazelnuts, but otherwise it’s super easy.

Image from Romulo Yanes, Epicurious

Swedish meatballs. The meatballs can be frozen ahead of time and then you’re just left to the sauce and egg pasta day-of. Try to find some lignonberry jam, the traditional Swedish accompaniment, make your own pickles (so easy!) and you’re in business!

Moussaka. Anyone who knows me will think of this as my signature dish 🙂 It’s really close to lasagna, but not–keep the tomato sauce and stet the pasta, add ground lamb, which has a different flavor without being too different to be a crowd pleaser, and eggplant, which is both affordable and healthy. I like the Cook’s Illustrated recipe.

Chicken enchiladas. My friend Tammy gets the credit for teaching me this beloved dish. Mexican spice really adds some interest to this time of the year that can really drag on!

Cassoulet. Bacon. Sausage. Beans. Pork shoulder. And maybe even duck? Need I say more? This is a meat lovers paradise. I love the crunchy breadcrumb topping.

Image from André Baranowski for Saveur

Ratatouille. Another French classic. So much love and care goes into this dish, which is also awesome for vegetarians.

Boeuf Bourgignon. Blogged about previously here, this classic can be made several days ahead of time and also freezes well.

What are the make ahead, winter dishes that make you want to empty your plate!?

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Minted invite giveaway!

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t actually change a single thing about my wedding, but it is fun to think about what you might do if you had to do it again differently… or even better, imagine what it’s like for an engaged friend. Continue reading

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China hacking our phone secrets.

Last week wasn’t a good one for my alma mater; “a federal judge convicted Hanjuan Jin, a 41-year-old Notre Dame, Chinese-American alum, of stealing confidential information from Motorola after she was caught carrying a one-way ticket to China, $31,000 and 1,000 Motorola documents (stored digitally.” The article on the Atlantic jokes that Motorola couldn’t have had much to steal to begin with (i.e. the Razr isn’t exactly high-tech), but there’s actually quite a lot Motorla has that the Chinese want. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise as this is why Google recently acquired Motorla… it’s just that they’re interested in platforms not head sets. This isn’t the only report of the Chinese hacking American phone companies; Nortel was also recently hacked.

The Chinese have tried to build their own cellular network, but it’s terrible so they are very much interested in stealing Motorola’s  tower technology, especially China Mobile which has their own 3G standard called TD-SCDMA. It was developed to avoid paying royalties to Western companies. Only problem is that is sucks. It’s 3G service is so bad most people can only access the internet from their iPhones if they’re at a WiFi hot spot! Unlike the US however, numbers don’t transfer over so no one wants to give up their China Mobile number so they so they buy the iphones from China Unicom (pretty good 3G service but crappy voice coverage area) and then use them on CM even though it means they get super slow internet service and basically need to rely on wifi. How crazy is that!! No wonder they’re paying for our secrets!

At the end of the day, I’m not so worried about China overtaking the US… as long as we keep coming up with the ideas and they keep copying, we’ll always be in the lead. BUT we really need some better security. And company’s will have to think long and hard about whether their employees really are trust worthy.

Also, see my earlier post on doubling down on SIM cards. Thanks NYW for the article tip!

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Sundance wants you! A how-to guide.

Ever wondered what going to the festival entails? Read on for a how-to guide.

It’s a little shocking to actually write this out… but this year was my 12th year at Sundance! I’ve been going with my friend Tammy and a bunch of our friends for over a decade. Suffice it to say, the festival has changed a ton. It used to be that you could walk into any movie you wanted, pay $8 at the door and enjoy, but since Paris Hilton started coming, it’s been a whole bunch of crazy–albeit still manageable. You just need to plan a looooong way ahead of time, which is why I’m posting this now!

–Rent a house now. I’m lucky enough that my parents have a place in Park City, which is how we’ve been able to do the festival for so many years. But even if you’re not so lucky, renting a house or condo is definitely the way to go with a group… you’ll be able to cook your own food and hang there, which will save an arm and a leg, plus be more cozy generally. Now that we’re a little older and more mature, I think everyone agrees that hanging fireside and discussing the flicks we just saw over some nice wine and yummy food is the best part of the weekend!

–Register in September. We usually have a large group… anywhere from 12 to 25 people and I make everyone (yes, drill sergeant over here… if you don’t register, you aren’t coming) register for tickets. It’s free and takes 2 minutes. If your group is smaller, I suggest having your siblings and other randoms register for you, but be sure if you do this that you check the option to have the tickets delivered to your address (not theirs) as you’ll otherwise be required to pick-up the tickets with ID in person. I put the odds at 1 in 7 that you’ll get a good enough time to get the package you want.

–Buy ticket packages in October. Unless you can swing a festival pass for $3 grand getting you (and only you) into every movie you want to see, you’ll end up going for an A or B package for the first or second weekends. There are advantages to both weekends; the first weekend you’ll see way more celebs, but it’s also way more crowded and difficult to get into movies. The second weekend is a lot more chill… and some movies don’t premiere until later in the festival.

–Select actual tickets in early January. Besides actually compiling lists of all the movies your friends want to see (we always use a shared Google Doc for this), I make sure that movies are at times people will actually get their butts in gear to go see. No one ever goes to midnight showings… no matter how gung-ho they think they are, they would always rather sleep or have a few more beeers. 8am movies also have a very low no-show rate. While you can only get four tickets to a screening per package, it helps to combine packages so you have lots of tickets to the same movie. This creates group momentum and doesn’t leave people stranded without transportation.

-GO! Enjoy the movies–especially the Q&A’s after with the actors and director, the ‘scene’ downtown, the snow–it almost always snows this time of year, and the skiing–everyone is at the movies so the three resorts in town (Park City, Deer Valley, and the Canyons) are literally EMPTY. Oh and don’t forget that even after all of the above tix hassle, that you have to be at the theatre 30 mins before the start time or they’ll give your seat away!

Tomorrow I’ll tackle large group hostessing logistics!!

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