Neuhaus Chocolates

We’ve tried a lot of others, and Neuhaus chocolates are the world’s best.

One of the great tragedies of my business trip to Europe was that I was in and out of Brussels so fast that I didn’t have time to buy chocolate. Rochelle and I have tried a lot of really good chocolates, and the best — by far — have been Neuhaus. Brought direct from Belgium.

Our tenant introduced us to them, when he brought them back from visiting his parents over Xmas one year. He picked us up a $5 box of chocolates in the airport as a gift. Sort of like Sees candy in SFO, except way, way better.

We tried buying some here in the US, but you can’t get the fresh cream chocolates that way, only if you buy them in Belgium. So we thought that I’d pick up about a dozen boxes while Euro-hopping, except I never got the chance.

Fortunately for me (Rochelle made me open my suitcases at the airport to see what I’d brought her, and decide whether I got a ride home or not), I managed to pick up a kilo of Neuhaus at Harrod’s in London, right before getting on the plane to come home. But they were 3 times as expensive there, so only one box for us, which is nearly exhausted now.

More Pig-Out Photos

We’ve put up a few more photos of food from our regular visits to fine dining establishments in San Francisco. This time, Gary Danko and breakfast at Bloo.

I’ve put up a few more photos of the food we’ve eaten in San Francisco. It was a long time ago that Rochelle and I ate at Gary Danko, so the descriptions are curt. But the photos should make it clear we were eating well while there.

And in our photos from dinner at Bloo we promised a return visit, for breakfast. Well, we’ve gone twice for breakfast, ordering the same things both times. It’s quite delicious, and there’s no waiting, unlike at the popular Kate’s Kitchen just down the block (which is not as good, IMHO).

The Body Count Grows

Billie has the soul of a killer. Mouser that is. And proves it again while we’re in bed reading the Sunday paper.

Rochelle and I were enjoying a wonderful lazy Sunday when Billie made Rochelle scream. Rochelle was coming around the corner of the bed to pet Billie, who was innocently grooming herself.

Then Rochelle screamed and ran out of the room.

She scared the daylights out of me when she did it, since I was still in bed reading the paper. From how it happened, I knew something was on the floor, so I rolled over and looked.

Sure enough, Billie has racked up another kill. This time the mouse wasn’t quite dead, or as they say in The Princess Bride, mostly dead. But clearly on its way out, so we’ll give her the points.

Brand Name Recognition

Rochelle and I are starting to get famous, via our web site covering the food we eat, and obsessively document.

Rochelle and I like to go out to nice meals, take pictures of the food we eat, and then post them on our web site with commentary. We do it more to amuse our tiny minds than anything else, but apparently some people do visit the site and read our sort-of reviews.

At least that was the news we got from our server at Bloo this morning for brunch. He asked “Aren’t you the people with the web site?” When we admitted it he said that some customers had mentioned it recently when they came in for dinner: “Who are those people? Are they trying to sell me something?”

Even Proctor & Gamble and McDonalds had to start somewhere.

Jury Duty Over in 1.5 Hours

My jury “duty” lasted less than 2 hours, and was mostly sitting around in a room with other bored people.

On Wednesday afternoon at 1:30pm I had to report to San Francisco Superior Court to serve the terms of my jury summons. It turned out there was only one case which needed jurors, but they anticipated a difficult selection, and had requested a large pool of potential jurors.

There must have been 200 of us in the room when they started explaining how it would work. They were going to take a first “batch” and keep the rest on reserve, in case they ran through the first group without selecting enough people for the jury.

The first group was called out, my name not among them. At first I thought this was going to be horrible. At least the folks in the first group would have something entertaining to do, i.e., watch the jury selection process. And if you were in the first pool there was the potential to be rejected, and sent home quickly.

The rest of us would have to wait until the first batch was all gone, or the full jury selected, before we could be dismissed. Or so I speculated to Rochelle on my mobile phone around 2:45pm, as we made plans to give the hamburger at Hotel Utah a try for dinner.

Then, not 10 minutes later, another person came over the loudspeaker and explained that the court had notified them that the first batch would be more than enough to keep them occupied for the rest of the day. Since SF has a “one day, one trial” policy for service, we were dismissed, and had fulfilled our duty.

The part I loved was how he put it: “We’re going to have to let you go.” I genuinely got the impression he would much rather have had us sitting around doing nothing all afternoon!

The Last of the Independents

A new mattress and box spring from McRoskey, and we’re spending more time than ever in bed.

While in Europe, someone on the trip explained his strategy for coping with jet lag. Get back early, run errands all day, then go to bed at the right local time, exhausted, and be in sync by the next day. He had three events to go to the day of his return.

I had exactly the opposite waiting for me when I got back: a brand new bed.

We’d needed a new mattress for a while, because the ditch in the middle of our existing mattress was driving us nuts (never, ever, ever buy a pillowtop mattress). McRoskey Airflex is a local mattress factory that’s one of the last independents, with a great reputation, and happens to be only a few blocks from our house. We’d been meaning to check them out for nearly two years, and seeing them featured on Martha Stewart was the final straw. We went, we laid down, we bought.

Rochelle took delivery of our brand new mattress and box spring literally the day before I got back. Fortunately we stayed away from the new bed until late in the evening, because sleeping on a McRoskey is like sleeping on a buttered cloud (the only thing better than laying on a cloud is laying on a buttered cloud — everything’s better with butter). We’re having real difficulty doing anything in bed except passing out.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Get your minds out of the gutter!

Burke and Wells

Friends of ours, with a great journal of their journey to France.

Some new friends of ours have a great web site chronicling their lives. As a couple they go by their last names, Burke & Wells, and that’s how we think of them. To be honest, I don’t think I could come up with their first names at all!

They’ve done an especially good job on a chronology of their visit to France last year. In particular, their description of their dinner at Guy Savoy sent us into a fit of envy and lust.

Rochelle and I will be heading to Paris in September, to experience it for ourselves.

Where’s Michael?

Why there haven’t been any posts in more than two weeks.

So, I haven’t been posting because I’ve been bouncing around Europe on a business trip, and I never got around to setting up remote posting on this weblog.

A two-week all expenses paid trip to Europe sounds like a lot of fun, but it wasn’t. “Grueling” is a much more appropriate word. I hope I never take another trip that long. I don’t like being away from my wife, cats, and house at all.

Anyway, I’m back, and mostly recovered from the brainburn, so I expect I’ll be posting regularly once again.

Looking Back at 2001

God knows we’re glad 2001 is over but, in retrospect, it wasn’t all bad.

Rochelle and I are both glad that 2001 is over with. It’s not as though a calendar can mark the boundaries of luck or experience, but as much as the date shouldn’t matter, you can’t help summing a year up into a theme. And 2001 sucked for lots of people.

But it wasn’t all bad. Rochelle and I were fortunate to be able to spend almost two months together, 24/7, and come out on the other side having more fun with each other than ever. It’s good to be married to a good partner.

Both Rochelle and I experienced job changes we hadn’t intended, mine because my company died, and Rochelle because her boss wasn’t right for her. Now we’re both in jobs we like better than what we started with last year, and which are overall more financially rewarding to boot.

We replaced the nasty carpets in much of our house with wonderful hardwood floors. The floors bring joy to us every day, and may go down as the best investment we made in 2001 (not that the others were hard to beat).

Inspired by the success of the floors, we got serious about lighting, and replaced five existing lights with 4 “new” (to us) period fixtures (this was the source of my Fun With Electricity postings). The one that gives me the greatest pleasure is in the office, which replaced a ceiling light and a 500-watt halogen lamp, lighting the office about 20% better using half as much electricity.

We also started in on our water closet renovation, but have stalled on that, because we decided that getting all of the excess crap out of our parlor and office was more important. Both of these jobs will be with us through most of 2002, I predict.

We threw or attended some really good parties, the best of which was Rochelle’s birthday, and the most impressive was David’s birthday. (One of these days we’ll get the food photos from that up on our site.)

We took some nice trips, including Mexico, Texas, and LA. We ate a whole lot of good food on those trips, most of which we photographed, and most of which we’re behind on publishing. A resolution for 2002, surely.

I bought a new Mac and transitioned entirely to Mac OS X. This is something which gives me pleasure daily, for a whole lot of reasons, one of which is that it enabled me to start this weblog.

I said goodbye to Tex, whom I miss dearly, but who is certainly living a better, happier life in her new household, where she’s the top kitten, with cat companions she likes, neither of which was true in our house.

Rochelle and I both made tremendous progress on our crap reduction and abatement programs, though we clearly have more to accomplish in 2002 (another resolution).

I’m sure we accomplished many other things we’re happy with in 2001, and my feeble mind can’t remember them. That’s why one of my resolutions for this year is to regularly update this weblog. I’m a little behind at this point…

RTFM

Contrary to popular opinion, reading the manual for a complex device like a digital camera is not hazardous to your health.

In the nearly three years since Rochelle and I got our first digital camera (for our wedding present to each other) the technology has gotten amazingly better. Between that and upgrading to a new Mac that doesn’t have a floppy drive (our Sony Mavica uses a floppy to store and transfer photos), we’ve been wanting to get a new one that would work better with how we take and share photos.

So, last week, after a couple weeks of trying to buy one, we finally managed to find a store with a Canon PowerShot S110 in stock, and bought it. We promptly went out to dinner and tested it out on our meal.

And then I couldn’t get the photos off the damn camera.

Theoretically it was supposed to be easy. Just plug it into my USB port, and iPhoto would open up and import them automatically. This is what we bought the new camera for! Except, after trying a whole lot of different ways to connect the camera, it just didn’t work.

Out of complete desperation, I actually resorted to reading the camera’s manual. And discovered that I needed to put the camera in Playback mode to have the computer see it as a camera.

Doh!

Um, follow the link to see our photos from Bloo

NYE2001: The End – 3

So we got home from the after dinner party fairly early, about 2am, because Rochelle has having some digestive problems, probably from all the rich food we’d been eating. And we pretty much went straight to sleep, only to be woken up around 6am by the rest of our traveling circus returning from the same party.

Rochelle — a morning person — got up and joined the group, still highly-energetic and talky. I never really woke up, and slept a few more hours before being ready to face the day.

With so little time left before Dave and Joyce’s party, no one wanted to go to bed, except Damon, who’d not only been partying with the best of them, but had been cooking for 100 while the rest of us were part of the 100, sitting, drinking, and eating.

Then we went to Dave and Joyce’s, and you know the rest.