Time flies! This has been the most unusual year for me. After working full time in a traditional corporation ever since I was 22 (basically, right out of college), I left the corporate 9-5 world and became an independent legal consultant this past year. I set up my own business, set my own hours, and consulted for a small pharmaceutical company in Cambridge.
I loved having such a flexible schedule!
I spent a lot more time on photography and blog related activities. I got to spend a lot more time with out-of-town friends. I even learned a lot through my work, talking to scientists about cool nanoparticle drug delivery systems and studying the ins and outs of setting up my own business.
Best part? I got to travel a lot more with Bryan on his business trips.
It’s definitely been quite a ride.
A few months ago, I was given the incredible opportunity to join an exciting start up company in Cambridge. It was a hard decision, but I took the plunge and now I’m back to normal full-time work again. I’m actually having tons of fun at my new job – it’s been a blast so far!
Anyway, it’s been quite an exciting year. Here’s a look back at 2015 . . .
1. January in Las Vegas
We always start our January the same way. Right after the craziness of the holidays dies down, we hop onto a plane to Vegas to attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and taste some great food, of course.
This year, we went steak-crazy and tried several different steak restaurants. Wolfgang Puck’s CUT impressed us with its high level of service and overall excellent steak. Jose Andres’s Bazaar Meat was over-the-top, and our crazy tasting menu definitely showcased some pretty extravagant dishes.
We also visited friends, had lunch at the ever-so-tasty Lotus of Siam (great authentic Thai food and reasonably priced wines!) and checked out Yusho, a Japanese izakaya serving fun small plates and great ramen.
2. February buried in Snow + Philly
It would be impossible to summarize this past year without mentioning the mountains of snow we had in Boston. I felt like I was constantly shoveling. The pile in my backyard towered far above my head, and it became quite a workout just to lift the snow onto the continuously growing monstrous snow pile! We made it through the winter, but not before icicles dragged down our roof so much that leaks entered the house. Yes, we had to strip out our walls, dry out wet insulation, and install a new roof this past summer.
Amidst all that, I managed to fly to Philly to give a food photography workshop at ITASA (Intercollege Taiwanese American Students Association) East Coast Conference. I was shocked to see absolutely no snow in Philly. Boston, on the other hand, was already on its second or third snow storm by that point. In fact, I had to change my flight home in order to avoid yet another incoming snow storm. Needless to say, we were all relieved when February was over. It beat all records to become Boston’s snowiest winter ever (108 inches!).
“I was wondering if you would like to be profiled for the Boston Globe? Sheryl Julian (the food editor here) was interested in a story about you and your blog, and I jumped at the opportunity to write it. I would also love to cook a dish with you to include with the profile, maybe your Taiwanese meat sauce over rice?”
One week later, Brooke was at my house along with Globe photographer Lane Turner. We spent an afternoon cooking Taiwanese meat sauce with rice together. We chatted throughout the afternoon about my Taiwanese background, my blog, my interests, and my current career. I even had “vanity shots” taken right inside my house with a professional photographer. It was so fun!
The article ended up on the front page of the Food Section in the Globe and took up two whole pages (!). In conjunction with the publication of the newspaper article, I published a blog post on how to make the quintessential Taiwanese street food, oyster omelets! To see the online version of the article, click here.
4. April in Disney World
In April, I followed Bryan on one of his work trips to Orlando. We spent a weekend at Disney World (I hadn’t been there in over 10 years!). I was pleasantly surprised to find that there’s actually a lot of good food at Disney World. We sampled different cuisines “around the world” at Epcot World Showcase. My favorites included an ice cream filled brioche from L’Artisan des Glaces (French Pavillion) and the phenomenal Neapolitan pizza at Via Napoli (Italian Pavillion). I was also impressed with the South African dishes at Jiko, the Cooking Place and the seafood at Bluezoo.
The most beautiful and fun meal was definitely dinner at Be Our Guest, a French restaurant inside Beast’s Castle at the Magical Kingdom. If you grew up with the movie Beauty and the Beast and have fond memories of it as I did, you’ll love this restaurant. The inside looks just like the castle in the movie (there are multiple rooms, including the forbidden “west wing”!), and the food is actually pretty good. For more details about that meal, definitely check out the full post.
5. May at home – 21 posts in 31 days
In May, I stayed home for the entire month. I took this opportunity to challenge myself to blog more (again!). One year earlier, I had taken on the challenge of publishing 31 blog posts in 31 days, essentially a new blog post every day. I completed the task, though at the expense of some sleep, for sure! This year, I toned down the challenge a bit.
I decided I would publish a new blog post every single weekday, but gave myself a break on weekends. I published 21 posts in 31 days. It was much more manageable, and I was able to publish some more unusual content that I’d been holding onto for awhile, such as posts about restaurants in Australia, Finland, Canada, and Japan, along with continuing my Orlando series and covering some Boston area restaurants. To see a menu of all 21 posts, click here.
6. June in London and Munich
In June I followed Bryan on another one of his business trips, this time to London and Munich. We walked a lot, visiting many of the city’s most famous monuments by foot. To see the walking tour we did, click here for the detailed post. We tried several really amazing restaurants as well.
Our favorite in London this trip was Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, where we enjoyed Chef Blumenthal’s impressive interpretation of traditional English dishes. We also had a lovely dinner at Alain Ducasse as well as a very interesting meal at Marcus (where we got to see how a multi-Michelin starred restaurant “recovers” from a mistake).
We spent the next several days in Munich, which was really exciting for me because I had never visited Germany before.
We had tons of fun exploring the Residenz (Bavarian monarchy’s former royal palace), classic German beer halls, outdoor beer gardens and food markets (so fun!), the oldest brewery in the world, and even one high-end meal. I discovered I love wiener schnitzel, German pretzels, and the maltiness of German wheat beers, though I cannot come close to drinking at the volumes they serve in Germany (1 liter mugs are not unusual here!).
7. July in Montreal
After more than a decade, we did a road trip to Montreal with a couple of close friends on the weekend of the Jazz Festival. We did a head-to-head comparison of two of the best bagel shops in town (Fairmont was slightly favored this time), as well as visit several excellent bakeries.
We also had a late dinner at very traditional French bistro, an excellent English style brunch, ate lots of poutine, and dined at Au Pied de Cochon, one of the most famous restaurants in the city (come here if you like foie gras). And just when all the meat and carbohydrates started to weigh us down, we had a delightfully “light” farm-to-table dinner at Hotel Herman (highly recommended, probably my favorite restaurant of the trip!).
8. August in Portland, Maine
In August I went to Portland Maine for a quick weekend girls-only, sans husbands trip. We enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Eventide and then brought take-out Duck Fat fries to the beach, where we chatted while soaking up the sun.
For dinner, we waited three hours to dine at Central Provision (heh, there were no reservations left), but it was totally worth it. The food was really good, and we loved the vibe. I can’t wait to go back and bring Bryan there!
9. September in San Franscisco and Sonoma
In September, I followed Bryan on another business trip to California. I met up with old friends in San Francisco during the day while Bryan went to his work conference. We celebrated our anniversary in San Francisco, enjoying one of the best meals I’ve ever had in the U.S. at Saison (check out the full 20+ course menu here!). We also visited Quince (anniversary dinner part 2!), Kin Khao Thai Eatery and Burma Superstar. Because we were staying not too far from the Ferry Building Marketplace, we ended up eating there quite a bit.
In Sonoma, we attended various events surrounding Sonoma Wine Country Weekend and also enjoyed fantastic pizza at Glen Ellen Star, a lovely brunch at Sante Restaurant, and a really fun 20+ beer tasting at Russian River Brewing Company. To read a more detailed trip report write up, click here.
And then November came!
Bryan had seen a sale for “around-the-world” tickets on American Airlines over six months ago. At the time, we had toyed around with the idea of planning a big trip in celebration of one of my milestone birthdays. Since I’m one of those people who can never commit to anything, Bryan went ahead and booked a general itinerary which included Alba (I’ve always wanted to go to Alba during the White Truffle Fair in November), Bordeaux (a trip we’ve been meaning to take with some friends for years now), Paris, Japan (my favorite!), and Hong Kong (one of Bryan’s favorite cities in Asia).
It was a crazy three week trip. I had to negotiate it with my employer before starting my new job.
I will give a preview of that trip in the next blog post (part II of this mini-series), since this post is already quite long!
We just got back from California after visiting Bryan’s parents for Christmas. My parents came to Boston, so we had a chance to hang out with them as well before the New Year. It’s been really, really nice just being at home after being gone for so long. I’ve been reorganizing closets, donating stuff I don’t use anymore, and clearing out my desk in the study. It feels so nice to have everything so neat in my house right now. Let’s hope it stays that way!
I hope you all had a fantastic new year. Here’s to an amazing 2016!
Coming up next:
Part II: New Series: Around the World Extravaganza Birthday Trip (preview)
Part III: My Favorite New Boston Restaurant Discoveries in 2015