And now for another milestone. My blogs have garnered 70,000 visits so far.
Don't I look happy? :)
This Monday, November 24, my blogs hit a new milestone - 1,240 visits. Woohoo!
Normally, between them, my blogs get around 500 visits/day, so this is a nice new rise.
This occasion calls for a random photo - how about one from Kosmix' 2007 holiday party. Nagraj and Sailesh are flanking me.
On Tuesday this week, my blogs passed 50,000 visits. Sweet!
The blogs, of course, are:
And on a smaller scale, my profile on blogger has now been viewed 550 times.
Jodi Olson, Kosmix's new head of Public Relations, likes to interview folks for their top 5 lists for her blog. This week, she put up my list - and quite an arbitrary one it is! I am very flattered. Her blog is here, and I have also reproduced the post below.
Blogger and tuna steak connoisseur Vikram Singh is the author of Information Overload.
1. Poughkeepsie, New York: The Hilton in Poughkeepsie has a restaurant that serves really, really good Ahi tuna steaks. They pan-sear it, and the crust on the outside is made with seeds or something that’s just amazing. The portions are small—you’ll probably have to order two. I recommend following the meal with the house bread pudding. It goes really well with the tuna for some reason.
2. Boulder, Colorado: You can get great Ahi tuna steaks in Boulder. Order it rare there. Most places have really good wasabi- based sauces to go with the steak, and they don’t muck about with vegetables. St. Jillian’s Hotel in Boulder has a particularly good tuna steak—both for a starter and a main dish.
3. Chicago, Illinois: Ruth's Chris steakhouse in Chicago has the best Ahi tuna steaks compared to any other Ruth's Chris. I wouldn’t use any sauce because their fish has a lot of taste on its own, and they don’t make a good wasabi sauce.
4. Mountain View, CA: The Cantankerous Fish on Castro Street. This is the only salad entry in this whole selection. Their Ahi salad is really good, and they have a really good miso sauce with it. Here’s what you do: ask for two extra helpings of the miso sauce, so that you have three in total, and then ask for two separate helpings of the wasabi cream sauce, so you can try the steak two different ways. The dish comes with a lot of vegetables. Very tasty.
5. New York, New York: Most places in New York city that are mid- to upscale have really good Ahi. They cut it too thin and too small to be considered a steak—it’s more like slices of fish. Because of that, you have more surfaces exposed for taste, which makes up for the smaller portion size. I especially like the Ahi in Anthony Bourdain’s restaurants.
Ok, so I do like Virgin America. A lot. Based on only 4 flights so far (between San Francisco SFO and New York JFK, and San Francisco SFO and Las Vegas' McCarran Airport - LAS)
But I have a couple of minor issues. First of all, they've started charging $2 for headsets. With all the great programming (and not to mention the original Doom video game!), this is idiotic. Just add $2 to your tickets, and stop asking for handouts! Some people will use their own earphones, some will read a book or do something else... and some, like me, will get just a little pissed off.
Second - no free food. Pay for your food. I guess I shouldn't even expect this any more, even on 6 hour flights. But it does irk me just a little bit.... I expect more from Virgin America.
This morning, while on my nth flight this year back from New York, I found out I was sitting next to Bob Dana, Virgin America's CFO!
What's quite interesting is that we were sitting in the economy class. Granted I feel Virgin America's economy class is better than almost all other US airlines, this was still quite funny. Turns out Virgin has their executives travel on economy. They do get one perk - the exit row. (apparently they fly business/ first when they are on Virgin Atlantic, which is good).
I am impressed. This was a 6 hour flight, and the CFO was sitting in the aisle seat in economy, typing on his laptop, with his Bose headset on his head in between friendly stops by the airline stewards and stewardesses. And Bob's an ex investment banker.... so he is probably used to the good things in life.
Here's Bob in a presentation outlining Virgin America, including their mission statement.
I had a few meetings last week in New York, so decided to stay the weekend. I'm not normally a star-watcher, but I am an Entourage fan - so it was fun meeting Jeremy Piven.
Ended up also seeing William H Macy, Felicity Huffman and Tim Robbins. Who needs LA?
Ah, it took its own sweet time getting here, but four of my blogs now have some Page Rank.
The older Autos blog is the leader, with Page Rank = 3
And my main, all-purpose blog has a Page Rank = 1
Still waiting for the baby of the group, the Technology/ Startups blog, to get some love from Google.
During my trip to Switzerland, we stayed a night at Interlaken. While there, we ate dinner at Restaurant Des Alpes, which is a half open-air restaurant, with lovely views of the alps surrounding Interlaken on all sides. It was raining and cloudy, but the views were still spectacular. We sat under a canopy under the rain - it was amazing.
The restaurant had a company of yodelers with alpine horns, who were quite fun. They perfectly complemented the huge tankard of beer I was handed!
On to food: we had a veggie lasagna, which was ok. And a Prosciutto pizza.... what a pizza! Very soft, thin crust, very light cheese, some tomato, fresh prosciutto and a sprinkling of oregno. The first pizza in years on which I didn't put even a drop of tabasco, or a single red pepper! I wish I could eat it once each week. Pizza dreams....
I'm quite happy - I'm crawling up the Google ladder. eg: search for "Revolution Health up for sale", and my main blog is the second search result. Sweet!
Or search for "Revolution Health in trouble" - my blog is the third result.
In the pursuit of excellent Burmese food, Nikhil found Mingalaba in Burlingame.
Now Mingalaba is supposed to be a hybrid Burmese-Chinese restaurant. What? Well, why not? Ok, point taken.
So is Mingalaba a good local less crowded alternative to driving all the way up to San Francisco or Alameda (yuck) for Burma Super Star? Short answer - yep!
Slightly longer answer - well, its not as good. Everything is very good. But Burma Super Star is still just that little bit better... for Burmese food. So if you have time, patience, 30 minutes to find parking, a big group to hang out with while waiting in the cold for 2 hours for your turn at dinner, and only want Burmese food - go to Burma Super Star. But if you want something pretty good with none of the hassle, or if someone in your group wants some Chinese food on the side (or even some orange chicken!) then go to Mingalaba!
Plus, a name like Mingalaba also fuels the first 20 minutes of conversation.... each time you go. Whats a Mingalaba? What does it feed on? Do we give restaurants Mingalabas instead of stars from now on?
Anyway, do go there. And try the tea leaf salad. Second only to Burma Super Star. Try the Palatha, which is their version of Roti Paratha - and very very good. Try their Pan-fried Okra and Shrimp (funnily a wonderful combination) . Try it all. And tell them I sent you.
Rick McCharles at BestHike put together a list of the 10 best hikes in the world, per his opinion. I think he has good hikes on the list. However, I would definitely put Macchu Picchu (Peru) and Patagonia (Chile) up there. But hey, no one said the list was objective.
Oh yeah, the list is a little old. But hikes are hikes.
I was at Yosemite this weekend. I spent the first part of Saturday driving up to Glacier Point and roaming around there. The views are really amazing! Some of the best panoramic views of the Yosemite sights can be seen from Glacier Point.
The rest of the group hiked up the Four Mile Trail. It is 4.6 or so miles straight up! Quite the hike.
These are amazing views of Half Dome and the Yosemite valley from Glacier Point
The famous overhanging rock at Glacier Point
Vernal and Nevada Falls in the background
Off to Yosemite today with a bunch of folks. We'll be back on Sunday afternoon. Yosemite temperatures should consistently be north of 80-90 degrees.
I'm also going to drive a rental Mazda 6 on the way. My co-driver, Adit, is also an avid car enthusiast. He owns a Mazda 3s Touring Sedan with a 5-speed manual transmission, so already loves Mazdas. His has a 2.3 liter four-cylinder engine putting out 156 bhp.
(posted July 29, 2008)
Amber's newest location, in San Francisco, is the swankiest one yet. What about the food? Well, it also beats the other locations out! (although Amber Cafe in Mountain View always wins for snacks).
Whats good there - butter chicken (yum!), bhindi are really good. Seekh kababs, kaali daal (black daal) and chicken tikka are ok. But overall the food is very nice.
25 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103
(posted July 24, 2008)
Roti Indian Bistro is ok. But not good. Seekh kababs, paneer tikka, rote, naan, aaloo gobi, daal makhani.... all ok.
The decor was nice, and the food smells were good.
I went to the Burlingame location. Probably never going again - too many really good options available 20 minutes north or south of Burlingame.
(posted July 23, 2008)
Its so good, I rank it at the same level as Banana Leaf (although I've only gone a few times, so it hasn't been tested over time yet)
If you go, you MUST order the tea leaf salad and the samosa soup. Everything is good, but these two are a must. the tea leaf salad (pictured below) will be tossed at your table... only heightens the anticipation.
There is now a second location in Alameda - I had lunch there today. Just as great, so I like the fact that I don't have to look for freaking parking in the Clement St area any more if I don't want to.
(posted July 21, 2008)
Started in 1921 under the name of Werder confectionery, La Bonbonniere is located at 11, rue de rive - CH 1204 Genève.
I have to say - their chocolates are amazing! Each and every one! Blows Rohr (also of Geneva), Neuhaus etc. completely out of the water, and gets up to Marcolini (Belgium) levels.
In particular, their Marzipan bon bon was the best I have ever had. Best. Ever.
The chocolates I had were 2 days old when I got my grubby paws on them.
(posted July 15, 2008)
So first of all, whats with the name? I've put an explanation taken straight from the restaurant's website at the bottom.
Now on to the food - it is really good! If you find a menu item with "curry" in its name or description - order it. If you find one with "garlic" in its description - order it. If you find one under appetizers - order it!
This is really good Thai food.
As for the ambience: it was a little loud in there. Thats great if you're in a partying mood. But there were 5 of us, and only the two people in the middle seats could hear everyone else.
The decor is quite nice, though. Definitely worth a visit.
Here's the explanation from the restaurant's site:
Koh Samui & The Monkey is a Thai restaurant. The name Koh Samui & The Monkey comes from the two people behind the restaurant: Chalermporn "Aom" Phanthong, the owner operator, and her husband Chris Foley, the primary investor. Chris and Aom met on a boat while scuba diving off the coast of Koh Samui, Thailand. While Aom was taking a break for her graduate studies in England to visit her family, Chris had just sold his business in San Francisco and was taking a sabbatical traveling through Southeast Asia. Aom chose to honor their relationship by naming the restaurant Koh Samui.
The "Monkey" portion of the name is two fold and refers to the small Thai antique store that is attached to the restaurant. First, Monkey in Koh Samui (the island, not the restaurant) is everywhere and treated as friends. Second, Aom is very proud of the fact that she was born during the Year of the Monkey.
415 Brannan St San Francisco, CA 94107-1703
I had occasion to taste some chocolates by Rohr in Geneva; These are sold at three main locations, of which I went to Place Du Molard.
I had only one piece of each type of chocolate, and they are smaller than individual chocolates one gets in the US (roughly half the size of Godiva chocolate pieces found all over the US); I ate them roughly 28 hours after they had been manufactured. With these two points, I'm hoping I got the right taste of each chocolate.
(posted July 8, 2008)
Auslese Trocken Riesling
Krug scher Hof
Krug scher Hof
Riesling Spatlese Halbtrocken
Barons de Rotschild collection
(posted July 8, 2008)
I spent a couple of days in Geneva in July, 2008. Mainly used the city as a base, starting and ending there; in between, we traversed a fair bit of Western and Southern Switzerland, and Italy... but more on that later.
Geneva is at once pretty, and dirty (for a Swiss city), touristy (in a nice way) as well as just another big city. Taking the train from the Geneva airport to get to the city shows some grime. A far better way is to drive in; all at once you will experience the lake, the fountain, the wonderfully and warmly lighted up city, and the marquee names (Rolex, Tissot, Brietling - all have horribly big signs overlooking the lake and road coming in from the east).
Geneva's Fountain is quite cool - it is a single high plume, lighted from below so that the water is well lit up. During the 2008 Euros in June, the fountain had a football at the top. Of course if you've been to Vegas, you were probably spoiled by the fountains at the Bellagio. Don't compare - this one is quite nice on its own. And it even has a story, instead of just being a brain-child of some uber city-planning cabal. The story I heard told of a fire hydrant being knocked over; the resulting fountain attracted a lot of people, and voila!
The park near the fountain, next to the lake is really nice. In summer, it always seemed full of people relaxing and enjoying, some jugging and exercising, others dancing (semi-organized dances are held often in the park). The ice cream you get at the park is really really good, per Carina - wish I had gotten to taste it!
The Old Town is ok. The food is quite expensive, and in the ok to good range. A little bit to see there by walking around, but I didn't get the same feel of the old town as I did with other Swiss or European towns.
I met my cousin Diya and her hubby Kuru this Friday. They're a lot of fun, and like good food.
We had originally planned on eating at Dosa in SF, which I had wanted to try out. However, the wait was long (45 minutes), so we went to the Belgian Fritz place.
My opinion: I like the place.
Fries: Quite good. Not at the same level as the fries I had in Belgium, but close enough to not matter. And I wish you got more varieties of sauces included in the order - for small fries, you get one sauce, for large - 2. My favorites include the Thai Chilli, Ponzu-based, and Wasabi-cream based sauces. And I really like their chilli fries.
Beers: they've got an ok selection, not extensive by any means. But for those who like the old standards Chimay and Duvel, that shouldn't matter.
Crepes and sandwiches: Quite good again. The ham sausage crepe in particular is very, very good.
Ambiance: I like the white/black colors, but in trying to be too modern (post-modern) and hip, they have succeeded in making the chairs not too comfortable.
Here are some reviews on Zagat, and some photographs -
(posted June 23, 2008)
After a long week light on sleep, Saturday brought the chance to celebrate with friends... and take my car for its first long-distance drive.
Aileen, a good friend from my days at LifeScan, got married to Neil. The wedding was in Solvang, with the ceremony at the old mission, and the party afterwards at the Crossroads Estate across from the Firestone winery.
The wedding was fun, I got to meet a lot of old friends. The temperature made it interesting - it was 116 degrees!!! I met a 95 year old man, who had moved to Solvang after retiring 44 years ago - he mentioned it was the hottest day in his memory.
Since I was running late, I drove on 101 instead of highway 1. The drive was amazing; I did however drive all the way with the top down, so ended up getting nicely sunburned.
I found out another thing - when the temperature climbs above 100 degrees, any speed below 80 mph in a convertible means you sweat continuously.
I left Solvang around 9:30 pm. Since I didn't want to drive while tired, I again had to take 101. (Highway 1 takes an extra 1.5 - 2 hours). Having a new car has made me more careful - I even stopped at a strip mall after King City to take a nap. It wasn't the smartest idea; I had planned on napping for 30 minutes, then buying a coke from McD's and driving home. When I went to sleep, the strip mall was full and quite busy. I woke 40 minutes later, parked under the only street lamp that was still lighted, and with the entire area dark and deserted. I have to admit - I was awake and alert very fast.
Finally got home at 2:15 am. A long drive, and a very enjoyable one. I would recommend you all have a lot of friends, and buy a BMW 335i hard-top convertible. Then convince those friends to get married in Solvang. This gives you the setting for a perfect Saturday!
(posted June 16, 2008)
I had been craving the panda for a while, so used my Sunday workout as an excuse to eat there. As usual, Panda was very good - if you like sweet Chinese food (reminds me of Indian Chinese food), clean premises and very fast service.
As usual, one of my items was the Orange chicken. Normally, I end up taking 2 helpings of Orange chicken - its just that good. But this time Panda had a new item on the menu - Sizzling Beef - so I tried that one out. It blew me away! Soft, melt in your mouth beef with a tender yet crispy skin, nice tangy sauce... a new favorite!