Friday, January 29, 2010

Tim's Kitchen 桃花源

Last Friday, mum and dad visited the only Chinese restaurant that was promoted from 1 star to 2 stars in the latest 2010 Michelin guide, Tim's Kitchen 桃花源. This used to be one of their favorite restaurants, when it was located in a smaller shop just next door over six years ago. The seats were cramped but the food almost always lived up to their reputations. At the time, if you did not reserve a table, you still had a fair chance to get a table for two as walk-in customers.

P.S. - Tim is probably the Christian name / nickname of the chef-owner, 黎有甜. And he was the head chef at Hang Seng Bank's kitchen before opening this restaurant.

The intervening years have made a lot of differences. Now the restaurant has a strict time table for two rounds of customers, the first round being from 6:30p.m. to 8:30p.m. and the second round the following two hours. This seating arrangement is strictly adhered to as more often than not, the customers who hold the second round table would often be patiently waiting outside before their time slot. Chances of landing a table as walk-in customers are not good either. The new address is more spacious but if you are looking for hotel style comfort, you would be disappointed. The restaurant still does not own a liquor license, so it is a BYOB arrangement and they now have different varieties of glasses for the different occasions, champagne, white wine and red wine glasses are all available.

Mum pre-ordered a few of their signature dishes several days in advance and was excited about organizing the dinner with her food loving friends. As it was Friday, people were held up at work and by traffic, but they still managed to start dinner shortly after 7:00p.m. Half the table decided to indulge themselves in an extra course of snake soup 蛇羹 and that was served before anything else. Snake soup is one of dad's favorite dish and Tim's kitchen is famous for its snake soup (or more appropriately to differentiate its own recipe of snake soup, it is known as 太史五蛇羹). Unlike some other places, the snake soup here was always less heavy and had a cleaner taste. The soup had kept to its standard and highly recommended for the less squirmish. Dad finished the whole bowl before mum realized no photos were taken.

The first course that everybody had was winter melon crab crawl 冬瓜蟹鉗. The fresh crab crawl was cooked in an essence of winter melon. The refreshing winter melon sauce was a great complement to the full flavored crab crawl. The seasoning wasn't overpowering and never masked the meaty freshness of the crab. This was the most expensive dish, HKD180 per claw, of the night and worth every penny of it. It was delicious.

The next two dishes, crab meat in bamboo pith with egg-white 蟹肉扒竹笙蛋白 and fried asparagus with garoupa were not bad but nothing to write home about. The deep fried chicken 炸子雞 was high standard with crispy skin and tender meat. You would expect nothing less from a 2-Michelin-star restaurant. In fact, you might even expect more if you like to be a "food critic".

The "eight-treasure" duck 八寶鴨 is another signature dish. Mum and dad never had the dish during all their previous visits, since they never bother pre-ordering. The deboned duck body was stuffed full of lotus seeds, green beans, salted-egg yolk, chestnuts and other goodies then deep fried before being slow-cooked in a broth for many hours. Just when you think it's ready, the duck is taken to the steamer for another 3 hours before it is served. The stuffing was flavorful but not heavy and the duck meat was very tender as you will expect with such a long, arduous cooking process. For less than HKD800, with the preparation worked involved, this was a great value dish and definitely worth ordering in advance.

Starting just after 7:00p.m. and finishing before 8:30p.m. was a bit of a rush, and they barely had enough time to order an extra portion of curry crab fried rice and finished the small portion of spareribs. It was an enjoyable evening and a reasonably priced dinner. Mrs Lai, the owner's wife, still remembered mum from the days when she visited the old shop. The "food critic" might cast doubt whether it deserved a second star, but as in the Michelin guide the world over, the star system is often controversial and can never avoid a degree of subjectivity. At the very least, it is a guide that can generate such heated debate that no other restaurant guides can achieve. Compare with many of the Michelin starred restaurants in other countries, the Hong Kong and Macau guide seems to have set the bar lower. The local backlash against the 2009 guide might have been a lot worse if Michelin used the same yardsticks to measure restaurants in Hong Kong resulting in no 3-star (or just one 3-star in Macau) and perhaps half the number in 1-star. Just imagine the righteous backlash that would have stoked saying there's no business in foreigners judging Chinese cuisines in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Judgement of Leith

We mentioned the Judgement of Paris in a previous entry and we talked about whisky tasting very recently. Blending the two together gives you the Judgement of Leith, with no doubt equally shocking results to the country which prides itself for the whisky distillery expertise, Scotland. A Taiwan-distilled whisky, Kavalan, beat three Scottish blends and one English blend in a blind tasting arranged by The Times in Leith, Scotland, north of Edinburgh.

The event was meant to be a celebration for Burns Night, after Robert Burns. Presumably the winning whisky was going to be paired with the Scottish national dish, the haggis in the traditional Burns supper.

Here's an excerpt to the secret of this Taiwanese whisky:

But the real talking point was Kavalan, which is not marketed in Britain. Frantic research swiftly revealed the secret of its success. Although only two years old, this whisky is distilled with a blend of Taiwanese enthusiasm and Scottish expertise (a Dufftown firm built the distillery) seasoned with a large dose of equatorial heat and humidity.
In Taiwan, temperatures are persistently 20C higher than on Speyside, a differential which ensures that its spirit matures more quickly than its Scottish cousins. In other words, this whisky may have a young label, but the contents of the bottle are more mature than rivals of a similar age.

The Kavalan Whisky website
The Times article on the blind tasting

Accident prone Picasso

You must have friends who sit around and practically do nothing all day long but somehow manage to break some body parts every few years. Now it turns out that some artists' pieces are more accident prone than the other.

A woman attending art class lost her balance, fell into "The Actor" and tore it. This Picasso's painting was displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the incident happened last Friday according to Associated Press.

A similar fate befell another Picasso's painting "Le Rêve" in late 2006 just before it's owner Steve Wynn was about to sell the painting to hedge fund manager Steve Cohen for USD139m.
The New Yorker article
More about Le Rêve on wikipedia

Before you can utter Hallelujah

While officials in China are denouncing the whole Google episode as an US strategy of spreading Western imperialism and colonialism, the Zhang Jia Jie 張家界 government as decided to embrace Christianity, another propaganda tool in the spread of the same colonialism,  with open arms.

The government has decided to rename the "Southern Sky Column 南天一柱" to "Hallelujah Mountains 哈里路亞山" after saying that the same Hallelujah Mountains in Avatar had its inspirations from Southern Sky Column. Not sure if the local government knows the true meaning of Hallelujah in Hebrew (praise Yehweh, praise to the Lord, our God.)

Only in China!!
Reuters article on Hallelujah Mountains
Sina article on 哈里路亞山

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another famous dog in Hong Kong

You might have heard about the couple which gate-crashed White House in the US and we have mentioned Obama's Portuguese Water dog before. But now Hong Kong has its own famous dog which combined the two qualities above.

The Youtube clip below forms perhaps the most talked about newspaper headlines today. A group of youngsters with a Yorkshire Terrier gate-crashed the Hong Kong's Government House 禮賓府 recently and posted their photos on their Facebook accounts. There are pictures of these youngsters posting as Chinese leaders, poking oil paintings in commemoration of the 1997 handover ceremony, BBQ and even dipping shoes in Mr Tsang's controversial Koi pond.

For those who might have only caught glimpses of the Government House during it's open days for the viewing of the beautiful azaleas bloom, this is definitely an eye-opener.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Scam & Spam Alert

If you get an email from a friend inviting you to join him in Tubely, don't click on anything and delete the email asap. It is a scam and it will hijack your email address book and spam all your contacts with the same invitation. Mum and dad got the invites this morning. You might want to check out the horror that befell other people below.

Tubely is Devil

Is Tubely a scam site?

I was surprised to receive a message from someone I have not heard from for a long time - asking me to join Tubely. When I did, my mobile ended up being bombarded with text messages that cost me money every time they sent the text messages. I think Tubely is a suspicious site.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Whisky or Whiskey Tasting

We should be given entry to events like wine and whisky tastings. After all, tasting is more about the olfactory sense than the taste buds on the tongue. The main message brought home by mum and dad after a whisky tasting session at the American Club last night. It was an event organized by Berry Brothers for the single malt whisky they distribute, the Glenrothes. The only obstacle for us to become the real connoisseurs is we cannot tell you what the whisky smells like in all the colorful descriptive terms like smoky, nutty, lemony, malty, spicy...... In fact, we cannot tell you anything, that is our problem. But we will probably be doing no worse than a beginner who can tell between likes and dislikes.

Rows of whisky nosing glass filled to the bottom graduation by the golden amber colored whisky were already laid out on the long dining table when they arrived. The reason why these tulip-shaped glasses resembling sherry glasses without the stems were used would be apparent later in the evening when a brief tasting presentation was given. The mouth of each of the glass was covered by a watch glass presumably to prevent the aromas from escaping. There were also a few stemless cognac glasses. In each glass, there was one of the four things below:
- a vanilla pod
- a mix of spices - ginger, cinnamon and cloves
- a mix of citrus peel - orange, lemon and lime
- a mix of berries - raspberry, blueberry, etc
These are some of the basic flavors of whisky. These glasses served as a sample of the smell one can make out from "nosing" his whisky.

The presentation started out with the usual pleasantries and the history and meaning behind some of the whisky brands. "Glen", a fairly common prefix for whisky brands, appearing in the Glenfiddich, the Glenlivet, the Glenmorangie and, of course, the Glenrothes, means valley in Gaelic. Whereas the Gaelic meaning of "fiddich" is deer and "rothes" means fortune.

To start the tasting session in earnest, all the audience were asked to take a nosing glass containing the signature blend whisky and start sniffing the content. You should apparently sniff at least 3 times. The glasses containing the basic flavors were then passed around as comparisons.

As the alcohol vapor could temporarily overload and numb your olfactory receptors, a tip was offered to enhance the smell of the different notes by damping the effect of the alcohol. The tip was to rub a drop of the whisky on the back of your hand using your index finger, very similar to the way some people would test and smell perfume. After all the extraction of perfumes discovered by the Egyptians and Chinese was adopted by European monks for the distillation of wines into spirit. Whisky making remained steeped in secrecy, lore and tradition until the advent of modern technologies.

Just to reinforce the sense of lore and tradition, the audience was asked to make a toast to a ghost during the tasting session.

Biawa “Byeway” Makalaga was an orphaned child, found during the Boar War by Colonel Grant of Rothes under a bush on a track in Africa, rescued and taken back to Scotland. He grew up to become the Colonel’s helper and somewhat of a character in Rothes, at one stage playing for the village football team. He died in 1972.
When a new pair of stills was installed in 1979, a ghost was said to have appeared on two separate occasions inside the distillery. Nothing sinister was recounted, but concerns was sufficient and help was called, the investigation being handled by one Cedric Wilson, a university professor.
Mr Wilson assessed that a ley-line had been disturbed during the installation of the stills. He walked through the neighbouring cemetery in quiet contemplation, ambled up to a single gravestone, and had a quiet conversation at the graveside. He returned a few minutes later, explaining that all had been resolved amicably, and all was well.
The grave he had visited was that, without knowing more or ever having visited the graveyard before, was that of “Byeway” Makalaga, and whilst the ghost has never been seen again, a mark of respect is now tradition at Glenrothes. A dram of The Glenrothes is often drunk with a “Toast to the Ghost”, the ghost of Byeway Makalaga.

To stress the importance of smell to the tasting of whisky, a few participants were selected from the audience to pick out the odd-one-out from six different glasses of whisky. All 6 glasses were of different shapes, including a champagne glass and a martini glass. Mum was one of the participants. Previous participants of the Riedel glass tasting would smell a rat, as the different shapes would have a significant impact on the nose.

It was a great event and very instructive. And the whisky that was most pleasing to their palate was not the oldest and most expensive whisky, but an entry level whisky which was smoother and easier to drink.

Again no photos unfortunately. Lets hope we get our hands on some of the event photos later.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

All about beef offal 牛雜,牛胃,牛肚,牛栢葉, 金錢肚

“牛栢葉和牛肚是不是一樣?” came up during a recent dinner conversation while having Chinese hotpot in the American club. We are not sure if our ancestors really differentiate much among the carcasses of little dead animals. Just can't imagine them saying, "Yucks! That's offal, we only eat the meaty part of the body."

After some digging, looking up high-school biology and checking Cantonese culinary terms, we think we have cracked this question. It is probably worth setting out all the related terms here as well.
牛雜-a popular street food in south east Asia which involves stewing beef offal in a rich sauce made from Chu Hou Paste 柱候醬. The offal found is limited to what's inside the abdomen like intestines, lungs, spleens, kidneys, livers and stomachs, but no brains or hearts.
金錢肚-Within a pot of 牛雜, this is perhaps the most recognizable due to its honeycomb appearance and perhaps the most popular. It is more appropriately named in English as the honeycomb tripe and comes from the second stomach, the reticulum, of a cow.
牛栢葉(牛百頁)-An ingredient sometimes found in 牛雜 but more often missing because it is a dish in its own right. This perennial favorite dim sum dish is from the third stomach, the omasum (aka manyplies),  of a cow. The dim sum version is bleached white using hydrogen peroxide (an industrial chemical that's also used in the bleaching of dark fish meat in fish fingers to make them commercially more desirable.) The hotpot version is normally unbleached and appeared blackish. It is known as leaf tripe in English, referring to the leafy texture of this particular stomach.
牛肚-This is from the first stomach, the rumen, of a cow. It is known as smooth tripe in English and perhaps the least desirable of the three types of tripe. As found in the quote from The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion (Deluxe Edition)

The tripe found in most markets today is the lining of beef stomach, though that from pork and sheep also fall under the definition. There are two beef stomach chambers and three kinds of tripe, all of which are tough and require long cooking. The best tripe, from the second stomach chamber, is called honeycomb tripe because the inner side has a pattern similiar to a honeycomb. It's the most tender and subtly flavored. Pocket tripe is cut from the end of the second stomach chamber. It's shaped like a pocket with the inside also being honeycombed. The least desirable plain or smooth tripe (with a smooth texture on both sides) comes from the first stomach. Tripe is available fresh (which is actually partially cooked by the packer) in most supermarkets. Choose tripe with a pale off-white color and store for up to a day in the refrigerator. Tripe is also available pickled and canned. The most famous French dish using this variety meat is the Norman dish called tripes à la mode de Caen-tripe braised with carrots, onions and cider. In Spanish-speaking countries, menudo (tripe soup) is a well-known favorite.

牛胃-The all inclusive term covering all the above, plus the reed tripe from the fourth stomach, the abomasum, of a cow.

Update - if you like this entry, please check out our latest write up on beef from our blog, thank you.

So now you have the answer to the above question and more. We are all for knowing what you eat.
Related wikipedia links:
offal, tripe
Other links:
hydrogen peroxide bleaching of dark fish meat

Monday, January 18, 2010

Steaks, heavenly steaks

You might ask why we should care about what food mum and dad eat or which restaurants they go to. Most of the time you would be right but following the same logic we should never stand around the dining table waiting for little morsels to drop on the floor. Moreover, once in a while, the doggy bag they brought home would contain leftovers for us and us only. Thanks to the urge of their carnivores' inner self, we have had 2 different pieces of beef bones from 2 different places recently.

The first piece was a T shaped bone from Bistecca, who claimed to be Hong Kong's first authentic Italian steak house. Mum went there with a friend and her verdict was the beef was well cooked but the service has left a lot to be desired. They ordered a Bistecca alla Fiorentina to share and was asked how well they would like it cooked. Mum asked for her usual "doneness", medium well and was taken aback when it was brought to the table. Instead of the pale pinkish interior that she expected to see upon first carving, she saw bright red bloody meat in the middle. The piece got taken back in for a second round of grilling and came back out with the desired "doneness". Being the armchair steak connoisseurs that we are, we can see at least 2 problems with this order.

1. Bistecca alla Fiorentina should be cooked from the Chianina breed of cattle, instead of the Wagyu breed they advertised. You probably wouldn't advertise yourself as authentic Italian when you look like a Japanese regardless and raised in Australia, even if you speak fluent native Italian.
2. Bistecca alla Fiorentina are served invariably very rare. The waiter / waitress should either explain and not asked for the "doneness" of the meat. Or if they asked for the "doneness" of the steak, it should come out with the expected consistency. Obviously neither were done.

Perhaps the authenticity of the place only refers to the decoration.

The second bone was from the prime rib roasted in the Hong Kong Country Club wine cellar restaurant. Mum and dad have been raving about the prime rib there since Christmas when they first visited the place. We literally only got our teeth into one a few days ago. And it was good!! Even the left-over meat stuck to the bones were deliciously juicy. Guess for most people the only problem is getting access to this exclusive club.

No photos unfortunately. Perhaps next time when mum and dad are not so hungry. With the new fad being dry aged steak in Hong Kong and new places seem to be springing up monthly with their own dry cabinet for beef, it wouldn't be long before we dig our teeth into another piece of bone or left-over steak.

Not for the faint-hearted. If you think duck's tongues as gross, you might not want to know the full details and history of the aging of beef. Quote from Harold McGee - On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen:

Like cheese and wine, meat benefits from a certain period of aging, or slow chemical change, during which it gets progressively more flavorful. Meat also becomes more tender. In the 19th century, beef and mutto joints would be kept at room temperature for days or weeks, until the outside was literally rotten. The French called this mortification, and the great chef Antoin Carême said that it should proceed "as fa as possible."......

And there's a whole chapter in Heston Blumenthal - In Search of Perfection which explores the process of aging steak and how to use a slow cook method to speed up the process of aging.

Both books are great additions to your cookbook library if you aspire to become a food buff.

Hung's Delicacies 阿鴻小吃

As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, dad might give Hung's Delicacy 阿鴻小吃 in North Point a try after the 2010 Michelin guide came out. Last week, he went to this small restaurant located in one of the quiet back streets of the eastern side of Hong Kong Island.

It was almost eight in the evening and it wasn't hard to spot the place, being the only restaurant with a small queue outside along a row of perhaps 4 or 5 small shops. The wait was short in comparison to the lunch time crowd in front of Tim Ho Wan and that's after the publicity generated since the Michelin guide. The setup was not unlike some of the more traditional restaurants in Hong Kong where the roast items were hung prominently at the front of the shop. The main chef / owner stood behind all these items with his head down focusing on carving the different parts and dishes being ordered. Occasionally, he would raise his head and offered his gratitude to departing customers, while his wife would either be at the till or directing customers to their seats.

Hung's Delicacies may never become as crowded as Tim Ho Wan, assuming that they persevere and only offer cuisine similar to its current menu. With signature dishes such as duck's tongues, duck's chins and chicken feet tendons are perhaps too niche even for the generally adventurous for the Hong Kong gourmets. But for people who enjoy such traditional dishes, Hung's Delicacies would not be a disappointment.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A hit blog entry in the making

This is perhaps the biggest internet news in the making. We shall leave you to read the entire article entry below and perhaps post some of the more interesting news and links later.

This statement might upend a public showdown between the China government and Google. We would like to congratulate Google on standing up to global bullies and being a true defender of freedom of expression and privacy online.

A new approach to China

1/12/2010 03:00:00 PM
Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.

We have already used information gained from this attack to make infrastructure and architectural improvements that enhance security for Google and for our users. In terms of individual users, we would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails, or when asked to share personal information like passwords online. You can read more here about our cyber-security recommendations. People wanting to learn more about these kinds of attacks can read this U.S. government report (PDF), Nart Villeneuve's blog and this

We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens' entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.

We launched in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (o.d.t.)

"Where are we? You said this GPS is easy to use with the POI (Points of Interest). Obviously you have no clue and we are in this god forsaken town in the middle of nowhere called Weimar. We should have let the concierge in Mandarin Oriental, Munich input everything when he offered. I'm not gonna trust you with this again!!", mum complained after driving for almost 3 hours from Nuremberg with the intended destination being Rothenburg but ended up somewhere else. Dad had tried a lot of different names they had printed for Rothenburg and related places on the POI but all of them gave a multitude of choices all over Germany with the exception of this church called Jakobkirsch gave a unique destination which he thought must be the right place to enter. What a terrible faux pas!! Mum went into the Weimar town hall and found the address Käthe Wohlfahrt which they knew had the main store in Rothenburg. They drove another 240km+ before they got to Rothenburg o.d.t. For those using a GPS, remember this is the name you want to look for!

It was well worth all the effort to get to this pretty town. Judging by the amount of Japanese tourists there, it's not an unknown destination either. It was the most picturesque among the places they have been in Germany and the drifting snow didn't hurt either. They were literally starving when they arrived and there was nothing better than sausages grilled on red hot charcoal especially when the frigid wind was blowing upon your face.

If you ever dream about decorating a house full of Christmas trees, walking into the main store of Käthe Wohlfahrt was liked a dream came true. The myriads of Christmas tree balls and other ornaments were simply blinding with top-notched quality that merit more than a casual glance. No wonder, even Michael Jackson went and visited back in 2003. Perhaps one day, mum and dad would get a real X'mas tree to decorate.

Schneeballen, literally snowballs in German, are strips of cookie dough molded into the shape of a ball deep fried and coated with icing sugar, a Rothenburg o.d.t. speciality. Like so many things, the original Schneeballen has spun off into a variety of tastes, like caramel, cointreau etc. But then the originals featured in the shop window are still the prettiest.

Nuremberg (Nürnberg) Old Town and Castle

Beyond the Christmas market, they spent half a day exploring the ancient town of Nuremberg, which was a compact and quiet place. For those who want to find out more, it's easier to refer to the wikitravel article referenced above.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nuremberg (German: Nürnberg) and Christmas Market

The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is the oldest and most well established Christmas market among similar markets setup during the festive season across Germany and many Germanic parts of Europe like Salzburg in Austria. The stalls were setup from the first Friday of the Advent and would last until a month later until X'mas eve.

Everything related to X'mas imaginable were on sale in these stalls. The dazzling displays of X'mas decorations, the lovely smell of fruit and herbal teas, handcrafted wooden pieces, a wonderful array of honeys and honey related products, beewax candles, and etc, the photos here give you a taste of what's on offer but with the crowd at night, it's when you could really feel the festive spirits. One thing to bear in mind though, these stalls closed at 8:00pm on weekdays' nights. Like so many things Germanic, the closing of the stalls were done with such military precisions that one minute you would see the stalls around you still opened and the next minute while you indulged yourself looking at the variety of fruit teas, all the surrounding stores would get boarded up. That was quite a spectacle in itself.

"Heiße!", the owner of the candy stall said when he passed two pieces of the innocent looking "Chili-Kirsch" candies over for mum and dad to try. Both of them dismissed the idea that these candies could be anything compared to the chillies that they have accustomed to in Asia, especially from a Caucasian man. Not long after they started sucking the candies, they realized that these were not your everyday chilli candies. Mum decided to give up half-way into the finishing the candy and dad managed to finish the course. These habaneros infused candies were as potent as anything that they have ever eaten. Just bear this in mind, next time someone offers you a chili candy!!

BMW Museum

Just before leaving Munich for Nuremberg, they stopped by the BMW Museum, essentially a giant BMW showroom at the edge of Munich city.