Moonlit Ghent

I broke a cardinal rule of mine and went out to dinner without bringing a camera. And was punished by the most gorgeous moonlit view of the city. Fortunately, a dash back to retrieve said valuable item was not a long detour.


My Favourite Things: Chocolate

I love chocolate. I don’t eat chocolate bars from the supermarket anymore. I go to specialty chocolate stores for my fix.

My favourites, hands down, anywhere in the world:

Chocolate makers:

Chocolate by The Shop, Phnom Penh. Who would have imagined there’s be a specialty chocolate shop in Cambodia and that it is really really really good?? It is so good that I bought boxes of them whenever I was in town to gift. The fact that it is easy on the pocket was a huge bonus. Expensive for Cambodian standard of living, but extremely reasonable for the American snob. My favourites are the dark, the white, and the passion fruit pralines. They just melt in your mouth, those chocolates, but somehow with being made in a humid climate, they don’t melt on the way home. Women talk about craving chocolate all the time; when was the last time you heard a man say so? I got my male colleagues hooked and they go for their fix as well!

Recchiuti Confections. I schedule flight layovers in San Francisco just to buy their chocolates. Pricey, but so worth every penny!! A lot of chocolate makers mix in unusual flavors- salt, pepper and cinnamon, rose, etc- but more often than not, the flavors aren’t blended into the chocolate and leaves a jarring taste in my mouth. This one has figured out how to fix that. No matter what flavour, it melts smoothly.

Hot Chocolate: 

Not to be confused with neighbouring Serendipity Cafe’s celebrity frozen hot chocolate, my favorite hot chocolate either order in or to take back home to brew myself is Dylan’s Candy Bar hot chocolate. Actual chocolate shavings melted in hot milk. Sadly, I haven’t been able to purchase any online lately. But should any be available, highly recommend you purchase some, after I have my turn..


Belgium. Hands down. Don’t bother with the brands or the pre-packaged stuff. Just go to the mom and pop shops that have their various truffles laid out for you to admire. I would stop by a store each day, a different one as there is one every single block, and get a sampling of different flavors. That would be my chocolate intake for the entire day.

Switzerland. But, like Belgium, don’t go to the mass producers. The specialty shops are pricey, but often crowded. That should tell you something.

Just Chocolate in general:

CoCo Sala is the biggest chick pit in DC. It has got to be. Every time I go, the place is packed with women. The few men there who are not staff tend to be boyfriends/husbands humoring their lady’s desire. Their chocolate-inspired menu has changed considerably since their opening, but that’s the nature of a surviving restaurant/bar/lounge.

Year in Review: 2012

I put one of these slide shows each New Year’s (see 2011, 2010).. but with this week’s Photo Challenge topic, I’ve decided to publish this year’s a few days early.

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As you can see, I had a fantastic year. Hope you all did to, and that 2013 would be a continuation of a wonderful adventure.

Brussels: Museum of Musical Instruments

I had just checked into my hotel in Brussels, at the tail end of my summer abroad. The last time I was in Brussels was over five years ago, on a day tour with my aunt. I remember the peeing statue, mussels, rain, and chocolate.

The owner of the hotel didn’t even wait for any questions to highly recommend I stop by the Museum of Musical Instruments.

I ended up spending the entire afternoon there until closing time. Given the relatively narrow streets, from the ground level, I wouldn’t have noticed the museum building. It was embedded in a row of old buildings, the dark glass walls making me think it was a corporate building.

It was just an year old when I went. And what an amazing place. A lot of exhibits were crammed into a relatively small space. The halls were dimly lit, giving a sense of endlessness. The lights were well placed to literally put a spotlight on the instruments. I did not encounter any other visitors.. and as I entered each segment of a hallways, the music correlated to the instruments features started playing. Talk about fantastic interior design and integration of modern technology into exhibitions.

Perhaps my having learnt to play musical instruments made me nerdy enough to enjoy the museum. I certainly spent a long time in the string section, seeing all the historical evolutions of the modern string instruments. Yet, I don’t believe one has to have musical background to appreciate the museum. What appealed to me when I heard about it besides a sincere rave report from a local was the fact that it was different. And the excellent design was a bonus.