Sunday, November 29, 2009

You Play To Win The Game (sport)

Forget about the Belichick decision from two weeks ago. Today there was another 4th down decision that I think coaches in the NFL routinely get wrong. More importantly, it's a situation that occurs very frequently, as opposed to the Belichick decision, which was unique because Brady and Manning featured prominently in the decision. First, note that the coach who made the (in my opinion) mistake was Raheem Morris, whom I've already criticized before.

Here's the situation. Tampa Bay is up 17-13 and there's roughly 2:45 left on the clock. Atlanta has no timeouts left. Tampa is facing a 4th and 4 at the Atlanta 33 yard line. Here's what actually happened. Tampa attempts the 51 yard FG and misses it, allowing Atlanta to start at their own 41 yard line. Atlanta then goes down the field and scores the game-winning TD.

I see NFL coaches go for that field goal a lot when they're up by 4. I just don't get it. When does it gain? It allows you to play for OT if the opponents march down the field and score a TD. But it loses when your FG gets blocked or you miss it and give the opponents great field position. Since the opponents need to get a TD anyway when you're up by 4, it's essentially a scared play that's trying to prevent losing immediately if the opponents come down and score. It's especially bad when you're an underdog to win in OT, as in this case when you have the weaker team and you're on the road.

Kicking the FG is actually my third choice. If you trust your offense, you go for it on 4th and 4 and try to win the game right there. If you trust your defense, you take a delay of game penalty trying to draw the opponents offsides, then try to pin them deep on a punt. Andy Reid was correctly criticized earlier this season for kicking a field goal down 7 to the Cowboys with 4 and a half minutes to go and no timeouts. I believe this decision is just as bad, except that it will continue to be made time and again because too many coaches don't play to win the game.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bill Simmons is a Patriots Fan (sport, entertainment)

That's pretty much the kindest way to put it after reading his brutally bad article today about the Patriots and the 4th down decision. Bill Simmons writes from the point of view of a sports fan. However, people tend to forget that fan is short for fanatic. A fanatic, defined in the dictionary, is "a person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause." That's just it. Fans are by definition unable to distance themselves from the game and look at the numbers objectively. Reading through his "breakdown" of the decision was unbearable. Many of his points and rationale were just off.

I get what Simmons is actually writing about in his article. The downfall of the Patriots' supposed dynasty. The coach is older. The defense can't grind out wins. The running game can't grind out wins. I don't have an opinion on whether the Pats are indeed "done", but to use the 4th down decision as the main example showing the Patriots' decline is just plain wrong.

In passing, he mentioned Mariano Rivera and how the Yankees felt about having him out there at the end. Well, it's great and all, because they won. Had the Yankees lost, we would have been hearing for quite a while in the sports media about Girardi overmanaging, and pitching CC on too little rest, and making Rivera get 2 inning saves too often. In the end, the public sees only results. The sausage and the hamburger, not the factory or the farm.

When one of my friends mentioned his frustration over trying to convince people of the numbers behind the call, he said, "I can't even convince Patriots fans. How in God's name can America not understand expected value is beyond me." My reply was along the lines of, "if America could understand expected value, you wouldn't have been making money playing online poker."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Momofuku Overload Part 2 (food)

Part 2 of the Momofuku overload consists of the fried chicken lunch/dinner they serve at the Momofuku Noodle Bar. This meal requires a special reservation through the system just like a reservation at Ko or the Bo Ssam at Ssam Bar. However, I actually think it's the hardest reservation to get. Even though you go through the same process, there are less available time slots and I assume more competition, since the fried chicken meal is significantly cheaper.

After spending a good deal of time trying to get a reservation, I finally got one for a 2pm lunch last Friday. They allow 4 to 8 people per reservation, and I chose to go with a total of 4 people. I'd read that the meal consisted of 2 whole chickens, and considering that eating half a chicken isn't outrageous at all, I thought we'd handle the food easily. Then came the chicken.

That is a big plate of chicken. The fried chicken meal consists of a korean style fried chicken (the redder, sauced, chicken parts on the left) that is triple-fried and a Southern style buttermilk fried chicken seasoned with Old Bay.

Also included in the meal is this bowl of fresh vegetables and herbs to be eaten with the chicken and wrapped into mushu-type pancakes with the dipping sauces.
And these are the dipping sauces. Clockwise from the top: hoisin sauce, scallion sauce, jalapeno garlic, and korean red pepper paste.

Let's start with the Korean fried chicken. The triple frying created a terrifically crisp skin that is common to Korean-style fried chicken. I thought there was a good seasoning to the sauce that was not overly sweet like some other Korean fried chicken that I've had before. With the crispy thinner skin, this was perfect to cut into slices and put into wraps with the vegetables and the dipping sauces. Of the sauces, everyone thought that the scallion and the garlic jalapeno were superior, and I frequently added both to my wraps. The crisp skin, juicy meat, fresh vegetables and herbs, fragrance of the scallions, and little kick from the jalapeno garlic all wrapped up was pure deliciousness. The weakest part of the meal was in fact the mushu pancakes which were dry and hard at times.

While the Korean style chicken was tasty, the buttermilk fried chicken was extraordinary. Taste-wise, it might not be for everybody. While I enjoyed it, I can easily see how some people wouldn't like the mix of Old Bay in their fried chicken. What made this fried chicken special was how incredibly moist it was. The outer coating was not like a skin, but rather more like a shell, that protected the meat from outside exposure. While the coating was thick, it was well seasoned and crunchy, and not hard to bite through.

Overall, it was just a great meal and a fun time. The food is great and you get to be hands-on with the wraps and stuff. While we could each eat a good amount of food, we decided that six people was probably the best number for the meal. The cost for the meal is 100+t/t, and that's a great deal as it will feed 6 easily. I highly recommend the meal, but the hard part is getting the reservation.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Momofuku Overload Part 1 (food)

The overload part comes from the fried chicken lunch that I went to last week. Full review will be posted as part 2 as soon as I get the pictures. As for this post, it's about the Momofuku empire's newest addition, Ma Peche in the Chambers Hotel in midtown. While the restaurant is not actually open yet, their kitchen is serving a limited menu as well as a lunch special in the mezzanine lounge of the hotel.

Almost EVERY food blogger has gone to try the lunch and blog about it, so I figured I'd join them. That's the effect David Chang has in NYC and over the interwebs. The hotel itself is elegant yet contemporary, with a focus on art. Where I was sitting in the lounge, there was a bookcase with some art books. I flipped through a few pages of a book of the works of Salvador Dali. As for the food, the midtown lunch special offers a choice of 4 dishes (squid salad, rice noodles, banh mi, chicken banh mi) and a drink (can of coke, diet coke, or small bottle of water) for $10+t/t. The lunch is offered from 11am-3pm while the rest of the menu is served from 11am-10pm.

This is the pork and porcini terrine with baguette, pickles, and mustard from the regular menu. Both the bread and the pickled vegetables were perfectly crunchy and offered complementary textures. The terrine was firm and had great flavor, probably the best terrine I've had since the country pate at Inside Park. I would have preferred a grain mustard to the dijon though.

While there will always be someone complaining about authenticity when it comes to something like banh mi, I focus on deliciousness. A Momofuku banh mi makes perfect sense since pork and pickled/fermented vegetables are things that Momofuku is famous for doing well. First, I want to note that this photo is a close-up because I wanted to show the layering of the meat, but there really isn't a lot of food there. As for the sandwich, it is quite extraordinary. The bread is near perfect. Crunchy on the outside with being hard at all, soft on the inside. The pate spread is warm and provides a great temperature contrast with the cooler pickled vegetables. The layers of meat have great flavor and a good texture, although the latter is not as evident since there wasn't a lot of it.

In all, there's some pretty good food there and I would recommend it for a quick stop in that area. I would recommend it for a nice long afternoon tea type of stop except that there's no real view, unless you're really into art books. When the full restaurant finally opens up it should get more interesting.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hill Country Overload (food)

Hill Country does BBQ Texas style. Everything is bigger in Texas and so is the BBQ. That means more of a focus on beef than pork, which also translates into a longer smoking process. While I don't really enjoy the cafeteria-style ordering followed by sitting with a plastic tray to enjoy the meat served in butcher paper, I do go for their Monday night special, which includes table service. The Monday night special is from 5-8pm and is an all you can eat affair. For $25 +t/t, you get to ask for unlimited amounts of brisket (moist or lean), chicken, pork ribs, and cold and hot sides (about 5 choices each). All the pictures in this post were taken with the camera on my phone, so please excuse the poor quality. It's mostly to give you an idea of what's available.

I went with a friend this past Monday, and here's what was brought to us for our first serving. In the front are deviled eggs (cold side option) and to the left are our meats, with ribs, chicken, and brisket. In the back are more sides, featuring the green bean casserole, corn pudding, and cornbread.

I think the all you can eat special is one of the best deals in NYC. I think it'd be great just with the moist brisket and chicken alone. But sometimes, I want to pig out at home, so I go and take some BBQ to go, and it's usually still pretty good by the time I get home. Here's some stuff from their "football menu".

"Chili Mac" which is their mac n cheese with chili poured on top. I really like their mac n cheese. A lot of cheddar flavor and they use a big thick pasta that isn't hard but doesn't get mushy either. The chili is not of a thick consistency, but is well spiced with a very light kick and has a lot of meat in it. Chili + Mac n cheese. What's not to love?

This is their smoked chicken wings. They're pretty good sized wings, and are 6 for $3 which is a pretty good deal compared to all the horribly overpriced "Buffalo" wings out there. It really does have a nice smoky flavor, and the buttermilk Ranch dressing is the perfect dipping sauce as the tang cuts into some of that heaviness from the smoke.

Last but certainly not least is one single beef rib. It's definitely bigger than a pork rib, although this one is on the small side compared to some of the ones I've seen.

So if you're in the mood for a fun, bustling, night out and eating a lot of good BBQ, definitely give Hill Country a try.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Big Weekend in Sports (sport)

A lot went on in the sports world this past weekend, and here are some quick thoughts of my own, although I won't cover everything that went on.

First, Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th and 2. Mathematically, it was probably the right decision. I'm not going to go through with the EV calculation, but here's a link to a simple explanation of the calculation:
Of course you can put in your own probabilities for what was likely to occur, but I want to point out a few things. First, the Indy O had been strong all 4th quarter and had just completed an 80 yard drive in 2 minutes. Second, the Pats O had been moving the ball at will for most of the game. Finally, if the Indy O was going to score anyway from either 30 or 70 yards out, scoring from 30 would most likely leave enough time for the Pats to try to drive back down for a FG.

The two most interesting parts to me about this whole thing have nothing to do with which was the better decision. The first is that I think Belichick is one of only two coaches in the league who could actually MAKE that decision. In the sense of knowing the numbers, but more importantly in having the job security such that he does not have to care about the media backlash. The other coach is Mike Tomlin. Anyone else would be too fearful of losing their job over one decision.

The second was how the Pats D could have been so ill-prepared? The key was the back who tackled Addai at the 1 yd line instead of letting him through. Give Brady 1 min to drive for the FG and it could easily be a different outcome. Clearly the Pats D is still playing checkers while their coach is playing chess, and probably one of the reasons Belichick was not willing to trust them.

Forgotten because of this big AFC game was that Cincinnati asserted themselves as legitimate AFC title contenders by going into Pittsburgh and winning. Their defense was dominant, and let's not forget that if it wasn't for a fluke week 1 play, they'd be 8-1.

Onto other sports, Manny Pacquiao asserted himself as one of the best boxers ever with a record-breaking 7th title in a different division. More importantly, he is the pride of a nation and is himself very proud of his heritage. As he said, "It's history for me and, more importantly, a Filipino did it."

Another interesting win was Michelle Wie's first LPGA win. People have forgotten about her, but she's still only 20, and there's plenty of time for her to put it all together.

In the NBA, I had another discussion on whether George Karl is a good coach. I think that he's a pretty bad basketball coach, but that he's probably pretty good at keeping the superstars and their egos happy. How can he win so many games if he's a bad coach? Look at his past teams. Kemp and Payton, Cassell and Allen and Robinson, the current Denver bunch with Melo and Nene. All in their primes, that's how. He shows his true colors in the playoffs.

On the other hand, a really good coach who's often forgotten is Rick Adelman. This guy went to the finals with a Portland team whose best player was Clyde Drexler. He had the good Sacramento teams, but they always went up against the Shaq-Kobe Lakers. Now, he has a superstar-less Houston team playing good scrappy basketball and beating the Lakers on the road.

I'm sure there was even more going on this past weekend. I know there was a UFC event, but no real big championship implications.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NFL Week 10 (sport, gambling)

Last week I mentioned that it was as good a time to stop picking the NFL as any because everything that we thought we knew about the season had changed. This week's 1pm games proved that point.

Denver, a team that started 6-0, lost to a Washington team that was widely considered one of the worst in the league and a team that had, up till then, beaten only St. Louis and Tampa Bay, two of the very worst teams in the NFL.

Speaking of those two teams, St. Louis had a chance for a last drive to beat the undefeated juggernaut New Orleans Saints while Tampa Bay actually took the lead at Miami with about a minute to go before Miami came roaring back.

Carolina, a team which had only managed wins against Washington and Tampa Bay and had a brutal loss to Buffalo in its first seven weeks, has now beat two playoff contenders in the last three weeks and was frisky against the Saints as well.

Tennessee, which started the season 0-6, has won three straight including today's demolishing of Buffalo. Then again, that was not as unexpected as the line opened at Tenn-6.5 and was bet all the way to Tenn-8.5 at many places.

Jacksonville, which has had embarassing losses on the road to Seattle and Tennessee, beat the Jets. The Jets' 3-0 start with the league's best defense is far in the past and they are now reeling at 4-5.

Finally, even Detroit, another horrible team playing on the road against Minnesota, one of the teams many pick to be in the Superbowl, managed to push the 17 point line (unless you got Minnesota early in the week when it was 16.5)

In trading terms, the trend has broken. The public had been riding these strong teams and fading these weak teams for so long that they are now buying down into an abruptly turning market, seeing value where there is none.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This Is It (entertainment, gambling)

Baseball season may be over, but I decided to take in a tripleheader this past Friday while I was on more forced time off because I'm doing so poorly trading.

Started off with Michael Jackson's This Is It, which I really enjoyed. In the end, he really was the greatest pop-singer-dancer entertainer ever. Even with Jackson not at full strength because it was all just rehearsal footage, he was still a terrific performer. He knew his music, and I think that he wrote his music to match his changing voice as the years went on. Regardless of what his face looked like, his dancing was still strong and his movement was still fluid. Quite remarkable for a 50 year old. You could see his passion and how he wanted to create a spectacle, and one of the big takeaways from the movie was that the world missed what would have been a great show.

I was going to catch Zombieland next, but I had been following the wrong movie schedule, and the theater was not in fact showing it. So I caught another second half of This Is It.

After that, I went to watch Couples Retreat. When I saw the original trailers in previews, it looked ok. Then it came out and the reviews were pretty horrible. In the end I thought it wasn't good, but that it wasn't as horrible as what some reviews had made it out to be. It definitely did not need to be 2 hours long and it was a bit painful trying to stick out the end of it. The most notable thing for me about this movie were the ages of the more famous cast members. Kristin Davis was actually the oldest cast member at 43, while Kristen Bell was the youngest at 29, even though I always think she's younger because she was playing a 17 year old Veronica Mars while in her mid twenties. The very pretty Malin Akerman was also older than I thought at 32. The male cast pretty much hovered around 40, although it feels like those guys have been around forever. Matthew McConnaughey also turned 40 this past week, but high school girls, they stay the same age.

Another "this is it" moment is the end of the football gambling season for me. Not only has it been bad for me, but the past two weeks basically signalled that everything we thought we knew about this football season has changed. All the winless teams now have a win. The big undefeated teams have had problems covering the spread of late. It seems to me as good a time as any to call it quits for the season. This is it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NFL Week 9 (sport, gambling)

This week's theme is: You still suck.

Over 49

In Houston's win over Buffalo last week, Buffalo's offense had only 204 total yards. Then again, every team keeps Buffalo under 300 yards of total offense. Houston defense, you still suck. I expect Peyton Manning to complete dissect this defense and put up at least 5 TDs on offense. They'll probably need it because the Houston offense has been playing well of late, and has a lot of weapons even without their top two tight ends. In the last 9 meetings between these two teams since the '05 season, they've gone over in every single one and the least combined points they put up was 48 once. No reason to fight that trend.


Tampa Bay had a bye week, they're playing at home, and will start a new quarterback. None of that is going to help any because Tampa Bay, you still suck. Although for this team, it really starts with the coaching. They have some playmakers on both sides of the ball, but their schemes don't fit well with their talents. More importantly, this game is about Green Bay. They've shown to be a good team that can blow out weak teams, but they seem to keep coming up short against other good teams. With the two big losses to Minnesota, they need to take care of business against the weaker teams if they want another chance at them.

Now, for a segment I like to call, "That really happened?"
Two weeks ago in London, down 3 touchdowns with one quarter to go, Tampa Bay punted on 4th and 5 on the New England 35. That really happened? Are Jim Zorn and Raheem Morris interchangeable at this point?
Also two weeks ago, Green Bay had their opponents punting on 4th and 3 and committed a 12 men on field penalty. That really happened? It's one thing to jump offsides trying to block the punt. It's another to have a coaching meltdown and gift the opponents a first down when it should be your possession.


So Tennessee got their first win as Chris Johnson went off and Vince Young had an 80% completion percentage. However, they still rely too heavily on a running game and their secondary is still porous. Tennessee, you still suck. Definitely not as badly as before though. Yet the 49ers present a very tough matchup for the Titans and in the NFL, it really is about the matchups. Bad matchups are how a pass-happy Eagles team lost to a horrible Oakland team which has only one bright spot in the secondary. San Francisco has a tough run defense and hits hard. More importantly, they now have some genuine passing offense with Alex Smith throwing to Davis and Crabtree, and should take advantage of the Titan's still-weak secondary. Even with two close losses to good teams on the road, the 49ers now must take care of business at home to truly get the respect they deserve, and I fully expect Singletary to get them motivated and playing hard.

Interesting to note, this is the first week where the big favorites' lines have not firmed as the week's gone on, but have rather been moving in the opposite direction off key numbers. Perhaps the sharps think that this is the week when the books' adjustments to the favorites have gone too far. For example, Indy opened at 9.5 and is now 9, Atlanta opened at 10 and is now 9, Green Bay opened at 10 and is now 9.5, and the Saints opened at 14 and is now 13.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Must Watch ESPN 30 for 30 (tv, entertainment)

First of all, I must say that everyone should watch the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries. Every one of them has been terrific, and they're not just for sports fans. They are well made documentaries with great old footage and while they're all linked by sports, they all have a bigger story to tell. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Now a couple quick points on shows that I'm watching/DVRing.

House is still great, but the rewatch value has dropped significantly from the first three seasons. I watch it, I like it, but then I'm done.

The CW. I watch Gossip Girl and the new Melrose Place. Not amazing, but I watch. The eye candy helps.

Secret Girlfriend on Comedy Central is interesting. A bit weird, but it has its funny moments, and also a lot of eye candy. The title character is really cute, but they increase her attractiveness tremendously by making her a ridiculously awesome chick.

Dollhouse has been even better this season, but too bad the show will most likely be done. It's amazing enough that they managed to get a second season.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lunch at Momofuku Ko (food)

I enjoyed the dinner I had at Momofuku Ko a while back, so decided to try the lunch, which is a longer, more expensive affair. After spending some time getting a reservation, I went there this past Saturday with CCG, a new friend I met randomly online. While I just write about food for fun, CCG is legit and will be attending a food bloggers conference out in San Francisco at the end of the week. A link to her blog is on the right side in the links section.

Since photos aren't allowed at Ko, you'll just have to do with my descriptions like my reviews of old.

To start, a trio including fried taro and shrimp with pickled cherry sauce, a taro and chinese sausage dumpling with chili mayo, and a rolled potato chip (think tiny pirouette) filled with pomme souffle, creme fraiche, and caviar. The stuff with taro reminded me of dim sum, and wasn't particularly special except for the fact that their chinese sausage tasted very good. As for the pirouette, it's potato, cream, and caviar. Hard to go wrong.

Next is a bunch of raw seafood preparations. A large wooden box filled with ice was put in front of us and the next few courses were all served on it. First was an oyster with hackleback caviar. Again, oyster and caviar, hard to go wrong. Tasty with a fresh salty taste.

Slices of madai (sea bream) with a white soy sauce and chives. This was fresh, light, and the madai had a very good texture. White soy sauce, known as shiro, uses mostly wheat and so is sweeter than most soy sauce.

Long Island fluke with mitsuba, pickled shallots, and spicy fermented chili paste. The fermented chili paste was too overpowering and we basically were reminded of kimchee as we ate this. I didn't like this at all.

Tataki of spanish mackerel with mustard oil, mustard greens, fresh yuzu, and little bits of rice crackers. The mustard oil and yuzu went very well together and I love spanish mackerel so enjoyed this very much. I assume the rice cracker was there for a texture contrast, but I didn't think there was enough of it to make a difference.

Diver scallop with spiced buttermilk, poppyseeds, chives, and a spicy red herb that I didn't get the name of. This is pretty much the same dish I've had before except they used scallop instead of fluke. I didn't like the dish then and I don't like it now. It's just weird. Had it been really spicy, I think the buttermilk would have had a better effect. I've read online that they do a version of this dish with sriracha which would make more sense to me.

Uni with tofu and some horseradish, and a quenelle of toro tartar on the side. I didn't quite get the uni and tofu pairing, since both have a creamy texture and so there's no contrast. The toro tartar was probably the best I've ever had, and that includes Nobu (altho I haven't been in quite a while) and Marea.

That ended the raw selections and next up was grilled octopus with grilled shisito peppers, grilled burdock root, yuzu mayo and pickled watermelon. The octopus was grilled well and had a nice texture. The pickled watermelon rind was sliced too thin and I didn't feel was significant.

Puffed egg with bacon dashi, shio konbu, and a hole-less bagel with bacon cream cheese inside. The design was very creative, but the bacon dashi was too salty for my taste. The bagel was spectacular and I could eat tons of it. Good crunch on the outside, great texture inside, and bacon cream cheese, what's not to like?

Toasted bread soup with confit tomatoes, chives, and smoked eel. Separately, the components did not impress. The toasted bread soup did taste like toasted bread, which wasn't necessarily a good thing. But when I had a bite that combined everything, the combination was magical. The smokiness of the eel with the heartiness of the bread soup combined well with a slight cut from the tomatoes. Well done.

Orecchiette pasta with cheddar cheese, crispy ham, cured broccoli stems, and broccoli sauce. This was tasty in a comfort food sort of way, but nothing particularly special. The weirdest thing for me was that I was given a spoon and a knife for this course. How does that work? If I remember my table etiquette correctly, both of those utensils are to be used in the main hand only.

Almond roasted skate with diced cauliflower, olive, water chestnut, and almond milk/foam. This dish was fantastic. I'm usually not a big fan of skate, but the delicate meat was perfect for this terrific texture mix. The sliced olive was very important in providing a fruity component to help offset the heavy but delicious almond and brown butter used to cook the skate.

Ko's signature dish, shaved frozen foie gras over peanut brittle, lychees, and reisling gelee. Just perfect. Beautifully balanced in flavors and textures.

Roasted Long Island duck with sausage stuffed under the skin, served with rice, grilled scallions, and a fig stuffed with foie gras and truffle. The sauce was made from fig and reduced red wine. This dish was really impressive. The sausage was tasty in itself, but also provided a three tier texture comparison of skin, loosely packed sausage, and perfectly cooked duck breast. The only thing for me was that I would have preferred the skin to have been truly crispy and lacquered like a peking duck type of skin. Even though I'm not a fig fan, I ate the whole foie gras fig and enjoyed the sauce with the duck and the scallions.

The cheese course was a comte puff pastry with comte cheese sauce, braised swiss chard, and golden raisins. The cheese course is usually used to bridge the savory and sweet courses, but I didn't feel that this dish did that. More raisins or just more of a sweet component might have helped, but overall it just felt weird. CCG felt the same way.

Brown butter cake with candied ginger, sweet cream ice cream, and carrot ganache. Carrot ganache is a bit weird, but worked well in this dish because the carrot and ginger combination is fantastic. Brown butter cake and sweet cream ice cream is a great match too.

Bitter orange sorbet with pressed celery, earl grey cake, and earl grey fudge. The use of celery in a dessert is interesting, and was refreshing while providing a nice crunch to the dish. I thought the fudge would have been better if thicker.

Overall it was a very good meal with some truly impressive dishes. The cost of the 17 course meal was $175 before t/t. However, I didn't feel the need for all those courses, and so I would recommend going for dinner, which is $125 for 10 courses.

This Year's Horseracing (horseracing)

The Breeders' Cup is this weekend, but with big names Rachel Alexandra and Sea the Stars not participating, there is very little buzz. The horse racing industry continues to die in the states while the Melbourne Cup, which is being run today, continues to be the race that stops a nation.

World turf racing has fared somewhat better with the brilliant campaign of Sea the Stars bringing up comparisons to some of the all-time greats. As with any comparison of sporting champions from different ages, the inability to directly compare the competition makes it very hard to come up with an objective measurement. Sea the Stars' unbeaten 3 year old campaign included some of the very top races in Europe, but did not have the durability and range of Giant's Causeway's 3 year old campaign. Nor did Sea the Stars win by many lengths like Dubai Millenium.

I am glad that the connections of Sea the Stars did not try to run him in the Breeders' Cup Classic. When you have an unbeaten horse, it's much better to keep that mystique than to risk it on an unknown surface. I thought the most impressive thing about his unbeaten campaign was that the 6 group 1 wins were all in races that I would consider true top level European group 1s, including the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, which is generally considered the toughest race in Europe. I have one problem with the Arc race though. To get a weight-for-age allowance for an October 3 year old at its peak is kind of ridiculous. Three year olds have dominated the race since Sea the Stars' dam Urban Sea won it in 1993.

For me, the test for the ultimate racehorse would be if it could win both the Arc and then the Japan Cup. The Japan Cup is one of the hardest races in the world to win as it is. The ground is solidly firm, the fanning out of horses on the home turn is tough to deal with, the Japanese horses are usually very high quality, and there is also the travelling. It's even harder considering that usually by the Arc the horse will have peaked from a long summer season. The closest I've ever seen was Montjeu's 4th back in 1999.