Detailed Extravagance: The Breakers

Cornelius Vanderbilt II, grandson of the Commodore, purchased in ground in 1885.  In 1892 the  wood-framed house which had stood on the property was destroyed in a fire. In the subsequent year, Vanderbilt commission architect Richard Morris Hunt to create an Italian Renaissance- style palazzo inspired by the 16th century palaces of Genoa and Turin. Hunt… Continue reading Detailed Extravagance: The Breakers


Detailed Extravagance: Marble House

Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 as a summer "cottage" retreat for Alva and William K. Vanderbilt. It was the first of the Gilded Aged mansions that transformed Newport from a relatively lazy summer colony of wooden houses to a high-society resort of opulent stone palaces. Upon completion, the most lavish house in… Continue reading Detailed Extravagance: Marble House


Detailed Extravagance: Rosecliff

This past September for Labor Day weekend, I finally made a trip to Rhode Island to visit the Newport Mansions built during the Gilded Age and opened to the public by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Rosecliff, also known formerly as the Hermann Oelrichs House or the J. Edgar Monroe House, was built 1898-1902 at a… Continue reading Detailed Extravagance: Rosecliff


Oyster Omelet

Taiwan is known for the delicious street foods found in night markets - open-air street bazaars that operate at night. Traditionally located on in the corners and outskirts of large cities, night markets trace their roots back to Tang dynasty China (618-907CE). From the Song dynasty onwards, night markets played a central role in Chinese… Continue reading Oyster Omelet


Appreciating Incense Trails

There are three "ways", or ceremonious art forms, shared among East Asian cultures that have been passed down thousands of years. The first is the Way of Tea, or the tea ceremony (茶道). The second is the Way of Flowers, more commonly known in the West by its Japanese name ikebana (花道). The third is… Continue reading Appreciating Incense Trails


Celebrating Chung Yeung

The Chung Yeung Festival (重阳节) falls on the ninth day of the ninth Chinese lunar month, which this year happened to be on a Saturday - October 28. I celebrated the day with friends in the Catskills; hiking in the woods, drinking chrysanthemum tea and sharing Chungyeung cake. Literally translated, the festival's name in Chinese means "double yang". In… Continue reading Celebrating Chung Yeung


California Dreams (Part IV)

Yosemite National Park is one of the most well-known US national park internationally.  The number of visitors surpassed 5 million in 2016, ranking it as the third most visited national park behind Great Smokey Mountains (11.31 million) and the Grand Canyon (5.79 million). The full list can be found via this link. Surprisingly Yellowstone didn't… Continue reading California Dreams (Part IV)


California Dreams (Part III)

Day 3 started with a visit to the General Grant Tree. With a base circumference of  107.6 ft (32.8 m), it is the second largest tree in the world after the General Sherman Tree. What was more impressive for me was Cristina, whom we met at the entrance to the General Grant Grove.  She was also… Continue reading California Dreams (Part III)


California Dreams (Part II)

There is something magical about stepping into a national park. Sequoia National Park was established on September 25, 1890 and contains the highest point within the contiguous 48 states - Mount Whitney at 14,505 ft (4,421 m) above sea level. Administered together with Kings Canyon National Park to its north, the parks were designated a UNESCO… Continue reading California Dreams (Part II)


California Dreams (Part I)

Back in mid-September, I took a four-day trip to California. In my typical style, I tried to fit as much into the trip as possible. Landing at San Francisco International Airport around lunch time, I rented a car and headed straight for a glass of afternoon wine in Napa Valley. Along the route, I was… Continue reading California Dreams (Part I)