Friday, October 31, 2008

Pre-Wedding Party at Buca di Beppo / ブカ・ディ・ベッポに結婚前日パーティー

My sister decided to have a small party before her actual wedding and chose this Italian restaurant located not too far from the Strip. Today has been a big day for my wife as this was the first time she had the chance to meet my relatives on my mother's side, even though we live in the same country. I'm going to have to take my wife to Maizuru some time soon. I haven't seen some of these relatives in years myself. My good friend Don also made it to Vegas from Seattle so we had a lot to talk about. And I got to meet a lot of new people, friends and family of my sister's soon to be husband.

僕の妹が結婚前日にイタリアンレストラン「ブカ・ディ・ベッポ」に軽いパーティーを開きました。店はホテル街からそんなに離れてない所にあった。今日は妻にとって、おおきな日でした。なぜと言えば、初めて、私のお母さん側の親戚と会った。同じ日本で住んでるのに、アメリカで初めて会うのは何か変ですよね?近いうちに妻を関西のほうに連れてあげないと。僕もおじさんとあばさん達と会うのは何年ぶりかな? 自分の大親友もシアトルから来て、話が止まらなかった。妹の友達も来て、そして旦那になるタイローンの友達も来て、賑やかな感じでした。私たちも新たな出会いがいっぱいでした。

First, let me introduce you to my sister. This is Yvette Vivian Hoyt (soon to be Cardenas). I had the privilege of naming my sister. She also has the nickname Toro-chan. Originally, Tora-chan. Now for the short explanation. Tora is Japanese for Tiger. My sister was born in the Year of the Tiger (according to the Chinese horoscope). Unfortunately, our older brother found it easier to call her Toro instead of Tora and it just stuck. She's funny and sweet and has a great sense of humor and loves the use of sarcasm.


After making the rounds of meet and greet, talk and drink, it was time for dinner to be served. It was course meal (without the all you can drink alcohol menu that I'm sure she and her friends would be jealous of that they have in Japan). I know you're all waiting for the wedding day pictures, but if I like keeping my readers in suspense (and I know you'll all be back for more). So, today's post will feature our dinner here at Buca di Beppo.


Mixed Green Salad / ミックス グリーン サラダ

Margherita Pizza / ピザマーガリッタ

Spaghetti Marinara / スパゲッティーマリナラ

Chicken Parmigiana / チキンパルメジャーナー

Double Dark Chocolate Cake / ダブル ダーク チョコレート ケーキ

By the way, the pictures featured are all for servings of three people (didn't want you to think I ate all this food by myself!) The salad had the right bit of dressing and was delicious. And it's almost impossible to go wrong with a Margherita. The spaghetti marinara was nothing to rave about, but nice for an informal gathering. The chicken parmigiana, now that was lovely!! The truly decadent chocolate cake was too rich for me. I could only stand a few bites. My tastes for sweet certainly has changed since moving to Japan. American sweets are all too damn sweet for me. I'm sure my Japanese friends would be of the same opinion. They might think one bite will be enough to give them cavities!!


But the best picture yet is this one featuring my Dad having a good ole time talking to the blond woman while my mother looks directly into the camera in the background.


The actual wedding post is coming soon.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Flamingo Hotel / フラミンゴホテル

From the airport it was straight to our hotel. The Flamingo on the Strip, right across the street from Caesar's Palace and the Bellagio. My sister will be having her wedding at the Garden Chapel located inside the hotel grounds.


View of the Flamingo from the Bellagio Fountains.


Once we were inside the Flamingo, we had the good fortune of running into my parents. We went to the front together to request a room on the same floor. My parents and other relatives were all on the 9th floor and fortunately, there was a room available along the same corridor. Once we checked in, it was like walking through a maze to even get to our room.


Just to give you an idea of how huge these hotels our, check out this picture. If you look closely, you will notice Mikako way in the back.


Short clip of our room #9161. Love that window.

Another view of our room.


Perhaps most of you know the history of the Flamingo. It was built by Bugsy Siegel and was the hotel that was featured in the movie, "Casino". Out in the garden is a monument to Bugsy which I don't intend to translate into Japanese because it would take too long, so I apologize in advance to my Japanese readers.


And you wouldn't want to call your hotel the Flamingo without real flamingoes.


Real Flamingoes / フラミンゴ

The garden waterfall / 庭にある滝

This is where my sister is getting married.


Although we were in Vegas for my sister's wedding, it's still felt like a honeymoon as well.


And to call it an evening, how about a nice night view of our hotel.


And finally a view from our room.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Road to Vegas / ロード・トゥ・ベガス

Okay, I know you've all been waiting for me to write about trip to the States. And now that I'm home and have organized my pictures, I can start to tell you a story.


Almost everybody has their own tradition and I'm no different. Whenever I leave the country, I start off with my departure beer at the airport. Today's choice is Yebisu the Black.


And of course I will keep you informed of my culinary adventures as well. So, the first bite of my trip is is this thin crust pizza.


After our snack, we headed to the departure lounge to wait for our flight. While walking through Narita Airport, I came across a shop that was featuring displays of origami art. And as my mother is currently participating in an origami class, I thought she would enjoy these pics.


And then we spotted our plane. A Boeing 747. Unfortunately, it was like being on a relic of the past. There were no personal video systems, you had no choice as to what movie you could watch, and there was only one screen which you can never get a good view of. So, I spent most of my time reading a book.

で、ベガス行きの飛行機を発見。ボーイング747.でもはっきりと言って、昔の様な飛行機でした。個人ビデオシステムは無い、スクリーンは見づらい、映画が選べない。って事で、僕は本を読んでました。As there isn't a direct flight to Vegas, our first stop would be in San Francisco. An eight hour flight.


Which means there's enough time for two in flight meals.


We made it to San Francisco without any problems and as we had a two hour layover, we couldn't resist having a light snack. We came across a place called the San Francisco Soup Company. I had an order of split-pea soup, something I haven't eaten since moving to Tokyo, while Mikako ordered their clam chowder. Delicious. Definitely a place to visit again.


And then it's off to Vegas.


And you definitely know you're in Vegas when you see the slot machines right there in the middle of the airport.


And it's off to our hotel - the Flamingo!


To be continued...


Monday, October 27, 2008

A Safe Return / 無事帰国

Greetings everybody, I have safely returned from my trip to the States. I have taken lots of pictures and will start writing new posts in a day or two. So, please be patient as I sort through my pictures and try to decide what to start writing about first.


Friday, October 17, 2008

NOTICE / お知らせ

As of tomorrow, I will be heading to the States, so there will be no new BLOG posts for about a week.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Festival Season Ain't Over / 祭りの時期が終わってない

A friend of mine sent me mail saying there was a festival in Nakano (a couple of stations away from Shinjuku). A co-worker mentioned that there was a wine festival in my neighborhood that would be giving away free samples of wine. But, not wanting to head out to Nakano and not too particular about wine, Mikako and I decided we would spend the weekend watching movies at home. I had to return a few movies anyway, so we headed to our usual rental DVD shop (located in the Carrot Tower). But as we were heading there, Mikako notice that one of the roads was closed off. We thought, could it be? So, we changed direction and headed towards the street that was closed off. And what should we find? Another shrine and market street festival in progress. There were food booths and game stalls from the Hachiman Shrine (in Taishido) all the way to Chazawa Street in Sangenjaya.

先週友達からメールが来て、中野祭りが開催するって。それに、会社の同僚がうちの近くの三軒茶屋に「すずらん通り酒ワイン祭り」があるのを教えてくれた。ワインが無料で味わえるがポイント。でも、中野まで行くのも面倒くさいし、うちはワインもあんまり飲まないので、DVDを借りて、家でゆっきりする事を決めてた。まだ返却するDVDもあって、三軒茶屋のキャロットタワーに出かけた。でも途中で、美香子が道が通行止めになってるの気づいて、二人で、「もしかして」と思いながら、行ってみたら、また近所にあるお寺と商店街が祭りの最中でした! 太子堂にある八幡神社からずーと茶沢通りまで、屋台がずらりとならんでました。

So we called our friends Nori and Mari who said they would join us shortly. We still had a little time on our hands so we decided to head on to Carrot Tower to return some DVDs. In the courtyard of Carrot Tower, there were portable shrines waiting to be taken up by the festival goers. As they were at rest, I had a chance to take pictures of them up close.


Mikako and I head back to the Hachiman Shrine and were going to wait for Nori, Mari, and Shoei to show up before eating anything, but we didn't have lunch yet and we were hungry, so we started without them. Our first bite of food was once again, the Turkish doner kebab (which is becoming a Japanese festival staple with the yakisoba and takoyaki).


Turkish Doner Kebab / トルコ料理のドネルケバブ

Some ramune soda to wash down our meal. I know it looks really bad for your health, but I assure you it tastes really good.


And I only thought it proper to take a picture of Hachiman Shrine and a short video clip of the festival.


Hachiman Shrine Autumn Festival / 八幡神社秋祭り

Our friends showed up, so it was time to eat. Which means its time to feature the different foods we had.


Yakitori Platter / 焼き鳥の盛り合わせ

Okonomiyaki (Japanese-style pancake) / お好み焼き

Buttered Potatoes / じゃがバター

Shahpin (I think? Its like a flattened gyoza) / シャーピン(と思う、潰した餃子みたな感じ

Chijimi (Korean-style Pancake) / チヂミ

Takoyaki (Octopus-balls) / たこ焼き

And some food items that were available but we did not eat.

他に売られてた食べ物 (食べてなかったけど)

Salted Sweetfish or Japanese River Trout / 塩焼きの鮎

Tornado Pototoes (all one cut) / トウネードポテト

Oban-yaki (My brother loves these!) / 大判焼

This being a festival, Shoei once again tries his hand at scooping for goldfish.


And also gets his first taste of cotton candy.


And a shot of Shoei's father

Shoei turns into Ultraman / ショー君がウルトラマンに変身

And then we were joined by a couple of more friends.

Its Rino-chan / 梨乃ちゃん参上

And after eating our fill and drinking a few beers, we even won a few prizes at one of the game booths. Check out this air gun I won by throwing darts.

Mikako and I still had some shopping to do and we just happened to be passing the event area for the Suzuran Street Sake and Wine Festival so I indulged myself in having a free cup of sake. It was awful!!


It doesn't even look delicious does it?  まずそうに見えるでしょう?
And so ends another festival.