The Dean Website. AKA The Exploded Micro-Family
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Posts from — October 2006

Mare (yen a mare!)

Been to what is claimed to be the best Spanish restaurant in Beijing, arguably after the other Latin inspired one, Alameda (and Alameda has a real Latin Chefess!)
This place is called Mare, and is situated on Xindong Lu, just 150 meters North of the interesection with the Gong Ti Bei Lu on the East side of the road.

I was lucky in that I went there some time ago and won the free Paella for two weekly draw by dropping my biz card in the box. So sometimes I do win things 🙂

BUT, was it worth it? I must admit I have always told my friends that finding Western food in Beijing that is any good is like finding Chinese food in Belgium that is really Chinese. It is a chimera. This restaurant proves the point to a ‘T’ (just like Stephen Fry and chance vs chants. and sorry to the millions out there who haven’t got a clue what I am talking about 😛 ).

Bolstered by the free pair of Paellas we ordered a fair number of Tapas. So we get some Patatas Bravas, for 28RMB you may just expect a bit better than some deep fried potato squares with a just tad spicy cocktail sauce (something like Kewpie with a dash of tabasco and a twist of lemon added). The fried Chorizo and (more patato squares) felt like Harbin Hong Chang and the warm tomato, baby squid and tuna thingy was strange. The wild mushroom risotto was on the other hand quite good (but as usual saltier than the Marais Salants des Camargues) and so was the wild shroom soup. the shrooms were very tasty and had a good feel in the mouth.

The wine selection is very good, especially if you have deep wallets. What is nice is that I was able to get a wine by the glass (60 rmb, the most expensive one) that was actually pretty decent stuff. This makes a turn for the better as I avoid wine like the plague in BJ restaurants.

Now to the Paella. Sorry guys, but you should be able to do better than that. Was it because ours was ‘free’? (note we did spend 400 RMB for two, so I was not exactly miserly in my splashing out). The Paella has clearly been sitting around under a hot lamp for some time, most likely several hours, as the top has a real crust to it and the rice was nice and dry. At least some saffron was used although I could find no strands so it may have been saffron powder and curcuma. However the quality is just abysmal. I had to go to the toilet to spit out the mussel I was eating as it was *clearly* not right. I contemplated having a quick vomit (my wife is very good at this she has had some six months of practice now, I hope once the baby is out it is over) as I was really afraid of getting food poisoning. Rubbery, tasteless but with a slight rank smell and feel. Totally overcooked and strange. The fish is not fish but a kind of fake fish, like surimi, made to look like cod pieces.

So I have to place Mare with all the other fake Western restaurants out there, just this one looks nice, has decent service and some nice wines. But if you go there expect to pay something like 250-300 RMB per head for food that is just simply not worth it. Save the money for when you go to Spain for some real Paella. I will let you know if I get food poisoning later 😡

October 29, 2006   4 Comments


Today was Kona Ironman day. It was also the day that Gilles Daumas, one of the ex-Beijing Mob did a nice run out on the Hawaii beaches. He finished his first Kona IM in 11h18 mins!

Flicitations Gilles! Tu viens de rendre un Allemand bien jaloux 😉 On t’a mme vu sur le petit cran en train de terminer!

If only we could finally get an Ironman in China!! Why is it so difficult?

October 22, 2006   Comments Off on Ironmen

Beijing Marathon

Finished my first marathon yesterday. 5h01’37” which is a pain as I am just outside the cut-off time.. This means no certificate to say I actually did the thing. Today everything is horribly sore. Been swimming to try and relax the muscles a bit.

My wife’s mother did better than me! 4h17′ and a bit, real kudos to her! Echo’s baby (my wife’s baby) just did a mini-marathon in her stomach, as usual 😛

So what about the Thon itself? Well, after having done the half version three years ago I had vowed to never repeat the experience. It took me three months then to get my knees back. So I was not looking forward to this. However things have changed, they had water and stuff, all the way to the finish, right up to the 5hr mark. The signs were all there and clear and seemed to have been actually set at the km mark, not some vague approximation, and they only allowed traffic back after 4hrs( ie at the tail end).

The disappointing bits? The chaos at the end to get your kit back and yes, if you finish two mins late you don’t even get a towel. That is stupid. If you throw it in (the towel that is) you will get one on the bus back. Does this make sense?

Oh and the lack of toilets on the race course itself is just unbelievable. Especially for the women racers, this is not NY, you can’t just pee anywhere!
Will I do it again?. hmmm.

October 17, 2006   Comments Off on Beijing Marathon

Youtube vs MIT

This is possibly one of the reasons why you could want to do science and physics again. No need for boring simulations in the classroom that involve nasty and antiquated looking bits of equipment that you cannot touch (or if you do will burn you or worse), here is a drawing board that allows you to imagine physics and test how it happens to work! It is complete cartoon style ( quand une version Gaston Lagaffe une fois? 😉 ) and looks like it could cause a small revolution in the classroom. Very cool. Something for my son to do when he grows up 😀

Thanks to the guys at Counterspy for sending this one out! (and if you need some advice on getting rid of spyware, Counterspy is pretty OK)

October 16, 2006   2 Comments

Musings at experts-exchange

Interesting piece of reading in their occasional newsletter. I have recently joined them, although they have been around a long time and I used to be with them before as well, when I was dealing a lot with MS Exhange 5 and 5.5 in what feels now like a previous existence 😛

<<... But that's what the Internet has done, although there's no question that the money and exposure of television set the table. Forget all the angst about "Web 2.0" -- mass communication changed fifty years ago, when a lot of newspapers switched to offset printing. Bigger newspapers had an expensive piece of equipment on which they wanted a return on investment (a press), and smaller newspapers couldn't justify the expense of equipment that ran for only a few hours a week -- and all of a sudden, anyone with a carbon ribbon typewriter and a camera could start his own paper. The Internet has taken it one step further. Anyone can have a website, anyone can set up a blog, and anyone can have his say. What we fear, though, is that if everyone is talking, it means that no one is listening. Freedom of speech -- the right to say what you want about your political beliefs, or about your religious beliefs -- is not the same as the right to be heard, and it certainly doesn't mean that you have anything valuable to say. "Everybody's talkin' at me," Fred Neil wrote, "I don't hear a word they're saying." >>

From Ericpete check out his info on experts-exchange. Useful site if you are willing to spend time to help out other people with their IT problems and get some kudos in the process 🙂

This post ties up a bit with my other post about blogs and the spoken word.A Blog is a written form ofspoken words.Hence no one is listening as we are all too busy writing our own junk, and not thinking about what we are writing. Does it matter, is it of any use? Just like this post really…

Back to sleep the noo…

October 13, 2006   Comments Off on Musings at experts-exchange

Yup here comes that traffic posting…

In the OrchardWent out with the usual crowd of Mobsters to celebrate the end of the October Holiday week. Had a good time in HuangYaGuan, one of the nicest bits of the Wall out there. But did no Wall climbing, just cycling. And not that much either, but what was lacking in quantity was made up for in quality. Check out the Mob photo page for pix, they should be uploaded soon, I hope. Also Xingou has her album up and running already so go and check that one out.

So what does this have to do with traffic in China? well, over the space of one weekend and six hours on the bus, as well as X hours on the bikes, I saw no less that ten marriages on the way out, we had three near collisions, and one woman smashed her motorbike into a van right next to the driving bus, one lorry caused a massive pileup/snarlup when it got caught in a turn Stuck, another massivesnarlup at a market and yet another one as an articulated truck tried to force its way through a crossroads. And I am not counting the number of small accidents that had already happened. This is CRAZY!! Imagine this scene repeated throughout China, every 30 kms of highway or less some accident or another, and this is real chaos on the roads. So now I have that traffic post out of the way…

October 11, 2006   Comments Off on Yup here comes that traffic posting…

Chinese Blogosphere?

I believe it was Beijing City Weekened that had an article on blogs in China, and was complaining about their quality. Most of them are dealing with rants about China or else the traffic situation. More on that later 😛

What can I say? Am I going to be adding something so much better than the existing profusion of garbage/navel gazing/teenage blurting out there? Most likely not. Only that hopefully I manage to occasionally have some info that is useful to other people. Sometimes things need to be found out, and the only way to find out about them is by talking to others. But memories are weak, and a blog (ugly word) is a useful way to enable the word of mouth to retain a life after utterance. So it has some purpose, even if most of what is said is probably best left unsaid 😡 (let sleeping blogs lie etc.. 😉 )

October 11, 2006   Comments Off on Chinese Blogosphere?

New website!!

Well this is a bit better than the previous incarnations, and hopefully will force me to actually do something with this piece of junk, website no 8.5236.984.632.235.149 and maybe someone will actually care to visit the place.

Have decided to go for WordPress, after much delaying due to lack of time to do much about anything. Definitely WordPress seems the way to go, but still is a long way from being easy and simple to setup, yes installation is a breeze, but getting the site to look like something is different. Expect lots of pain and oddities as I try and get things running.

Many thanks to Swiss Patrik for pointing me in the right direction with his efforts�and I hope that I can avoid the spam harvests that idiots will try and send my way. Just this made my previous website incarnation unuseable.

October 6, 2006   Comments Off on New website!!

Beijing Holidays

One of the better mailing lists out there for information on travel in China ( had some interesting info on how the current fixed holiday scheme should be replaced with something more flexible, eg paid holidays. This current year’s attempts at getting out of Beijing have proved desperately futile, as the National holidays have coincided with the Moon Festival itself (it is today in fact), meaning people have an extreme incentive to be somewhere else than at work. All flight, trains etc. being packed and all prices going through the roof.

So what is the point to go? None. Conclusion: stay at home. It saves money. But having to dodge the crowds whilst trying to run in Chaoyang Park was a pain… Seemed like an entire nation of peasants had set up camp (literally, tents and all!) there.

And when it is all over? Lots of useless expensive mooncakes that people will try and resell next year and thousands of tonnes of rubbish that have to be cleaned up. keeps people busy I guess :-~

October 6, 2006   1 Comment

Hong Kong restaurant on Chaoyang West Gate

Just for info, the HK restaurant not far from infamous Annies, just next to the very avoidable Guizhou Suan Tang Yu place, I am sorry but cannot remember its name, however its decor is less HK than Beijing with less lanterns, anyways, avoid going there. After having a awful stone hotpot of fishballs, vermicelli noodles and xiao bai cai, in curry sauce, curry sauce from a packet, fish balls from a freezer, decided that yes, Chaoyang West Gate is really a culinary dump :-(((

October 5, 2006   2 Comments