The Best Wanderlust of Them All: Peilin Corbanese- Coming Soon this Fall

I had an interesting text conversation with three friends this morning. I asked the question, “I think I want a new last name. What should it be?”

A quick background: I have got three distinct identities, two passports, and one divorce coming up shortly. I was born Taiwanese and 1/3 of time I feel like Taiwanese or more precisely I feel like Tsai Peilin, 蔡沛伶. I am also a Corbanese, a name I have used since the beginning of my career and has given me both the French and the Italian cultures and motherhood. I feel like a Corbanese 1/3 of the time. The last 1/3 is the person I am putting together that will integrate the first two and carry me forward.

One of my friends is a Taiwanese American married to a Taiwanese American, living in Jersey. She wants me to revert back to my maiden name, 蔡Tsai, which no one can properly pronounce in the US. Plus “Peilin Tsai” is really not who I am anymore and gives out the wrong impression.  I am only 蔡沛伶 Tsai Peilin when I return to Taiwan. But my friend insists that I am always 蔡沛伶Tsai Peilin, no matter what I think or feel.

The other friend is also a Taiwanese American married to a German-Indian, living in Dallas. She wants me to pick my favorite movie star’s last name (imaginary husband, she says) or a character I can identify with from a book. It’s a big no no on the imaginary husband – Oy! I have come too far to take someone else’s last name. Then I put Caulfield after Peilin and that did not sound right. She then suggested a heroine – yep, we are doing better. Then “Clinton” came up! OMG, that’s also a husband’s last name! What are we doing, girls?  Why do so many strong independent women take on their husband’s last name?

My third friend, another Taiwanese but not an American. She is married to a Swiss-German or German-Swiss (Sorry, Amay, I don’t remember.) living in Holland. She suggests that I create a new word using my Taiwanese last name. She also suggests that it does not have to be “English-Made.” All three of them feel that I need to merge my identities instead of keeping them separate.

Being a marketer, I can totally see myself blogging and advertising,

“You may think you know her but you don’t. Peilin Corbanese- Coming soon this Fall, Peilin ??????”

Just like a movie preview with a soundtrack of a racing car vroom vroom vrooming. This is the best wanderlust of them all. #WanderlustPeilin Corbanese

Wanderlust Azores- Algar do Carvão Volcano Cave and the Quality of Life

When I landed in Terceira, Miguel stood by the Azore Gateway’s little podium greeting the passengers. He told me that the full day tour is the best option since it included the volcano cave, Algar do Carvão, and this volcano lava vent is the highlight of the island. The icing on top is that the cave is only open on Wednesdays. As a dumb American who is not used to the Azorean ways, I asked why the volcano cave is only open one day a week. He said that he does not know but it’s probably because the cave is run by a non-profit organization, OS MONTANHEIROS, implying that there is no reason to open more than one day a week since they don’t want money!

Now, that’s a concept. Control the number of tourists to your natural beauty and have a balance in your work life because profitability is not your goal. Hmm. I believe Bhutan has the same policy.imageTunnel that leads to the volcano cave.imageThe decent down to the lagoon. The stairs went zigzagging down.imageFurther decent. When I finally reached it, the lagoon was black and blue iridescent but infinitely deep. It also felt icy cold and wet in the air. With the dark surrounding and the iridescent water, the experience was surreal.image The opening to the top as seen from the bottom. The opening is 148ft up vertically. However, this picture was not taken from the bottom. The darkness inside the cave made it close to impossible for my Samsung S5 to capture the beauty and the essence of the cave. This is one that must be experienced in person. imageStalactites

It felt weird standing back at the tunnel entrance heading back outside. I know light is at the end of the tunnel. Do I want to walk through it?

This experience took place at

Algar do Carvão – Monumento Natural Regional
Porto Judeu, 9700-000 Angra do Heroísmo
Phone:295 212 992

Wanderlust Azores- Hotel do Caracol’s Breaded Octopus on Coriander Risotto

I finally made it to another restaurant! At Hotel do Caracol, they serve regional food with an eye catering to the international tourists. You find a lot of beef on the menu and the waiter strongly recommended the steaks. I went against his recommendation and ordered the octopus.imageBreaded Octopus with Coriander Risotto. Ok, there. You cannot blame me for trying. Where have you seen breaded octopus on risotto before? NO WHERE. Yet, there was a good reason why you have not seen it before because it is just wrong. Breaded octopus kills all the flavor octopus brings and degrades the octopus to just a protein, any protein. The risotto was decent but made with way too much oil. In general, this was a very poorly conceived dish. It’s a mistake that is made by a novice chef who tries to do new combinations that just don’t work together. imageSpaghetti with Meatballs. My little photographer’s favorite meal is spaghetti with meatballs but she was so thoroughly disappointed that she could not finish the pasta. The pasta was way over-cooked; they were stuck together because no efforts were made to separately them; they were also randomly cut up into smaller pieces. The entire presentation was just weird although she did say the meatballs were decently eatable. image In general, I find the service in the restaurants very slow in the Azores. Perhaps they work on a different pace. Parmesan cheese was not offered. Water was not poured. These are small things… yet they are pretty consistent across both four star hotel restaurants. I don’t believe this is intentional; I think they just work in a slower pace than what I expect as a New Yorker.

Service aside, this meal at the Hotel do Caracol was not good. 😦 I have got one more day of eating octopus…

This experience took place at

Hotel do Caracol
Cozinha do Caracol Restaurant

Angra do Heroísmo
Phone:295 402 600

Wanderlust Azores- Phenomenal Mousse Desserts

Just a quick note: here are the two phenomenal mousse desserts on this trip. Especially the caramel mousse. Never had it before so it’s the best I have ever had.imageVanilla mousse with caramelized walnut and sugar crumbles and white chocolate shavingsimageCaramelized mousse pie with caramel on top, crunchy crust. Completely digging this dessert.

I realized that buffet is the worst thing in the world if the food is good. I am inevitably eating more than my normal share of food during the past couple of days. The best thing is that the Terceira Mar Hotel has not only redeemed itself, it has also gone ahead and showed me what kind of food Azoreans can make. This is perfect for the holidays.

This experience took place at

Terceira Mar Hotel
Angra do Heroísmo
Phone:295 402 280