27 December, 2009

The Yumcha Diaries: 26/12/09

Pics courtesy of oozz. Who's that genie in the bottle? Click to enlarge.

The Yumcha Diaries: 26/12/09

The older the better, and not just HiFi either

When people in HK speak of "holiday atmosphere", they usually mean large crowds and much commercial buzz. I rather think that just represents a glorified long weekend, and don't much take to it. The major holidays should rather be time spent with family (and good friends), preferably indoors (if space allows). In the West, on Christmas eve and day, or on Thanksgiving, the streets would be deserted. More than a decade ago, Chinese New Year finds HK in much the same way. Shops closed, few people on the streets. It's the desolation that brings the sense of holiday home. Now, it's money all the way, and one day is no different from another. That dilutes the holiday atmosphere for me.

Saturday felt a little like a real holiday. I guess many people were out of town, and Central was rather deserted. Add to this the cool weather and fog/smog and it even smelled of the end of the year. As usual for the end of major holidays, yumcha turnout was larger than usual. The eight of us struggled with the waitresses over the coupons that they peddle, but there was fun along the way. It was nice to gather with old friends.

Oozzing class, as always (previous visit here)

After yumcha, oozz had to yield to pressure from Captain and Hoi, who had never visited his new place. I am not kidding, the sound is further improved compared to just days ago. But that's the least we'd expect from him. As you know, many of us are admirers of his setup skills and golden ears. Some novelties this time:

--We spotted an Arcus Anniversary turntable oozz was setting up for our gourmet friend cat7. Given the price, it looks like a bargain. I'd try to give it a hearing later.

--oozz demonstrated for us his simple CAS. Using WAV file played on a small Firewire-enabled PC laptop via Foobar, fed into a lowly TC Electronics Konnekt 8 AD/DAC/Firewire interface (pictured). I personally think it's likely the best CAS I've heard yet. Given the very low cost of the DAC, I'd say give it a try if you have Firewire, or even if you don't (there's S/PDIF and optical too; no XLR). oozz said he had also briefly tried its AD section and the results on the few LPs he archived was encouraging. That's chock full of features for such a low cost thing!

--We marveled at the full metal jacket Gaggia Achille Espresso Machine. Unfortunately, it's not operational yet. Next time we visit, we demand espresso! I miss JC here.

After that, we all stopped by sokps' place. He generously let us break the seal on a 20+ year old bottle of Johnny Walker Red, which as you know is emphatically not the same thing as what passes for it now. Popular brands of scotch and brandy are now just ghosts of their former selves. Connoiseur of scotch oozz murmured to himself "tastes like single malt..." That just about said it all (though popular single malt is also not quite their former selves, but the downturn is not as severe). So, the older the better!

After that, we went for a very good dinner at the venerable 龍華 in 錦田. 燒鵝皮脆肉嫩,淡而有味; 小炒王沒多半點油,香口惹味; 炸生蚝酥脆, 肥而甜. Now, THAT is a rare good restaurant! Too bad no photos. After dessert, four fellows squeezed into my LR for an audition of my WAVAC system, for which I shall write a full report one of these days.

Happy Holidays to All!

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