Caffé del Doge

If you want to experience authentic Venetian lifestyle, Caffé del Doge on University Avenue in downtown is a place to be. Three months after its grand opening, Caffé del Doge has not only brought the culinary traditions of Venice, but also a quality lifestyle to Palo Alto.

When I first visited Caffé del Doge, I was immediately attracted by its exquisite art deco with an European flavor. The romantic Italian music mixed with smooth Jazz made me feel relaxing and reviving. With the posters of and art of coffee-making on the wall, the place was filled with charming ambience. I instantly fell in love with it!

Being a non-expert coffee drinker, I ordered “decaf mocha” by default. The barrista, who is from Venice and spoke with strong Italian accent, said to me amusingly: “mocha is an American thing.” It is not even on the menu. Nevertheless, he made me a cup of mocha using his artisan methods. I had never seen such an intricate stir of chocolate and deliberate pouring of milk into coffee before! And, I was amazingly enchanted by the richness of aroma and unparallel taste of the mocha.

This experience led me venturing into a world of espresso. Going through Caffé del Doge’s coffee menu was quite an education. I learned different varieties of coffee beans and featured local and imported organic products. Not only that, I learned the art of drinking coffee and indulged in rich espresso drinks that I had never tasted elsewhere.

Among many exotic drinks, my favorite is Cremino, a Caffé del Doge original with a layer of vanilla or chocolate followed by a shot of espresso and finished off with light whipped cream. Another absolute indulging drink is Giacometto. It’s an espresso served in a martini cup lined with chocolate hazelnut-spread, topped with a dusting of cocoa and ground hazelnuts. It creates a taste that is so remarkably unique and you would never want to have coffee anywhere else any more!

According to Bernardo della Mea, Caffé del Doge principal, the mission of Caffé del Doge is to introduce the Venetian tradition to America. Caffé del Doge in Palo Alto is the first and only Venetian coffee bar opened in the United States. Recently named as one of the best Café in Italy, the Caffé del Doge is described as a place where “coffee is worshiped with reverence joy.”

Sitting in the upstairs of the Caffé del Doge and sipping a cup of decorated cappuccino prepared with unique style and elegant design, I taste “a taste for good life.”

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Silicon Valley’s VC China Race

In 2005, China-based domestic and foreign venture capital firms raised new funds of $4 billion, setting a new record for VC fundraising in China. In the past couple of years, Silicon Valley’s top-tier VCs are rushing into China like never before.

Realizing the importance of being close to the market, many VC firms are setting up China offices with impressive local partners. Doll Capital, joined by former Sina CEO Hurst Lin as a general partner, held a grand opening banquet early this year in Beijing to formally announce its entrance in China. Sequoia Capital has also set up a China office with a fund of $168 million, led by Fan Zhang, the former head of DFJ’s China team. Other firms including Bessemer and BlueRun have all officially set up China offices either in Beijing or Shanghai.

Some firms are adopting different strategies in entering the China market. For example, instead of having China offices, Accel and DFJ are partnering with seasoned China-focused VC firms such as IDG and TGF. Mayfield is supporting the new China-based fund GSR Ventures (???), and NEA has collaborated with Northern Light (???), a fund started by Valley-bred successful Chinese entrepreneurs Feng Deng et al.

Even Kleiner Perkins, which has been cautious and conservative in investing in China, has added three partners with China business backgrounds (see my previous post), including a new partner Ying Lee who is the former Deputy General Manager of UTStarcom’s IPTV’s business unit. At his recent trip to China, John Doerr expressed serious investment interest in some deals.

It seems very crowded with VCs pouring into China. The opportunities, however, are growing even more rapidly than that, according to Zero2IPO, a Beijing-based venture research and consulting firm. The successful IPOs of Baidu and Focus Media have certainly set the expectation. Although there are still many pitfalls, the good news is that Chinese entrepreneurs are maturing and they are very savvy in terms of business model innovation. In comparison, the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs tend to more focus on technical innovation.

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Celebrating Womanhood

For all the women in the world – sisters, mothers, daughters, and wives:

Blessed be my brain
that I may conceive of my own power.

Blessed be my breast
that I may give sustanence to those I love.

Blessed be my womb
that I may create what I chose to create.

Blessed be my knees
that I may bend so as not to break.

Blessed be my feet
that I may walk in the path of my highest will.

(Photo source: http://www.jupiterimages.com/)
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