The Year of the Ox has been a lucky one for my family already. Before it even started. The Chinese Lunar New Year starts today, but about two weeks ago we hit it big.
WE WON A TRIP TO SHANGHAI!
Technically it was my mom who won. She and my dad attended their annual New Year banquet at a Chicago area Hilton and as always she bought raffle tickets. She's Chinese. Which by definition means she loves to gamble. This time she bought $10 worth of $2 raffle tickets.
In years past the most they'd ever won was a disposable plastic camera about 10 years ago. Definitely not digital. And in the last few years, while I've had some great work, we've had a streak of bad family luck and health.
Now, miraculously, everyone is well.
And we won the Grand Prize! Two roundtrip tickets from Chicago to Shanghai on American Airlines!
My parents are going on the winning tickets. But I'm taking them.
As a professional fixer and obsessive compulsive adventurer of course I've started planning everything from their flights' seat assignments to every single bite they and my long lost family will eat.
This will be my parents' first time back to China. My father grew up in Shanghai. My mother, in a small village in Guangdong that I hope we can visit too. They worked together in Beijing, my mom inside the Forbidden City. This will be my first trip ever to the mainland, though I was born in Hong Kong.
The Year of the Ox is said to be one of prosperity through hard work and stoic endurance.
I expect this trip to be no less.
I met the little guy pictured above when he was just 90 minutes old. We were shooting Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie in Wisconsin for a story about the beautiful Normande breed and their France-born, Minneappolis-based champion Jerome Chateau.
I do have a Wagyu "oxtail" in my refrigerator, from Savery Creek. Savery Creek raises exquisite Wagyu beef in Wyoming and is owned by my longtime family friend Tom Seitz. Or rather Dr. Thomas Seitz, professor of Political Science at the University of Wyoming. Tom sent me a care package of solely grass-fed Wagyu offal. You heard me. Grass-fed Wagyu offal.
But as luck - again! - would have it, I was invited to a special sake dinner at L20 tonight so I will be celebrating the first dinner of the Chinese Lunar New Year there. L20 will be featured on next Monday's No Reservations. You'll see me eating there with Tony and Eric Ripert.
And yes, if you could hear me, I'm squealling with girlish delight.
I hope a lot of that's going to happen this year. I wish the same for you and yours!