Monday, January 31, 2011

Eating my way thru Shanghai

Food was definitely one of the purposes of my trip to Shanghai. I have heard a lot about the quality of food there and was excited to start trying them.

The skies cleared up when we got to Shanghai which afforded us the ability to walk through the streets without having to manauever through ice. (by this time, they already cleared the streets)

We were billeted at the Pacific Hotel - the design aspects of which deserve a separate blog in itself. It is located near THE BUND. This is a stretch of road on the westside of the Huangpu river. It is the most popular tourist destination in Shanghai (much like Champ Elysee in Paris) because of the beautiful Art Deco architecture. If you didn't know you were in Shanghai, you might think you were in London or some other European country.

First order of business was to try the hairy crab. It a small compared to the Alaskan king crab that I had tasted in Australia. But it was so flavorful. The crab roe was very sticky (not the dry and hard kind we would expect from other crabs)- It actually reminded me of peanut butter. The establishment we ate at was very popular because every table was full and we had to share a big table with two other couples (noticed most of the clientele was Japanese). The interior of the place was like one would see in a Chinese kung fu movie (It even had girls playing some chinese string instruments)

 the restaurant interiors... 
they are kept in the fridge (sleeping in the cold)
cooked and ready to be eaten
chinese music players

For a minimal fee (and because the crabs were so small it was hard to get to the meat) you can have the waitresses take the crab apart - they will serve it to you in a plate with just the meat. (how is that for service eh?) The crabs itself were pricey (because they were very seasonal) about 180-240 RMB (about $28) per pc depending on the size (of course we got the 180 rmb one). The other dishes we tried were forgettable. 

Earlier, we tried the big siao long pao at the YUAN GARDEN. It a big big dumpling where they fill it with frozen soup, crab roe and pork. They steam it until you get soup filled dumpling. You have to eat it very very carefully (bec they serve it piping hot)
yuan garden chinese pavillion
The lines around this place was unbelievable. it just went on and on (they had a take out counter near the entrance) But I found the skin of the dumpling a bit thick and didn't eat it.

 I found another place, near THE BUND which serves a tastier version. The skin is thinner (thus you can eat it) - it't tucked on the second floor of a chinese deli.
 very soupy!!!
you can watch them make it.... (this is before they steam them)

Aside from the regular restaurants, you still have to try the places you pass by on the street. If I see a line forming somewhere, you know the place has something good. Just follow the crowd to good things!
line forming on the street

its some kind of fried dumpling... of course we tried them.. yum! I burned myself in the soup (again!) it came out as I bit on the skin and quirted~ yes, squirted~ the juice 2 feet in front of me. Glad no one was walking in front!
 what is this? a line?
ooooooH.... egg tarts and some local pastry!

ate one before I remembered to take a picture. It's a cheesecake tart!

I was too tired to try the various other things I saw (but wanted to try) - maybe next trip!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Quirky Eats

Here are just some things I passed by when I was in Shaoshing

these are stewed eggs (left side) and some sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. These are sold on the corner Mom and Pop store at the side of the hotel.

these are assorted snacks. some are pigeon eggs, fish balls, beef balls, meat on skewers

here is a video of a lady making rice cakes by steaming. It looks very similar to something we have at home called PUTO BUMBONG. She also puts brown sugar in the middle of the cake. It's actually really good.

This is the end product. (see the purple hectagonal thing on the tray)

I still have some more pictures but I haven't gotten the time to arrange them yet. (noticed I took a lot of food pictures)
It would be nice to hear what you think about the food!

Monday, January 24, 2011

And then it SNOWED

and snowed and snowed..... and it didn't stop for 3 DAYS.

I am back after a almost a week spent in the freezing cold. You get what you wished for and I am guessing my husband was praying hard for snow. (he hasn't seen snow). The first thing he said to me as we were landing in Pudong International airport at was, "Is that snow??" and this was 10am when I was really only FAINTLY snowing (the flakes were sparse and not even visible. We deplaned and walked towards immigration and he looked out..

 "I think that's snow."

I craned my neck towards the wall to wall glass to see if is was really snow. To me, it was hard to tell.

Outside the airport at the long distance bus station, he was sticking his tongue out... "it's snow...." I had to laugh.

From shanghai, we had to take a bus (normally 3 hour ride) to the shaoshing city where I needed to work. It took 2 bus rides and 5 hours to get there. I think the weather was partly to blame.  When we finally arrived, the ground was covered with snow. When I had to change buses, I had to wait in the cold for a good 20 minutes. It was  VERY VERY long day to say the least.  (had to wake up 3am to catch the 6am plane to shanghai. Then the bus ride to the shaoshing province were we finally arrived 5pm or 14 hours later...)
this is at the 2nd bus station. You can see the snow starting to build.

The funny thing is, I asked my supplier if it normally snowed there. He said it doesn't snow every year and if it does, it only snows for one day and then that will be it. Freakish weather that we are having lately, it is the most snow they have had EVER! It was hard to work, where everything is open air (no heat) I couldn't feel my fingers let alone feel the textile I was buying. My head was aching from the cold (I was wearing a bonnet and a hood) , my two thermal socks were of no help either. The snow melted as we walked through the streets (turning it into slush- much like a milkshake) and soaked right into the shoes I was wearing. My toes felt like frozen fish sticks. 

this is where I look like the eskimo from the previous blog

somebody made a snowman outside a restaurant we passed. the eyes and mouth are bell peppers (I think)

I was fine with the 4 shirts and thick jacket- the problem was, my toes and fingers were not properly covered and that made the walking around for 5 hours quite a chore.

I think God didn't want me to work too much, because by the time we were to set off back to Shanghai for the sightseeing part of the trip, it STOPPED snowing and the weather cleared up. (I was wondering how I could sightsee with snow on the ground).

Notes on China:
1. no access to facebook
2. no access to youtube
3. provinces only accept the local credit card (unionpay) so better bring cash (it is only in shanghai that they accept mastercard)
4. be ready to dodge locals who spit EVERYWHERE (its not uncommon to hear... hoourch.... potooo... every few feet)
5. look left, look right when crossing the street. Pedestrians DONT have the right of way here.

next blog, will tell you about Shanghai.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cold is relative

Well, it's what my friend from the US said when I posted in facebook that I will be going to Shanghai (temp in -3c) for work.

For one thing, lowest temperature in our country only reached 18C (one day only) and for the most part of the year, it stands between 32-34C. so, you might guess I was freaking out at the thought of freezing my ass off.

I quickly scoured the mall (thank heavens everything was on sale!) and bought a thick jacket, some woolen sweaters, thermals  (shirt, leggings AND socks)

I guess I went overboard but as I say, better safe than COLD. The jacket I bought had a furry inner vest that you can detach and wear on its own. It also has a hood with feathers- or was it fur? hmmm...

this is what I would look like if I wore it.

quite a resemblance... don't you think???

It's a chance for me to get some milage on some of the boots I have bought.... the weather here to warm to wear boots often. (LOL)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

BEERy good!

Talking about starting the year right, The son of our neighbor opened a cafe near where we live and we dropped by one day to try it. It's a very small place. (it only seats 36 people) and their concept is a revolving menu. Which means, they change the menu every week.

I WILL NOT however focus on the food this time. (I found it just OK). I was amazed by the OTHER concept they had. That is, specialty beers. The import beers from small breweries from all over the world. The time I was there, they had this on their menu.

For those who need glasses, the list is:

1. DEAD GUY'S ALE (how did they get this idea? hmmm...)
2. ARROGANT BASTARD (reminds me of a Austin Powers movie)
3. SANTA'S PRIVATE (sounds kinky but it's actually- santa's private reserve~ did not know he drank beer instead of milk~ )

Beers in the Philippines are derived from corn or rice and generally, when you drink them, you get the bitter taste quite early. These however were brewed using barley. We tried the only three left available:

Santa's private brew was the first one we tried. Although I am not a beer nor wine drinker (I get red easily) I willingly wanted to taste these. It was a amber colored draft. They said it doesn't have any chemicals added so the shelf life is much shorter (about 6 months from bottling) and they bottle only limited quantities per batch. It tasted smooth - not bitter at all.

The second one was HOPS ottin indian pale ale. When you read the back, it read like some wine (with mentions of undertones and such) It finally say- "HOP OTTIN BITES LIKE A CAN-KICKY BLUETAIL~ hop ottin bites like an angry rattlesnake looking for a fight)...local anderson valley dialect
This one was paler in color than the santa's. It tasted nicer and smoother than the first.

Lastly, (by this time, I could feel my cheeks tingling from the alcohol - and I don't mean my face) we tried this one

We saved this for last because they said drinking this will ruin your palate. Anything you taste afterwards will seem bland (or so the label said). It was a pretty scary looking bottle.- with a demon in the front. I was tempted to bring it home since the label was printed on the bottle (vs a paper label sticked on) but the image was just too scary for my taste. This brew was a very dark malt but surprisingly, it was not bitter as I had expected.

I might go back and try other beers (not a beer drinker I tell you!) I was just intrigued when they said they had a dessert beer that tasted like coffee! (I am guessing some of my writer's group might like that one!)

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 List

I'd rather not say that I'll be having any resolutions. I would rather have lists of things to do for 2011.

1. Run a decent 10k race
2. Finish a decent story for publication
3. travel for pleasure (rather than work) some more
4. finish reading the Bible
5. better time management

Note that I did not put losing weight in that list. I'd rather focus on getting healthy and hope the weight follows. Also, enrolling on an online course really gets me emotional about writing. Sometimes I see my writing as crap,(oh, why...why???) and other times, I get inspired to write some more.(yes! yes! yes!) I need to write better! that's it really. Get my thoughts in order and just get things rolling.

2010 is behind me (Thank Goodness!) and 2011 is looking to be a better year.


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