Monday, January 31, 2011

ah food, delicious food.

I have been waiting to do this blog post for such a long time. Since we arrived in September! Many of you have asked about the food that we've encountered here and I apologize for the delay, but I wanted to accumulate enough imagery to make it truly memorable.

China and its cuisine has such an allure, one that I truly didn't appreciate until moving here. There is such thought put into dishes! They consider temperature, texture, sauce, spice, method of eating, presentation, order, and mentality of the consumer. Forget fast food, in the amount of time it takes to order a hamburger at Mickey D's, you can have a bowl of steaming savory broth with noodles and vegetables. Or, as I outlined in a recent post, you can easily find an amazing nuggets of dough containing flaky treasures of pork and green onion. But they don't only do fast food well. They are experts at the extended lunch too! With glasses of steaming tea, peanut juice, or corn juice throughout, the group dining experience is a visual parade of appetizers, cold dishes, hot dishes, fish, meat, noodles, soup, and dessert...complete with a plethora of toasting one another. I love it. And dumplings. Oh dumplings. It is such a simple-looking bite of food. But these steamed, boiled, or fried beauties are delectable. I'm making myself hungry....

There is so much to write on this topic, but I will save us all the platitudes and go straight to the pictures. I will include not only traditional chinese fare, but also some shots of the variety that Beijing offers. Mediterranean, Japanese, Thai, Italian, French, anything you can imagine. Go forth and salivate!

dumplings, delicious dumplings. And eggplant! another favorite I discovered here.

beautiful fruit all the time. i especially love the white one with the black seeds

not the most chinese of dishes, but a lunch staple from the grocery

taiwanese restaurant - eggs boiled in tea, peppers, and a version of hot pot
lunch with Jay Woz!

Hands-down one of the best things: Chuan. Meat kabobs grilled over a personal trench grill on the side of the street. Complete meal with marinated cucumbers and fried peanuts.

Enjoy some chuan with very low-alcohol content chinese beer

Street food: can't beat it!

"Fast food" - rice, carrots, bok choy, chicken

haven't quite figured out this vegetable yet
Our AECOM Annual Dinner (full post to come later)

Whole fish: I've never liked fish, but I enjoy it here. Probably because I can just take 1 bite.

Whole shrimp. Haven't quite got it down yet.

i know, i know. this is the only bad pic i included...because it's too good to
pass up. A fantastic chicken soup...if you can get over the baby-hand-like chicken
foot in the bottom.

we went to a restaurant that specializes in food from the far west of china...close to the middle east. this was their menu.

maybe shredded jicama? it was a beautifully crunchy texture in a marinade.

chinese tacos! lamb, cucumber, onion....

i'm in love with drinkable yogurt...

the fun thing about chinese cuisine is being surprised. Pumpkin paired with sweet dates and a julienne of pear!

spicy cucumbers. another china specialty

breakfast! dough blended with a fried egg

then combined with spicy sauce, lettuce, and green onion.

november goodbye lunch at a nearby japanese restaurant

some of the best sushi!

CCTV roll

squid....not much to say here.

steamed buns. perfection.

Mezze at Bite-a-pitta mediterranean restaurant

chrysanthemum tea on a cold day!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chinese New Year is approaching!

Beijing is very empty today...and I can only believe that it's going to get more so.

China operates primarily on the lunar calendar and this time around their year ends this coming Wednesday, February 2nd...followed by a week-long holiday! It's delightful. At first I didn't really like the fact that China would shift working days onto the weekends before and after holidays to put together an extended week. But now, I've come around. I like it. Many people have already taken off for an extended vacation, most heading back to their homes all across China or on fantastic vacations to Cambodia, Japan, or Europe. Brian and I are banking on the fact that there will be some decent last minute deals and we'll be able to take a mini-vacation. Thailand is out of the question for now, but I think Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong are still in the running!

So this coming 2011 year is the Year of Rabbit, and I'm discovering this season to be quite festive! Piles of candy in the grocery store, red and gold lanterns glow everywhere, and mini oranges and red bunnies adorn many a hallway. Eating dumplings (jiao zi) are the holiday food tradition, and i'm definitely going to capitalize on that one! It's such a blessing to be here during this time and to be able to experience such a great season.

Happy New Year!!

beautiful red and gold lanterns

festive lights outside our apartment

looks a bit like a cat with ears to me...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2008 Olympic Venues and Park

On a recent weekend after church, Brian, our friend Greg, and I went on an adventure. First stop: Kro's Nest for pizza. This is not just any pizza...this is dough on steroids. Delicious steroids. With a great Star Trek-style door entrance, the interior of the Kro's Nest is comfortably dark with a few arcade games and private dining nooks. However, if you wind your way to the back, it opens into a beautiful arcade space with living wall. Now THIS is atmosphere.

Kro's Nest Atrium

Pass the Pesto

After a fantastic lunch of Pass the Pesto Pizza, we three piled into a cab and headed off to the Olympic Park area to see the sights. It was FREEZING. Literally. We "skated" across the frozen river, checked the faux-snow resort they have going on, and awed at the Bird's Nest and Water Cube. The Bird's Nest was stunning in the late afternoon light. When I couldn't feel my feet anymore, we headed inside for some lu cha (green tea) and the most wonderful massage ever. Someone massaging your forehead and shoulders while another simultaneously works on your feet. Pure relaxation.

Enjoy the pictures and the next few days will feature our Dumpling-Making Party, the National Theater, and the long-ago promised food post!

frozen river
Bird's Nest lights?
If only it DID snow in beijing

my favorite view of the Bird's Nest

don't let the picture fool you, it's massive
only in china do spaces this big work

I was fascinated by the interior structure

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

little moments

China is an enigma to me. There are days when it just makes you want to run home and pull the covers over your eyes until it all goes away - usually caused by not being able to find peanut oil in the store. I know, should there be aisles of that here? Then, other days you get such a kick out of it that you can't help but spontaneously laugh and give a little skip down the street.

My friend Dana is also living in Beijing and recently posted about such smile-inducing moments. If I saw a huge panda riding down the street on a scooter, I would post too. However, most of my moments involve food.

There just isn't anything like the loneliness of heading home on the subway to an empty house (your husband's off on a business trip) after working very late and not having eaten dinner. Yet, out of the darkness as you leave the subway station, you start to see glorious steam...followed by an incredibly delicious aroma. Follow your nose. A street vendor is standing with his wife in the 25 degree winter weather, over a steaming griddle, frying the most delectable blend of who-knows-what and I want it. Whatever he's selling, I'm buying. And who wouldn't? It's crispy on the outside, pocketed inside with flaky dough and pork melting together in perfect harmony.

I love china.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taxi picture windows

Beijing, being a big city, has many streets....and large streets at that. Most of these streets I view as they scroll past my taxi cab window.

So, today I'm doing an Ode to the Taxi Cab Picture Window. There is always something to amuse, intrigue, or puzzle here in china, and I enjoy looking for it. A mini "city" of similar looking buildings, an in-your-face lighting display, beautiful light and shadow patterns, electric lines over the beijing countryside, and the many white fence barricades separating traffic lanes. Always an adventure!

zi jian!