Sunday, September 28, 2014

BEIJING PT. 2: ULTIMATE FOODIE TOUR

International, national, regional, and local - the whole geographical spectrum of foodie experiences awaited us at Beijing! Though our stay was short, it was quite the whirlwind tour and definitely veryyyy (ful)filling.

International
First up, the breakfast buffet at the hotel likeomgsogloriousicannoteven. These pictures barely encompass like a third of the bounty.

Anyhow, I would say our hotel generally adhered to international standards (aka was pretty Westernized), so breakfast was usually my most Western meal of the day whilst in Beijing.

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And a dirty little secret about me: I've never been a big green tea fan...but this green tea doughnut was w o w game-changer. The Chinese also deep fry their pastries a little differently from the way we do it in America (highly recommend the fried apple pies at Chinese McDonald's seriously 'murica should take notes), which always brings a refreshing twist on my beloved carbs.

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Warm morning porridge complete with a toppings bar - I usually alternated between plain, red bean, and green bean.

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It's always a struggle trying to figure out what's inside all the different steamed bun varieties. I usually resort to guess and check (yunno, just applying my high school geometry lessons).

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Eggs, bacon, french toast...quite the aesthetic relief from the school cafeteria.

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So I also discovered coconut rice and I am officially in lurv (left plate in picture below). The coconut flavor is pretty subtle, and there are literally tens of toppings to choose from - I topped mine with egg strips, 肉松 / rousong (meat wool?), dried fish strips, and scallions.

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Local/National - 全聚德 (QuanJuDe Restaurant)
And what would a trip to Beijing be without 北京烤鸭 (Peking Roast Duck) at Beijing's trademark roast duck restaurant?

The placemat presentations and food styling are always so impressive, as are the various body parts of duck they manage to make look effortlessly gourmet. (I can't even remember half the things I ate, but you probably would rather me not go into detail, so you're welcome lol.)

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A duck-cutting chef comes out to each table for an up-close demonstration. I bet they're used to all the picture taking by now. #noshame

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Thinly sliced duck, cucumber (I think?) spring onions, special duck sauce (sorry don't know the actual name), and delicate wraps - seemingly nonrelated foods, yet together merge into awesomeness.

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It's so cute!! You roll it up like a burrito...er, a classy and delicate one.

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Honestly speaking, I would say QuanJuDe is more for the experience. Not that the food isn't good, but you don't really walk out praising the restaurant in the name of a heartily full stomach. Though they do get extra creativity points for converting essentially the whole duck into edible format.

Regional
Lunch at the hotel! And my sister going in for the kill a couple pictures down haha.
I really like northern Chinese style food - it's not as heavy as southern style tends to be, yet it's still just as satisfying. Plus it's so preeeeetty.

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Regional/Local - 东来顺 (DongLaiShun)
Presenting Beijing's premier hot pot restaurant!
Hot pot is always a dangerous option for me, especially when everyone gets a personal pot of boiled goodness (and in pretty copper pots over white-hot charcoal). Unlimited cuts of beef and lamb, seafood (lots and lotsa fish balls), cellophane noodles, mushrooms, and napa cabbage are often recurring floaters in my hot pot dinners.

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National - 真功夫  (Zhen Kungfu, fast food chain and yes that's Bruce Lee on the logo)
I love my Mickey D's but I also love, love, love my Chinese fast food.
After two extravagant dinners, this was a perfect airport breakfast to round out our time in Beijing. Hot, tummy soothing congee/porridge and steamed buns carbs and carbs - there's really not much more I could ask for. Next stop, 扬州 (Yangzhou)!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

BEIJING PT.1 : STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM

...Now we here! (But actually, though.)

I love China more every time I go back. Personally, I've found that the beauty of Asian culture is that it becomes more beautiful with each successive step of immersion. The older I am, the more knowledgeable I become, the more of the world I see—the more receptive I am to embracing China in all its horrendously humid glory. But in all seriousness, I've learned to appreciate the lifestyle of a people shaped by extraordinary joys and hardships, both historically and culturally. It's really all about seeing how a country evolves after opening up to the world after centuries of isolation.

Honestly, when you truly seek to understand a culture so rich in history and deep in complexity, it will blow you away. Asian cultures assail the senses; there's just so much more of everything in terms of sights, smells, sounds, taste, and touch.

Culture is comparatively so much more underrated here in the States. At the same time, the US is beautiful in large part due to the plethora of cultures we have, but they're often diluted and overlooked by those who have yet to realize that the American identity is made more whole through racial reconciliation and crosscultural respect.

Alas, it'll take time.

Meanwhile, here is the beauty of history. And ice cream.

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Oh look, the least challenging level of the Great Wall! (Yeah, we go hard.)

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Hanging out at the Great Wall...literally (ohoho so clever).

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I don't think words can express the feels that came upon seeing this sight (aka the bottom right portion of the picture) at the peak of a long climb.

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Success never tasted so sweet - or refreshingly cool.

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Hands down the most satisfying ice cream of my whole summer.

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And of course, a selfie to commemorate ice cream well deserved a workout well done and history well preserved!

(I know you're wondering where the food is, but no worries, there will be many posts to come yessirrr.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

PISTACHIO BISCOTTI

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I know it's legit when my mother enthusiastically approves of something I make that comes out from the oven. (I say enthusiastically because she technically approves of most things I bake...but yunno, they're not always the wisest choices to my health-conscious mother. Love ya too, Mom!) 

I'm still kicking myself in the foot for forgetting to add in the grapefruit rinds, but 'twill definitely happen next time (read: once I get out of a community kitchen). And hopefully I'll also have some melted white chocolate on hand for dipping or drizzling. Or maybe also some cranberries or dried cherries (oh the possibilities). 

But what I loved about these was that the pistachio and vanilla alone were still enough to give it pronounced flavor, and the texture was perrrrrfect! Not rock hard, but solid enough to break off and sufficiently smooth for easy chewing. 

Recipe adapted from: Food.com

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon grated grapefruit, rind of
1 cup shelled pistachios, chopped (or almonds)
½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
White chocolate chips (for dipping)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
3. Whisk eggs, sugar, butter, oil, vanilla extract and citrus fruit peel in a large bowl.
4. Gradually stir in dry ingredients and then nuts.
5. Form dough into a rectangular log (or two) on prepared pan lined with parchment paper.
6. Bake 30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
7. Cool for 10 min (leave oven on), and use a serrated knife to cut log into diagonal slices of biscotti.
9. Bake until bottoms turn golden - about 10-12 minutes. Turn cookies over and bake 10-12 minutes more (or until desired hardness).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

EAST HAMPTON SANDWICH CO

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Fried Chicken + Jack sandwich: southern fried chicken, pepper jack, greens + cured bacon, avocado mash, jalapeño cream sauce. 

Served between white and black sesame brioche buns, sided with housemade potato chips, and speared with a skewer, this sammie is real talk. Though the sandwiches are on the pricey side, I got a solid mouthful of flavor and crispness (yay for lightly breaded yet sufficiently crisp chicken!) in every bite. The interior is reminiscent of a brighter, fresher Chipotle, and the oversized tomato red adirondack chairs outside are sooo cute for patio seating (scalding hot Texas weather permitting). 

I don't eat sandwiches all too often, but when I do...I make sure they're dang good. And East Hampton is definitely doin' it right.

East Hampton Sandwich Co.
Sandwiches, $$
7300 Lone Star Dr.
Plano, TX 75024

SIMPLE BIRTHDAYS

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This might be my new go-to formula for simple and quick gifts in college. I think we all lower our standards once the school year begins, and spontaneous or not, any food-related gift is a godsend. Add a toothpick, patterned paper, tape, and the neatest handwriting you can muster up in 2 seconds (for all y'all last minute preppers), and voila! Food, cute, and happiness. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

EMPORIUM PIES

(Bishop Arts District continued from previous post) Presenting...PIES!!! #southernpride #youknowhowwedo




I'm still a little surprised Emporium Pies is the only dessert-exclusive shop in Bishop Arts (excluding Dude, Sweet Chocolate...which I don't count since everything is prepackaged), but I mean I'll take it. The fact they they retail hipster coffee beans is also a plus.






If this apple pie were a bus, it would be a triple decker (and the perfect amount for the three of us to split!). Add vanilla ice cream, and it's more epic than the batmobile. Don't ask me why I'm comparing pie to motor vehicles; sometimes divinity cannot be expressed in terms of human logic. Next up, berry pies!

Emporium Pies
Pies, $
314 North Bishop Ave.
Dallas, TX 75208
http://emporiumpies.com/

Friday, August 22, 2014

ENO'S PIZZA TAVERN

Behold, my second excursion to Dallas's Bishop Arts District! Though it's quaint, I do see how it could get a little stale if you go too often within too short of a time window (I was really close to going a third time that same week, but thankfully plans were changed last minute). One thing that I'll never grow tired of is enjoying the attention that all of the food establishments give to their decor and design - this place has got distinctive branding branded all over it (man why am I so punny).





Honestly, I feel pizza places could do with less preset pizza combinations 'cause us average consumers are easily overwhelmed in this world of choices, choices, choices. Eno's list of 10 pizzas borders on a little much for my overeager and indecisive stomach, but all's well - I was very satisfied with our decision (The Pig Smiley). Brandon looks happy too, doesn't he?



I don't have a preference for thin or thick crust (I'll take any and all carbs), so long as what's on top tastes good. From the mild tangyness of the spicy sausage to the subtle sweetness of the honey, none of the ingredients were too heavy - resulting in perfect equilibrium of spicy, sweet, and bouncy!! (Those were the bounciest and cutest pepperoni I have ever seen.)


I looooove champagne vinaigrette. And cheese. And fruit. And assorted greens. Basically, I loved this salad (Arugula Pear Salad).


Eno's Pizza Tavern
Pizza, $$
407 North Bishop Ave.
Dallas, TX 75208
http://enospizza.com/