Tuesday, March 31

homecooked meals in beijing: part 2

chopped chinese pancake
we had this comfort food in beijing at my (maternal) grandmother's house. i had completely forgotten about this dish until i saw it. once it was brought to the table, my eyes widened and i immediately recognized my old friend. i experienced an overwhelming sense of nostalgia...images from childhood: dusty hot streets in beijing, meals shared with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins; food stands on the street.

the kitchen
basically, this is chinese "bing" - pancakes. you take these flour pancakes, and you chop them up, then stir fry with any meat or veggies you'd like. typically, we use pork. the result is something like fried rice, except the chopped pancake is nice and chewy. i also like to add vinegar to this. this is how i'd always eat it growing up.

pickled radish
we also had some simple, yummy side dishes to go with this: pickled radishes & cabbage, salted fish, and fried lotus.

see the rest of the food here.

Monday, March 30

beijing's 798 art district: part II

i recently wrote about beijing's 798 art district. i loved it so much that i went back again the following week, before i left beijing. this time, we went to several different galleries/exhibits on another part of the "campus."

old factories that are now galleries. everything was beautiful.

lots of old machinery and giant chinese characters on old brick walls.


juxtaposed with shiny exhibits and chandeliers.


see more photos here.

Wednesday, March 25

homecooked meals in beijing: part 1

lunch at grandma's in beijing

i was really spoiled during my beijing trip because i got to eat several homecooked meals (mom, two grandmothers). this is the type of food i always dream about before a trip to beijing. this is why i will always complain to destructor (and anyone else who will hear it) whenever i eat chinese food here in the US. we'll order a dish and everyone else will be like, "mm, this is great!" and i'll be the debbie downer and say, "yea, i guess it's okay. it's not authentic enough though. it should be more x, y, less z."

i know, i'm THAT person!

anyway, what i love about the meal is not just the food. it's going back to childhood days spent in china, sitting around a small table with a big family and enjoying a meal together. i miss that.

stir fried potatoes

for starters, every single person in my family (immediate and extended) knows that i MUST EAT THIS dish whenever i visit. i grew up on this dish. this is a classic, very common dish you eat at home. it's just thinly sliced/julienned potatoes, stir fried (sometimes with green bell pepper, black peppercorns, and maybe a little bit of vinegar). i could eat this whole plate by myself.

pan fried fish

pan fried fish. soy sauce based, a little sweet, and delicious with rice.

stir fried snow peas

stir fried snow peas. crispy and refreshing!

braised shrimp (?)

braised shrimp - also in a slightly sweet sauce. i love drizzling the juices over my rice - i can't describe the taste - it's amazing and another distinct flavor/dish i grew up with.

taro and cabbage soup

this is somewhat of a more contemporary dish. the soup is very familiar, with pork broth and cabbage, but my grandma added taro. i loved this soup!

see more dishes here.

Tuesday, March 24

shoe intermission

miu miu pumps
i picked up these sweet miu mius a few months ago at a...

(drum roll please)

marshalls! in harlem!

not kidding.

the best part is that baglady and i had gone crazy there, running around with a shopping cart full of shoes (literally, running through the aisles, pulling shoes, and throwing them in the basket to try on) she first found these in a size 6.5, which is NOT MY SIZE. but i did everything i could to make myself believe that they were actually my size. i said, "no, no! i can really get those heel thingies and just put them in, and they will fit fine!!" fortunately, baglady talked me out of the this craziness, saying "DO NOT BUY THEM, they are NOT YOUR SIZE. even though they are miu miu and only $110."

i was heartbroken but finally became rational, especially after combing through the aisles again and not finding another pair.


we were about to leave when...baglady gasped and pulled ANOTHER pair of these off a random shelf - and YES. they were size 6! how did this magic happen? we're not sure. even better, these shoes were marked $90!


miu miu pumps front

it doesn't matter, but i was so overjoyed.  needless to say i bought them...along with 3 other pairs of shoes!  

clockwise starting at the top: siren boots by mark nason, nine west sling backs, tuxedo shoes by circa joan and david, and lastly of course, the miu mius.


Tuesday, March 17

maison boulud @ the old legation quarter in beijing

yes. i am STILL on my beijing posts.  not even halfway done.  over the holiday season, toomuchfood and i trekked over to the old legation quarter to eat maison boulud, daniel boulud's latest restaurant (opened in july 2008).

having literally just eaten at li jia cai for lunch, i am not quite sure how i managed to eat this for dinner.  luckily, pricy food means small portions. still, it was pretty rich.  

my photos are horrible.  i am still adjusting to the concept of pulling out a big, awkward camera and shooting wildly at food, ruining the ambiance of a restaurant.  in particular, i really didn't want to ruin the experience for myself here since i had been waiting so long for this moment. so i brought my dying sony cybershot.  this was the best i could do in poor lighting (without using flash, obviously).  

but please take a moment to soak in the gorgeous space that is maison boulud here.

when we arrived at the legation quarter, i immediately noticed a large chloe sign posted outside.  inside the compound, a beautiful building to our right had an enormous, glowing chloe logo projected on its walls.  we peeked inside the tall, open window.  there was some sort of fancy dinner party going on.  i vowed to crash this party if it looked more open later.

the compound was beautiful at night, especially since it was decorated for the holidays.  

this is the magnificent entrance to maison boulud.

the amuse bouche. skewers of smoked salmon with cream cheese and puffy bread.

this is my soup: crayfish bisque with cognac cream and chervil. mmmm. overall tasty but a little on the salty side.

this is toomuchfood's soup. i think it is something something partridge broth. you'll have to consult his blog for details. overall, the presentation was lovely, with the servers coming out together and pouring the broth over the food in our bowls.

this photo is a little blah, but i really liked my entree.  it was called the "duo of partridge" with foie gras (of course!).  the stuff on the left side of the plate is the thigh meat and on the right side, is the breast meat sitting on top of red cabbage, which was delicious.  also on the left are delicate pieces of gingerbread and apple.  overall the dish was really nicely balanced and everything just tasted great.

toomuchfood's succulent suckling pig dish!  i tried a piece and really i wish i could have eaten both entrees.  the skin was crispy, and paired with the nice layer of fat beneath, it just melted in my mouth.  i am a sucker for crispy pork/duck skin.  

and then they were like, "a basket of madeleines, please enjoy." really? now?  they were warm, soft, spongy, and tasty.

and here are the rest of the mignardises - there was one that was a hazelnut cookie that was amazing.

overall the experience was phenomenal. maybe it's just a little bit of that nostalgia for old beijing + being shocked by the new beijing in me - but i felt a little hesitant about loving the experience.  i think by the end of it though i had fully embraced it.  dining at a place like this would have been inconceivable to me 10 years ago.  things were so different then. but now that i'm older, i appreciate the new culture of fine dining in beijing.  at the time they were doing this weekly happy hour where you'd get a glass of nice champagne and hor d'oeuvres.  i didn't get to try that but next time i'm in town, i would love to stop by.