oyceter: Picture of temple mirrored (taiwan otp)
I haven't forgotten the meme! Just got kind of busy the past few days. Also keeping the tag the same despite the change in months just so I can locate things more easily.

For [personal profile] rachelmanija, who asked about favorite foods in Taiwan.

This is very difficult! There are so many! To cheat, I will instead list categories and then talk about stuff in them.

Fruit. OMG I miss the fruit from Taiwan so much. Mangoes and lychees, obviously, but also the oranges, which are usually much sweeter than the ones here. I also miss wax apples (lian wu), which I don't think I've seen around Bay Area, as well as fresh dates (zhao zi). Actually, I just looked that up, and apparently they are called "Chinese dates" or "green jujubes"? I usually find dried dates and jujubes too sweet, but I love the fresh green ones, which are light and crunchy and somewhat honey flavored to me. The pineapple is usually a lot sweeter as well, yum. And of course I love how much fresh juice there is! There are a lot of places that will basically blend the fruit with a little water and maybe a little honey or fructose, so it tastes like the fruit... I like Jamba Juice every so often, but it annoys me so much that most of their things have sorbet in it, and that they are usually a blend of a ton of things.

Street food. So much good cheap food from street carts! I think my favorites are the little egg cakes, which are crispy on the outside and light and fluffy and moist on the inside (at least if the cart makes them right... sometimes they get too dry). They're bigger than the ones sold in Hong Kong, so there's more of the cake on the inside. I also love being able to get green onion pancakes in random places, as well as the green onion pancakes with egg (dan bing), especially when it's more of a roti texture (zhua bing). And of course there is the fried chicken, which comes in a giant slab or in pieces on a stick (I like this kind b/c I am too lazy to get all the meat off the bone on the giant slab), and how the fried chicken places will have other stuff that they sprinkle the flavoring over. My fav is the green beans. I also miss being able to get roast chestnuts on the street, as well as ling jiao and baked yams, and I forgot what it's called, but the candied fruit on a stick that is amazing. I feel like I am betraying the island when I say I am not the hugest fan of stinky tofu (I like it fine, I just don't really hunt it down) or the oyster pancake things (o ah mi jian), though I do like the noodles (o ah mi sua)! I am pretty sure I am missing a ton of other stuff I really love because there is just SO MUCH. I also miss the fact that it's actually pretty cheap there, as opposed to food trucks here, or stands at fairs.

Din Tai Fung. Okay, it seems kind of weird giving one restaurant its own category but it is the BEST PLACE EVER. I miss their Shanghainese soup dumplings, but also the little dessert ones with red bean paste and their chicken soup with noodles, and actually all their noodles, and the dumplings with finely chopped veggies and meat, and the really delicate fish dumplings. Everything is good! I still haven't found a place that does dumplings with skin quite so thin, and they basically do everything well, from the chewiness of the noodles to the thick richness of the red bean paste.

Bakeries. Taiwan isn't as big on chewy bread as the US is, but it is very big on random bakery concoctions. I just like wandering into random bakeries to see what they have. When I was a kid, I loved the cream-filled horns, and then there's pineapple bread, which does not actually contain pineapple and is only called so because of how it looks. I really love stuff like curry-filled naan and tuna fish and corn in a little roll, or ketchup and little sausages, and other little savory meal-like things you can get. I also loooooove the pastries in Taiwan, which are very influenced by the whole Japanese take on French pastries thing. I love the little cakes or mousses flavored with green tea or black sesame or mango, and I love the blend of the flavors, as well as how little and delicate they are. 15eme is still my favorite place, but I will go into pretty much any store to check out what they have, because all the places have such different cakes!

And I keep trying to come up with other categories and getting distracted. I went from noodles and beef noodle soup to ramen and the Japanese food in Taiwan, which is amazing, and then there is the seafood! A giant new modern fish market opened up a few years ago, and I have not gone, but by all reports, it is delicious. And then I went back to cold noodles with sesame sauce and cucumber and chicken and how the one from 7 Eleven is not that bad, and then I realized I had not even touched on convenience store food and random potato chip flavors and being able to get onigiri there.

Now I am very hungry and I am going to get some food...
oyceter: Pea pod and peas with text "peas please" (peas)
For [personal profile] chomiji, "Favorite comfort foods — what and why"

I have so many!! These are only going to be a few off the top of my head, and I am afraid they are rather typical.

Mac and cheese! I think this has been a comfort food for as long as I can remember, probably from when I was growing up in the US. In Taiwan, it wasn't something we could get very often, which made it all the more special; whenever we were in the US on vacation, I always had to have Kraft mac and cheese, the terrible neon orange stuff from the box. I usually like "real" mac and cheese more, but sometimes I just want the stuff from the box. And of course there was EZ mac and cheese during college, which I consumed a lot of. And aside from box mac and cheese, I love stove mac and cheese and baked mac and cheese and new-fangled mac and cheese with stuff like truffle oil or goat cheese + peas or whatever else they come up with. Although lobster mac and cheese was not that great the one time I had it. The growth of specialty mac and cheese restaurants is BEST.

Noodles in soup. This is one that's very weather-based; I am almost never in the mood for soup noodles when it's hot outside. But the second it turns cold, I start craving them. It usually only applies to Asian noodles in soup, and usually I am satisfied by pho, jjampong, kalguksu, ramen, hand-shaved noodles with preserved mustard greens and pork, beef noodles, plain noodles in chicken soup, and even (and sometimes especially!) instant noodles cooked in a pot with random vegetables and an egg thrown in.

Dumplings. This is another cold-weather food (which obviously I am focused on right now!). I am kinda picky about dumplings because I really hate it when there's cooked ground meat that's kind of crunchy, which grosses me out. But oh, good handmade dumplings are SO GOOD. I used to be more of a potsticker person, but these days, there is something very comforting about shui jiao/boiled dumplings with soy sauce and vinegar. There was a period of time I didn't like them because it was the default lunch item for when my mom didn't have leftovers to put in our biandang/bento for school... pretty much anything coming out of the steamer at school had this terrible flaccid cabbage smell to it. But even then, I love the dumplings with the thick handmade skin. Shanghai soup dumplings are also amazing, but they are not quite comfort food in the same way, largely because they're much harder to get.

Chicken pot pie. This is another one from childhood, obviously, and another one that had to be fulfilled in the US during summers. I would always make my mom buy the frozen Swanson's chicken pot pie and eat them. Nowadays I am not so much into the Swanson's ones, although tbh, the Marie Callender's ones really hit the spot when necessary. I feel kind of weird putting this in because not all chicken pot pie works for me, but when it does, it really really does.

Chocolate. Usually I have more a sweet tooth than anything else, but most of my comfort foods are savory except for chocolate. I don't think I get the same kind of comfort out of it? It's not the warm blanket type feeling, but it is definitely a go to when I'm feeling down and really just want to savor something.

... I suspect there are a ton of summer foods that I'm not listing because I am just not in the mood to eat them right now!
oyceter: (i cook)
Ha, of course I forgot I was going to start posting yesterday! So, for 12/21: best way to make chicken for [personal profile] via_ostiense

I am actually not sure! I also haven't been cooking a lot for a while now, so nothing immediately springs to mind in terms of recipes. Overall, I like chicken as long as it's not too dry, so I tend to like dark meat better. In terms of eating... I think chicken tends to be my default meat, so I don't always notice it, but I do enjoy it when chicken really tastes like chicken, as opposed to standard meat. So... possibly right now, my favorite way to eat chicken is at yakitori places, when the chicken is juicy and dripping and there are all sorts of chicken parts. My favorite right now is heart! Though sometimes it changes, depending... one place has absolutely amazing chicken thigh.

New Year!!

Thu, Feb. 7th, 2013 10:32 am
oyceter: Picture of temple mirrored (taiwan otp)
Now that I have been attempting to plan Chu Xi dinner with sister and reading about other people celebrating online, I am homesick but also getting more into new year mode!

This year: I have no decorations up b/c I don't like the fancier/shinier/more decorated ones they sell around here. I just want red paper with black or gold words on it; no flowers, small children, cartoon characters, and whatnot! Fancy calligraphy and neat ways of writing the characters is good though. It is especially sad because my mom has been taking calligraphy for a while, so for the past few years, I actually had some written by her and her teacher, which was really cool.

(Now getting distracted by calligraphy. This fu is cool, though obvsly it would have to be a snake now. I also really like older style characters, esp. the ones that look like oracle bone ones. And then there are modern ones! I think my mom likes the slightly cao zi style ones, though not if they are too cao.

(As you can tell, I am a bit of a sucker for calligraphy. Also, my chinglish is crap.)

Anyway! The point being, are you guys doing anything for new year? Food details are HIGHLY encouraged. I am going to try steaming a fish again (*crossing fingers*) and the potluck with have dumpling wrapping, sister is making savory nian gao and sweet and sour pork ribs, and other people are in charge of veggies and meatballs in fen si and etc.

(no subject)

Sat, Nov. 19th, 2011 09:10 pm
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Apparently I am a highly seasonal person, and summer is for fruits and vegetables and salads and chopping. I did cook some during the summer (largely because my sister made me), but it always feels a bit like a chore though.

Now that the weather's changed, I've been wanting to spend time in the kitchen again, and today I started some things for craft circle. The kitchen smells like pork and ginger and scallion, which is to say, it smells proper again.

*happy sigh*
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Market!

Sat, Sep. 10th, 2011 11:40 am
oyceter: Pea pod and peas with text "peas please" (peas)
OMG I finally made it to the farmers' market! Despite being in California the entire summer, I've only gone a few times over the past few months, largely due to weekends being taken up by parental invasions, hanging out with sister, volunteer training, hanging out with CB and his friends and his family, and wanting to sleep in the few weekends I don't have something planned.

Unsurprisingly, I have something Sunday (and was going to have something today, but it got canceled), so instead of hightailing it to the bigger Sunday market, I have settled for the smaller Saturday one instead.

PEOPLE! I DID NOT MISS ALL THE PEAS!!!!!!!!

Granted, I got them once or twice before, but there's been a remarkable lack of Sunday afternoons shelling peas while watching Good Eats and munching on assorted market goodies. And these are probably on the tail end of the season, but I tried some and they weren't starchy, so hopefully my entire batch is good.

Also! I have been dying for stone fruit this summer; I got cherries before much of the busy-ness kicked in, but there's been very few peaches or pluots. This makes me sadface! T_T I was scared they'd be pretty much gone already, and it is still the tail end, but I got some good yellow peaches (Summerset) and pluots (Flavor King). YAY! The white peaches at Trader Joe's are a good stopgap measure, but damn I missed my market.

And I got some ears from the last batch of white corn!

ALSO! TOMATOES!!!!!!!

I feel that is all that needs to be said on that subject.

... except now I clearly must make it to the bigger Sunday market next week, as it has the tomato guy with samples.

I am fairly certain missing the market regularly is why this summer hasn't felt much like summer to me; on hearing that everyone's starting school again, I am constantly surprised because I feel it should still be May or something.
oyceter: Picture of temple mirrored (taiwan otp)
I've been playing around with my subscriptions and juggling things between what I read on DW and what I read via my RSS reader. It is so sad that I feel like I can't even keep up with less than 100 people, but so it goes. As usual, every day here is de-subscribing/ungranting access amnesty day.

Also, eventually I will start to talk about books again! Possibly when I start reading again, ahahaha. I'm still trying to figure out why my attention span still feels shot for fiction; I haven't been able to hang onto manga or fiction, although apparently Mythbusters and non-fiction about germs and parasites are right up my alley. I wonder if it is because I am socializing more offline and thereby using up more of the part of my brain that keeps track of people there? No clue.

*

Ratling babble! )

*

General cooking and recipe notes )

Recipes: sweet and sour pork ribs, nappa cabbage and fen si, meat and veggie dumplings )

Haha, hopefully all this typing in Chinese will eventually make me faster than the ten-second hunt-and-peck I do for every word right now.

New Year away

Fri, Jan. 21st, 2011 07:17 pm
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Written for Potluck.

Note: I didn't double check my pinyin, so the spelling here might be atrocious.

Late January and early February is always a bad time for me in the US. I never mind spending Thanksgiving or Christmas with friends or away from home, and half the time I don't do much for Christmas anyway. But New Year is different.

I wasn't always like this. When I was growing up in Taiwan, we did get December 25th off... but because it was the ROC's Constitution Day. We would celebrate in school by giving classmates cards and presents on Christmas Eve, and my family was one of the ones that had brought our artificial tree back from the US. I think every year we lost an ornament, and I refused to buy any in Taiwan because they were plastic, not glass. Eventually, my parents got sick of setting up the tree, and it was just me and my sister, then finally, just me. After I moved to the US for college, I stopped too. It seemed important when we were in Taiwan; the bulk of people at my school had grown up partially in the US before moving to Taiwan.

For Thanksgiving, the moms would occasionally set up a potluck lunch, where we would bring mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, and, for some reason, 米粉. No one knew how to make anything, and frequently, the mashed potatoes and gravy were from packages or powder. The turkey was difficult to find; I'm fairly sure we always got a pre-cooked one, since very few people had an oven large enough to fit one.

My first "real American Christmas" (quotations because it's not like my Christmases in the US with my family pre-Taiwan were fake) was with my white American boyfriend's family, in which they had a real tree, nutcrackers, a giant feast, stockings, and the whole deal. Ditto my first "real American Thanksgiving." I think that's when I stopped trying to celebrate Christmas in Taiwan: it was clearly not my holiday in the way it was for other people here, and I didn't care enough to try and adopt it. My family has never done the giant Christmas feast, nor has almost everyone I grew up with, and though we had our potluck lunch Thanksgivings, it wasn't with commercials and sales and crowds at the grocery store, turkey and cranberries everywhere. For us, we didn't have cranberry sauce for a while until they started imported the canned stuff (which, btw, I love).

New Year )

Linkspam!

Tue, Jan. 11th, 2011 09:21 pm
oyceter: (oyceter 2)
  • [personal profile] glass_icarus is looking for submissions to Potluck (by 1/21)!
    Potluck is intended to be a carnival for multicultural and intersectional discussions of food. There are no real limits on theme; however, the focus of the carnival is on thoughts and experiences around food through various topics that you might see around the social justice blogosphere, including but not limited to food discussions intersecting with disability, gender, sexuality, fat, animal rights and of course cultural and racial issues. We welcome you to share your recipes as well as your thoughts and experiences, but we ask that you do not submit posts with recipes only.

  • [community profile] chromatic_podfic is holding sign ups through 1/22! Even if you don't want to commit to reading and recording something, do sign up to be a pronunciation/language beta or give authorial permission for any of your eligible fic.

  • [personal profile] oxoniensis is looking for help for Diversity in Porn Battle XI.

  • Also, I realize this is completely late, but I wanted to give a shout out to [community profile] dark_agenda and Chromatic Yuletide 2010 for making my experience of Yuletide as a reader so much more pleasant for the past two years. I suspect the presence of fic with codeswitching and non-English languages is very much thanks to the Dark Agenda push, and oh people, that seriously made my Yuletide.
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oyceter: (i cook)
I started learning how to cook around when I graduated from undergrad, for the obvious reasons, but I didn't really try it much until around 2005, when I was inspired by [personal profile] coffeeandink's forays into cooking to try myself. And then grad school hit, in which I would cook and wrap dumplings during the first month of each semester and gradually move toward take out, EZ Mac, and pizza as the semester wore on.

I enjoy cooking, but it may be one of those things I enjoy more when I have a lot of spare time; when I get a job again, we'll see how much I keep doing it! But so far, I feel like I've been learning how to cook all over again in the past few months. On the plus side, I think I've actually gotten to the point when I can kind of stare at the fridge and throw things together, which was my target way back when.

The really big difference, though, is that I've finally learned how to cook Chinese food.

Culture, food, family, and other complicated issues )

Would people be interested in my completely off-the-cuff, untested, and very generalized recipes?

Also, switching between languages to type is SO ANNOYING. Hopefully I will soon memorize the bopomofo keyboard on Windows (pinyin on Mac is so much easier for me).

LA!

Sat, Dec. 11th, 2010 11:03 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
In LA! So far, I have had some really good 떡볶이 (ddeokboggi). I am not exactly sure what it was called, since the entire menu was in English, but the 떡 were cut into quarters and then glazed with a sweet and spicy sauce, along with slivers of sweet potato. So good! I have also had an excellent dinner with [personal profile] rachelmanija, my sister, [personal profile] coraa, and Cora's SO at Street, in which the highlights included its famous version of kaya toast: sandwiches of coconut jam that you dip into an intensely salty soy sauce and egg yolk and eat with a bit of egg. The coconut jam is almost too sweet and the sauce is almost too salty, but together, they are perfect. All the sauces at Street were in fact amazing; Susan Feniger is really good at blending a variety of tastes that I don't necessarily think will go well together but do. The little snacks in the beginning were bits of puffed grain, and the progression of flavor from salty and a bit spicy to fruity reminded me a lot of Chinese salted plums.

I have also been watching lots of kdramas with both my sister and Rachel (Secret Garden with my sister, Capital Scandal with Rachel), along with the previously mentioned Peking Opera Blues.

Rachel and I also went to Hole in the Wall, a tiny burger place nested behind a random suburban-style strip mall. The burgers were so juicy my hands were drenched by the end, and they served homemade ketchup and ranch sauce. We also had Chego's for dinner, which is a tiny take-out place randomly located in yet another strip mall opened by the guy who did the Kogi taco truck. As with Kogi, the menu is a great fusion of Korean and Mexican, with items such as "kochujang-lacquered kurobuta with fried egg, pickled watermelon radishes, water spinach, cilantro, cotija, and peanuts." Also, the tres leches cake with tapioca pudding is to die for!
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
After living in Taiwan for so long and spending quite a few USian holidays in Taiwan, I am always shocked to discover that the vast majority of the US does indeed do things like celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and other such holidays.

For example, I was going to go to SF for writing group today, but after being stuck on the freeway for twenty minutes and going approximately three miles, I gave up and turned back around, only to brave the untamed hordes of Safeway.

There are a lot of people on the highway the day before Thanksgiving! Also in the supermarket! I mean, I technically knew about the crowds at the supermarket, since I cook for Thanksgiving, but since my sister and I usually go either 10pm the day before Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving morning itself, it astonishes me that there are people who are organized enough to go more than 10 hours before the cooking starts. (I was only there for pumpkin, since I randomly decided to try pumpkin pie from scratch this year, and I should probably roast the things today instead of tomorrow.)

When I asked an employee there if they had pumpkins, they said they had run out. Unless I was okay with pie pumpkins? Which was the only kind I was looking for. I am confused! People buy pumpkins for decorative and not food-related purposes for Thanksgiving and not just Halloween? Or... you use non-pie pumpkins for non-pumpkin-pie pumpkin dishes?

Also, while talking to school friends and other acquaintances, people have things like family traditions for Thanksgiving! I realize I should be used to this by now, but I am not, as almost everyone I've ever spent Thanksgiving with does not have Thanksgiving family traditions. Mine consist mostly of seizing whatever tasty-looking thing Alton Brown just made on Good Eats and attempting to cook it for the first time and feed it to a group of people.

Thanksgiving! It is my chance to make food for more people than just me, so I generally use it for food experimentation. Except turkey. I have never roasted a turkey in my life, and I am content to continue on with that tradition.

(My sister's boyfriend, who is ABC and much more Americanized than us, was a bit baffled by the lack of turkey, but he will have to deal unless he wants to do it himself. Instead, we will have dumplings and meatloaf (My friend said she puts bacon on top to keep it from drying out. I said, "BACON! On MEATLOAF! MUST TRY!").)

I was going to say I may eventually get used to Thanksgiving, but I suspect I will forever be in a state of mild shock this time of year no matter how long I am in the US. Spending traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas with my old ex's family way back when constituted some of the most foreign experiences of my life. I have spent too many holidays important to me away from home, celebrating with other uprooted friends and family, ceremony cobbled together from books and commercials and memory and whim, to ever feel like I fit into anything resembling tradition, save New Year, and even that is more often spent in exile than not.
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oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
Yesterday was incredibly confusing because of culture shock from Seoul, strangely enough. I'd anticipated speaking Korean instead of Japanese, but it's really hard to break the habit. I keep saying "ne" and "aniyo" and "kamsahamnida," and I can't quite get back into the habit of thinking in Japanese after not having done so for years (I've read manga in Japanese after undergrad, but not spoken the language). Thank goodness my listening is still all right. Also, Seoul Metro had conducted a "keep to the right" campaign with stickers on all the stairs and escalators and hallways in the subway. I'm already terrible at switching over to the other side (I kept trying to get on the wrong escalator when I was in Hong Kong), and that probably made it so much worse.

That said, today was much more fun, probably because there wasn't anywhere we had to be or anything we had to do! We headed over to Shinjuku to see the Bunka Costume Museum, which is sadly closed during my entire visit here, I think for Obon. I also found out that the Takarazuka performances while I am here are completely sold out, though I'm going to try lining up the day of to see if I have a chance then. Then I dragged my sister to yet another Book Off, where I sadly didn't fill any holes in the gaps I had from yesterday, but I did find Saiyuki Gaiden 4! After that, we were going to head to Harajuku but got somewhat distracted by Takashimaya Times Square (HUGE!). We originally were going to go to Uniqlo, but after I saw the sign for yukata on sale, we headed over there instead. And! Upon entering the eleventh floor, I was met with yards and yards and yards of cloth on sale! It makes me want to sew. But even better, there were shelves and shelves and shelves of YARN!!! I went and ogled all of it, most of which were Japanese brands I've never seen. It was seriously the size of a medium yarn store right up there in the department store! They had hemp and rougher material for crocheting and knitting hats too. They also had trims and beads and all sorts of awesome arts and crafts stuff.

They also sold school uniforms on that floor, probably for very exclusive and expensive private schools? My sister and I wondered why Japanese school uniforms seem to look so much better than ours (a painfully bright shade of pink). And so many yukata and gorgeous kimono! Oh! They also have a Din Tai Feng there, which is much more expensive than the one in Taiwan. I thought the line was only a few people and figured that was good enough and indicated a fair amount of popularity, and then I turned the corner to find people lining down the entire other wall. And! They have green tea donuts at the Krispy Kreme here with green tea cream inside and green tea icing on the top! They are very good; not too sweet and tasting very strongly of green tea. Sadly, we have not yet encountered a Mr. Donut.

Harajuku and Omotesando )

In conclusion: I'm actually still not in love with Tokyo, but I suspect if I ever lived here for only a month or so instead of just visiting and doing the whirlwind tour, I would fall pretty quickly.

Seoul, day 1!

Sun, Jun. 20th, 2010 07:51 pm
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I am in Seoul! So far I have taken the airport bus, taken the subway (yay subway!), and eaten. My friend took me to 눈나무집/Nunnamu Jip for 김치말이밥/rice in cold kimchi soup with sesame seeds and nori on top. The soup actually isn't spicy, but rather a little sweet and a little sour, with bits of crunchy kimchi in the middle of each bite. We also had galbi on the side, although it seemed kind of like ground meat shaped into a patty, with some ddeok that was lightly dusted with salt and pepper. It was very refreshing for the summer day, even if it wasn't too hot. Then again, compared to yesterday in Shanghai, anything would be not hot. On our way to the restaurant, I got distracted by a waffle stand in the subway station. My friend J seemed a bit puzzled by my obsession with waffles, and I tried explaining that I love waffles in Taiwan and haven't found many places in the Bay Area that do them the way I like.

Then when we got to Samcheongdon, it turned out that every single coffee house there—and there was a coffee house every other step—served waffles. Possibly my friend is still unimpressed, but I don't care. Waffles everywhere! AWESOME. (So far, I have mostly seen dessert waffles and no tuna waffles, but I did see a picture of a pancake with eggs on top, so there is hope. Not that I have anything against dessert waffles.) I will secretly pretend it is the influence of Coffee Prince and the Waffle Guy in it. The entire area is very cute; all small winding alleys and stairs leading up to more stores, many boutiques which I am sure are very expensive, and coffee shops galore! I think I will go there one weekend and just hop around coffee shops. Aside from the many stores serving waffles, I of course managed to find a place with macarons, my current obsession, and got orange chocolate, lemon, and wasabi (!). Verdict so far: I still like my place in Taiwan better, but the wasabi is really interesting. It almost tastes and smells like lemon at first until a tiny bit of the wasabi kicks in. There was also a place selling ddeok on a stick and a guy cooking sugar mixed with some powder that he would then shape into something like cookies. Sadly, I was already full so I didn't any.

Then Paris Baguette for breakfast for tomorrow! I think most of the good stuff was already gone by then, but since it's only a block or two away, I suspect I will be going there a lot.

Seoul so far reminds me a bit of both Taipei and Tokyo, except it is much larger feeling than Taipei. I am not sure if it is actually bigger, but I suspect there is more land here, because everything feels a bit further a part and less squashed together. Also, it's always odd for me to be in a city that feels like Taipei without all the subtropical plants around.

New York

Tue, Jun. 8th, 2010 12:41 pm
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After having briefly been caught up on online things for about a day or so, I am now behind again.

I have eaten much tasty food, although sadly, I never made it to the Doughnut Plant or S'mac for mac and cheese. ([personal profile] coffeeandink does not like mac and cheese. I told my sister this, who replied, "You have strange friends.") But! I had Actual NY Bagels at Ess-a-Bagel, and now I understand why people make fun of non-NY bagels. Bagels are chewy! With a good, hearty crust! But most of all, chewy! They made my jaws hurt and I couldn't finish an entire bagel, but they are very good. Alas, Ess-a-Bagel's egg salad did not quite meet my standards (I like more celery and more salt), but oh well. I also had pizza at Motorino's, which was good but frankly, I think pizza in some California restaurants is good too.

Other places eaten at include Gobo (good mushroom fritters), Westville (market vegetables including PEAS and TOMATOES YAY!), Joe's Ginger (good beef roll things/牛肉夾餅), Nolita House (three kinds of mac and cheese!), Mely's home cooking (I am impressed!), and I finally made it to Shake Shack, which has pretty good burgers for the price, although I still do not understand what frozen custard is and how it differs from soft serve.

Met up with a lot of awesome people (*waves hi*), though still not as many as I wanted to see. And I managed to only buy 6 books!

Also, Terminal 5 of JFK has awesome recharging stations with touch screens that let you swipe your credit card, order food, and have it delivered right to you. The future, it is here!

La, day 2!

Fri, Mar. 26th, 2010 12:14 pm
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Clearly I spoke too soon re: Rachel and my bad luck not combining. This morning, after I had finished showering, I toweled off and looked up to see.... a giant daddy long legs lurking in the corner. Rachel blames me for this.

Also, yesterday night, I was innocently closing the window when wham! A four-foot long piece of very dusty wood fell into my arms. "What is that?" I thought. Through no doing of my own, I managed to dislodge an entire piece of her window frame while attempting to close it. Not even part of the window frame I was touching! No, it was a piece from the pane above it! Rachel and I burst out laughing, particularly when Rachel said, "It's just like that time I visited you and the shower door fell off! And you weren't there, so all I could do was leave a note saying, 'Sorry the shower door fell off! Um... I hope you can fix it?'"

We also discovered to our great horror that Kyochon in Torrance is CLOSED! No one expects the Spanish Inquisition Kyochon to be closed! I think they should have a hidden camera in the spot to capture everyone's crestfallen and bewildered expressions. I am pretty sure our faces looked like that of Kang Ji-Hwan's in My Girlfriend Is a Secret Agent, in which, he stands outside... alone... in the rain... with a bedraggled party hat on his head.

We had pretty good Chinese food instead (I am a terrible snob about my Chinese food) and then proceeded to go to Clementine's for afternoon tea. OMG the scones and the strawberry preserves, so tasty! Then we kidnapped Yoon and the lizard for more Chinese food, and Ara overpowered me with the force of her cuteness. That, and her song about legendary flamingos, which I think is the perfect name for a hot-pink Gundam. I am also super sad I am not closer by to do more language geekery with Yoon!

Then... more Project Runway!

Spoilers for last night's Project Runway )

Oh! Also, while watching Top Chef Masters reruns, we decided that Anita Lo is totally kickass and the chef equivalent of a gunslinger. And instead of wearing a normal chef's coat thing, she wears her own gi! (I blame Rachel for siccing PR and Top Chef Masters on me, but at least I sicced SYTYCD on her in revenge.)

And today: Japanese-French pastries, Book Off, KARAOKE (!!!!!!!), and Furaibo!

LA!

Thu, Mar. 25th, 2010 11:22 am
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I drove down yesterday with a friend from school. Six hours passes remarkably quickly when you reminisce about going to schools where you clean and wear school uniforms and have all the same dorky festivals in high school shoujo manga. Of course, singing along to all of Rent and Wicked and Les Miserables helps as well!

[personal profile] rachelmanija was on call that night but luckily was not called out, so we hung around, ate Fatburger (why do more burger places not have fried egg?), and rewatched the episode of Project Runway that involves the hardware store.

Both of us nearly fell off the sofa laughing every time the camera panned back to poor Emilio attempting desperately to recount his washers in the hope that they had miraculously mated with each other and multiplied. Alas, this was not the case. Also, both of us noted that in addition to the terms milkmaid, diaper, jock strap, chicken thighs, sofa, bridesmaid, prom, Las Vegas, elementary school project, maxi pad, and stewardess, the term "cat in a baby sling" is one of those things you never want said about your outfit.

I then showed Rachel My Girlfriend Is a Secret Agent (7급 공무원), a spy comedy I watched largely because 1) spies! and 2) Kang Ji-Hwan! Amazingly, I largely approve of the gender politics, as Lee Jae-Joon (Kang Ji-Hwan's character) is pretty much The Girl despite becoming a spy. We also rolled around on the sofa more as Kang Ji-Hwan demonstrated his total and utter commitment to looking like a complete fool on screen. I haven't watched many movies of late, as Hollywood has demonstrated a total and utter commitment to pissing me off, but this one both does not piss me off and makes me crack up continuously.

After this, we realized there was enough time to get Beard Papa while letting Tivo record the American Idol results show, so we hied off to Beard Papa. And! When we were there, a bulgogi taco truck was parked nearby! It was sadly not Kogi, but after we nearly got run over crossing the street, we managed to plead with the guy to squeeze in two more orders, one for a pork taco and one for a kimchi quesadilla. The taco smelled divine and tasted wonderful, and the kimchi quesadilla came with this awesome sauce that made the entire thing. Why do they not have these in Bay Area? There is a market hole that needs to be filled!

Amazingly, the shower has not clogged, the toilet has not overflowed, we are not infested with pantry moths or fleas, none of my rats have taken ill, there have been no medical emergencies, and mice caught in glue traps have not fallen down from the ceiling loft. Since it was too much to ask to have an entirely pest-free trip, right as I was settling in to read A Conspiracy of Kings, I saw a giant black blob moving across Rachel's ceiling out of the corner of my eye. Since Jody was not here to save us, I made Rachel whack at it. Alas, rather than killing it, the spider simply dropped down to the floor, where it is lurking about, probably planning on a reappearance tonight while we are sleeping unaware...

Hong Kong, Day 2

Sun, Jan. 3rd, 2010 06:59 pm
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Today started rather slowly for me, as I think I am still recovering from slight sleep deprivation. Rachel and I walked around a local neighborhood and ate at a tiny and very crowded cafe. I got a set meal, which had hot water with lemon and honey, a little omelette with corn and ham that I ate on buttered slices of toast, and duck breast on spaghetti noodles in broth. It was a very HK-feeling Chinese + Western mix. Rachel had a giant heaping mound of rice topped with a giant omelette with ham and barbequed pork and shrimp. We wanered around for a bit after, and Rachel bought a ton of HK movie VCDs that sadly did not end up working on her computer.

After I woke up from my long nap, we headed out to Causeway Bay again. We'd gone there yesterday too when the hotel was still prepping our room for check-in, but didn't have a chance to really wander around the streets. On the walk there, we encountered a 菜市場/traditional market selling all sorts of meat and seafood (fewer veggies), a little street stand selling Rachel's favorite black sesame rolls, and a little dive of a store that seemed to specialize in all things soy: soy milk, soy bean curd, tofu, etc. Since I wasn't able to get 豆花/dou hua in Taiwan, and since the store seemed very busy and crowded, I dragged Rachel in. It was different from Taiwan dou hua; here, they seem to pick sweet soups to put the dou hua in, whereas in Taiwan, we usually put the dou hua in a malty syrup and then top it with red beans, mung beans, peanuts, or tapioca pearls. Rachel got the one in sesame soup, and I thought I was ordering 杏仁豆腐/this jello-like substance made from almond milk usually topped with fruit cocktail, but either I said it wrong or they misheard or it just means something different here, because I ended up getting dou hua in almond milk. That said, it was incredibly delicious and very fragrant! The dou hua here is more silky and delicate than the one at my favorite store in Taiwan, which is creamier in consistency and tastes nuttier, but both were very good.

Then we eventually found our way to Times Square. Sadly, there's no giant crosswalk in the middle of the area, so you can't see the hordes of people crossing every time the light turns green. There are hordes of people nonetheless. And! I found an awesome taiyaki place that has taiyaki named after different countries. "Italian" has sausage, cheese, onions, tuna, corn, and tomato; "French" has cinnamon apple; "Japan" has the traditional red bean; and "German" has potato, onion, and bacon. There were also bacon and egg taiyaki; bacon, egg, and tomato taiyaki; and tuna, corn and onion taiyaki. Amazingly, I passed over the tuna for the German taiyaki, which was so incredibly delicious that Rachel ended up eating half despite protesting initially that she wanted to save room for dinner.

Oh! Rachel also says to say that today she wore her very cool punk shirt that she got at the night market at Taiwan. However, because the collar is very frilly and there is lace-up stuff underneath, she says it feels more like a gothic-punk fusion. "Pothic?" she said. "Or it could be... hrm. 'Gunk' isn't really a good name."

Dinner was at Chee Wai, which seems to be a fairly well-known wonton noodle shop considering the number of articles about it pasted in the windows, the extremely crowded interior, and the sign on the door saying, "Please line up outside." I said we had to get wonton noodles because it's an HK thing, even though I didn't admit until later that I actually am not all that fond of shrimp wontons. Alas, their pork wontons were sold out, so Rachel got the shrimp wonton noodle soup and I changed my mind at the last minute to get crab congee rather than have the two of us get the same thing. Although the wonton soup was pretty good—silky wontons, noodles that were nicely al dente and not overcooked, shrimpy broth—the crab congee was amazing. It had an entire small crab in it, and the whole bowl was yellow-colored from the crab insides (蟹黃*). It was wonderfully crab-flavored without being overpowering, and there were little bits of the crab insides (what do you call that in English? The yellow bits in the main body of the crab that taste very sea-like?). I thought it was extremely good, and I eat a lot of congee. And Rachel, who actually dislikes congee, also thought it was so good that she had two bowlfuls as well! I feel that should be a good recommendation if someone who loves congee and someone who hates congee both thought it was delicious.

* The restaurant menu called the dish something-蟹皇 though my computer spell check only brings up "蟹黃." So I have no idea how to actually spell it because I don't have internet right now.

And currently in the hotel room, we are being baffled by an orchestra performance that had ballerinas dancing in a museum, a piece called "Champagne Gallop" with little pop gun being fired every so often, and random images of many European countries to Strauss' "Blue Danube."

Hong Kong, Day 1

Sat, Jan. 2nd, 2010 07:47 pm
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After waking up at 4 in the morning and breaking a glass and spilling water everywhere (I then went back to bed and pretended it hadn't happened until I actually had to get up at 6), the rest of the day went very well. [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija and I both read cracktastic books on the plane: Vampire Diaries for her and Margaret Weis' Star of the Guardians for me. So far, I have learned from Rachel quoting various lines that Elena of Vampire Diaries looks like a sugared violet in her party dress, resembles a white tiger rather than a kitten, clutches her velvet cloak to her as she looks like a ravished princess in a tower, and has a soul of absolute beauty and a spine of steel. Or something like that. Star of the Guardians has Weis' heavy-handed infodumps and extremely unsubtle prose ("But Oha-Lau was doomed, and its doom came out of the stars as legend foretold. Doom fell, literally, on Oha-Lau in the form of a spaceplane [...] Doom did not fall swiftly. [...] Doom was poised, ready to fall. [...] Doom fell."). And yet, I remember Lady Maigrey from way back. Unsurprisingly, she was a favorite of mine: late-thirties or early-forties, scarred face, tragic connection to the villain, and a kickass fighter. Despite the book's flaws, it is still immensely entertaining.

Amazingly, upon landing, we got through the airport with no problem at all and took a taxi to our hotel because I wanted Rachel to see the scenery coming into the island. Sadly, it was very foggy so it was hard to see the jungly mountains behind the tall buildings, but I think she enjoyed it anyway. The hotel we got was a deal, so when we saw the marble-and-shiny-wood lobby, I was terrified we had somehow landed at the wrong hotel. But they found our reservation, and after we got our room, we found it was rather small, but very nice, with a giant LCD TV, a pretty bathroom, and really good service. Given the way Rachel's luck and mine combine to frequently disastrous effect when we visit each other, I even looked up the rate online to make sure we weren't somehow going to be charged more later. But no. Right hotel, right room, everything! I attribute this to the good luck pi xio Rachel got in Xi'an.

We had lunch at Starbucks, which has much tastier things here (and in Taiwan) than it does in the US. I had a turkey and mashed potato mini pie and Rachel had a sausage in flaky pastry. Both were very tasty and hot. I gasped in horror as Rachel told me that quite a few Starbucks she had been to in the States didn't have microwaves, since all the ones in Taiwan do. We then had dinner with my aunt and uncle in Kowloon, and then we ventured out to a Hong Kong 7-Eleven! The 7-Eleven here is pretty nice, though the ones we have seen so far have been smaller than Taiwan's. Also, I bemoan the lack of onigiri and 關東煮/hot pot things on sticks (including pig's blood rice cake, which is my fav) and am curious if people can pay utilities bills and parking tickets here as well. However! They did have several extremely cool flavors of Hi Chew—durian, red bean mochi with strawberry inside/いちご大福, cotton candy, candied apple (the latter two being "祭りのハイチュウ")—as well as okonomiyaki-flavored potato chips and "Black Diamond" potato chips, which supposedly taste like black truffle. I am only sad that we did not have time to find a little bakery, as we had to run back to the hotel before our ice cream melted.

After lugging our purchases back to the hotel, we watched Jet Li's The New Legend of Shaolin. It has kung-fu-fighting kids, evil eunuchs, a Poison Man whose face is literally melting, a trilobyte car, a completely random wax museum, Jet Li being so stoic that he really should have had jingling bells to emote, jokes about eating chicken butt, and a mother-and-daughter thief team. The mother and daughter are really awesome, especially the mother, who is an older woman who totally kicks ass, has sex (it's supposed to be funny, but I thought the movie managed to do it in a way that made her likable and awesome, not "Eww! Old people having sex!," which I hate), plays dead, and catches darts with her hands, mouth, and feet.

Plans for tomorrow: investigate the local drug store chains, watch Zhang Yimou's A Simple Noodle Story (film noir in period China with martial arts and guns!), wander around Central to look at tall buildings, and hopefully buy me more comfortable shoes. And find a good wonton noodle place, as well as the public library, bakeries, and other random little stores that catch our interest.
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
Steve Almond is a self-professed candy freak—he longs for the discontinued candies of his past and admits to stashing who knows how much candy in various nooks of his house. And so, he decides to write a book about candy, all the better to get access to various candymakers.

I'm not actually the biggest candy fan (give me plain dark chocolate any time of the day), but Almond makes these bars sound so good that I'm almost tempted to mail order them. He reminisces about candy from his childhood, rails against the Big Three of the candy world, and wishes there were more independent candy makers still around. However, thanks to prohibitively high stocking fees, it's nearly impossible for independent candy makers to get their products on chain store shelves, so many of them are stuck with a very limited regional audience.

Almond doesn't focus on the economics of candy making, nor of the colonialist implications some candy has (cacao), but it does appear in the book (the economics more than colonialist implications, though). Instead, he's incredibly good at describing various candy bars and how they're manufactured, from the very weird Twin Bing and Idaho Spud to the amazingly tasty-sounding Five Star Bar.

Also, it helps that he too dislikes dried coconut as much as me!

This isn't a particularly deep book, but Almond has a very distinctive and funny narrative voice (read a sample in Rachel's post, link below). It cheered me up reading it, which is really all I was asking for.

Links:
- [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija's review

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