Cooking Classes at CieCAS

Cooking Classes at CieCAS

For my birthday, Thorben got me cooking classes at CieCAS. CieCAS, or the Center of innovative and entrepreneurial Culinary Arts and Services, offers professional training courses for people working in F&B but also team building and small, private cooking classes. We did 3 evening classes and they were all super fun and tasty. Each time, it was just the 2 of us plus the awesome chefs Francois and Evo. The last one was yesterday and we just received the pictures, so here is all the yummy food we made.

Homemade Pasta and Sauces

For our first class, we made our own pasta. We made the dough by hand, put it through a pasta machine roughly 458 times and then cut half into tagliatelle and turned the other half into ravioli. It’s quite a process, but really fun and rewarding.

To go with it, we made 4 different sauces: tomato, vegan Bolognese, meat Bolognese and mushroom & cream. All of them were delicious. After 3 hours of work, we got to sit down in their dining room and got served all the food we made. Well, not really all of it. We got to take the rest home and in fact made so much that after eating pasta twice, we still have some in the freezer πŸ™‚

I have since used some of the tricks we learned to make the best tomato sauce I have ever made, so it was definitely worth it. Now all we need is a pasta machine …

Vegetarian and Vegan Superfoods

Our second night was all about meatless cooking and using some superfoods. We made a total of 4 courses: a foamed potato and leek soup, stuffed mushrooms over mini ratatouille, risotto with spirulina and berry muffins on acai sauce with ice cream.

The soup was quite heavy on the butter and cream because we put it into one of those things you use cartridges of nitrogen to foam things. My mom has one at home for making whipped cream and now I learned it can also be used on soup that has enough fat content πŸ™‚

For the mushrooms we used Z-Rou, a plant-based meat alternative. Not quite the real deal but pretty tasty. I have since seen Z-Rou on 2 restaurant menus, looks like it’s gaining popularity. The mini ratatouille worked well with it and Thorben got to show of his chopping skills, which are much better than his flipping things in the pan with his wrist skills πŸ˜‰

Our main dish, the risotto, was completely vegan, using spirulina for a seafood taste and nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. I may look sceptical in the picture, but it was really tasty! Important lesson from the cooking classes so far: White wine goes inside everything! Soup, sauces, ratatouille, risotto – just add wine!

The berry muffins made with almond and coconut flour, soy milk and coconut oil with acai sauce were also vegan – but the ice cream wasn’t πŸ™‚

Another great meal plus we got leftover soup, ratatouille and muffins to take home.

Southeast Asian Food

Our last cooking class had the theme Southeast Asia. We were already greeted with a green papaya salad as a snack and a cold cut platter – not southeast Asian but still delicious. After some snacking (and wine) we got to work. First, we made a chicken marinade and peanut sauce for the starter. I love peanut sauce and I was surprised how many ingredients are inside. The result was amazing. We also got started on cooking the glutinous rice for the sticky rice with mango, my favorite Thai dessert. Next was the sauce for the Pad Thai and preparations for the fried rice. Thorben braved the wok station to fry up the rice and noodles, while I stuck to less fiery tasks like decorating plates, grilling the satay and dishing up the desserts. As always, the food was great, both last night and for lunch today πŸ™‚

It was a really fun and tasty birthday present. In fact, we enjoyed the evenings so much, we may just make it a monthly thing!

teamLab Borderless

teamLab Borderless

Thursday was Dragon Boat Festival in China, which meant a 3-day weekend (and that Sunday is a working day but I’m trying not to think about that today). We took advantage of the day off to use the tickets for teamLab Borderless I got for my birthday.

teamLab Borderless is a museum or digital art exhibition with lots of lights, projections, sounds and smells. They have it in different places and Shanghai is one of them. It was really fun exploring the different rooms and of course taking lots and lots of pictures. The first few areas we wandered through worked mostly with moving projections and had a lot of flowers and colors.

Next was a room full of blinking lights. It had long strips with LEDs hanging from the ceiling with some paths to walk through. Inside, it simulated rain storms and they lit them in lots of different colors.

To take a little break, we went to En Tea House. Your drink becomes part of the art work and has projections on it which change when you drink from your cup or move it. Technology is so cool.

The next areas we saw worked with shapes: One room had mushroom like statues on the ground and you had to walk through them. The one after that was full of glass spheres which move around on a mini roller coaster.

The last room we explored was one of my favorites. It was a full of lamps changing colors and mirrors. I may have hit my head on one of the lamps taking pictures – worth it.

It was a really cool, immersive and very pretty exhibition. An excellent birthday present and great first day of the long weekend πŸ™‚

Thirty

Thirty

So, last month I turned thirty. The big 3-0. I think I’m still not ready but I am ready to share some pictures πŸ™‚ My birthday wasn’t as I had planned, but nonetheless, it was a really good one. I’m very glad that despite this whole COVID-19 mess I could still do some fun things and celebrate with amazing people. I know many people aren’t that lucky this year.

The celebration encompassed 3 parts: A night at the W hotel, a small birthday dinner on the actual day and a big birthday party the weekend after.

A little Staycation

We came back from our week-long China trip the day before my birthday and went straight to the W. They still had the same package going on that we enjoyed in March: Happy hour, massages and breakfast, so this is where I turned 30. Our room overlooked the Bund and the Pearl tower – and that view never gets old. At midnight, we had cake and champagne with my family over WeChat video. Definitely the coolest cake I’ve had so far πŸ™‚

The next day, I got a special birthday pancake and we spent a bit of time by the pool. Pretty good start to the day, I’d say.

Birthday Dinner

In the evening, we had dinner at our place. Thorben cooked and I made appetizers and cocktails. The pineapple-tini might just be my new favorite drink! It was a really fun and yummy night with friends. And yes, one should always wear a tiara on their birthday πŸ™‚

Thankfully, I had the next day off – both to recover and to have lunch with Tim, who had archery duties the night before.

Birthday Party

The weekend after, I celebrated again with the whole gang at Tacolicious, my favorite taco place in Shanghai. Fitting to the occasion, I think we were exactly 30 people. My VIPs from Germany and Singapore were definitely missed, so I was happy to have almost all of my Shanghai VIPs there πŸ™‚ We had loads of good food and margaritas and a lot fun with a polaroid camera.

The night went on at a salsa party, another club and ended with 3 am pizza – none of it documented thankfully πŸ˜‰ I think I just might have to have another big party next year!

China Travels: Sanya

China Travels: Sanya

The last stop of our trip was Sanya, the southernmost point of China. Sanya is a city on the tropical island Hainan. It is sometimes called “China’s Hawaii” due to the year round nice weather and beaches. So while we couldn’t make it to the real Hawaii due to travel restrictions, we still got to enjoy some time at the beach πŸ™‚

We stayed at the Sanya Edition for 3 nights and didn’t leave the hotel except to go to the beach. The complex is huge with palm trees, 5 pools, several restaurants and all sorts of entertainment. We were pretty lazy and mostly laid in the shade (Thorben may have also gone to the gym but whatever). I think I read 3 books throughout our vacation, it was great πŸ™‚

Even with wearing sunscreen and staying under a tree, I somehow managed to get a pretty bad sunburn on the first day. So the second day, I spent mostly on our balcony. It wasn’t really a burden with a view like that:

Once the sun went down, I dared to leave the shade again for some more beach time. The temperature is pretty much the same night and day and the water is really warm. I didn’t really expect the beach to be so nice and it was really good to have a few relaxed days after a lot of sightseeing and hiking.

The food was also really good at the Edition! We spent 2 hours each morning having breakfast. The buffet had a lot of choices and the restaurants were also great. This was our dinner the last night we were there:

Sanya is definitely a great getaway and made for the perfect end to our South China trip. It’s a 3 hour flight from Shanghai, so in case we ever have an emergency need for sunshine and the ocean, we may just have to go back.

China Travels: Longji Rice Terraces

China Travels: Longji Rice Terraces

The second stop of our week long vacation in Southern China was the Longji Rice Terraces Scenic Area. From Yangshuo, it is a 2.5 hour drive to the foot of Ping’An village and then we had to hike up the hill a bit to get to our hotel.

Ping’An Village

The whole area surrounding Ping’An village is beautiful and very peaceful. When we were there, we barely saw any other tourists. In the beginning of May, the rice terraces are getting flooded and prepared for planting the rice. That means we couldn’t see lush green fields but some reflection in the water and people working in the fields. We did an evening hike through the village and up to some view points to enjoy the scenery.

Nine Dragons and Five Tigers

Our last stop of the hike was a viewpoint called Nine Dragons and Five Tigers. I’m not sure exactly which shapes are the dragons and tigers but it was really pretty. πŸ™‚ We stayed a while to watch the sun set behind the hills and see the reflections changing, before heading back down the hill.

More hiking through the rice fields

The next day was cloudy, but still a good day for more exploring. I don’t know the names of the places we saw, but we hiked mostly downhill, passing more villages and rice terraces and other fields.

It was really worth the trip and I’d love to go back once the rice is planted and has grown. It probably won’t be as quiet then, so I think we picked a good time to go!

China Travels: Yangshuo

China Travels: Yangshuo

Originally, I wanted to travel for the first 2 weeks in May. Between my project ending at the end of April, a 5 day holiday in China for May 1st and the big 3-0, it seemed like a great time for a big trip. Plan A was to go to Hawaii, Plan B was Australia and Singapore … Here comes Corona and therefore we were in need of Plan C: The COVID-19 contingency plan.

Luckily, domestic travel is still possible, so we decided to stay in Shanghai for most of the holiday, and then went on a week-long trip to the south of China. Our first of three stops was Yangshuo which is located in Guangxi province. Yangshuo might not ring a bell, but usually Guilin does. Guilin and the surrounding area is famous for its beautiful nature with the Li River and its surrounding karst formations. It’s even on the back of the 20RMB note, that’s how beautiful it is. (Yes, we went to the 20RMB spot like the good tourists we are, picture proof below).

Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Our vacation started right as we arrived at the hotel. Built directly next to the river and surrounded by mountains, having breakfast was already the first sightseeing activity of the day.

Big Banyan Tree

To make things easier, we hired a guide to take us around. The first thing she showed us was a 1.500 year old Banyan Tree. It was really cool to see with roots growing everywhere. From further away it looks like several trees, it is truly a Big tree.

Gold Water Cave

Walking up to Gold Water cave was already worth the trip there. The surroundings are amazing (we realized they are pretty much everywhere in Yangshuo) and I really liked the wall art of the local people.

On the inside, Gold Water Cave is basically an explosion of colors. Add a DJ and it would be a unicorn rainbow disco cave πŸ™‚ The formations are beautiful and the cave itself is quite big.

Moon Hill

Moon hill is a pretty formation of karst mountains which we passed on our way to the next stop. It’s called moon hill because the opening in the rock is like a moon which changes based on where you stand. You can hike up but we were promised a better view point the next day, so we just snapped some pictures.

Local market and Xingping Old Town

Up next: a local market with all sorts of interesting foods and stuff. Toys, rice, rat poison, dried tofu, live chickens and ducklings, a hot lunch, plants, produce or a haircut? The market got it covered.

Afterwards, we had lunch in Xingping Old town. I’m not sure how authentic it still is but the streets are definitely pretty. The local food and special eggplant our guide recommended were quite tasty.

20 RMB Spot

No trip to Yangshuo is complete without seeing the beautiful scenery depicted on the back of the 20 RMB note. Obviously you have to take a picture while holding a 20 RMB note. Because of the wonders of WeChat and Alipay we never have any cash but our guide had us covered πŸ™‚

Bamboozle Boat Trip

We didn’t just see the 20 RMB spot from land, we also saw it from the river. A trip on a bamboozle boat down the Li River was the next order of business. Bamboozle boats are made out of plastic pipes shaped like bamboo and have a (very loud) motor. The boat ride isn’t exactly peaceful but the views are amazing.

Impression Sanjie Liu

In the evening we met up with friends from Shanghai who were also in town. Together we went the an impression show which consisted out of lights, music, singers, boatmen and of course the river and the karst mountains. I didn’t understand what was sung, but the show was great nonetheless.

View points

Our second day started with the promised view points. On our way to Xiangong Hill, where you are supposed to have a great view over a bend in the river, we made some photo stops. I don’t know if they have any names but the views were amazing. The landscape around Yangshuo is just incredible to see.

Da Mian Mountain

When we arrived at Xiangong Hill, they told us we couldn’t enter the area because no foreigners are allowed. Thankfully, our guide came up with a Plan B, which meant a much longer hike but in return we were also promised an even prettier view. The climb to the top consisted of lots and lots of stairs and in my case lots of breaks to catch my breath. The view from the top was definitely worth all the efforts. You could see a horseshoe bend in the river and many many mountains. It was truly spectacular.

Jiuxian Ancient Village

After a very sweaty hike, we drove to Jiuxian Village for some lunch and pretty scenery. We had the local specialty, beer fish, which was so tasty we had it again for dinner. After lunch, we took a walk around the pretty village. As with many of the spots we visits, we were almost the only people there, which made it even better.