Author: marina

A Foodie Weekend in Taipei

A Foodie Weekend in Taipei

Last weekend I took a 3 day trip to Taipei to visit Jana and Ellie. It’s been almost a year since I last saw Jana (Golden Week last year!) and 5 months since Ellie’s business trip to China, so to say I was excited is a bit of an understatement 🙂

To sum it up, all we did was eat and talk and take pictures of us eating. The 2 tourist shots I got were more of a coincidence. We saw Taipei 101 several times on our way to and from food places and then a nice temple was in front of a night market we went to.

Din Tai Fung

Let me start at the beginning. After I landed the first order of business (after dropping off my bag) was to go to Din Tai Fung. While we have several of them in Shanghai, they have one major flaw: They don’t serve chocolate xiaolongbao! So I had to get my fix of them and they were beautiful.

Jamie’s Italian

For Friday night dinner Jana and I headed to Jamie’s Italian. While this might not be the obvious choice when going to Taipei, Jana and I have a special place for Jamie’s Italian in our hearts after our trip to Budapest last year. We ended up eating 3 pizzas, because they were just so good 🙂 This time we “only” shared an appetizer, 2 pizzas and 2 desserts. The waitress was still impressed with us – she suggested we share one pizza because it’s big. What an amateur.

Toasteria

For Saturday brunch we went to Toasteria. I’d researched brunch places in Taipei before my trip and Jana made the reservations – team work 🙂 They have lots and lots of options, including omelettes, classic breakfasts, pasta, paninis … I got french toast and then shared a grilled cheese. Apparently they’re famous for those so I just had to have one. It was delicious.

Raohe Night Market

In search of greasy street food we went to Raohe Night Market Saturday night. I don’t remember the name of any of the food we had but it was all pretty good! We had scallion pancakes, ice cream with caramelized peanut shavings and cilantro wrapped in a crepe type thing, passion fruit jelly on a stick, a deep fried salted egg yolk pork thing with sweet potato, fruit juice (vitamins!) and baked pork buns. In that exact order. Also, we wore matching dumpling t-shirts. Just because we’re awesome 🙂

Pool time

Our original plan was to spend all the time we were not eating at the pool. Sadly, it was closed all day Saturday for maintenance and when we got there early Sunday morning we were told we could only swim with swimming caps … which we didn’t have and they didn’t provide. Oh well, so we only got to relax next to the pool for a couple of hours.

The Hello Kitty Taxi

When we got into the taxi on our way to brunch on Sunday we were in for a treat. It was completely decked out in Hello Kitty merchandise! I’m glad we took some photos as proof 🙂

Sugar Pea

Our destination for that cab ride was Sugar Pea. We all agreed, if Instagram was a place, this would be it 🙂 Anyhow, the food was really yummy … and pretty. Of course I took pictures. And put them on Instagram.

Thanks for a fantastic weekend, Jana and Ellie! I can’t wait to come back soon and continue eating our way through Taipei!

Moganshan 2.0

Moganshan 2.0

There was an obstacle race in Moganshan last weekend, so we went with a big group of people from archery. Before anyone gets confused: No, I didn’t compete in the race, I was just along for the ride 🙂

Our group consisted of 26 people and 2 dogs and we had a fun weekend. This is part of our very international crew:

We got to Moganshan at 11:30 on Friday night after a 4 hour bus ride. The race took place on Sunday so Saturday we used for hiking, swimming and eating. Sadly it rained almost the whole day so the hike through the bamboo forest was very slippery. I may or may not have slipped several times and fallen on my butt …

In the afternoon we headed over to “Naked Stables”, a beautiful resort, where we had a barbecue and could use the pools. It was still raining a lot but the place was really nice. If we had an unlimited vacation budget, I’d definitely like to stay there for a couple of nights. And no one was naked, in case anyone was wondering 😉

While a big part of the group, the “elite mode” guys, went to the race Sunday morning, I hung out with the other “fun mode” people. The weather was much better (it didn’t rain until lunch) so we walked to a little coffee shop with a nice view over the bamboo hills. After another barbecue with everyone we got back on the bus to Shanghai. Not pictured: The party on Friday and Saturday night. You’ll just have to imagine that part 🙂

If anyone is wondering about the details of the race, Thorben will cover that part of the trip 🙂 Here are the race finishers from our group:

Friends, food and fun – our summer

Friends, food and fun – our summer

According to the Chinese Lunar calendar, summer is already over and fall started on August 7. The weather doesn’t seem to care about that and my app says it will still be above 30 degrees for the foreseeable future. Still, I thought I’d take this opportunity to recap our summer a bit, since we’ve been a bit lazy with the blogging.

This year, the weather was a tiny bit cooler than last year with the hottest day being “only” 38 degrees. It was still really hot and often also really humid. Just walking from the taxi to the office feels like exercise when it’s already 34 degrees at 8am.

So far we’ve had 4 typhoon warnings but mostly we got lucky and Shanghai didn’t get hit very hard. They did bring lots of rain and some wind for a day or two each time, especially during the last one it was pouring like crazy. I wish I could have sent some of that rain to Germany.

Besides sweating, our summer was filled with hanging out with friends, brunches, dinners, movie nights, parties and dinner parties. After we already had German and Swiss night, we enjoyed some home cooked Mexican food in early August. Luxembourg night turned into pizza and home cooked Chinese food night 🙂 Up next: international potluck dinner!

Thorben got the contact of a guy who imports beef which started a little steak obsession in our house. Right now there are still around 3 kilos of beef in our freezer, and that is after 4 steak dinner parties … My role in these dinners: Make appetizers, salad dressing, bake dessert and don’t disturb the chef 🙂 Homemade avocado popsicles were also a big hit this summer.

I went to some more GGI events and shared the wine I brought back from Germany with friends. Thorben did a lot of exercise including running along the bund in this crazy heat and played archery every weekend. We also got celebrated the first birthday of archery in Shanghai with a big party. Just because I don’t play doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy lots of cake, right? Oh and of course we had to go to work here and there 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yes, I’m aware it’s August but today is Qixi Festival, the “Chinese Valentine’s Day”. When in China … 🙂 It happens on the 7th month on the 7th day according to the lunar calendar, so this year it’s on August 17. I think last year I don’t think I even knew about it so I’m catching up on what’s going on this year. According to me colleagues, my main source of Chinese culture, nowadays it’s celebrated the same way as in the west: Presents, flowers, going out to dinner …

We planned a great evening a few months back already, without the knowledge of the date. First, we’re going to have burgers – very romantic – and then we’ll go to see the Cirque du Solei show “Toruk – The First Flight” at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai with some friends. Should be fun!

And because this post doesn’t have any pictures, here is one of pizza because pizza = love.

Shanghai Parks

Shanghai Parks

Less than 4 weeks until our next visitors arrive – Yay! – so it’s about time I finish posting about my parents’ visit 🙂 The last “sights” I want to share are the the parks we visited in Shanghai. Overall, I feel like Shanghai is super green, especially for a city so big. There are many many trees lining the streets where we live and there are lots of small and also some big parks all over the city. When my parents were here, we went to 4 of them.

I didn’t take enough pictures, so thank dad for being on top of it 🙂

Xiangyang Park

Xiangyang Park is a very little but lively park close to our apartment. In the mornings and evenings there is always a lot of action; mostly dancing in all forms. It’s fun just sitting on a bench there and watching.

Jing’An Park

Another one close to were we live is Jing’an Park. It has a little pond in it, some sculptures and a nice Thai restaurant. It’s located next to Jing’An Temple, so when my dad and I went there, we took the scenic route 🙂

Fuxing Park

Fuxing Park is in the French Concession and was created by the French more than 100 years ago. It’s a pretty big park which includes a Lotus Pond, a Rose Garden and lots of other greenery. There was one lotus flower just opening so we had to come back a couple days later so my dad could take another close up 🙂 Like most parks it also offers great people watching opportunities. We saw people playing Majong, dance and do water calligraphy.

Century Park

Century Park is like the Central Park of Shanghai: with 140 hectares it’s the biggest one. It costs 10 RMB admission and is located on the other side of the river. Since the only times I usually cross into Pudong is to go to the airport, it was my first time here. We spent a few hours walking around but I don’t think we saw everything. It was pretty smoggy that day but it’s still a nice place for a weekend stroll.

Random Facts: Hot and Cold Food

Random Facts: Hot and Cold Food

During our department outing to Moganshan, I learned about hot and cold foods from my colleagues. It has nothing to do with the temperature of the food, but the characteristics or energy of it: each food either cools or heats your body.

The conversation started at dinner when I was digging into the delicious lychees. My colleague warned me: “Don’t eat too much, they are hot. Have some watermelon to balance it.” And so began my questioning about the topic and all the different foods we were eating. I could point at pretty much any food and they could tell me if it’s hot or cold. As it is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine most of my colleagues just grew up with that knowledge. Not all of them really believe in it but they still seem to know all the basics.

Here are some examples (to the best of my knowledge):

Cold foods: Apple, banana, watermelon, tofu, most fish, chicken, cheese, green tea

Hot foods: Lychee, cherry, onion, garlic, mustard, walnuts, beef, chocolate, coffee

Overall, it’s all about balance, ying and yang. If you are healthy, you should make sure you eat both hot and cold foods. If you are sick, depending on the illness, this could mean your body has too much heat or coldness, so you can get better by eating the right foods. My coworker told me to let her know next time I’m not feeling well and then she’ll tell me what to eat to help me to get healthy again. I’ll report back once I try 🙂

Another well known fact in China: Cold water is not good for you, or it’s “not good for healthy” as many people say 🙂 Basically, cold drinks should always be avoided. We’ve mostly adapted to only drinking warm/hot water in restaurants, but on a day like today with temperatures of 36 degrees, something from the fridge does sound really good.