Category: Food

2019 – Another Year in Review

2019 – Another Year in Review

I had so much fun doing my 2017 and 2018 review, so here we go again, starting with the exact same sentence:

2019: it’s been a crazy year!

January

I spent half of the month in Germany combining work and seeing friends and family, while Thorben returned to Shanghai a bit earlier. He brought some North German culture with him and hosted a GrΓΌnkohl dinner. I also finished the planning and booking for our big 2019 vacation – a long awaited trip to New Zealand.

February

Over Chinese New Year, we explored New Zealand. We spent 1 week on the North Island and 2 weeks on the South Island and went skydiving! It was a great trip, maybe my favorite one so far, and I wish I was already planning the next one.

March

March was a food month: It was restaurant week again, and I had fun eating and also making lots of food. I also started my BonApp “career” (I’m now a power user πŸ˜‰ ). My mom turned 60, so I surprised her on the morning of her birthday and spent a fun week in Germany.

April

Spring really started in April and brought beautiful weather and even more beautiful cherry blossoms which I enjoyed with friends at Gucun Park and during Thorben’s long birthday weekend. Work took me to Wuzhen Water Town, another amazing place in China. There was lots of great food as always, for example the dumplings we made at our friends’ house.

May

As usual, May was the best month of the year because it’s my birthday, which we celebrated with lots and lots of food (surprise) and great people πŸ™‚ Other highlights were my sister and Timo’s visit and a trip to Disneyland. I also started a new job in May and Thorben went on a trip to Thailand with his colleagues for their annual outing.

June

June was filled with travel: We took a trip to Kuching to celebrate Eid and see Orang Utans and I went on a business trip to Germany which I could combine with some belated birthday celebrations and a trip to the BUGA. I also said good bye to a friend with a fun food tour through Shanghai.

July

Work, dinners, brunches, birthdays, walks with Khan … July was a pretty normal Shanghai month for me. It was hot and humid, but not as bad as the 2017 summer. Thorben started a new role in July and went to Germany for business.

August

August continued with work and food and friends and fun πŸ™‚ I also tried crayfish for the first time and talked about it on TV. The month finished with restaurant week and a party at the W, neither of which I blogged about. Oops.

September

In September, I finally went to visit my sister and Timo in Singapore. We had lots of great food and I enjoyed their pool. Back in Shanghai, Jana came to visit and we did a tour of a chocolate factory and ate a lot.

October

Our Golden Week trip took us to Indonesia. A few days with Marlyn’s family in Jakarta and a week on Flores: we saw Komodo Dragons and other beautiful islands close to Labuan Bajo and explored traditional villages in Bajawa.

November

In November, I baked a lot of Christmas cookies, while Thorben was on another business trip in Germany. I took advantage of 11/11 to get started on my Christmas shopping, in preparation for the annual US trip. We spent Thanksgiving in Arizona, eating, shopping and having fun with my host family.

December

The biggest event of the year happened in December: I became an aunt! Christmas parties, cookies, dinners … December in Shanghai went by really fast and on the 19th we flew to Germany to celebrate Christmas, birthdays and spent time with friends and family.

Thanksgiving in Arizona

Thanksgiving in Arizona

This year, the annual US trip was a bit slower than last time, only Arizona was on the agenda, so no crazy flying around between 3 states. We spent 7 full days with my host family, and had lots of fun and food.

Family fun

Games, charades, swimming in the pool, cooking, baking, eating together, snuggling (or yelling at) the 4 dogs, watching movies, and just hanging out talking – that’s how we spent the majority of our trip. I was lucky that I got to see 4 of my host siblings, plus my host sister’s super adorable twin girls, which let me practice my auntie skills a little πŸ™‚

Burgers & Shopping

In N Out deserves it’s own category! I managed to get 2 cheeseburger meals in, which we worked off with a day of outlet shopping. We also took a trip to Costco to give Thorben the full American experience πŸ™‚

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was our second to last day and we spent the day before and half of Thanksgiving itself making lots and lots of yummy food. We had an awesome buffet with all the classics: a 15 pound turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and a potato hash casserole (which I named heart attack potatoes), homemade rolls, green beans and roasted veggies. The desserts were an American-German collaboration: pumpkin pie, pecan pie bars, apricot bars and Apfel-Streusel-Kuchen plus the first round of Christmas cookies, which I’d finished just in time for our trip πŸ™‚

I’d say the 2019 US trip was a big success. As always, I wish it could have been longer and hopefully, I’ll manage to see the Utah part of the family on my next visit! Thanks to my awesome host family, it’s been 13 years now that they put up with me at least once a year πŸ™‚

Indonesia Part I – Jakarta

Indonesia Part I – Jakarta

Almost a month and a half after our Golden Week trip to Indonesia, it’s time to catch up on the blog posts. Thorben already shared a lot of pictures, so here come all the details … and more pictures :).

We planned our trip to Indonesia together with Marlyn (who’s from Indonesia), so our first and last stop was Jakarta, where her parents live. In total, we spent 4 nights in Jakarta and 6 on Flores – Part II coming soon!

Marlyn’s Birthday

Our first full day in Jakarta it was Marlyn’s birthday, so she made the plan and we just went along with whatever she wanted to do. Mostly, that meant eating a LOT of Indonesian food. We started with going to a local market, had some food there and also bought some fruit we had never seen before. Next, Marlyn wanted to eat something that translates to “brain brain” – she said there is no brain inside, just fish and flour. No way to confirm her story so we just went with it πŸ™‚ We also had a seafood omelette and the first of many plates of Nasi Goreng (fried rice). To get to a supermarket to buy some snacks, we took a tuk tuk. Our driver seemed quite excited to take around the only foreigners in sight πŸ˜‰

After a short rest at home, it was time to eat yet again, so we went to another restaurant for some meatball soup. Also, we picked up the birthday cake, which we had after dinner (yes, more food) at a nice seafood restaurant overlooking the water.

Jakarta sights & food

On our second full day, Marlyn’s dad was our tour guide and took us around Jakarta for some sightseeing and more Indonesian food. We started with noodles and wonton soup for breakfast and then went to a banking museum which was inside a cool colonial building. We also saw Jakarta’s first train station and wandered around in an old market square. During our time in the city center, Thorben and I got interviewed by some students who wanted to practice their English.

The second part of the day, we visited a “mini Indonesia” theme park. They had lots of different buildings, showing the different cultures and architecture of the different islands. One place we visited in detail was the Komodo museum, in preparation for the next stop of our trip πŸ™‚ There was also more food: we had a very late lunch/early dinner at another Indonesian restaurant and then picked up some “martabak”. Martabak could be described as diabetes and a heart attack rolled in one – it’s a giant cake slathered with butter, peanuts, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk, but it was super tasty!

Even more food

After coming back to Flores, we spent one more night in Jakarta. I think Marlyn’s mom was worried we didn’t eat at all during our 6 days away, so she prepared a huge feast for us. I forgot the name of everything but it was delicious!

Overall, our time in Jakarta was really fun, especially since Marlyn’s parents were so nice and took so much time to show us around and feed us πŸ™‚ It was really cool to experience the city more from a local perspective and not just as a tourist.

Jana, Marina & the Chocolate Factory

Jana, Marina & the Chocolate Factory

There’s a Zotter chocolate factory in Shanghai – Austrian chocolate in the middle of China – who would have thought? Technically, it’s a “chocolate theater”, because they don’t really make much chocolate there, but you can learn all about chocolate and taste it until you’re sick … which is exactly what Jana and I did at the end of September.

I got 2 tickets to go to the tasting tour for my birthday and one of the dates for it lined up with Jana’s visit. Coincident? I don’t think so πŸ™‚

The tour starts with a movie about the company, its founder and how chocolate is made from bean to bar. After that, it’s 2 hours of non stop indulgence. We tasted the beans, cocoa powder, milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, soy chocolate, chocolate in liquid form, in bars, with fruits mixed in, chocolate coating nuts and fruits, drinking chocolate … You name it, they had it. 150 varieties of it.

After the tour, we hit the store … and then I had to recover on the couch for a few hours.

Besides going to the chocolate factory, we also did some other stuff during Jana’s 4 days in Shanghai. Namely, have Vietnamese food, go for pancakes, have brunch, and another brunch, eat burgers, get sushi … To work it off, we also went for a walk with Khan. And then had pasta and pizza πŸ˜‰ In summary – a great Shanghai visit!

DIY Food Tour

DIY Food Tour

We just got back from our Golden Week vacation a few days ago and I’m very behind with the blogging. Spoiler: We went to Indonesia and it was great! Before I get into it (still got lots of pictures to sort), I still have a couple little things to share from before our trip.

Marlyn and I had been wanting to recreate the food tour I did in June, and we decided it was time in the middle of September when it finally got a bit cooler. We met after work at the metro, booklet from the tour in hand and ready to eat our way through China and take selfies πŸ™‚

Stop 1 – Cantonese

Our personal food tour was off to a rocky start because the planned first stop, the Xi’An Burger, had been closed down πŸ™ It didn’t get much better at the second stop – a Cantonese restaurant. They had sold out of the barbecued pork, this dish I was most excited to eat again at that place. Fail. We tried duck instead, which was okay, but not nearly as good as the pork. The pineapple bun and a mango tapioca dish were good; those cheered us up again.

Since we met around 20 min before the food tour starts, we kept seeing one of their groups. They usually came into the restaurants when we had already started eating. We made sure to hide our booklet and pretended we were just in the know about local restaurants. Not sure we succeeded πŸ˜‰

Stop 2 – Ningbo

The second stop – the Ningbo place – was much better! We got my favorite 2 dishes from the tour, fava bean puree and crispy bamboo chips. Marlyn was skeptical at first, but came around after giving it a try. The beans really taste much better than they look!

Stop 3 – Sichuan

Third stop: Sichuan Noodles, no rabbit head this time πŸ™‚

Stop 4 – Shanghai

And finally, some xiaolongbao to finish the night.

Just as we were about to call it a night, we saw the guide again. He ducked into a small bakery, telling the group “I’m just gonna buy something for later”. So obviously we went in right after he left and requested 2 of whatever he bought … which gave us our dessert πŸ™‚

To anyone who wants try food from across China: Come visit and eat with us – Marlyn and I are ready!

China’s Crayfish Craze

China’s Crayfish Craze

It’s crayfish season in China, and everyone is loving it. Everyone now also includes me. Similar to hairy crab, crayfish are seasonal, messy to eat and pop up everywhere when in season.

I hadn’t really given them any thought, just that it looked like a lot of work to get to the meat. In June, Tim approached me, as a friend of his was planning to do a piece on crayfish. She wanted to have a foreigner to try it, so that’s how I ended up peeling, eating and talking about crayfish on camera, about 2 months ago.

In total, I was there for 3 hours of filming. First, we watched the chef prepare the food, then I got a briefing how to eat them, engaged in a 2 minute competition of who can peel the most and then finally got to taste them. Of course, I lost that competition, but it was fun and even though it was a lot of work, they were yummy! After we were done shooting, I got to eat another plate of them πŸ™‚ Here are some “behind the scenes” pictures:

If you want to know more about crayfish, and see me on camera for 2 minutes, you can watch the video below or read the article and see the clip here. I make an appearance at 3:27.

Also, I didn’t quit my day job, it’s also news to me that I’m a food blogger. Tim says that if it’s on TV, it must be true πŸ˜‰