Tag: food

New Year’s in Paris

New Year’s in Paris

I’ve been back in Shanghai for a week now and it’s time to write about our last trip of 2019 before the next one starts!

We finished 2019 and started 2020 in Paris. Our friend Rich moved there in the summer and so we stayed with him for a few days. We had 3 great days of food, wine, catching up, hanging out watching Netflix, more food and some walks through Paris.

On our first day, we went to Caves du Louvre, a cool little museum/wine cellar. It was an interactive exhibit about wine and wine making and in the end you could taste 3 French wines from different regions. Afterwards, we headed to a market to buy some spreads, cheese and baguette and then hung out at home and watched too many episodes of RuPauls Drag race. So many references I finally understand now πŸ™‚ We also had a great dinner at Jaja.

On the 31., we did a market tour with food tastings, another fun AirBnB experience. Our guide was really nice and gave us a lot of information about wine and cheese and local specialties.

For our NYE dinner, Rich had hired a great chef, who made us a lot of fantastic food. Truly a great last meal of 2019 (and there were so many!). Our spot for celebrating the new year was a little cabaret theater/bar, where Thorben was identified and mocked relentlessly as the only straight guy in sight. In summary: 2020 started with laughs, champagne, singing and dancing πŸ™‚

After a very lazy first of January, we finally got off the couch as it was getting dark and went for a walk around Paris. We checked out Notre Dame, or the damage to Notre Dame and because I’m a silly tourist, I requested to stop at the Louvre and to take a very touristy photo in front of it.

Even though I’ve already been to Paris 3 times, I had this urge to go to the Eiffel tower. Like the trip to Paris would not really be a trip to Paris without having seen it πŸ™‚ Thankfully, Thorben indulged me with this plan on our last morning, even though it meant another long walk – damn you, metro strike! We also got to see the Arc de Triomphe on the way. Trip to Paris: complete!

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.

Shanghai Summer 2019

Shanghai Summer 2019

I haven’t posted anything in a while but that doesn’t mean nothing has been happening over here πŸ™‚

Both Thorben and I started new jobs. We’re still at the same company and same location but in different roles. I stayed in the same department but started a new project in May. Thorben changed to a different role and division in July.

Summer is in full swing and it’s hot hot hot. We already had a week filled with 36 and 37 degree weather, see the obligatory screenshot below. Now it’s “cooled down” to 33 degrees with a balmy 27 at night, so it’s still quite sweaty. I’m loving the inventor of the air conditioner more than ever.

Typhoon Lekima got a lot of coverage here as it got pretty close to Shanghai last weekend. We had a couple of days with a lot of wind and rain but thankfully, we were not affected a lot. There was some flooding and lots of leaves and little branches in the street but otherwise Shanghai got lucky. I just used the days inside to catch up with Harry Potter, which I’ve been re-reading (for the 8th time probably) since July.

On the travel front, we went to Kuching in June and each had to go on a business trip to Germany. We’re lucky we can usually combine business with seeing friends and family, so it still feels like fun trips, even without vacation time.

Other than that, there were birthday parties, a few GGI events for me, archery for Thorben, and we helped a couple of people move. Sadly, a few friends left Shanghai this summer, so we went to some farewells as well.

Of course there is always a lot going on food-wise: Marlyn cooked some Indonesian food for us  – or mostly instructed Thorben what to do ;). We had a nice dinner with yummy things of which I forgot all the names.

Also, we cooked, had people over for dinner and went out to eat a bunch. As always, I’ve neglected to take pictures of people because I’m too focused on the food πŸ™‚ So here’s a little, okay a big, food picture selection.

Shanghai Night Eats Tour

Shanghai Night Eats Tour

It’s been more than a year and a half since Ellie and I went on the Shanghai Street Eats Breakfast Tour. Ever since then, I wanted to try the UnTour’s night tour and finally got around to going a couple of weeks ago.

June is the last month Cassie, a friend I met through GGI, was in Shanghai before going back to the US. She wanted to go as well, so we did it as kind of a fun farewell dinner. The tour was a culinary journey through China: We tried food from Xi’an, Guangzhou/Hongkong, Ningbo, Sichuan and finally Shanghai. I knew most of the cuisines from our China travels (and other food tours), but also got to try some new dishes, which was fun.

Xi’an Burgers

On our first stop, we got some Xi’an style “burgers” – crispy buns stuffed with pork. It was similar to the lamb buns we tried in Xi’an last year but I think even better.

Cantonese Food

Next, we walked over to a Cantonese place and had some really tasty sweet barbecued pork. I skipped the fatty pork belly, but also tried some fried noodles, pinapple bun and the mango tapioca dessert.

Tastes of Ningbo

The Ningbo restaurant was the most interesting stop for me because I’ve never been and never tried the food. I wasn’t a big fan of the jelly fish and fried fish they served, but loved the fava bean puree and fried bamboo chips. The rice cakes they served were also pretty good.


Spicy Sichuan

It’s a good thing we already did a food tour in Chengdu, so the rabbit head didn’t come as much of a shock πŸ™‚ Our guide demonstrated very well how to take it apart and eat it, so Cassie and I tried some of the parts, cheek and brain to be exact. The cheek meat was good, I didn’t care too much for the brain, but maybe it’s just because it was hard for me to get over what we were eating. The spicy wontons, noodles and cucumbers were very tasty!

Shanghainese Goodies

And finally, we also had some Shanghai food – you can never go wrong with xiaolongbao πŸ™‚

It was a really fun and yummy evening. Even though all the places are only a metro stop away, I would have never gone to any of them myself, since they’re mostly little holes-in-the-wall and Chinese only. Now, I have a map with all the stops and names of all dishes, so Marlyn and I are thinking to recreate the highlights of the food tour soon πŸ™‚