The theme of this last week was food. Last Wednesday was my last day of my Doing Business in China class and my generous teacher brought pizza and juice for everyone as a way to celebrate. How awesome is that? It was Papa John’s pizza that tasted just like the pizza back home. I have to say, it made me feel pretty nostalgic. Given that I have less than a month left, I suppose I have a right to be though. Can you believe it!?! In one week I will be on a train bound for Luoyang. It is going to be a crazy schedule for the following two weeks after that. Below, I have provided a copy of our itinerary for your enjoyment. You can see for yourself how crazy it will be:
Nov. 28: Beijing—Luoyang
Taking an overnight train to Luoyang
Nov. 29: Luoyang
Arriving in Luoyang in the morning and taking a bus to Shaolin Temple
Nov. 30: Luoyang
Visits to the White Horse Temple and the Longmen Grottoes
Dec. 1: Luoyang—Xi’an
Taking a train to Xi’an and visit to the Great Mosque
Dec. 2: Xi’an
Visits to the Terra-cotta Soldiers Museum and the city wall
Dec. 3: Xi’an—Chengdu—Leshan
Taking a flight to Chengdu and then taking a bus to Leshan
Dec. 4: Leshan-Chengdu
Taking a bus to the Leshan Giant Buddha
Taking a bus to Chengdu
Dec. 5: Chengdu—Guili
Take a bus to the Giant Panda Research Center and visit at Jinlin
Take an evening flight to Guilin
Dec. 6: Guilin—Longsheng
Taking a bus to Longji
Dec. 7: Longsheng
In the mountains
Dec. 8: Longsheng—Yangshuo
Taking a bus to Guilin and then to Yangshou
Dec. 9: Yangshuo
River drifting in the morning and free afternoon
Dec. 10: Yangshuo
Dec. 11: Guilin—Beijing
Taking a bus to Guilin and then taking flight back to Beijing
Now back to the topic of food, on Saturday I met up with a Chinese friend that I had met the last time I was here in China. She took me to a famous shopping area which was really no more than a glorified alleyway that had been spruced up and filled with shops. Although the term alleyway does tend to provide a bad image, it was actually a really fun place. The biggest problem was that there was a ton of people but very little room to walk. Add cars that would come shooting down this alleyway and it definitely made for a unique experience. The best part about this shopping street was that one side of the street was all food stalls and tea shops and the other side was all fun little gift shops. Surprisingly enough, most of these stores were pretty high end. Anyway, as we walked through this alleyway, we stopped at a couple little stands to try some food. I had chicken and beef skewers (they were very yummy) and crabapples on a skewer with hardened sugar (also very yummy). After that, we went to one of the more famous restaurants there. I have to admit that I was a little frightened at first because in order to get into this restaurant, you had to walk through a set of curtains, then down a not-so-friendly looking alleyway, through another door into a kind of dingy looking room before finally walking though sliding glass doors into this cute and fun looking little restaurant. Now, this may sound a little weird given that I am only in China once, but we had pizza at this said restaurant. However, it was not just any pizza, it was Chinese style pizza. It had Chinese style lamb sautéed in a red pepper flake sauce for the meat, a sweet tomato sauce for the base and some sort of salty cheese for, well, the cheese. Putting it all together, it was a really good pizza but nothing like I have ever tasted before. I also had a hot chocolate at this little restaurant. Of course, it wasn’t any run of the mill hot chocolate, it was a lot sweeter as if they had used soy milk instead of regular milk and it came in an old fashion milk shake glass which made it even more interesting.
After lunch, we continued to walk around a bit, stopping in shops here and there. We stopped in a tea store which was supposed to be one of the highest end tea stores in the area. They gave us a little cup as soon as we walked in and as we wandered around, they allowed us to sample any of the tea that was out on display. I happened to try a strawberry hibiscus tea that was to die for. It was naturally sweet due to the strawberries (I asked if they put sugar in it to make sure) but yet had just enough bitterness to still taste like a tea rather than juice. If it had not been 150 yuan a pound, I might have purchased some.
As we were heading out of the little alley, to go find some dessert of course, we stopped by a stand to buy some of the emperor’s favorite cheese. Apparently during the Qing Dynasty, the emperor acquired the services of a cheese maker to create a cheese just for him. Over the following years, the family of the man who had made the special cheese kept the business alive and continued making the cheese. About five years ago, the family decided to open a shop to sell this now famous cheese within this alleyway. My friend told me that her and her grandfather had come to get in line for opening day only to find the whole alleyway filled with people who had the same idea. Apparently, people had started lining up five hours before the store’s grand opening. I figure if that many people came to the grand opening, it has to be one famous cheese. Although I continue to use the word cheese, the final product that we had was similar to a sweet cottage cheese with the consistency of custard. It was surprisingly good and I would have it again given the chance.
Our last food adventure of the day was at a little café called Youth Cheese. It was an interesting little place. It was cute but given the amount of pictures of cats, it bordered on creepy. At this little café, we both ordered slices of cheese cake. I got one called black chocolate which was a creamy milk chocolate filling with a dark chocolate crust and shavings of white chocolate on the top. My friend got a mango cheese cake which was a vanilla and mango filling with a graham cracker crust and a mango sauce and fresh mango on top. Can anyone say delicious?
Well, that is my story on food for the week. Hopefully it made you all hungry just in time for Thanksgiving!
Until Next Time,