Monday, April 23, 2007

Weekend at home

The lilacs are gone, but the freesia are still blooming. Over the weekend I got a pint of cream to make hazelnut praline semifreddo...then I clipped a few freesia flowers and put them in the cute little jar...the flowers fill the room with a sweet fragrance that I love...

Freesia
Sweet freesia

Dan and I also got strawberries at the farmers market...mmm...but they forgot to put the jam on the truck that day! So instead of strawberry jam, we got a jar of apricot conserves so I could make this crostada. (Ivonne's is much, much prettier.)

Apricot crostada
Poor lighting, no garnish...but still tasty

The semifreddo and crostada were made for the first meeting of my friends Cheya and Larry's culinary club; the theme was Italian. The plan is to meet every other month and cook dishes for a different theme each time. The first gathering was delicious!

Hope to get back to the sewing machine this week...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fabric Friday

In between eating, visiting relatives, seeing sights, and chaperoning students, I did a bit of shopping too while in Taiwan. One of my favorite new things is this fabric tissue box cover...green velveteen flowers on light green linen...

Tissue box cover
Pretty tissue dispenser

I spied a small sewing section at a department store near Taipei 101 and picked up some fat quarters...the Japanese book on small felt creations is from Eslite, a huge bookstore that is open 24 hours. Their magazine section is incredible.

Goodies from Taiwan
Japanese felt book and fabric squares

And I got a cute compact umbrella...I love the cheery print!

Umbrella from Taiwan
Umbrella with salad in the garden

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sights of Taiwan

My last post was all about food, but I did do more than just eat during my trip! I managed to have some fun in between keeping track of the students...

My father and I saw the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre perform at the National Theatre...I found the program very modern and unexpected, more like performance art with spoken word than dance.

National Theatre
National Theatre of Taipei

The theatre is part of the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, a huge park in Taipei. We took the students to visit on an afternoon field trip.

Chang Kai Shek Memorial
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Ching Ming Day was during our trip, so I had a brief respite from the kids. My father and I visited relatives in Taichung, in central Taiwan. My cousin took us to a restaurant where each table was in its own structure, connected by walkways and surrounded by koi ponds. She said the restaurants in Taichung are known more for their decor and ambiance than for their food.

My father and me
Feeding the koi after lunch

We saw many interesting and cute restaurants as we walked along a park near the art museum, where I also spied these stone benches that look like eclairs!

More eclair stone benches
Eclairs dot the park

After returning north to Taipei, I went to see Taipei 101, currently the tallest building in the world. It was a grey foggy day, so I did not go to the top. A student told me each night of the week the building lights up different colors, like a rainbow. So I looked each night, and it does!

Taipei 101
Taipei 101, sans spire

During a break in the rain, we went to Danshui with my aunt. The town runs along the Danshui River, with lots of tasty goodies and big crowds of people. We took the ferry across the river to Bali, where there were many fishing boats.

Fishing boats
Boats along the Danshui River

The sun was setting when we took the ferry back to Danshui.

Dan Shui
The witching hour

The students had a field trip to Yang Ming Shan National Park. Unfortunately it was a windy, rainy day. We saw several calla lily plantations.

Yang Ming Shan National Park
Yang Ming Shan

The children also visited the National Palace Museum and the park next to it. I saw very little of the collection as I was chaperoning students. Next time, perhaps...

The garden outside the Palace Museum
Blue roofed-buildings are the museum

There is so much more to do and see in Taiwan...this visit definitely made me want to go back again. And of course, there's the food!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Back in the USA

After two weeks in Taiwan, I am home again! It's kind of strange to be back, actually...partly because of jet lag, and at first I was not sure Arrow remembered me. Despite 10 straight days of rain and having to keep track of 13 fifth graders, it was a great trip. I regret that I did not take more photos, but of course I did take a few pictures of food.

I had shao bing you tiao several times at a busy shop near my father's apartment. It is a delicious breakfast very common in Taipei; the you tiao are long fritters sandwiched with shao bing, a kind of flaky pastry cooked on an open fire griddle. So yummy with soy milk!

Making shao bing you tiao
Slicing the dough for you tiao

There are bakeries all over Taipei, each with an enticing buttery aroma and an incredible selection of rolls, buns, sandwiches, and more. Each morning I would try a different kind, like a pineapple bun, which has a crackly crumble topping that resembles a pineapple...or a bun filled with red bean paste, or a pastry with taro root, or a slice of matcha tea bread...so many choices, but not enough time to try them all...

Bakery goods in Taipei
Sandwich rolls that resemble sushi!

During this visit I noticed almost every bakery had some kind of black bread, sometimes described as colored with squid ink, other times it was attributed to charcoal...I was intrigued, but hesitant to try it.

Black bread
Does this bread look strange to you?

I also ate many of my favorite fruits of Taiwan, like guava, lian wu, shi ja, little green mangoes, and more...but foolishly forgot to take a photo of the fruit stand. In Taipei there are so many street vendors and little storefronts offering delicious snacks that it is difficult to convey all the yumminess! There wasn't nearly enough time to eat everything I wanted to, but I did eat at a few of my favorites places...shao long bao (dumplings) at Ding Tai Fung, shaved ice with taro, red bean, grass jelly, and pearl tapioca at Eastern Ice Store, and a new discovery, mango shaved ice at Ice Monster. And on my last day I tried a pon de ring doughnut at Mister Donut, a Japanese chain found all over Taipei. I do not know what the flour they're made of is called in English; the doughnut is slightly chewy and light....not like an American doughnut, but I enjoyed it.

Mister Donut
How can one resist?

Since I ate so much during my visit, I didn't bring very many goodies home...just a box of peanut candies, green bean cakes, and dried kumquats.

Snacks from Taiwan
Taste of Taiwan

I'll have to wait until my next visit for more deliciousness...hopefully this time it will be shorter than 10 years between visits!