'The true cook is the perfect blend, the only perfect blend, of artist and philosopher. He knows his worth: he holds in his palm the happiness of mankind, the welfare of generations yet unborn.'

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Beijing 3

I'm not really a breakfast person, but since I was blissfully jet-lagged, I could actually wake up in time for breakfast while I was in Beijing. I went to a stall specialising in 燒餅 recommended by a friend of mine. It's basically a savoury crepe with a filling of eggs, spring onions, a crispy wafer and ham or sausage if you pay extra. It is a very traditional breakfast item in Beijing and is usually sold at stalls in the street in the early mornings. The crepe batter could be made from mung beans, buckwheat or other sorts of grains, and you also get to choose what sort of sauce you want: sesame (麻醬), fermented red tofu (南乳), fermented soybean paste (黃醬).

Verdict?  was already cold by the time I went back to the hotel, and the crispy wafer had became sad and limp. I think I still prefer a sweet crepe...

I always like to try local dairy whenever I go, so I went to the supermarket and bought this yoghurt which has a misspelling on its label. I know I'm difficult, but I did went online, found the company's telephone number, and called them up. When I told them that they had misspelled 'truly' I was told that it was American spelling. I was dumbfounded, but still summoned enough sanity to tell the customer service lady that 'truly' is always spelt 't-r-u-l-y' on both sides of the Atlantic.

I also bought possibly the most expensive milk in my life. This 250ml carton of Tibetan yak milk cost USD 3.5! I thought I never had any problem with lactose intolerance, but I started feeling sick after having two sips of this yak's milk. It certainly was very rich, and creamy in the extreme, but I would need some time getting used to its taste.

One very nice dinner I had was at an upscale hotpot place called Ding Ding Xiang 鼎鼎香. It's one-person-a-pot kind of hotpot, and uses the best ingredients and charges handsome prices. The soup bases they offer for hotpot were very, very nice indeed. So was the sesame dip.

A healthy sprinkling of spring onions and coriander always helps!

In the afternoons, a friend of mine who's a native Beijinger took me to sample some very authentic Beijing snacks:

From left to right: Stir-fried livers 炒肝, 'Rolling Donkey' 驢打滾 and a mochi-like dessert called 愛窩窩

I loved the mochi!
 A stew of pork offal known as 鹵煮火燒. As you can see offal is eaten a lot here!

Unblanched beef tripes. Very chewy.

Fried filled intestines 炸灌肠: it's actually nothing to do with intestines, but something like fried dough that has a texture like fried potato wedges. You're meant to dip it in a garlicky sauce for serving.

The famous Beijing 炸醬麵. I didn't know that this noodle has radish and soy beans in them! The 炸醬 is saltier than I'm used to - things are sweeter in the south of China.

炒肝: even though it's called stir-fried livers, it's actually livers in a sticky, gluey garlicky sauce/paste/soup. I liked the flavour but had trouble with the texture of the sauce...

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