Miniblog: Squat & Gobble

My two days in San Francisco are up, but before I head off to the airport we’re having a last brunch. And one of my favorite places for brunch out here is Squat & Gobble.

After all, what could be better than reasonably-priced, large glasses of delicious coffee…

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Miniblog: Woodhouse Fish Co.

My freshman year of college is over.

Well, I still have a take-home final to hand in, but I’ve packed up my room, said goodbye to all my friends, and flown off to San Francisco to hang out with my granddad for a few days before going home.

This has been, without a doubt, the best year of my life so far and it was really hard to leave it.

But having a fantastic seafood brunch at the Woodhouse Fish Co. helps a little bit.

Even though it’s May, which is a month that doesn’t have an R in it, meaning it’s not oyster season, the oysters we started with were pretty darn good.

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Brown Sugar Coconut Nian Gao (From Scratch!) | 紅糖椰汁年糕

The Chinese character 糕 gao can be used on its own or in combination with other characters to mean, more or less, “fairly solid food somewhat like a cake but not always what would be considered a cake from a Western perspective”.  Examples include 蛋糕 dan gao, lit. “egg cake”, which refers to (for lack of a better term) normal cakes, and  雪糕 (xue gao in Mandarin, but it’s primarily a Cantonese term; lit. “snow cake”), which means “ice cream”.

So 年糕 nian gao, lit. “year cake”, is a difficult food to explain,  not least because there are several different types that can be served several different ways, like non-glutinous Shanghainese 年糕 nian gao that can be stir-fried with meat and vegetables for a savory dish or sprinkled with granulated sugar for dessert.  I prefer Cantonese 年糕 nian gao though – it can be served as a super-sticky pudding or cut into slices, dipped in egg and pan-fried.  The way I ended up getting people to eat it without being able to do a great translation was, “It’s, like, a glutinous rice cake?  Well, not really a cake, but – here, just try it.”

And then the 年糕 nian gao did its own talking.

Anyway, let’s start from the very beginning (a very good place to start).  Why did I have Cantonese 年糕 nian gao on hand, anyway?  Well, I decided that since it was Chinese New Year, it was a good time to undertake an overly ambitious dorm cooking project.  (I have been cooking a little since I got to college, but nothing I haven’t made before.)  I did the majority of the prep work in my room – my roommate’s hot water pot was a great help.

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Filed under By Ingredient, By Meal, By Type, Chinese, Dessert, Glutinous, Recipes

Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad | Working off the Backlog

I’ve spent every summer in San Francisco with my 公公 (gong gong, granddad) since I can remember.  (Don’t worry, this is the last post about my summer.  We can move on soon.)

I used to be braver.  I’d venture into his basement despite the albino spiders with unnatural numbers of eyes and go out the back door into the untended garden, only to encounter mutant bees that still buzzed around despite the freezing San Francisco summer. Continue reading

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Filed under Cheese, Lunch, Nuts, Recipes, Salad, Vegetables

Taipei Part 2: Street Food and Desserts

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  More than half a semester of college has passed and summer is a distant, distant memory.  But remember all that time ago when I posted about restaurants in Taipei?  Let’s jump straight back in and talk about street food and dessert restaurants.

Ay-Chung Rice-Flour Noodles (阿宗麵線 a zong mian xian)

Various locations; we went to the main branch at
No. 8-1, Emei Street, Wanhua District, Taipei
台北市萬華區峨嵋街8號之1 tai bei shi wan hua qu e mei jie ba hao zhi yi
Phone:   02-23888808

No trip to Ximending, the ‘hip and trendy’ area of Taipei (my mom’s words, not mine) where we stayed, is complete without a bowl of rice-flour noodles from Ay-Chung.  Be warned, however, that these contain bits of pig intestines, which I didn’t know until I commented on the delicious chewy stuff in my bowl.  After I found out I was put off for about 30 seconds…but damn, those intestines are really good, as you can see from how much Alex and Marsha are enjoying their noodles.

A small bowl is NT$40 and a large bowl is NT$50.  You can’t get any better than this. Continue reading

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Taipei Part 1: Restaurants

Okay, the story about this post being weeks later than I wanted it to be is that on the day that I wanted to upload it, ImageShack was being stupid and not uploading the majority of my photos (I’ve since disowned it in favor of imgur, so it’s okay now) and my Internet was bad and I was generally in a bad mood because I had to leave home for the US soon, so I just kind of threw this whole post to the side and stomped away.

But now I’ve stomped back in a much better mood, so without further ado, let’s take a look at some restaurants in Taipei!

Taoyuan Street Beef Noodles (桃源街牛肉麵 tao yuan jie niu rou mian)

No. 15 Taoyuan Street, Jhongjheng District, Taipei
台北市中正區桃源街15號 tai bei shi zhong zheng qu tao yuan jie shi wu hao
Phone:  02-23758973

This isn’t the most glamorous of stores – it doesn’t even have a big sign above it, which is why I don’t know its name, although I’m sure it has one – but it’s always been a stop on family trips to Taipei.  After a (usually short) wait, the staff usher you in to perch on stools around a rickety little table and immediately demand what you would like to eat.  The beef noodles come in two varieties, clear broth (清燉 qing dun, top) and spicy red broth (紅燒 hong shao, bottom).  Only get the clear broth if you can’t take spicy food at all – the red broth is by far the best!

The noodles here are always of a consistent quality, not too soggy and always Q – a Taiwanese term roughly meaning “chewy” – and the beef is just good.

The staff will probably also ask you if you want any snacks, or 小菜 xiao cai.  These consist of pig’s trotters (豬腳 zhu jiao), pickled vegetables (泡菜 pao cai) and another option, 排骨 pai gu.  Now, pai gu normally translates to “pork chops”, but what we got was a mass of rice, fat and bone, with scarcely any meat to be found.

If I were you, I’d go without xiao cai or get the pickled vegetables, which have always been my favorite.  So much for trying something new!

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Video: Ham, Egg and Cheese Crepes

Whew.  School’s over, exams are over, and all that remains is three glorious months of summery goodness.  (I’ll be posting pretty frequently for the next two months, hopefully at least once a week.  Next week’s video probably won’t be a recipe, so I won’t be posting it here.  I’ll do a traditional photo-and-comment type thing instead.)

I started it off with a new video over on The Codex Omnis:

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Filed under Breakfast, Cheese, Eggs, Ham, Lunch, Pancakes, Recipes, Video