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eG Foodblog: BryanZ - Alchemy


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Well--I guess this email will reach you too late and there should also be plenty of signs in Half Moon Bay--but if you are driving up Hwy 1 to SF you will need to detour east at Half Moon Bay.  A section of Hwy 1 between HMB and SF is still closed due to rockslides earlier in the spring.  You'll still have a nice section of Hwy 1 to drive on though--especially with the current high pressure system that spells hot weather inland but little fog at the coast.

Indeed. This put us slightly behind schedule, but we've just made it to San Francisco now.

I can't believe a tri-stater ordered a bagel in California!

My mother ordered it. The bagel was okay but not great. The salmon made up for it though.

I'm off to make dinner plans now. Lunch photos and such will be going up shortly.

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California Day 2: Carmel to San Francisco

Another great drive up the coast. For today we decided to eat more economically and sample two ethnic cuisines more typical to California than New Jersey.

Lunch was at a random taqueria in Santa Cruz. I'm sure this place had a name but all the outside said was "taqueria." It was crowded even at two o'clock so we decided to give it a try.

Everything was very tasty. Though still a bit Americanized overall, the tacos tasted especially authentic. Much better than anything I can get back home.

Carne asada, chicharron, carnitas tacos

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Chicken tamale and tostada combination plate

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The tamale sauce was actually quite complex and the tostada was delicious.

Snapper burrito

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I thought this picture of the drive today was especially cool. For some reason, dozens of kite surfers congregated on this one beach. It was quite dramatic.

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After arriving in San Francisco we decided to do some dim sum and Chinese at Ton Kiang.

Dim sum

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The shrimp and coriander dumplings were highlights.

More dim sum

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The stuffed crab claw was the only weak item of the bunch. The soup dumplings were rich and almost creamy.

We supplemented our dim sum items with a couple other dishes.

Chicken and pickled vegetables in wine sauce

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This was a really cool dish. Both sour, a bit sweet, great textural contrasts, too. Something I would never order at home but a big success.

Seafood cooked in a clay pot

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The tofu and shrimp picked up the most of the rich sauce's flavor. The calamari on the other hand were kind of bland. Not bad at all though.

Another long day concluded, though this time with very different food than I have been eating all week. Sometimes a change of pace is nice, but something tells me that my meals tomorrow will be in an entirely different stratosphere.

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California Day 2: Carmel to San Francisco

I thought this picture of the drive today was especially cool.  For some reason, dozens of kite surfers congregated on this one beach.  It was quite dramatic.

gallery_28660_3229_211370.jpg

:laugh:

I drove down the PCH three weeks ago, and saw those same guys at that same place! But being alone in the car, wasn't able to grab a pic before I was past it. So thanks! :biggrin:

I look forward to the rest of your blog :smile:

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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The food at Nepenthe in Big Sur won't blow you away, but the setting will...

I agree, I really love Nepenthe. And you're right Abra, it probably has little to do with the food, but those meals still hold a fond spot in my memory, because of the overall experience.

Oh, man. I love Nepenthe. It was our favorite breakfast spot; we tried to do the drive every few months when we lived in Ca. I can remember my first Sourdough French Toast there, and the old hippie who served it (no doubt he was as old as I am today .. but probably had more fun getting there! :laugh: )

This is a great blog!

Yanno, the first time we drove that stretch of highway, we started to understand the "no nukes" people, and the rabid anti-development people, and the tree-huggers (not the nailers, the huggers). And the food, she's pretty amazing too.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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gallery_28660_3229_40411.jpg

Bryan what made the stuffed crab claw weak? In general this is one of my favorite standard dim sum dishes. Do you simply not care for the dish in general or was this a poor rendition? If the latter, what made it so?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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We're traveling for a couple of days, so I may not be back to add my thanks and say farewell to this lovely trip you've invited us on. It's been KEW-ell, Dude, like those laid-back buildings on the beach, modeled on surfers skimming the waves, their blonde 'do's blown back in the seawind and their snazzy shades gleaming in the California sun.

Thank you for all this bounty, and I hope your birthday was wonderful.

rachel

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Happy birthday, Bryan.. Looks like you are having an awesome time.. What a great experience you are having, thank you for sharing it with us.. Since you guys already have the car, why not talk everyone into driving back :biggrin:

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Yes, Bryan, enjoy your birthday. You are still at an age with all the world in front of you. It is wonderful to see you grasping it with both hands and making the most of it. Life has provided you with opportunity. Seize it!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Besides the obvious excellence in your blog, now you're stirring up wonderful memories of my trips to California when my son was there, and especially the road trip I took with my other son and his then-girlfriend. Seeing those pictures of the left coast definitely make me go "awwwwwww....." :wub:

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Bryan what made the stuffed crab claw weak? In general this is one of my favorite standard dim sum dishes. Do you simply not care for the dish in general or was this a poor rendition? If the latter, what made it so?

To be honest, I've never had a version of this that I've found to stand out. While I love fried foods, I'd rather eat a nice fried shrimp ball and a "naked" crab claw then have the two combined. This rendition did little to change my mind, unfortunately.

So now I'm about to hop in the shower to head up to Yountville for my meal at Bouchon. We'll try to visit a winery or two or time permits. I've never been to the area, so we'll see what we're able to find.

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Am I wrong or does Thomas Keller also have like a burger stand out there too?

According to announcements, he will eventually open a burger place in Yountville. In the meantime he is opening a temporary restaurant in the same location called, "Ad Hoc" serving simple "American" food. I think Ad Hoc is due to open very soon.

click

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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California Day 2: Carmel to San Francisco

...

I thought this picture of the drive today was especially cool.  For some reason, dozens of kite surfers congregated on this one beach.  It was quite dramatic.

gallery_28660_3229_211370.jpg

...

This is a famous spot for windsurfing--at the outlet of Waddell Creek at the eastern end of Big Basin Redwood Park. (If you bring two cars you can take a wonderful 14 mile hike that starts deep in the redwoods in the mountains, pass large waterfalls and finally ends up at the beach. The change in terrain over the course of the hike is spectacular.) Green chile or artichoke soup at Duarte's in Pescadero with some of their home made bread alongside and pie for dessert is a good ending to the day. Another good option after coastal hikes in the area is a super burritto at Tres Amigo's on Hwy ! at the junction with Hwy 92 in Half Moon Bay.

Windsurfing at Waddell Beach

Waddell Beach, located across Highway 1 from the park entrance, is known worldwide as one of THE spots for windsurfing. The steady strong North West winds and good surf provide ideal conditions for this demanding sport. Launching from the tops of incoming waves the best windsurfers can complete full loops and continue on their way. With the strong winds and occasionally heavy surf, Waddell Beach is not recommended for novice wind surfers.

Farther up the coast, just north of Half Moon Bay at Pillar Point is the site of the Maverick's surfing competition and the largest waves in California. They are also among the larges wavest in the world for surfing at 30-70 feet.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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California Day 2: Carmel to San Francisco

...

I thought this picture of the drive today was especially cool.  For some reason, dozens of kite surfers congregated on this one beach.  It was quite dramatic.

gallery_28660_3229_211370.jpg

...

This is a famous spot for windsurfing--at the outlet of Waddell Creek at the eastern end of Big Basin Redwood Park. (If you bring two cars you can take a wonderful 14 mile hike that starts deep in the redwoods in the mountains, pass large waterfalls and finally ends up at the beach. The change in terrain over the course of the hike is spectacular.) Green chile or artichoke soup at Duarte's in Pescadero with some of their home made bread alongside and pie for dessert is a good ending to the day. Another good option after coastal hikes in the area is a super burritto at Tres Amigo's on Hwy ! at the junction with Hwy 92 in Half Moon Bay.

Windsurfing at Waddell Beach

Waddell Beach, located across Highway 1 from the park entrance, is known worldwide as one of THE spots for windsurfing. The steady strong North West winds and good surf provide ideal conditions for this demanding sport. Launching from the tops of incoming waves the best windsurfers can complete full loops and continue on their way. With the strong winds and occasionally heavy surf, Waddell Beach is not recommended for novice wind surfers.

Farther up the coast, just north of Half Moon Bay at Pillar Point is the site of the Maverick's surfing competition and the largest waves in California. They are also among the larges wavest in the world for surfing at 30-70 feet.

A WONDERFUL 14 MILE HIKE? :blink: Sorry, Ludja, but that phrase is totaly oxymoronic to me! :laugh:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Oh man, I love California. :wub: Thanks for the blog and the cool pics! I can't WAIT to see what you think of Bouchon.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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Happy birthday, Brian. I am enjoying your blog.

Hey, you were talking about pickled cherries upthread: what do you pickle your cherries in? I got a bunch yesterday and am contemplating making a quick pickle out of some of them in cider vinegar with five spice powder.

Blog on; I can't wait for the Bouchon installment.

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Hey, you were talking about pickled cherries upthread: what do you pickle your cherries in? I got a bunch yesterday and am contemplating making a quick pickle out of some of them in cider vinegar with five spice powder.

Blog on; I can't wait for the Bouchon installment.

I pickle my cherries in a mixutre of white wine vinegar, cider vinegar and sugar. I just mix until it tastes about right, so I don't have any proportions.

The Bouchon and Napa post is in production.

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Hey, you were talking about pickled cherries upthread: what do you pickle your cherries in? I got a bunch yesterday and am contemplating making a quick pickle out of some of them in cider vinegar with five spice powder.

Blog on; I can't wait for the Bouchon installment.

I pickle my cherries in a mixutre of white wine vinegar, cider vinegar and sugar. I just mix until it tastes about right, so I don't have any proportions.

The Bouchon and Napa post is in production.

i hope you had a wonderful time at bouchon...

they lost their best and one of the valley's most beloved bartenders saturday night. i wanted to stop by and say hi, but... my heart is really breaking.

sorry to add this to this blog, but if things were askew, its because he was supposed to be there today...

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Happy birthday, Bryan! Looks like you've been given (given yourself?) a wonderful present! Looking forward to the description of your meal at Bouchon.

Another tip for your next visit to Philly, as you mentioned upblog that you couldn't find too much authentic Mexican fare up your way: For some strange reason, Philadelphia has seen a strong wave of immigration from Mexico and to a lesser extent Central and South America over the past decade or so. This has given us a slew of Mexican and Latin American restaurants, including one decent one (Mixto, with a mostly Cuban-Caribbean menu) in Center City, several excellent ones in dicier neighborhoods further out (perhaps the best known of these is Tierra Colombiana at the upper end of the "Zona del Oro" in Hunting Park, whose owners also own Mixto), and a bunch of very good and pretty authentic Mexican places in the Italian Market area (e.g., Plaza Garibaldi and Taqueria Veracruzana on Washington Avenue and La Lupe on 9th Street itself). You might want to put one of these on your itinerary.

Edited to add: There's a discussion of Philly Mexican restaurants currently under way on the Pennsylvania board.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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California Day 3: San Francisco to the Napa Valley

First of all, let me say that the weather, and particularly the temperature, difference between the coast and the inland valley is extreme. It's chilly here in San Fran but scorching hot up by the wineries. Being in a convertible only magnifies this effect.

Anyway, onto the food and wine.

Bouchon

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Thomas Keller's bistro just down the street from The French Laundry.

Unfortunately, The French Laundry itself will have to wait for another trip. I could only get a reservation for yesterday the 15th for an early lunch and since we were in Carmel it was pretty much impossible.

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At least I know what to look for when I get back.

Back to Bouchon. People have asked me what food I eat "everyday." I would have to say that this is the food I would like to eat everyday if I could. Perhaps it's a little richer and saltier than what's good for me, but this is the bistro fare that I love.

Confit de Canard - sauteed duck confit with red cabbage salad and toasted pistachios

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Beignets de Brandade de Morue - cod brandade with tomato confit and fried sage

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Quiche du Jour - Florentine

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This was ridiculously good. By far the best quiche I've had and up there with the polenta with wild mushrooms and truffle reduction from Alto earlier this week in its revelatory nature.

Steak Frites - pan-seared prime flatiron served with maitre d'hotel butter and french fries

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I really liked this cut of steak. I can't find it back in the East, but it's meaty, tender, with a bit of chew. Great, very potato-y frites, too.

Poulet Roti - roasted chicken with a ragout of fingerling potatoes and garden arugula

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Bar a la Provencale - black bass with fennel, picholine olives, and lemon confit

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Such a nice dish. Simple in theory but complex with great flavor components.

We also had two desserts, the lemon tart and the profiteroles. Both very nice and surprsingly not that heavy.

Bouchon is a great bistro. Is all of the food mind-blowing? No. But it is very well executed and at a relatively reasonable price. We ordered some of the more expensive items off the menu but one could theoretically dine there for not much more than $30 p/p. My only complaint is that the portions are a little large, even a little uncomfortably so. I know you can easily just leave a dish and not finish it but when it tastes so good that's hard. We were VERY full at the end of this meal.

We stopped at two wineries, one big, one small. Domaine Chandon and Miner Family Wines. We took the tour at Domaine and did a basic tasting. The tour was relatively informative but the tasting was a bit too touristy for my tastes. The sparkling wines weren't all that great either.

Path to visitor's center

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Still wine aging cellar at Domaine Chandone

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Miner Family Wines is a less known winery that buys grapes from across California to make some very interesting blends. It was still crowded but the experience felt more authentic. Two of the wines, the Garys' Vineyard Pinot Noir and The Oracle (a merlot, cab sauv, and cab franc blend) were really quite special. They also didn't give me any trouble about my age, while Chandon made it somewhat more difficult for me to try their wines (I had to share with my mother).

Tasting room at Miner Family Wines

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Wine tasting menu

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Looking out to the acres and acres of grapes with the rising mountains in the background.

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And for those who haven't been to San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge. It's actually quite cool seeing the fog roll in on it.

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And now to get dressed for Gary Danko. My Gary Danko post will likely be the last signifcant post of this blog. I have until tomorrow morning (Pacific time) to answer any questions and make final remarks.

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Bryan~

I know I am not alone in being sorry to see your blog come to an end. I am delighted that you are enjoying California for your birthday.

Have a safe trip back and know that it is NOT always this hot in CA ! WHEW............. :sad: (107' in Paso wine country today.)

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So this is the last major post I'll be making in this blog. It's been a great week, capped off by a great meal. I'll do my best to stop by one more time tomorrow morning before my time is up.

Now, Gary Danko.

gallery_28660_3229_10556.jpg.

Any excellent meal by any standards. If I'm being hyper critical I put it just a notch or two below New York City's four-star restaurants because of a slight lack of formality (perhaps a plus for some) and a couple not-stellar dishes.

We each orderded five courses. Stupidly, I forgot to ask for a copy of the menus at the end of the meal; I was too full. Let me also add that the menu here is HUGE. We kind of felt like we were ordering off of one of the take-out Chinese menus with literally hundreds of options. The sheer number of dishes offered scared me at the beginning (and perhaps with good reason). Let's begin.

An amuse for the table of Thai coconut soup

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Me

Softshell crab, capers, tomatoes, basil

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Seared foie gras, brandied cherries, baby greens

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Roasted lobster, chanterelles

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Wild bison, black pepper gnocchi

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Chocolate souffle, creme anglaise, dark chocolate sauce

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The real deal. None of that warm chocolate cake stuff.

The Sister

Corn soup, summer black truffles, ravioli

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Lobster salad, tropical fruit

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Spiced tuna, piquillo peppers

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Moroccan spiced squab, cous cous (aka the cous cous explosion!)

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This was one of the rare clunkers of the night. Too much cous cous, not enough squab, kind of just a big mush. It didn't taste bad but the amount of cous cous was just ridiculous, especially this late in the meal. In general, we found the mains to be the weakest point of the meal throughout and the portions for these mains were WAYYY too large.

Cherry and chocolate sampler

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The Mother

Glazed oysters, osetra caviar, zuchinni pearls (aka "Oyster and Pearls" a la Gary Danko)

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It even looks similar to the original.

Horseradish crusted salmon

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Breast of guinea hen, Spanish rice, piquillo peppers, clam ragout, caseless boudin blanc sausage (a deconstructed paella)

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This was the best of the mains we had and a cool idea. Still, too heavy and, mainly, much too large a portion

Selections from the cheese cart

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Some of the better cheese I've had. This blew the composed cheese course I had at per se last year out of the water. Great selections thanks to our captain (more on her below).

Roasted apricots

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All in all, Gary Danko was an excellent experience. Although the highs were only very good to excellent but not revelatory and a couple of the mains were somewhat staid, the meal was still among the most solid and enjoyable I've had. Gary Danko is not a place to reach unimagined culinary heights but rather one to enjoy generally excellent food in a somewhat new but entirely logical way. Our captain was truly a standout and helped to make the night what it was. Some captains are haughty, others are cloyingly intent to please. Tonight, ours was very intelligent, well-spoken, and friendly; certainly, one of the best I've had. I did wine pairings (at a very reasonable $50) and she let me try a couple different things to see what suited my taste and gave me and my mother an extra pour for the cheese course even though it wasn't necessarily included. All of this was done subtly and without pretense or making it seem like she was really going out of her way to do us a favor.

So one more time, let me bid you all good night. As I said, I'll try to check in one more time tomorrow morning to leave my final farewell before we head off to Berkeley and Stanford for some college visits for my sister. After that it's a red eye home back to a heat wave brewing in the East.

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      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
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