Monday, November 28, 2016

my edible Beijing

Obviously, one of my plans while in Beijing was to get as much local food as I could into my mouth! I didn't have many opportunities to eat out, but I think I did pretty well!

My very first day I went to meet a friend from back when I was a student and who also happened to be in Beijing for work! What a coincidence! Anyhow, we went to a Yunnan restaurant by a river not far from my hotel. Yunnan food was one of our favourites – spicy, earthy, lots of kinds of mushrooms... Not only was I having lunch with a friend I had made in the late nineties, but I was also enjoying such a fantastic meal!

But, truth be told, most of my explorations had to take place during breakfast and lunch at the hotel. Which wasn't that bad, the food was good! And diverse! I had Peking duck – sorry, being back home meant for me pushing veganism aside and having some of those familiar flavours again – and bean pancakes, I had all sorts of noodles and wonton soup, I had all the dumplings I could and – probably what made my mornings the happiest – congee (wiii!!!), I had matcha ice-cream and numerous local sweet treats... I had every single Chinese item I could at the buffet!

And when I did manage to eat outside, I was lucky too! Visiting another couple of friends from when my habib and me lived in Beijing, it just so happened that they were ordering dinner in, and when I mentioned I'd love to have jiaozi (dumplings), they ordered some from a super good place nearby and I had the best dumplings during my whole visit! This made me so happy! And this was during my very first day in Beijing! They were just as they had to, with vinegar, soy sauce, a thick earthy oily chili sauce...

On my last day, on the other hand, while visiting Beihai Park I came across this snack shop, packed with all the local stuff we used to have when walking around some of the city's parks! I can't remember the names of this things, but they sure brought back good memories!

On another night, though I couldn't get to one of our favourite places (Bellagio), I did find a place in Sanlitun that specialized in a few items like Dandan noodles (dandanmian)! Damn good. Damn good. Spicy enough. Peanut bits. Tons of delicious thin noodles... Ahhh....

Finally, on the next to last night we went to a famous dumpling place nearby. Frankly, I wasn't too excited about the dumplings, they were a bit too contemporary for my nostalgic self. They were filled with gongbao chicken, with shrimp and cucumber, with crunchy purple rice... They were different colours... I'm lucky I had my traditional ones on my first night! But why I did have that I loved was the tofu strips you see below, and Szechuan green beans! So good! So good. So old-school. So good.

And this? Well, this doesn't really fit anywhere else. And it's food. So why not? I had a six-hour stopover at Charles de Gaulle on my way back. So I had the most French thing I could find – a tartelette au citron meringuée, with a double espresso (to keep me going the whole six hours!).  

Ah... Food, most glorious – Chinese, and some French – food...

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