Voting for Project Food Blog Round 8 is open!

>>  Monday, November 29, 2010

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Voting for Project Food Blog Round 8 is now open! You can check out my entry and vote here.

I can't reiterate how much I appreciate all your support in this competition so far. Thank you so much for your kind words, encouraging comments, and of course, votes, the last seven (!!) rounds. I never anticipated I would make it this far in the challenge, but here we are!

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Project Food Blog Round 8: An Unusual Take on Pumpkin

>>  Sunday, November 28, 2010

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Voting is now open! To vote, click here.

Just imagine with me for a moment . . . .

It is the late 1800's and you are living in Xiamen (Amoy Island) in Southern China. It's only 6AM, but you know you have to get to the market soon before the rice mill closes.

Rice mill?

Well of course! How else are you going to be able to get the rice to that fine consistency to make your lovely pumpkin cakes? You would hate to have to hand-grind it! Thank God for modern technology! You're so glad you remembered to soak the rice overnight so that you could bring it to the mill today.

Wait, did you say Pumpkin cake?

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Da Dong {Beiing, China}

>>  Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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How often do you get to eat some of the best Peking duck in the world four times in one week?

I personally don't love Peking duck (if you haven't picked up by now, I'm not a huge meat eater), but it's one of Bryan's favorite foods, so while we were in the mecca of Peking Duck Land, it seemed imperative that we at least check out the best places.

There are several of those.

We only had a week in Beijing.

So guess what? We ended up eating Peking duck almost every night.

I already described in a previous post Bryan's favorite Peking duck restaurant in China. Although I agree that Made In China has a beautiful ambiance, excellent duck, and superb service, I personally enjoyed my experience at Da Dong the most.

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Dumpling Cafe

>>  Tuesday, November 23, 2010

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The Taiwanese restaurant scene in Boston today is eons better (and continually improving) compared to what it was 15 years ago when I first moved to Boston. Back then, Wisteria House on Newbury Street (now closed) was the only option around. Cantonese dining was the predominant Chinese cuisine, and most of that was in Chinatown.

Fast forward to 2010. Not only do we have a nice variety of excellent Taiwanese-style restaurants from which to choose (e.g., Taiwan Cafe, Shangri La, and Gourmet Dumpling House), we also have upscale Taiwanese inspired restaurants along with Taiwanese restaurants in the suburbs.

So is there room for another Taiwanese restaurant?

Just a few months ago Dumpling Cafe opened in Chinatown. Though its name implies it's merely a dumpling house, Dumpling Cafe actually has quite an extensive menu of authentic Taiwanese dishes, traditional Chinese dishes, and (of course), dumplings.

A couple weeks ago I was in Chinatown with my friends Peter and Chia Chi filming footage for my Hand-Pulled Noodles video (you can see me walking into Dumpling Cafe in the video). Because I had heard initial positive reports about this place, we decided to see what it was all about.

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Bao Yuan Dumpling House [宝源饺子屋]

>>  Friday, November 19, 2010

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This is part 5 of the China Series detailing my recent trip to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. Other posts in this series include part 1: Wander the Streets of Beijing, part 2: Xian'r Lao Man (Dumplings), part 3: Made in China {Peking Duck}, part 4: Noodle Bar and some other preview posts: China: Lost in Translation, and Happy Birthday Bryan: an Ode to Noodles and Ducks.

Back early in the days when we were still dating, Bryan once asked me,

"If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?"

The silence lasted only a few moments. "Dumplings!" I blurted out with confidence.

You can imagine his surprise. Not fatty tuna? Not ice cream? Dumplings???

I think dumplings are the perfect food: tiny complete packages with virtually all your food groups tucked inside. An ideal dumpling (in my opinion), has a healthy ratio of vegetables to meat (I prefer about 7:1, but I'm veggie-centric in that way), and is wrapped up in a thin yet strong and wonderfully chewy skin. My favorite dumplings are from Din Tai Fung.*  Their pork vegetable dumplings have the absolutely perfect combination of the three elements I describe above.

So of course while I was in Northern China, which is known for its dumplings, I had to seek out Beijing's local rendition of my favorite food.

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Greetings from Tokyo!

>>  Thursday, November 18, 2010

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Greetings from Tokyo!

Bryan and I are here because Bryan had a business trip out here, so I decided to tag along. I absolutely love Japan, and what better way to spend my birthday (yes, today's my birthday) than in one of my favorite cities in the world?

This afternoon I trekked out to Kappabashi, Japan's premier destination for restaurant and kitchen supplies. This street is AWESOME! Imagine several city blocks worth of kitchen stores, all selling their own special wares. I saw stores dedicated to miso bowls, knives, fake display food (these were hilarious!), woks, baking supplies, store signs, chairs, and the list goes on and on. The prices were very reasonable (beautiful miso bowls for only a few dollars each!), and the variety of choices was astounding.

It was hard not to buy up the whole street (I have this weakness for pretty Japanese dishware even though my kitchen absolutely cannot fit any more things). I exercised tons of self-restraint and limited myself to buying things I could reasonably carry home.

In other food news, we plan on going back to one of my favorite sushi places as well as checking out a few others. While Bryan's been away during the day, I've been exploring Tokyo's depachika (gloriously diverse and bountiful food stalls in the basements of department stores). There's a ton of amazing food in these basements - definitely something worth checking out!

Anyway, I promise to report back on all the gory details of these food trips soon, complete with tons of photographs (and even video!!!).

Finally, as a reminder, today is the last day to vote for Project Food Blog. Check out my entry here and vote if you are so inclined.

Thanks!

Because I cannot access my photos from my actual camera right now, you are stuck with my iPhone pics!
Totoros and Domo in Japan *Shibuya)
Domo trying to eat Tokyo while Totoros stare off cluelessly in the distance.

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Noodle Bar {Beijing, China}

>>  Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Noodle Bar Beijing
This is part 4 of the China Series detailing my recent trip to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. Other posts in this series include part 1: Wander the Streets of Beijing, part 2: Xian'r Lao Man (Dumplings), part 3: Made in China {Peking Duck}, and some other preview posts: China: Lost in Translation, and Happy Birthday Bryan: an Ode to Noodles and Ducks.

Welcome to Noodle Bar, a cozy, authentic, and absolutely charming hand-pulled noodle bar in Beijing.

I've realized I love true noodle bars. You know, the kind where the entire restaurant is just one circular bar with a bunch of barstools surrounding the bar. Everyone gets front row seats to the awesome hand-pulling noodle action. It's super fun to watch your noodle dough get pounded, bounced, and then pulled right in front of your eyes. Plus, you get to interact with the chefs a lot more in this setting (ha ha, assuming you are proficient in the language!). It's intimate, relaxing, and really enjoyable.

In view of my current entry in Round 7 of Project Food Blog (how to make hand-pulled noodles), I thought this post would be the perfect segue back into the China series.

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Voting for Project Food Blog Round 7 is open!

>>  Monday, November 15, 2010

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Hi everyone. I can't believe I am still in the running after so many rounds. Seriously, thank you SO MUCH for all your votes. It goes without saying, but I obviously wouldn't be this far without your support and encouragement.

This round was a new challenge for me. I had never filmed and edited a video before! Bryan ordered some video editing software for me a couple weeks ago (after I found out I had advanced), and it's been a whirlwind learning experience ever since!

I actually had TONS of fun making this video. Please check it out and vote here if you are so inclined.

Thanks so much!

In other news, I am currently in Beijing (AGAIN!) and going to Tokyo today!! Bryan had a last minute business trip to Asia so I decided to come with him. In the brief time I was here, I took a hand-pulled noodle class with an actual Beiing noodle master and also tried a bunch of street foods.

In that spirit, I will be continuing the China Series this week.

Cheers!

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Project Food Blog Round 7: Hand Pulled Noodles

>>  Friday, November 12, 2010

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There is something elusive and almost magical about hand-pulled noodles.

First off, the texture is out-of-this-world. It's fresh and chewy with a natural resistance that just springs back. In Taiwanese, we call it "Q," similar to al dente in Italian, but with just a tad more "bounce."

The art of hand-pulled noodles is even more elusive. It takes a trained artisan to understand how to work the dough to the right consistency so that it can be successfully stretched, twirled, and pulled. Furthermore, the golden window of opportunity in which the dough can be pulled into noodles is short - act quickly or else start over!

Noodle pullers typically train for at least a year with a Noodle Master before they are even allowed to make noodles for customers. It's tricky to pull out perfectly smooth, even, and chewy noodles without breaking the strands!
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It's almost hypnotic to watch a master swinging that rope of dough in front of you - pull, twirl, pull, twirl.

And it's not just for show. In fact, all that pulling and twisting helps align the dough proteins, making it possible to stretch that dough out into such thin strands.
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The technique associated with making hand-pulled noodles is virtually impossible to describe or explain without visuals, which is why a video is the perfect tool for introducing you to this art.

For Round 7 of Project Food Blog, we were asked to create a video putting "one of our favorite recipes on film." As you know, Bryan absolutely loves fresh hand-pulled noodles and Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup is the ultimate comfort food that reminds me of home.

I could think of no better dish to share with you all than this classic Taiwanese street dish.

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Wylie Dufresne - "Meat Glue Mania"

>>  Tuesday, November 09, 2010

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“The Turducken lives on thanks to meat glue.”

I had the incredible opportunity to hear Wylie Dufresne talk about meat glue at a lecture at Harvard University on Monday evening. If you don’t know who Wylie Dufresne is, his restaurant WD-50 is probably the closest thing that New York City has to Alinea, the Chicago “king” of molecular gastronomy.

Why did Wylie Dufresne open WD-50?

“I wanted to know more, so, one of my primary goals in creating WD-50 was to create a place where we could continue our culinary education.”

“We’ve only just begun to understand what is going on with food.” “We have been cooking forever but we are not very learned about food.”
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How true. Mankind has been cooking food with fire for eons now, but it has only been in the last century or so that we have really begun to understand the science behind food.

As a chemistry major in college and a former synthetic chemist, I couldn’t help but get super excited about this talk. Molecular gastronomy is the marriage of two of my loves – science and food.

Without further ado, here’s a brief summary of Wylie Dufresne’s talk, "Meat Glue Mania."
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Foodbuzz Festival 2010

>>  Monday, November 08, 2010

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It's been a crazy weekend for me! I worked like a madwoman this week so I could finish up my Project Food Blog video by Thursday evening (which turned out to be the wee hour of Friday morning) so that I could hop on an 8 AM flight to San Francisco.

My purposes were twofold. Dear friends of mine from college were getting married in Silicon Valley this weekend. At the same time, the second annual Foodbuzz Festival was going on in San Francisco! I went to the festival last year and had a fantastic time trying out street foods, artisanal products, attending an olive oil tasting, and brunching at Lulu's.

Though I was bummed I would not be able to attend the whole conference this year, I was happy that the wedding was in Northern California so that I could at least attend the Foodbuzz Festival on Friday night.

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Pho 'N Rice

>>  Wednesday, November 03, 2010

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Pho is one of those dishes that is a royal pain to make at home and is also ridiculously inexpensive at a restaurant - which could just very well explain why I don't know a single person who makes it at home. The one bowl of pho I tried making once still paled in comparison to the real thing.

For us, the old standby is Le's (formerly Pho Pasteur) in Havard Square. They have a few locations around the city, all of which are located in difficult-to-park places. They are cheap, fast, and offer up a solid bowl of hot, steaming pho.

So when we discovered that there was a new pho place just a few minutes drive away in Somerville (with plenty of parking), we knew we had to try it.

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Boston Magazine {Top 50 Restaurants for 2010}

>>  Monday, November 01, 2010

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photo courtesy of Boston Magazine

Boston Magazine's  "The 50 Best Restaurants" edition hits the newsstands today.  It's self titled "An unapologetic totally subjective guide to dining out right now."

I guess in some sense all food opinions are subjective, since you have to personally like the food in order to rate it highly, right? Still, diners tend to trust "experts" when it comes to rating food, and lists like these can largely affect the success of a small business.

Anyway, the list and my thoughts about this list are below. I was surprised to note that I had written posts for 17 of these restaurants. Not too bad considering how old this blog is.

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