Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Wall, Taipei

This really isn't food, but I wanted to blog about it anyways. A drink is consumable!!! Music is consumable!!!

There are literally only a handful of places where you can get a dose of rock and indie music in Taipei. Your best bet is to head south from National Taiwan University on Roosevelt, cross the GIANT intersection under the overpass, and fall into the hole that is The Wall. The Wall is one part body art parlor, one part indie record store (much like School Kids or Record Exchange), one part recording/practice studio, and one part performance space. Connecting all these [literally] underground shops is a foyer of sorts, where alternative-looking people gather to talk about the latest band, trend, or just life in general. The Wall has shows from Wednesday night through the weekend, featuring local bands and foreign heavyweights alike. While I was there, Four Tet made an appearance, as well as local darlings Selfkill, Orange Grass (Trng Tsao), and Tizzy Bac.

The 300NTD cover (about 10 bucks), you get a drink and at the least, 3 bands. I'm not sure what it was I drank, but I think it had grenadine in it?
Sombody's highschool band:
Gratuitous photo of Erland Oye, Norwegian indie stud, whose side project "Whitest Boy Alive" is being heavily promoted by White Wabbit Records, token record company of all things indie in Taiwan:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Macarons, East Si-ide

I'll digress a bit from the usual restaurant and multi-course meals and fill you in on what I did all day while in Taiwan. Work days at VVG, depending on who you are, can range from 20+ hours to just a couple of hours of serving hors d'oeuvres. The mornings are a mad rush to prepare hors d'oeuvres that will be served either late afternoon or that evening. The afternoons are a mad rush of pulling various silverware, china, glasses, and utensils for each event. The platters and cups are carefully selected to coordinate with whatever canape is being served that night. The best day working would be one where you just show up to the event and pass around canapes at posh product launch parties. I had an early day at work one day, and got to leave at about 2pm after I had finished assembling the canapes. I was going to venture out in the fun and exciting East Side of Taipei to find food, as I had neglected to feed myself on the way to work.

The East Side (Not really the east side; mostly just an area of new development) of Taipei is one of the "NEW! EXCITING! TRENDY!" places that you must visit. It spans Zhong Shiao Dong(east) Road and the Shin Yi District. Within the rough bounds of this area contains anything from Taipei 101 and the mega malls to small streets lined with the same kind of shop that warrant nicknames like "tea street" or "beef noodle" street. There are whole streets with lined exclusively with Korean clothing boutiques, or tea merchants (not to be confused with stores that sell bubble tea variations). With so much to choose from, you need more than a day to fully sample what all is there to taste.

Luckily, my boss felt sorry for me not having eaten, and donated a few macarons to the "i need feed" cause. The macarons below come from Franciacorta Maison de Patisserie on Yan Ji St between Shin Yi Rd and Ren Ai Rd. (MapQuest) Christabelle has a good review of the shop, if you can read Chinese. This dude has pictures of them in their nifty boxes on his flickr page. I thought the macarons tasted just fine, perhaps a bit too sweet. My boss and the other culinary masters at VVG decided that they were nothing exceptional. I think a good macaron has to be fluffy with a hint of chewy, sweet but not too sweet. The easiest mistake to make is to make your macaron too sugary...just ask Joel Robuchon.

Indian Cuisine in Taiwan

When I went to Taichung last summer, we stayed in the Jing Chu Hotel (called The Splendor in English), across the street from the SOGO (chain of department stores recently involved in a scandal with Taiwanese President Chen Sui Bian). Also across the street is an Indian restaurant called "Shiang Liao Woo," or "The Spice Shop" in English. The restaurant is literally a hole in the wall, if said hole were orange and tasty. Recently, Indian restaurants such as the "Andrew" have popped up in Taichung, but I am wary of their authenticity (what kind of Indian restaurant is named Andrew?!).

The decor was mostly orange, with these interesting lights that reminded me of light up boobs in the Electric 6 music video for "Danger, High Voltage". (Do not watch the video if you don't like obscene things. Otherwise, it's quite entertaining.)

One of my favorite Indian foods are samosas. First of all, whoever invented eating tetrahedrons deserves a pat on the back. They are golden and crispy on the outside, with varying fillings on the inside depending on what you order. It can contain meats like chicken, but I prefer the vegetarian ones, with mainly potatoes, peas, carrots, and spices. Samosas are so portable and easy. I was in NY visiting my best friend and we bought a bag of them at Grand Central Terminal and walked around the city eating them. If you are hesitant to try new cuisines, samosas are a good, safe (meaning not too spicy, not too "weird") gateway to deliciousness.
NAAN! To think I didn't know what naan was until I got to France?!?! Naan is delicious flat bread that you eat with the various juicy dishes. It is a little bit fluffy on the inside, with a slightly crispy outside, that, when chewed, turns a bit chewy in texture. It is delicious plain, or with spices baked into it. The one shown below only has butter on it.
This picture is slightly on the dark side, but I'm going to venture a guess that this was chicken tikki masala.
The dish below is lamb.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day

For the past couple of years, I have not been in America for the 4th of July. As such, my friends made sure that I had a very patriotic day, with these ready-to-bake flag cookies. I remember in high school, people's parents would bake the slice-and-bake easter cookies with the bunnies on them, or the christmas cookies with the christmas trees on them. Today, we have totally evolved beyond that, with cookies that you can dump out of a bag, READY in cookie form, to be baked. No preparation necessary at all!