Wissembourg, Alasce: Kugelhopf, Little Goats, and Cheese

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 8 No tags Permalink 0

A few more notes on Wissembourg before we head back to Paris.

I’ve been lucky to travel a good deal in the last few years, and this trip was certainly among the best. Growing up in Hawai’i we usually traveled in the direction of Asia, exploring Bangkok, Tokyo, China, and my parent’s hometown of Vietnam (we’re of Chinese descent but have three generations in Vietnam). Luckily my parents and sister love traveling just as much, if not more.

Now that I live in NYC, I’m making it a priority to explore more of Europe. We have Italy and Greece on our list for next year. Fingers crossed we can make it happen. But there is always Hawai’i, and no matter where I go, you can always count on me visiting Hawai’i at least twice a year.

Now, getting back on subject. I’ve written of the beautiful mirabelles and mille-feuilles, and a spectacular tarte flambée, all essential elements of this holiday. The best food we ate was really the home cooking from Pierre’s mom. I mean, when is home cooking not the best? ;) His parents had just come back from Carnac, Brittany the day before we visited. They brought back wonders like golden Breton Butter Cakes

…and fresh eggs from his grandma’s farm. We visited the farm last year remember?

We indulged a bit too much on the first few days in Wissembourg. Excellent wines, cheese at every meal, foie gras, and of course that tarte flambée I can’t get out of my mind. It was that good.

So on out last day, lighter food was in order, and Pierre’s mom whipped up a clean stir fry with plenty of ginger and all the vegetables from the garden.

We had a different fish preparation each day…

…always paired with salad. Collards greens (also from the garden!) sautéed with thin sliced onions and raisins.

One morning we woke to a fresh Kugelhopf, almond-studded on top and with an abundance of plump golden raisins. I wish I could send you the yeasty, sweet and nutty scent of warm kugelhopf over the computer!

Here it was rising the night before.

And then, breakfast. Always with a pot of Jasmine tea. Espresso for Pierre.

P.S. One afternoon while walking to town, we found this little goat. The poor thing was lost, no more than a month old. He was frightened by passing cars but affectionate and trusting with humans. He even walked up to a girl in a cafe and tried to lick her ice cream cone! A lady eventually picked up (just like that, with both arms) and put him in the front seat of the car. She drove little goat to the police station, and he sat in the car seat, quiet and calm as if he belonged there!

China: Snapshots from Bin Zhou

Sunday, July 24, 2011 0 No tags Permalink 0

Small breakfast at the hotel in Bin Zhou

Hope everyone is staying cool in this ridiculous weather. After running around five different neighborhoods by bus, foot, and cab on Friday – what was one of the hottest days (104F!) in history, my goal is to avoid the heat. And to cut down on the air conditioning bill at home I’ve been working from Argo Tea on University Place this weekend. It’s so cold inside there that I have to bring a sweater hah.


I’ve been back in NYC for over a month since our China holiday, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll just won’t be able to post everything I would like before our next vacation. Instead I’ll settle for highlights from the different cities. Today we have snapshots from Bin Zhou, a city in Shandong province.

Hot pot around a lazy susan. Everyone had their own mini pot!

More than enough food to go around. After we had all the food that required cooking in the hot pot, we were served beef “sashimi.” Paper thin (see-through thin!) slices of beef served in a deep bowl made of ice. They say you have to finish on the cold raw beef to cool the body.

Stopping in for a cup of tea in the afternoon.

Eating pork floss buns in the car with my sister.

More tea, this time at the office. So elaborate!

Instead of rice, bread and noodles are the main form of starch in Bin Zhou. One of the appetizers served at our first dinner here was this steamed loaf of bread. It came with preserved tofu on the right, a creamy fish paste on the left, and in the center, steamed salty pork and eggs. You’re supposed to smear the paste and tofu on the bread and top with the pork and eggs. Addictive!

Hefei, China: Sesame-Peanut Cookies and Fluffy Cakes

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 0 No tags Permalink 0

[Am currently in Washington DC for the 2011 Summer Fancy Food Show, but wanted to share nibbles and adventures from the rest of my China trip. Hope the week is off to a great start for everyone!]

In Hefei, a small city located within the Anhui province of China, the local sweet/dessert specialty are these sesame-speckled cookies. The cookies are fattened from a combination of both peanut and sesame oil, making them incredibly fragrant with a rich, crumbly texture.

They come from a local sweet shop where lines are out the door at all hours. Luckily, our friend offered to take charge of the cookie pick-up while we were getting massages at a nearby spa, hehehe ^-^

Mini-versions are available as well. The original size cookies are speckled in black sesame seeds while the mini ones have toasty white sesame seeds. Single biters, just drop ‘em in your mouth.

Purchased by the pound! I thought this was a bit excessive, but somehow my sister and I finished it all. They’re not crunchy, but crumbly-crisp, just melting in your mouth like ahhh. Seriously made for a hot cup of green tea.

Fluffy oval cakes are the other specialty, also sold by weight. Unlike the steamed sponge cakes we often see in Chinese bakeries here in the US, these were more structured, and the surface don’t “peel off” the way they do with the steamed cakes…

…but they are equally moist and fluffy!