Thursday, March 26, 2009
Well, I'll be!
We leave for Singapore tomorrow where we'll bask in the hot tropical sun for the next ten days. It's an early morning flight so we'll have to leave at 6.30am. I've booked the cab, tidied the apartment and tied some loose ends.
All I need to do now is pack our luggage. That and pray our water pipes don't burst in our absence.
Coming home to a flooded apartment after a holiday is just so wrong.
Labels: Beijing, going places, home life
The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 7:39 pm
Times Are A-Changing
Saturday, March 21, 2009
So Sonny-boy hustles me into the study to show me some pictures he's done with Club Penguin, his online flavour of the month.
Well, the artwork turned out to be a full-blown eight page Powerpoint slide presentation complete with introduction, maps and how-to tips. All done by himself while I was snoozing in this morning.
Whatever happened to good old paper and markers?
In any case, well done, my dear son. Mum's suitably impressed.
Labels: home life
The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 6:28 am
Spring Has Sprung!
Friday, March 20, 2009
Today marks the passing of The March Equinox. I want to say something clever and intellectual but science and geography were never my forte in school so why pretend to be knowledgeable now? However, what I do glean from this natural phenomenon is it marks the change in seasons.
Good-bye Winter, hello Spring!
And to celebrate, I'm wearing this impossibly bright cerise coloured knit top which comes with a pretty grosgrain ribbon tie at the waist and my trusty black tailored slacks. I'd initially started the day with a gathered skirt but switched to trousers as it got real windy as the day progressed.
No need to inflict the world with sightings of my knickers - I'm already blinding them with my top.
Happy Spring, everyone!
Labels: Beijing, home life
The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 9:38 am
Don't Know What I'll Do With It But I Want It All The Same
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Saw the above in a magazine I was reading while waiting my turn yesterday. It was a good thing I was alone in the reception area because it just won't do to see a grown lady, made-up and all, drool into a magazine.
This lovely, lovely, lovely clutch purse is actually a laptop! I don't care about all the technical specifics (eh?), but what's making my eyes dilate, my breathing irregular and fingers resembling overcooked spaghetti is the purdy Peony cover design and the deep red keyboard. Red! My favourite colour! If ever there was a lady's laptop, this would be it. I think Vivienne Tam designs beautiful clothing which I admire for its femininity but she's really hit the mark in her collaboration with Hewlett Packard on this one. Maybe it's just me, I have a soft spot for Chinese motifs and design, especially when used in clever, modern ways.
This is a good show-off piece - it would be a sin not to flaunt it. Imagine whipping this nifty little thing out at a chic cafe or anywhere else for that matter. They will stare... I don't know if this mini HP is the bees' knees in terms of technology ( I must ask the resident expert later when he gets home) but for the wow factor, it's right up there.
Again, I want, I lust, but the million dollar question remains on this non-gadget girl's lips ...
Just what will I do with it?
The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 1:45 am
Monday, March 16, 2009
I'm counting the days till we are in Singapore. We are down to two weeks.
Plans have been made with family and friends and we can't wait to eat our way through this holiday. Also on the agenda is some shopping - I am hoping to get a pair of black Varinas for daily use. And while shoe shopping, I will also pop by the Louboutin boutique for a look-see but reckon I won't be buying anything from there. I love my heels and stilettos but Louboutin isn't really my style. But still, no harm in admiring pairs of perfectly designed shoes is there?
I can hear my wonky slipped discs give a collective sigh of relief.
Labels: home life
The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 4:33 am
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Ai Jiang Shan is our go-to place for Korean barbecues. The restaurant is in a stand alone two storey building. The decor and ambience is lush, sedate with lashings of zen thrown in. There is a little stream running through the main dining hall complete with bridges et al. The bridges serve a practical purpose. You really do need it to get to the other side. At the hall way towards the entrance, a quartet plays traditional Chinese/Korean music. For bigger parties, there are the private dining rooms which run down the middle of the restaurant. For absolute peace and privacy, going upstairs would be your best bet. We did once, but it was a tad too quiet for us. It was not unlike eating in a mausoleum. To complete the aesthetics, staff are all dressed in traditional clothing which change with the season.
Then there's the food. I'm not a professional critic nor imagine myself to be one but I know what I like. And this I like very much. Here are pictures from our last meal there and I think they speak for themselves:
Edited on 16 March:
This is Ai Jiang Shan's official website. It's all in Chinese though but even if you can't read the words, the photos are still drool worthy.
Labels: asian food, Beijing, eating out
The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 1:53 am
There You Are!
Monday, March 09, 2009
A not quite so long-lost friend said hi today. I am very pleased, what a wonderful way to start the week.
If families are the main meal, then friends must be dessert. They make our lives that much sweeter.
Labels: home life
The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 10:38 am
At Ten Fu - Da Hong Pao Tea
Friday, March 06, 2009
I was in downtown Wangfujing to pick up an outfit I'd reserved the day before. I then remembered I had to restock my supply of oolong tea - Tie Guan Yin (Iron Buddha) to be exact - so off I went to a Ten Fu store in the same mall.
The two sales assistants were smoother than a cup of aged pu-erh. I'm a regular so they recognize me. And because I'm a regular, they know I'm not leaving the store empty-handed. So they draw me in, set me down at the tea table and began brewing a range of newly arrived teas while plying me with little snacks.
Hoover damn! These ladies are good.
To cut a long story short, I ended up buying two kinds of tea which set me back by €64. Tie Guan Yin at €30 for 150g and Da Hong Pao at €34 for a measly 80g. I was told the plantation only harvests Da Hong Pao once a year. I shall just have to take their word for it. Whatever it is, there's no denying the taste nor quality. By all definitions it is a good cup of tea but most importantly, I find it delicious. The Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe which really should be known as Big Red Hole in My Pocket) will be my little treat of the week.
During steeping, the leaves emit a fresh and fragrant aroma; with a hint of peach even. It goes down easily and leaves a refreshing sweet aftertaste without the parched feeling one gets from certain kinds of Chinese tea.
Here's how to brew Da Hong Pao Tea. I will try the recommended method over the weekend with my special brown clay tea set. So far, I've drunk it from a clear double barrel glass cup. Very unceremonious of me!
The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 2:49 am
Saturday Golf And Dim Sum Lunch
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Of late, our Saturday afternoons have been taken up by golf lessons. By 'our', I collectively mean all three of us. Sonny-boy gets his own golf teacher and goes off for his private lesson while Hubs and I share another instructor. All this is conducted indoors at Central Golf Beijing. When Sonny-boy heard we would be taught by professional golfers from the PGA, his face lit up and asked if Tiger Woods would be one of them.
Hubs does not need the lessons as much as he needs some brushing up tips. I'm the one who's the (severe) work in progress. I am told my grip and posture is good, but there is much to be desired in my swing. Truth be told, I'm not too passionate about golf in the first place but Hubs is and this is something we can do as a couple or family. I think he appreciates me making the effort since I'm none too sporty. Why would I want to hit a ball, chase after it, hit it again till it lands in some hole? All this in the scorching sun too! But like I said, if learning to play will increase our couple time, then I'm all for it. The other saving grace I suppose is the cute clothing and accessories I may need to get when I start to play properly on the green.
Sonny-boy on the other hand, has taken to it like fish to water. Sure he has to work on his technique and swing but the feel is there. It is with both pride and embarrassment I say he hits the balls better than me. It's a good thing too because on a whim last year, Hubs bought a complete set of kids' clubs for him. Now Sonny-boy is able to use them as the manufacturer intended and not let it sit in a corner and collect dust.
Last Saturday, after said golf lesson, we went off in search of some lunch. We decided to stay around the massive shopping mall the school was situated in and eventually found ourselves outside a Shanghainese restaurant. It looked rather posh and inviting so we all trundled in. And posh it was. The tables were set with contrasting damask tablecloths, bone china for plates and spoons and two pairs of silver tipped chopsticks (a pair in black and the other white) on a silver holder. It takes three staff (kitchen help to waitress, waitress to head waiter) to play Pass The Food and Beverage before it gets onto the table. And every time my tea cup was empty, a waitress would miraculously appear by my side and refill it. I could have done it myself seeing as how the tea pot was next to the cup but i) it's nice to be pampered and ii) the waitress was faster than an Iron Chef contestant. The two men didn't get such luck - they ordered a draft beer and coke.
The menu read like a who's who in Chinese delicacies and the greedy monster in me wanted to order all sorts of wonderful dishes but common sense gave me a slap on the face to remind me it was lunch, not dinner we're at. Instead, we looked at the dim sum menu for lighter fare. We were not disappointed either, no feeling of consolation prizes because the Big One got away. For starters we ordered a big plate of sashimi with all the trimmings followed by warm dishes of xiao long bao, pot stickers, dumplings, stuffed steamed buns and soupy pulled noodles. To end it all off, I had glutinous rice balls in lotus and osmanthus flower syrup. It was super!
This restaurant is a keeper and perhaps the next time, we are there, I will try and make the effort to remember the name. I was too distracted and dazzled that day to see past my silver tipped chopsticks.
Labels: asian food, Beijing, eating out, home life
The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 2:03 am