Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Culinary Tour

We have had our fair share of visitors since we made the move to Taiwan.  I have seen and done a lot of things around the Island, some very touristy, some not so much. What I find super interesting is that locals do not do the normal touristy stuff, Venus is experiencing some of the things we go and do for the very first time right along with us and she has lived here her whole life!  In fact she just told me today that she visited the Chiang Kai Shek memorial for the first time this weekend, I think I have been 4 times.

When my brother said that he wanted to come visit I knew that what he would want to see would be different from what my mom and sister had been interested in.  We still had to hit some of the normal things like Taipei 101, but the main focus of his visit was FOOD.  He loves to cook, and he loves to eat good food, new food, unusual food.  He is not afraid to try anything.

His trip was scheduled and we were looking forward to his visit and then we hit a bump.  The company needed us to come home 2 weeks before we were scheduled to leave for some meetings.  We made the decision for John to go back and Zane and I would follow after my brother's visit.  I won't say I'm glad John was not here, but we did have a really good time just hanging out without spouses.  It would have been fun if Tashe or John or both had been here, but it was nice the way it worked out.

So what did we eat?  I planned our food mostly around the old streets of Taiwan.  Some of the towns are known for certain things and I wanted to make sure he could try as many different things as he wanted in the time we had.  He had a list of foods, I made a list and Venus filled in the blanks!  I am sure I will forget something but here is a glimpse of what it looked like.....

The very first day and the only day that John got to spend with us we started his visit off right with Din Tai Fung.  They are famous for their soup dumplings, xiaolongbao.  Seriously super yummy!  I also highly recommend their spicy cucumbers and green beans.

 Because we hadn't had enough to eat for lunch we did spicy hot pot for dinner!  SO good!!  There are lots of places to choose from in Taichung and all over the island for hot pot, it is a must do when you are here.

I should mention that the world series was going on while Bubba was visiting and he is a lifelong Royals fan so we had lots of cheering going on!  He actually was in the car listening to it on his phone when they won!!

We made a trip to Sun Moon Lake.  I don't have any pictures of the food from this day.  He did have one of his favorite treats while we were there though and that was the Tea Eggs.   Hardboiled eggs soaked, while still in their shell, in a giant tub of hot tea.  I did not try them but evidently they were amazing, I heard some talk that we might have tea egg deviled eggs at our next holiday gathering. We also sampled several varieties of tea here and lots of fresh fruit.  We were lucky to catch a beautiful sunset over the lake.

A visit to Yingge didn't really offer any great food choices, but it did have the ceramics museum which might sound boring but was actually very interesting.  The town was really pretty and one of my favorite places we just walked around.

Sanxia was another beautiful old street.  They are most famous for their Bull Horn Croissants, obviously named for their shape.  They are seriously SO yummy!  The ends are a little crunchy and the center is nice and soft, the flavor is a rich buttery goodness!  They come in a variety of flavors and some are even glazed but I would stick with the traditional and you won't go wrong.

By far my favorite town we visited was Tamsui.  It was situated on the water and there were tons of food options.  It happened that we were that at the perfect time of day, everything was open and bustling.  And we got to see an amazing sunset. I didn't get pictures but Bubba ate quail eggs on a stick here as well as some other icky kind of eggs that were black.  I had an awesome onion pancake here, one of my favorite street foods.

Venus lovess tofu of any kind....even stinky tofu!

The Tiny American really enjoyed his sugar cane juice.....who wouldn't right?

More Tofu

Stinky Tofu

Assorted fried seafood selections.  We had some really good shrimp from this cart.

Waiting on Dumplings

A little alfresco dinner on the go

The picture does not do it was really pretty

The Tiny American entertaining the crowd!

Jiufen was incredibly beautiful.  This Town used to be the center of gold mining in Taiwan. It is located in the mountains and overlooks the sea. We were there an a beautiful clear blue day! The streets are tight and narrow here, it's not just one long street it is several that make up this area. They are famous for their sweet potatoes and tea here.  I think while we were here Venus and Bubba at fish ball soup and several other questionable street foods.  I tried an ice cream spring roll which I highly recommend.  It is ice cream, rolled up in a very thin crepe and then rolled in peanut brittle good.  We also stopped for tea at a pretty little teahouse.

We Visited Shifen so that Bubba could release his lantern.  A must do for anyone visiting Taiwan.  I love this Old Street.
Lukang is always one of my favorite stops.  They have really quaint little shops where you can pick up nicer souvenirs as well as cheaper trinkets.  I think they have the very best steamed meat buns here.  Lukang is also home to my favorite paper lantern store.  It is small but really nicely painted lanterns and if you are there at the right time you can see the master painting. They will also do custom paintings.

The last night Bubba was here we scored tickets to an International Baseball game in Taipei.  We enjoyed what I think were some of the best panfried dumplings of all time there!

This was a long post with lots of pictures....if you made it to the end I applaud you and thank you for sticking with it!  We of course did several night markets and all the food that comes with that.  We had to look a little to find the Oyster pancake that someone told him he must try, it was not a hit!  Overall he enjoyed the food and we had a good time exploring the island to find it!   

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