Halfway through yesterday’s post, it occurred to me that there were way too many delicious things from our trip to Beijing to include them all (particularly since that post was already far too lengthy for its writer’s good).
The fact is, I couldn’t resist sharing a few more of my favorites. And here they are:
1) Sugar-c0ated fruit on a stick
Before trying these I witnessed crowds of people exiting Wangfujing Snack Street (lucky for us it was just around the corner from our hotel) with a stick of these in-hand. At first it was hard to identify them at first – meat? candy? fruit? but they turned out to be fruit dipped in liquid sugar. The sugar hardened on the outside to form a thin, crunchy crust. Our favorite (and the one in the top of the picture ) was Hawthornes – a bit like tiny tart apples, with big seeds in the middle.
While in Beijing, Frank and I took a walking tour with Hias Gourmet. The tour included lunch and a few stops at snack venues in a Beijing hutong. Although it was fun, I could have gone for more snacking (we only made 3 or 4 stops). One of my favorite treats on the tour was what our guide called “cheese”, really a creamy, slightly sweet pudding flavored with mango or red bean. The hot spot for this cheese dessert is Wenyu Cheese Shop, where lines were down the street every time we went.
Just labeled as “pancake” at stands throughout the city, this is so much more complicated and interesting than any pancake I’ve ever had. A savory crepe is topped with a single scrambled egg, sprinkled with sesame seeds and flipped. The other side is covered with spicy red sauce, chopped green onions, and cilantro. Finally a crisp, fried piece of batter is folded into the middle. The finished product is spicy, salty, crunchy with a hint of herbiness from the greens. This was a breakfast I could eat every day.
4) Enoki Mushrooms
These mushrooms are long and thin and were cooked to be so tender in some dishes we had that it was hard to believe that they weren’t noodles. In this rich dish were divine in a savory and slightly sweet sauce with braised beef.
I can’t even try to be more specific. I love every kind of tofu there is, and in China, the tofu wins the prize. It comes in every shape and texture, and is cooked in such interesting ways that I can’t imagine getting tired of it if I lived there. Looks like meat in the pictures below, don’t you think?
6) Braised Cabbage
The cabbage was tender and sweet and in this dish I love so much that I had it several times it was topped with sauteed garlic and glass noodles. Did I mention the garlic – don’t plan any make-out sessions after a plate of this stuff.
7) Spinach with Peanuts
This was deceptively simple, but the flavor was complex and addictive. The key was that the spinach was perfectly cooked so it still tasted bright and fresh and the peanuts were roasted to almost black. The whole thing was tossed in a sweet vinegar.
8) Honey Yogurt
Last time I was in Beijing, I remember seeing these everywhere, but I never got to the bottom of what it was. I couldn’t let that happen again, and was glad I didn’t overlook this little treat. The yogurt is only slightly sweet with honey and is so smooth that you drink it with a straw. In Beijing you just grab these and drink them on the street, returning the heavy jar in which they’re served to the store for recycling.
9) Grilled Starfish
Okay, you’re probably onto me. I totally didn’t eat starfish on a stick, but found it fascinating just the same.
10) Grilled Scorpion
Okay, okay, didn’t eat these either. But wild looking, aren’t they?