Tag Archives: Food


We were planning on going for a curry tonight, and had decided to go to an Indian restaurant near the hotel that seemed to have some of the best reviews in Newark, but once we got there we discovered that it didn’t serve alcohol. Friday night, curry, without beer? It just didn’t seem right.

So we decided to have a walk to a part of Newark we hadn’t visited before, on the hope that one of the restaurants we’d found on the Internet turned out to be OK.

We found the pizza place first. It had a cheesy name (‘Love At First Slice‘), and looked a bit basic (you place your order at a hatch, then take your number and your beer and find a table), but the pizzas sounded nice, they had draught beer, and it looked like a band was just getting set up, so we decided to give it a go.

Probably should have taken the photo before we got carried away with eating…

To make the most of our expenses, we got one XL pizza, two pitchers of beer, and a plate of jalapeño poppers to share as a starter. We probably could have done without the poppers, and a slightly-smaller pizza would almost certainly have been enough, but somehow it all got eaten, and the beer all got drunk (plus a bit more). The bands were pretty good, too. Late Night District were the support act: guitar, bass, drums, sort of alternative-rock, American-style punk rock. Brolly were the main act, a bit more polished, vaguely like Radiohead-ish: two guitars, bass and drums, plus assorted other instruments and percussion depending on the song.

I’m not sure how, but I think I ate about two-thirds of that pizza. I really should know better by now.

Monterey tomorrow. That’s the plan, anyway…

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Posted by on Friday 9 November 2012 in California


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An Evening of Eating Dangerously

I know there’s a few days of stuff that we haven’t mentioned yet, but we thought it was worth writing up this evening while it was still fresh in our minds.

Having arrived back in Beijing after our “7 beds in 7 nights” tour of a small part of China, and quickly getting the compulsory handbag shopping out of the way, it was decided that for this evening’s dining it was about time I got to experience the culinary delights of Donghuamen Night Market.

This is obviously set up for the tourists, Chinese as well as Westerners. Some of the snacks are pretty standard fare, and we took advantage of these to line our stomachs to start with: something burger-like, made with chopped-up cooked pork, fresh chilli and coriander, which was really quite nice; and some fried dumplings, not the best we’ve had but still quite palatable. We thought we’d seen something that looked like a cheesy chip butty, but it turned out to be something like two fried eggs with chips squashed in the middle, so we gave that a miss.

Then we could put it off no longer: it was time to sample the more esoteric offerings. The big scorpions were quite expensive at ¥50 (£5) each, so we went for two small ones on a stick for ¥15. As Clare had tried these before, it fell to me to have the first one. Not too bad, actually: a bit like a small shrimp, deep-fried in its shell. Not very meaty at all. Clare had the second one, barely turning her nose up at all.

The first hurdle having been crossed, it was time to raise the stakes a bit: crickets. Not just a little cricket, but decent sized ones that looked like they might have a bit of meat on them. Not too expensive either, at ¥20 for two. I decided that the legs weren’t worth the bother of nibbling separately, so just put the whole lot in my mouth in one go and crunched it. Quite meaty in the middle.

Clare had to brace herself to eat her cricket; I think she’d spent too long looking at it and watching me eat it, rather than just getting it over and done with. Probably didn’t help that it was the one from the middle of the stick, not so easy to just stick it in your mouth and chew!

We decided that was enough dodgy food: the starfish didn’t look that appetising, I’d been warned that the snake was just chewy and unpleasant, and the silkworm pupae seemed like the casing might be a bit too crunchy. Besides which, the lights had been turned off on all the stalls, so it was obviously packing-up time. We grabbed a quick large stuffed pancake just to make sure we weren’t hungry, then headed off round the corner on to Wangfujing Street.

This is lined with expensive designer shops (most of which I’ve never heard of), and leads off to Wangfujing Snack Street on one side, through a traditional Chinese gate, as if we haven’t seen enough of those this week. (What you can’t see in the picture is the woman who’s trying to get me to give her money because she’s got a baby.) This area has a mixture of tat stalls and food stalls, selling much the same assortment as the night market, but with still-wriggling scorpions (before they go in the deep fryer, anyway), and something else: seahorses. I really didn’t fancy trying them, not just because I thought they’d be all crunch and no meat, but mainly because I didn’t think it was the sort of thing that should be encouraged.

We had a token browse around the tat stalls, and discovered that Chinese hats don’t fit my very Western head, lucky cats aren’t as cheap as we hoped they might be, and no, we still don’t want to buy any more chopsticks!


Posted by on Sunday 19 August 2012 in China


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Food, Glorious Food!

Most of the meals here are interesting in one way or another (once you get past the “Chinese food again?” stage), but here’s a couple we went out for specially.


This starts with a big pot in the middle of the table, on top of a burner. This is filled with some kind of stock, which could contain almost anything. Sometimes the pot is divided in two, so you can have separate spicy and non-spicy stock; this time, ours was just full of chicken-based stock, using all of the chicken, as you can see. The only bit we couldn’t find was the beak.

You order a selection of food, which arrives separately, uncooked. We had wafer-thin slices of beef and pork, a selection of green leaves, a few different kinds of mushrooms, and a load of fresh noodles. (Of course, we forgot to take pictures of any of this.)

This is chucked in to the simmering stock, a bit at a time; fished out as it’s cooked, then eaten straight away. Repeat until you’re stuffed! If you’re still hungry, you can drink the stock too.

Tabletop Barbecue

Another meal where the “cooking” is done in the centre of the table. Each table has a ‘fire pit’ with an extractor above it. You order a suitable piece of meat, something like a leg of lamb or pork shoulder, along with whatever side dishes you fancy. One of the staff comes round with a pile of ready-heated charcoal briquettes and lays them out in your fire pit, then the piece of meat is brought to your table on a big spit. It’s already been oven-cooked, and just has to sit above the coals, being turned occasionally, for long enough to heat it and char it to your taste. Once the outer layer is ready, each person has their own set of long-handled knives and forks, and carves off chunks.

Unfortunately, this restaurant only has Chinese language menus, no pictures, and our vocabulary is a bit limited, so our method of ordering was to wander round the other tables in the restaurant, pointing at things and saying “zhège” and “nàge” (“this” and “that”). If nobody was eating something that we wanted, we had to wait until somebody else ordered it, then ambush the waitresses as they came out of the kitchen carrying it, then use more pointing and Chinese number gestures to order it.

It sounds a bit chaotic, but it seemed to be good entertainment for the rest of the diners. We managed to get our big lump of meat (ribs), plus sweetcorn, fried dumplings (delicious!), salad, and some kind of bread that was like flattened wholemeal rolls with a slight cinnamon flavour.

The other diners were obviously enjoying the spectacle we were causing, particularly the table next to us. One of them kept challenging Clare to “gānbēi” her drink (literally “empty glass”, down in one). Another who’d made sure that we understood what piece of meat we’d ordered by pointing at his own ribs, also seemed very impressed that I was managing to entertain six ladies by myself, and introduced himself to me. By pointing at a picture on his phone he managed to let me know that his name was ‘Sky’; to be honest, he might have meant, ‘Night’, or ‘Clouds’, but I don’t think it mattered. We were also sent a plate of edemame beans, with a piece of paper inviting us to “try these you will like”. We didn’t tell them that we often eat edemame beans at home…

So, a decent meal, drinks and entertainment, all for ¥42 each (about £4.20). Bargain.


Posted by on Wednesday 8 August 2012 in China


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A Girls’ Night Out

I make it sound like it’s just another holiday: the girls going out, night after night, for drinks and food. I promise that really isn’t the case. (Well, maybe my fingers are ‘slightly’ crossed…)

After a couple of hours preparing for tomorrow’s lessons and after-school activities (forensics and finger-printing with 47 kids in STEM club!), we went to our favourite corner bar for well-deserved refreshments. It was a far more civilised affair tonight; I think the locals have already grown blasé about their English invasion. Still, the sight of seven girls out drinking on their own is an unusual sight here, regardless of the nationality.

We really have got the knack of this pointing and ordering lark, receiving exactly what we thought we had ordered: “meat on sticks” (lamb, we think), toasted bread buns and vegetables. We gave what looked like chicken’s heads a miss, along with the kebabs made just from fat. Perhaps another night. Washed down with a couple of pints of local brew from the roadside bar, we had a delightful evening for £2.50 each.

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Posted by on Friday 27 July 2012 in China