What I Forgot to Write About This Past Month

So here’s why I haven’t written anything about the last month. I’m a weekday full-time intern for a large international economic organization, an evening part-time employee of a start-up company, and a weekend Kindergarten teacher! And there’s that whole romantical, utterly disgustingly adorable boyfriend thing. I’m highly tempted to refer to him as McSteamy from now on but that actually makes me gag a little bit. So we’re going to call him Sawyer.

Things at work have been seven kinds of crazy and I’ve even had to work overtime (as an intern!). Things of note that have happened: as I was home from teaching I hear a “craaack” and looked down to see a hairline crack appear in the soldering on the handlebar of my bike. Well, shit. I biked very slowly and carefully and tried not to put any weight on that handlebar, but the crack kept getting bigger. As I rolled in through the gate home, it snapped clean through. Highly annoying, terrifying and inconvenient.

I’ve gone back to Taste, the Yunnan restaurant in the hutongs. Food was amazing as always. Chanterelle mushrooms with shredded chicken, spicy cucumber salad. Fried goat cheese lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. And of course, the lamb chops, which were stickier and fattier than I remembered, but absolutely just as delicious.

I went to D Lounge for the first time to welcome a friend back to Beijing. Although I’ve heard it called the D-Bag Lounge, they offer a really good drink menu, I have to recommend their Chase’s Mule or Cucumber Gimlet. Ludacris apparently came to town that night, and although I opted to stay at a relatively relaxed quiet bar before going home early that night, some of my friends hung out with him at Spark.

The past few Saturdays have been amazing weather wise. I’ve started my kindergarten demo classes and wake up early to enjoy an hour of patterns, musical rhythms, balloons and finger painting caterpillars and butterflies. So…this is not how I imagined my life would be in my early twenties. It’s weird the extremes I live in–one day at work I’m working on a budget of millions of USD, the next I am looking up sets of commemorative stamps for my boss to purchase, the next I am finger painting and singing with toddlers.

I’ve been to brunch a few times now after teaching to take advantage of the sunshine and pollution free days while they last. Element Fresh in Sanlitun was nice enough. I really was blown away by Nola, however. It’s New Orleans style food nearby embassies and Silk Market. I ordered their homemade sausage, which came with a salad, and two poached eggs on top of a “sweet potato rosti” which, from what I deduced, is a shredded sweet potato patty of sorts, and homemade apple sauce. It was amazing. Sawyer ordered Eggs Sartou, poached eggs with a tomato-Hollaindaise sauce on homemade biscuits. Also good, but mine was better.

Back in September, the boy took me to Houhai for my first visit. It’s a very pretty lake surrounded by blind masseurs and rickshaws and bars. It’s a popular destination for night time road-drinking and whatnot, but we were just out enjoying the sunshine. We also went to Sanyuanli Market for my first visit. Nearby Sanyuanqiao, it’s one long lane of fruit, meat, seafood and vegetable stalls, and of better quality and variety than the wet market near me. They have things like arugula, rocket, basil, and avocados that’s not generally available at your run of the mill vegetable market, plus a few market stalls that sell dry goods and cheese, spices, and some stalls that sell appliances. As well as a generous bagful of amazing looking tomatoes, bell peppers, avocados and salad greens, we got cheese, a mortar and pestle, a big French press, a coffee grinder, and I finally found ground coriander seed.

Produce on sale at Sanyuanli Market

Seafood on sale at Sanyuanli Market

I made duck and risotto for dinner, and he made a great salad to accompany it (ok, I have to confess, I am terrible at making salads. Give me a recipe and I can make you gnocchi or petit fours or chocolate ganache covered rum soaked orange cakes or Indian chicken curry from scratch, but I cannot put together a simple salad well).

We visited the Glasses Market, about a block south of Jinsong station on line 10, which is a bit disappointing and very much like a Yashow filled with nothing but ugly glasses. And I finally brought Sawyer home to my China family (ie my ridiculous roommates) for assessment. I made braised pork tacos.

I had two pork tenderloins, and made a very quick dry rub: crushed up cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika, salt and pepper in the mortar. I put down a bed of bay leaves, green bird chilies and dried red chilies in a baking dish, seasoned the meat, tucked in chopped up onion and celery and crushed cloves of garlic all around and over it, and covered it with a juice-box of orange juice (the oranges at Jenny Lou’s were really expensive-almost seven dollars. The juice box was fifty cents). I covered it with tinfoil and popped it in the oven at 160C or around 325F for 2 hours. In the meantime I made fresh salsa and guacamole. Three of the mouthwatering red Sanyuanli tomatoes chopped finely, half a red onion minced, some shallot, four green bird chilies, salt, and lime juice. Crushed up the avocados with more lime juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper, red onion and tomatoes. If you’re not one of those genetically predisposed to hate it, you can toss in some cilantro to both of these. I also caramelized some two sliced onions and tossed with a can of sweet corn, and stewed apples with sugar, butter, and some cut up chilies to accompany the pork. All served on corn tortillas warmed in the oven with some Dutch white cheese (it’s soft and spreadable but its a less expensive decent alternative to feta) and a squeeze of fresh limes. They turned out really good, although kind of messy–the corn tortillas didn’t hold up very well and fell all to pieces.

Shredded braised pork

I’ve been trying to go the the gym more regularly too. Waking up at 6:30 is a bit terrible, especially when I’ve been working overtime and Excel is coming out of my eyeballs, but I’ve made it to 13 kilometers. More on the overtime: I have managed to completely confused myself with all the numbers in my head and convince myself I’ve done it all wrong and redone charts to make different models at least fifty times now. And as if the crash course in accounting wasn’t enough, I get to sit in on hour long meetings where three agitated Chinese women argue among themselves in circles in Mandarin about numbers and graphs and meetings. I try to follow along, but it’s mostly just frustrating.

Sawyer and I went to Rumi for dinner one night, a Persian restaurant. It’s a nice, relaxing place to go for hookah on a Friday evening, and they also have great food. We ordered the yogurt, lamb with rice, and two kinds of chicken with rice mixed with currants and saffron rice and some other berry. It was all very delicious. I also managed to get people to go back with me to Noodle Bar in Hidden Village for some beef noodle soup outside, although we didn’t stop at the Well Bar in the middle of the courtyard as I’d hoped. The noodles were just as good as I remember.

The first week of October is National Week and it’s a national vacation. Before I left for a little holiday, I got together a bunch of people for dinner. My friend Scones and I had been trying to make a time to go to Homeplate for bbq but never could quite make it work–here we though it would be the perfect opportunity. I arranged everything, got everyone all fired up and I was excited for pulled pork sandwiches, which the boys rave about. Only, we arrived to discover that it was closed for the holiday. What a letdown. We went to Bellagio instead, a Taiwanese chain with pretty decent food and really good juice drinks and desserts. We ate a copious amount of Taiwanese specialties–three cup chicken, stewed minced pork, fried tofu, dragon beans with lotus nuts to name a few dishes, before moving on to a new bar, the James Joyce (great name, attractive decor, good beer) and finally Luga’s to see a friend’s band. Tequila. Tequila was involved. It was a fun night and a good start to our vacation.


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