CaoChang Di Village: A Trip to the “New” 798

The boys have guests. I’ve been staying at Sawyer’s so that I don’t have to live with five boys. in one small apartment. I’ve been mostly busy and trekking back and forth between apartments for things I’d forgotten to bring with me, but one night Allie and I made green curry duck and green peppers and tofu with ground beef and carrots stir fry, drank wine, and watched several episodes of Mad Men.

Green Curry Duck: Slice duck breasts into strips, and chop peppers on a bias. Mince garlic, ginger and slice half an onion. Heat some oil in a wok, soften the onion with garlic and ginger, then throw in the duck. Add in green curry paste and a cup of coconut milk. Add in peppers and let simmer.

A slightly better teaching experience than the first class, but the obnoxious six year old stole all the snacks we had planned for part of the lesson (learning about eating healthy), eating all the candy before class started and stealing from other kids’ plates. Is it weak of me that I want to crack him across his spoiled rotten little face? Not only that, but one of the four year old boys had a temper tantrum halfway through the class, and actually bit my assistant! She had a big bloody bruise after class, and asked me worriedly if she needed some kind of shot.

Homemade Sausage with a Poached Egg, Sweet Potato Rosti and Homemade Apple Sauce

Sawyer had some guests in town and we went to Nola for brunch. Eggs Sartou and Housemade sausages again, of course. I was too hungry to remember to take a picture of the Sartou, but remembered to get one of homemade sausage with sweet potato rosti, poached egg and apple sauce. They had a menu that said specialty hot drinks: hot chocolate and hot apple cider. I’m kind of a little kid and I love cider, so of course I ordered it.
The steamy glass mug that emerged was a little bit clearer and looked more like apple juice than cider, plus had a slice of lemon in it. Nevertheless, I took a big sip.
Only to discover that it was not cider.

Definitely NOT Apple Cider

Well, not precisely cider. It was reminiscent of cider, with a rather liberal pour of rum in it.

We took a taxi to Caochangdi, this new artsy neighborhood that’s apparently going to be the next 798, or was what 798 was ten years ago before anyone got famous. I can’t tell you how we got there, because I fell asleep minutes after giving the cab driver directions and didn’t wake up until we arrived, but it’s somewhere a north and east of 798, I believe.

We wandered around, poked in some locked doors, nearly entered someone’s house mistaking it for a gallery until a dog barked at us, wandered in this little town completely lost. M The streets were barely paved-mostly mud and stone. We were definitely it the right place, there was a big sign for an artist village, there was clay everywhere, and kilns. But we couldn’t find anything vaguely gallery-like or tourist friendly. We almost gave up until we stumbled upon some new looking brick buildings, completely hidden and random to get to, a little enclave of galleries. It smelled like fall–yellow leaves drifting down to swept up piles in the gutter, the sweet buttery smell of leaf mold and rot, a bit of chill in the air. The galleries have some interesting paintings, others are dull and filled with that faux-deep artsy bullshit. One artist required you to walk through a mirror tunnel lined with creepy painted mannikins, only two of them weren’t mannikins, they were painted live people standing still looking at you with their creepy eyes. Screw you, creepy doll man, your art is pretentious and silly and just plain bad. In that same exhibit we walked outside to see this:

I'm not sure if it's Art, or just lunch. Also, I have no idea what animal he's cooking.

We met up with some more people for dinner on Guijie (Ghost Street), also known as the red lantern street Guloujie, between Beixingqiao and Dongzhimen. We went to a Taiwanese hotpot place and ordered a large amount of food to cook in mushroom broth and spicy broth (and oh my was that hot broth spicy. Searing. Numbing). Copious amounts of food covered liberally with peanut and sesame oil sauce were consumed. Eventually, sated, we left, and had a few drinks at the James Joyce, a cute little bar on Xindgong Lu. The natural wood exterior is attractive, the interior is clear, clean and well lit, and the staff was nice enough to let us take over the music. They even have a fireplace (although they need to work on the ventilation, coming home smelling like campfire is a bit gross).


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