A Week of Amazing Meals

This seems to be the week for out of town guests–the boys had their college roommates comes stay with us for 12 days, and my friend’s friend came back to Beijing for business. This, of course, meant entertaining them and a week of good Beijing restaurants. No time for cooking!

As well as bringing me some real superglue and one of those Tide stain removing pens, out-of-town friend brought me a giant tub of smooth Skippy Peanut Butter after reading a lament I had written about accidentally buying peanut butter with crispy rice. I took him and Scones to dinner at Taste. We ordered many delicious things, the jizong mushrooms again, lamb chops of course, banana leaf steamed beef, spiced and lightly fried goat cheese, cubed and mixed with peas. The place was full (not that hard with only 3-4 tables) and every table reserved for after, luckily I had thought ahead to make reservations. Several groups of laowai poked their heads in to inquire about seating, and I ended up translating for a few of the non-Chinese speakers, as the owner, who speaks pretty decent English, wasn’t there.

I was treated to dinner at the Kitchen (can I mention how much I love expense reports?). The menu was mostly the same as always–the pan fried dumplings, coriander and shitake salad, braised eggplant, braised pork belly, caramelized sweet potatoes, but there were a few new dishes–the beef with pine nuts stands out.

Friday: duck with everyone’s out of town guests together, at Jingzun Duck (where else would we go?). As I was walking there, I’m pretty sure I witnessed either an arrest or a kidnapping. Four plainclothes Chinese men strong-arming a struggling and swearing black guy into a van, three of them getting into the van and slamming the door shut behind them, and the other chasing after another guy running away. No one else seemed to be concerned. I was slightly concerned, but decided no good would come of me asking out loud “WTF?”

The duck was excellent, as per usual. Bambi ordered pretty much everything on the menu, including both duck soup and fried duck frame–for the typical Peking Duck, you get a very pretty platter of the better meat with the skin on. In order to not waste the rest of the absolutely delicious meat, they make an amazing duck soup. Or batter and deep fry it. Excuse me while I have a fat-panda-crisis. Even with twelve of us, we couldn’t finish the plates, so when everyone else had departed, Allie and I sat for a little and packed everything up to go, much to the annoyance of our waiter. I walked home slowly and got a side stitch from being too fat and full.

On Saturday we took our guests to yangtui (lamb leg). Three months is just about the right amount of time between visits, because you forget how dirty the table is, you’ve forgotten how much meat you consumed in one sitting, you forget the details besides how good the food is. It was a delicious and messy, smoky night with lots of beer and the eleven of us devoured 3 legs, hacking away with our steely, stabbity long knives, as well as many vegetable dishes, chuanr, and chicken leg skewers. We were asked to keep it down because we were “disturbing the hutong.” But not thirty seconds later some asshat came tearing down the street, honking his horn and yelling, not two inches away from me. Yeah, we’re the disturbance. Fuck you china. I came prepared with tissues and wet wipes for afterwards. We stopped back at the apartment to change into going out clothes that didn’t smell of lamb smoke, and ran into our neighbor and insisted she come out with us. We were headed to Spark, until we learned it was a 200 kuai cover charge. Really Spark? Ridiculous? We went to GT Banana instead. Bad dancers, creepy old men that Bambi befriended for free drinks, lots of dancing and confetti falling from the ceiling, actually really fun.

Scones and I had gone to Sanyuanli on Saturday and brought back quite a haul. Sunday afternoon, I made stock, and a big pot of pasta sauce. Scones came over in the evening and made a vegetable gumbo and some delicious soy sauce marinated pan seared steak. The gumbo was a little on the burned side but otherwise tasty. After dinner I put together a lasagna for the next day: watered down some sauce with veg stock to make it soupy. Lay down three sheets of pasta. Sauce. Layers of shaved carrot, zucchini and mushroom, cheese. Repeat. Cover in sauce and cheese. Bake for 40 minutes. Store in fridge overnight, it tastes better the next day.

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