Beijing – Day Two

Yesterday was a lot of walking. After discovering that breakfast was available in our hostel (yay, quick coffee), we headed out to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Beijing is very wide, in terms of streets and sidewalks. There is very little shade, at least where we were (and yes, I got a sunburn, a small one).

There were so many people at both of those locations. MK kept commenting on the number of East Asian tourists and how that made her feel good about being a tourist. Everything is big. The buildings, the streets, the open spaces.

Once we were ready for lunch, I figured out that there was vegetarian restaurant relatively close by (walking distance). However, we probably should have called, because it definitely was not there. We walked back to this touristy area (there is a Starbucks touristy; Tip: Starbucks = Western style bathrooms). As we are starting to get a little grumpy from the plummeting blood sugar levels, we walk one block west into an entire different world. This is what I expected Beijing to be like. Smaller streets, lots of vendors, noise, color, and smells, mostly yummy food ones.

We jumped into the first restaurant on the corner. They had an English-ish menu. We ordered Mapo Tofu and Noodles with Soy Sauce. FYI – Mapo Tofu is not vegetarian, but the Noodles are. After eating we headed down the street, where AW got a Communist Obama tshirt, MK took a picture of an “I ❤ BJ” shirt (Editor: I am pretty sure that BJ was meant to mean Beijing), and we saw a restaurant that offers Noodles with Sog Sauce. We of course have now dubbed ourselves as Team Sog Sauce, and Commie ‘Bamie is our mascot.

Once we got back to the hostel (which involved a miscommunication about what the goal of our walk was that had us walk nearly all the way around the Forbidden City – oops), we all just sort of crashed. I decided to take a nap. This nap lasted for 12 hours! I’d wake up everyone once in awhile and just think “nope” and go back to sleep. Sunburns are exhausting.

Finish Line Laziness

Have you ever been doing something and you get to nearly the end of it and all of your energy and focus around the task just leaves you? I remember this happening to me when writing creative fiction in elementary school. I would get through about 75% of the story that was in my head, in incredible detail, only to give up the ending in my head for a quick fix, totally contrived ending because I was SO over writing that story. I guess taking a break and coming back wasn’t really an option for me then. (Later in school, the phrase deus ex machina would have special meaning for me) This laziness happens when I am rearranging my room. I get everything undone and then lose motivation to redo it. (Where is my machina, world?!) Continue reading

dear grilled halloumi, thank you

last night, after a day of not being in the sun (yay, documentary project), i arrive home incredibly hungry. i was able to get to the farmer’s market in union square (ramps are in, in case anyone wants to know). i bought white onions, garlic, oyster mushrooms, dinosaur kale, and halloumi!

i’ve walked by the goat cheese stand so many times (right now, i am wishing that i could remember the name of the farm). they have a sign with a picture of goat and L shaped text that says “GOAT CHEESE”. they are hard to miss. i’ve never stopped, but the words “Halloumi” on the white board just screamed out at me. i stopped and took a look and asked the woman behind the table. this batch was really good. she had done an extra squeeze out of the liquid, and the halloumi was really holding its shape. and $8 later, i had the centerpiece for this meal.

i first had grilled haloumi while touring The Bakkhai in greece and cyprus the summer before my senior year in college. two of us were vegetarians (yes, we were offered lamb when we said we didn’t eat meat). after enough feta and stuffed peppers and tomatoes to make us not care about eating anymore (neither of us ate feta for a year after we returned), we found grilled halloumi, and it was a revelation.

i’ve only had grilled halloumi in restaurants, but with my time opening up (and my money becoming tight), i am on a cook-at-home kick. i looked up some recipes, but not having lemon in the house, i decided to just let the cheese be itself. i started the rice in the cooker with some salt and a vegan “beef” broth cube. i sliced 3 cloves of garlic and chopped 3 medium onions. i washed the oyster mushrooms and the dinosaur kale and set aside to drain. in my favourite pan, i heated the olive oil and dropped in the garlic. after about a half a minute, i added the onion. while that was cooking, i sliced the mushrooms to bite sized pieces. when the onions were relatively clear, i added the mushrooms and turned on the heat for my grill pan. once the mushrooms were cooked a bit, i added the kale. i put a little olive oil on the grill pan and placed the halloumi on top. i cooked everything until the kale had cooked down and both sides of the halloumi had beautiful grill marks. in the last minute of cooking the kale, i added a generous splash of champagne vinegar. the rice cooker button popped, and it was time to eat!