Friday, March 25, 2011


When I was in Taiwan I picked up some "miracle fruit" tables.  You may be familiar with miracle fruit from the nytimes article about flavor-tripping parties.  The fruits coat your taste buds and cause sour-flavors to become intensely sweet.

And so, we threw a party.
 We laid out an array of condiments, buttermilk, vinegars, "sour cupcakes" with goat-cheese frosting, out-of-season strawberries and kiwis, grapefruit, limes, and lemons.

We placed the pills on our tongues and tried not to make jokes about E as they dissolved.  We looked cautiously at each other, feeling no change, wondering if it worked.

I tasted a slice of lemon.

It was like CANDY.  The transformation of flavors was so unexpected and exciting I burst into laughter.  Everyone else reached for the lemons.  Hijinks ensued.
All the pictures of people are blurry because we couldn't stop giggling/grimacing from the different flavors.

At the end, the verdict?  We had tried various horrific cheeses (see photo below) to great disgust.  The unsweetened mochi I had made was also disappointing.  However, things with a natural sour-taste were amazing.  The strawberries and kiwis tasted like peak-summer farmers stand berries, not sad winter grocery-store buys.  The citrus was unbelievable, and the vinegars tasted amazingly mild (though you still felt the "burn" at the back of your throat).  Salt and vinegar chips were the winner of the night, by far.  A stout beer tasted like coca-cola.  Goat cheese tasted like starbursts (not my thing, but other people liked it).  Carrot sticks and broccoli were the same, but mustards and sriracha were awesome, though several of us overdid the sriracha and spent several minutes trying to calm our mouths down!

The hour passed in the blink of an eye.  It felt like a mad-scramble of nibbling and eating and when it was over, we were exhausted and in some cases feeling a bit pickled from the vinegar.  Overall, the experience was in fact trippy after all and I think we were all glad to have tried it.  And in case the urge comes again, I have a second pack safely stowed away ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hiking, Taiwan-style

Hiking in Taiwan is unlike any hiking I've ever done.  For one, the climate is lush and tropical so the plant growth is thicker and greener than most hikes I've seen.

Secondly, the trails are much more manicured than your average walk in the woods. There are fountains and wood sculptures as well as stone monuments to figures such as Confucius.  
 The park we saw was Yangmingshan, famed for its cherry blossoms.  This is the entrance.
 Elaborate floral-scapes and arrangements covered the hillside and a flower-covered working-clock was a landmark (see below).

 But the biggest difference was not the tai-chi groups or careful attention to detail of the landscaping, nor the occasional gazebo or Japanese bridge.

No, the biggest difference was....

the FOOD.

 We started the hike with a platter of fried fish-balls, fried stinky tofu, and fried potato pancake.  This was 9:30am second-breakfast.
 A mile into the leisurely, no-incline hike we came across what I think was called "Little Food Village" on the hike map.  At least 20 stalls dotted the path, selling everything from ice-cream, fried foods, fresh fruits, and other portable edibles.
 This is acceptable hiking gear for a Taiwanese hike.  Gotta keep up appearances and, obviously, keep your energy up too!

After snacking along the way, we ended our brief hike with soft-serve.

Thanks Taiwan for a lovely and fulfilling (and just plain filling) hike.  I can't say the health benefits outweighed the caloric content, but I will say the bar for an enjoyable hike has been set pretty high.

Monday, March 21, 2011


American Didi looking sad to see us off.
 Bean curd and sprouts appetizers at Din Tai Fung

 xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung

 Shrimp dumpling at Din Tai Fung

 Perfection, or the large sesame bun at Din Tai Fung

 View of Taipei 101 from the Grand Hotel

Gateway to Grand Hotel


 Taiwan Didi.


Back in Georgia after a brief but wonderful visit to Taiwan with my mom and youngest brother.  I miss being there and am already thinking of when I can go back!  

We were in Taiwan when the earthquake struck Japan.  It was surreal to be watching CNN world news and hear "in 10 minutes, the first tsunami will reach Taiwan!"  Luckily Taiwan suffered very little damage and surprisingly we didn't even feel the shocks of the earthquake.  My thoughts are with the Japanese or those who have friends in Japan right now.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

That Old New York

So Lilly was in Taiwan last week and I had spring break. Instead of twiddling my thumbs in Atlanta I decided to twiddle them in New York. It was great. I got to spend the week eating and arting. Here are some blog-worthy moments in no particular order.

<--Tuesday dusk in Queen looking towards empire state building...

Tuesday at the Guggenheim. Got my pic taken by a japanese tourist and found a copy of Kandinsky's ID from his time teaching at Bauhaus. Notice that it's just a student ID with with student crossed out and professor written in.

<--- Friday night in Williamsburg with artist friend Jeremy. We went in disguise. To fit in we made sure to wear plaid, big glasses and discussed micro-brewing.

Monday Morning with artist friends Sean and Erin. Who were my terrific hosts for most of the week. We got a great greasy spoon breakfast in
at the Doughnut Shop on Queen Blvd near 4oth st. Then made our way to PS1.

There I we saw one of the most memorable art pieces of the week. Feng Mengbo's video game installation "the long march". You can see Sean playing it below.

Wed afternoon picnic in Central Park with actor friend Pip. We decided to do a taste test of Vietnamese sandwhiches. I picked up a high-end sandwich from midtown's Ma Peche. And Pip got a low-end sandwich from a Hanco in Brooklyn (bottom image ). Verdict: Greasy cheap Hanco sandwhich wins! But the "crack pie" from Ma Peche (and it's sister store Momofuko) was undeniably good.

JEWISH FOOD all week! Had an amazing hamentashen on the upper east side at this place with the red awning. A great Knish in the east village at Yonah Shimmel and a even more greater bagel in Clinton hill at Bergen Bagels.

Who could ask for anything more?