31 March 2009

Shanghai and The End

Ok, frankly, I'm a little disgusted with myself that it's taken me so long to put up all my China posts and since I still have to back blog about another trip I've already taken AND have two more coming in the next month...I'm not actually going to say anything more about Shanghai. I am only going to give you some pictures with captions. Enjoy.

These pictures are all of the Shanghai harbor and Bund area. It was actually a very nice walking area with hawkers selling all sorts of interesting toys, gadgetry, and food.

These pictures are of the other side of the harbor. This is Shanghai's ultra modern district Pudong, including the Jin Mao Tower where Lauren and i indulged in expensive drinks and food, the Shanghai World Financial Center (second tallest building in the world), and the Oriental Pearl Tower.

The Financial Tower is the one that looks like a giant bottle opener and the Jin Mao is the Empire State-looking building.

The Oriental Pearl Tower.

Good bye China! I'm so happy I finally got to meet you.

24 March 2009

Culinary Happiness - Chicken Tortilla Torta

A few days ago, I spotted a quick recipe on YumSugar, a favorite website that I follow. I posted the link on Facebook, and it got a great response from my friends who were interested in trying it. It looks a lot like a kind of Mexican-style lasagna. I had more corn tortillas than I knew what to do with, so I thought I'd give it a try, and I was NOT disappointed!

The recipe begins with coarsely chopped up roasted chicken. I used a shortcut because I bought a pre-cooked chicken from Safeway. The meat practically fell off the bone and I easily chopped it up with my handy chef's knife.

Next, you mix plain yogurt with heavy cream. The recipe doesn't call for it, but since this is the "binding" for the entire thing, I seasoned it up with generous amounts of chili powder, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and black pepper. This basically sealed the deal.

Next, begin the layers as follows: tortillas, salsa verde, chicken, cream, green chilis and cheese. Rinse and repeat and top with tortillas and cheese. I used my cast iron skillet to give it a more home-cooked feel. This gets kinda heavy, so make sure you're strong enough to handle all of the weight with a full, hot cast iron pan.

Put everything in the oven covered with foil at 375 for about 20 minutes. Then bake uncovered for another 20 minutes until it starts to boil and the cheese browns. Once out of the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Honestly, this recipe was so fast and simple. Since I didn't actually cook any of the individual parts, I felt like a culinary FAIL copying that awful woman Sandra Lee and her "semi-homemade" food with fake everything and ghastly "tablescapes." The Tortilla Torta was very easy, and a kind of "set it and forget it" dinner. It would serve between 10 and 12 people by my count, but beware the extra fat! This tastes rich and hearty, and would be a great meal for a big family on a cold night.

10 March 2009

Shanghai Old City

On our second day in Shanghai, Lauren and I hopped on the little shuttle from our hostel to go to I don’t remember the name of the park. You love my attention to detail and ability to retain information don’t you? Go on, you do. The little bus dropped us off on the side of a dusty street seemingly nowhere near a park. We were, however, near a lot of shops (like two full streets of them) selling, you’ll never guess, Christmas decorations. Christmas in Communist/Capitalist China is garish, full of glitter, shiny tinsel and streamers, fake trees, Santa Clauses, huge plastic candy canes, funny hats, and even a few angels.

One over our horrified fascination (and after Lauren pulled me out of a store of “sparkly” jewelry) we accidentally stumbled across Shanghai’s “Old City.” While it was on my to-do list I had no idea it was anywhere near park what-its-name. It also was not what I was expecting. Honestly I am not sure what I was expecting. I knew it was a shopping area but I guess I thought that the Old City would be, well, old. And while beautifully reproduced in the Jingnan style…this was clearly a modern area. I fell in love with it here and took an absolutely ridiculous amount of pictures.

We were quite thrilled to discover Dairy Queen!! Although, tragically, it was far too cold that day to really seriously contemplate getting a hot fudge shake.

(Told you I went overboard with the pictures. This isn't even a quarter of them.)

We also saw, although did not visit, the tea house on the lake where the famous Willow Ware china pattern was inspired and became popular (if Frommer’s can be believed over Wikipedia).

In our wanderings we finally did find the entrance to the park (I looked it up, it’s the Yuyuan park) but declined to go in. The entrance fee was far too steep to pay in the winter but if you ever get there in spring/summer it is supposed to be fabulous.

After we left Old City we started wandering. The little bus from the hostel dropped us off here and we were not exactly sure how we were going to get anywhere. Using the not to be trusted Frommer’s city map as a guide, we wended our way out of Old City, past yet more Christmas shops, a McDonald’s McCafe (we don’t even have those!), across several frightening cross walks, eventually a large bridge after playing tightrope walking on busy street curb, and FINALLY found ourselves dumped out on the pedestrian area. Exactly where we wanted to be so…yay us.