Monday, January 21, 2008

Disaster Comes in the Form of Chili Powder

Last Friday, I went to Pizza Hut with my colleagues and it was an interesting experience. It was not only interesting because of the Pizza Hut itself, but because of the conversation I had with my colleagues. It is always interesting to hear the Chinese perspective on things, from their views of Taiwan down to their views of the disabled, and the latter is very interesting, but I will discuss that in a second; I am trying to talk about Pizza Hut right now. In terms of there pizza it is as gross or maybe grosser than Pizza Hut in the States. I hope nobody is under the delusion that Pizza Hut is quality pizza, even though my Chinese colleagues think it is, which was fascinating to find out. They definitely expressed there views on how they detested Italian pizza and thought pizza hut was better, they like it better because the crust is thick. Anyway, the Pizza Hut is much nicer in China than it is in the States. It is actually a nice sit down restaurant that you would take a date too. And if you did she (in this case she is a native to China) would probably be impressed, because it is expensive. The things they serve are much different than in the states or I assume they are different because I have not been to Pizza Hut in years, but they are different in the sense that Pizza Hut serves up an array of fried food here, anything from fried fish to fried onions. Having sufficiently discussed my impressedness of Pizza Hut in China, my colleagues opinion of disabled people might shock and or awe people. They basically see them as a burden on society and say that the Chinese government doesn't do enough to help them, so disabled people have terrible lives in China, which is why they are a burden. China definitely is not a handicapped person's paradise considering one they are looked down upon and two I have only seen one handicapped accessible place in all of Beijing, and that was at my number two favorite restaurant in Beijing. But the thing that was most shocking that one of my colleagues said to me, well let me preface this, one colleague told me that many Chinese people kill their children when they are babies if they see that they are handicapped, just because the life is so hard for the children and society doesn't except them, then I asked my colleague if she would kill her baby if she saw that it was handicapped and without hesitation or flinting she said she would. And that was the end of the lunch and we headed back to work.

After work, I went to my number four favorite restaurant in Beijing. It is a Taiwanese restaurant near Dongsishitiao. It is my number four favorite just because they easily make the best salads in all of Beijing, if not all of Asia. It is by far the best salad I have ever had in Asia. We went because my MCIA friend is leaving for 50 days to take a "trip" across southeast Asia, but we know what he is really doing. And after that we went to Passer By Bar. It is a really nice bar in the heart of Nanluoguxiang, it is not good enough to crack my top five favorite bars/lounges, but it was still nice and cozy, and the long island I had was not bad, but it wasn't good either.

Anyway Saturday, I did pretty much nothing except find my number three favorite restaurant in all of Beijing. My number three favorite restaurant in Beijing is called Mare. The atmosphere is really nice there and it would be a good place to take a date, if you wanted to impress her. It would be much better than going to Pizza Hut for either a local or foreign girl, even though Pizza Hut does have a brand name behind it. The service is good and the food was pretty good too. The thing I live about the restaurant is the Tapas, it is a Spanish restaurante by the way. They have a large variety and the selection is not bad either. We had the chicken and potato tapas very good. We also ordered the Paella, which requires at least two people and takes 40 minutes to make. The paella was good, not the best in the world, but good for Beijing Dining. But this restaurant, called Mare, definitely has been vaulted in to my number three favorite spot. I think the thing that my have put it in to number three is the lemon honey water they have. It was so good and helped to sooth the pain in my throat from the dry ass Beijing air.

And on Sunday, I got to go to My number two favorite restaurant, the Dim Sum place near the Lama Temple. There I got an interesting new concoction of boiled coke and ginger, and not the kind you sniff but the kind you drink. It was pleasantly good. It first has a sweet taste of cola and a strong spicy after taste of ginger. It doesn't go well with Dim Sum but it was good. The lemon honey water at the Dim Sum place is not good don't even try it. If you want Lemon Honey water go to Mare. I might just go to Mare to drink lemon honey water. After Dim Sum, I went to help my roommate find stuff to decorate my apartment. If any of you have been unfortunate enough to see my apartment before my roommate arrived, you would be shocked by the amount of stuff that has been added since her arrival. My apartment no longer looks the bachelor pad of someone who doesn't care, instead it looks like the crazy diabolical scheme of a French fiend. Sometimes you can find art and peacefulness in emptiness. Anyway, I spent the whole day trying to help her pick lights and curtains for the apartment and in the end we end with nothing, except this Christmas light thing that I had to buy, because I have the mind of a child. But even though, I have the mind of a child, I purchased my first power tool right after. Yeah, its a big MANLY drill. I started to just drill random wholes in the wall, just to show how MANLY I am. Lets see them call me gay now, I will put a power drill in their ass.

On Monday, I had Papa Johns. Not as good in the us but way better than Pizza Hut (I could be bias because in the US Papa Johns is my favorite pizza of that variety). Anyway, if you need to order Pizza and you can't get the Kros Nest to deliver, Papa Johns is the way to go. They even give you jalapenos. And the onion rings are probably good too, if they don't come cold to your house.

And two day I cooked chicken tacos. I must say some times in life you fail miserable at it and you just have to chalk it up as a failure and then move forward amicably. A word of advice don't put too much chili powder in your tacos, it makes the tacos taste like chili and gives you taco flavored kisses.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How to Make Love to a Pineapple

On Wednesday it was my friend's last day here, so she decided that she wanted a night out that involved live jazz music. I was obviously was not against the idea. The night started out at my number two favorite bar in town, Centro. The jazz band that was there the last time I went was there again. I think they were better this time than last. But more importantly, I have decided that I need a signature drink, a drink that defines me. A drink that when I go out, people associate that drink with me. A drink that says power, intelligence, success, balls. A drink with a name something like "Max Power" or Money. So if anyone has any suggestions let me know. In the mean time, I have tried two drinks at Centro that no one should ever try. The first and the worst drink ever is the Tian Mi Mi, what makes this drink so bad is the beans the put in it, it is the same beans the use to make Dou Sha, you know the purple ones. And it has this foam stuff on the top, anyway, it is disgusting. The next drink I had was a lychee Caipirinha. A Caipirinha is a good drink, just not with lychee, if you get it still with the lime version.

After Centro, we went to Purple Haze Bistro and surprisingly the food was good this time. Maybe I was feeling the effects of the drinks from Centro, but the food was outstanding. We had shrimp on sugar cane that was delicious, but looking back, the part I enjoyed the most was chewing on the sugar cane more than the shrimp. The pad thai was bangin'. Last time it didn't taste that good, but this time the sprinkled some crack in it or something. And the other thing I had was the pineapple fried rice, it was probably the best I have had in China (my friend loved it so much he wanted to make love to it), and I don't think that was because of the alcohol, it was just done really well. I was quite impressed with it. However, the things that were not as good as last time were the kiwi mojitos (me pretending to drink one in the picture) and the live music. I was so disappointed with both. Normally when they make the kiwi mojitos they put a lot of kiwis this time they added a lot of kiwi flavoring that made taste overly sweet and artificial. And the worse part was the music, I wanted to hear jazz, but instead they had some folk singing people, on some Sarah Mclachlan, Jodi Mitchell tip. At one point they played "No Woman, No Cry" and I almost cried because of how they butchered a great song. But overall the night was good and multiple mojitos were consumed by all.

Yesterday is probably one of my best days I have had in China. It even started off great with my walk to work. It doesn't happen often because of one of two things happens the first of which is I have my ipod blaring in my ears and the second he is just not there. But today I heard the old man in the underpass on my way to work playing his flute. Even though I don't hear it often when ever I hear it, I love it. Not enough to drop a few dollars in his bucket. But it always uplifts my mood on my way to work. And after work, it was snowing, it was only the second time it has happened here this year. It was nice to finally see some snow fall. It was good to walk home watching the snow fall while listening to jazz on my ipod.

The thing that made the day great was the dinner I made. I don't cook often and the only reason I did cook is because I lost a bet, something that seems to be happening to me a lot. For some reason I can't win a bet here, I need to stop making them. Anyway, I ended up making Chicken quesadillas that a paired with a nice Chilean chardonnay. Actually the chardonnay was too strong and it didn't go very well with the quesadillas. Or maybe I just didn't like the chardonnay, it will probably be the last Chilean chardonnay I buy, I will stick with there sauvignon blancs, I always like them. The dessert was really good and simple, for dessert we had dove chocolate with a bottle of Italian Moscato d'Asti. It is an ambrosial dessert wine and gets my platinum star of scrumptulescentness. It is not as good as my favor wine, muscat, but it was still effervescent and flavorful. I first tried a moscato d'asti at One East On Third a restaurant at the Beijing Hilton Hotel. We went there last Sunday because they had a guest chef, Pichet Ong, making his signature desserts. We had a ginger date toffee cake and a walnut crust cheese cake. The ginger date toffee cake was nothing special and walnut crust cheese cake was just okay. The best thing we had there was the moscato d'asti. Anyway back to yesterday, the thing that made the day the even better besides the great food I made and the wine and the snow and the flute playing is the fact that I finally went to bed before 2 am and get a full nights sleep. This morning I actually was not tired and I was shocked. I am going to mark it as the best day here so far.

In Beijing its important to remember that hotel bars and restaurants are places for the rich and ostentatious. So it is important that when you walk in to these restaurants and bars to act like you own the place. Remember to walk in with your chest puffed up and with an air of self importance. Don't look at other people in the room and if you do, make sure that you look at them with a certain distain and/or disgust. And when you talk to a waitress, because these places only have pretty Chinese waitresses, while at least the posh of the posh have pretty ones, make sure that you speak to them like the are stupid and beneath you, I mean they are only waitresses and they are serving you, so in a sense they are your servant. I also make to dress nice and get a seat in front of the band because these places always have live music and if you are not being seen then what's the point?

Tonights line up is dinner at the Taiwanese restaurant and drinks at some bar.

Highlight of the Day so far: Waking up not tired

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Greatest Blog I've Ever Wrote

This is not the greatest blog I have ever wrote, this is only a tribute. The greatest blog I have ever wrote was destroyed by the natural forces that destroy hard drives and important papers you forgot to save. The greatest blog I have ever wrote was full of political insight, social angst, humor, it was even whimsical at times. It had perfect grammar and was even proofread by an English professor at Oxford. I am sure you would have all loved it but instead you will just have to settle for the tribute. It was so good there are no words in the English language that quite convey how good it is, there are not words in any language on this planet that convey how great it was. There is not even a simile or metaphor I could use to describe how great this blog was, so here is the tribute.

A lot of my fans have been upset because I have not written in a while. Well there is an explanation for that, and it is called Harbin. It totally whipped out my battery and gave me no energy to write that and showing my friend the best of what the expat community has to offer in Beijing. But my battery has been re-energized. So sit back and enjoy the story about a man named 马渡。

And on the 112th day God created ice, and some time after that China created Harbin. I think God creation was more impressive. But you don't have to take my word for it:

video

If anyone knows a better program for converting ifo files to avi files let me know, because I hate the watermark in the video. Anyway, the tigers in the video look like they are in prison, actually they are in prison, I didn't get it on video but I saw one shank another tiger. It was kind of wild. You will see it on video and you will know it is prison when you see it, but all I have to say is that there are only male tigers in this park. Looking back it was kind of sad to see them walking the yard, plotting their escape. And this is the most important thing to take from the video, there is a Russian restaurant at the end of the video, if you are ever in Harbin DO NOT go to this restaurant, it had the worst food I have ever ever had in my life. We order cream of mushroom and cream seafood soup and it was just warm milk with mushroom and warm milk with shrimp. It was so unpalatable, I thought I was going to throw up ice. The bread was even bad, it tasted like dirty feet. And so were the french fries, how do you mess up french fries, they are like the simplest thing to make in the world. So whatever you do, don't go there. It will make you throw up ice. On another note, you can't see it in the video, but Harbin is the coldest place on earth. I have lived in Vermont and it doesn't even compare. It is colder than a penguin nipple on an icy Antarctic night.

video

The on thing about the second part of the Harbin trip video that it doesn't quite convey is how flippin freezing it was. And here is the best part about our trip to Harbin it took 15 hours each way and we only spent 12 hours. And the train ride was lovely, it was so good that my friend visiting me has refused to ever ride a train in China again. Good times, good times.

Because I don't remember exactly everything that happened this week I will give you the highlights of the week.

On Wednesday, we went to Purple Haze Bistro for dinner and live jazz. We had a really bad seat by the door because we were late for our reservations. We couldn't even see the band and it was freezing where we were. Once, again the food was sub par but the band was much better than last time, so it made the outing worth it. They had a singer that was really good and then a guy from Denmark came on that had a really soulful sound, a little John Legend or Robin Thicke influence maybe. But the best part of the night was the discover that my friend made, they have a drink there that is scrumptulescent and defies all human logic in terms of test, it is in genius really, the drink is a kiwi mojito. The blend of the sweet kiwi with the bitter test of mojito goes very well together, matching something like ebony and ivory.

On Friday, we went to Blu Bar in Sanlituan and had a good drunken time like always. But before we went we had soju with peach tea. It is the drink we had at the end of the second video. It is a delicious combination. The peach tea hids all the alcohol flavor of the soju. It was probably the highlight of the night, that and running to random midd kids studying abroad here.

On Saturday, we went to the Pink Loft (my favorite place eatery in Beijing) for dinner and then to Centro for drinks. I was so excited to finally go to Centro. I have been wanting to go forever, but none of my friends were willing to go. I had to import friends to finally get someone to go with me. But it was everything I dreamed and more. I am not sure what bar lounge I like more. Its a pretty close tie between Q Bar and Centro. But I think Q Bar slightly edges it out. Only because Centro suffers from PSSP syndrome (pretentious superficial shallow pomposity syndrome). But even though Centro has PSSP syndrome it was still a really nice place. And fit well with my taste. The decor is amazing and there drink list is phenomenal. The best part about the place is the live music, its not as good as Purple Haze Bistro on Wednesday and not even as good as Cheers on the weekends, but it was still nice. And added to the atmosphere of the place. It is probably the best high class lounge in Beijing, much better than Lan, MUCH BETTER. I think my top five favorite bar/lounges in Beijing are as follows:

Q Bar
Centro
Obiwan (only on sundays, because thats the only time I have been)
Aria
Beermania

On Sunday, we went to the Botanical Gardens in the Fragrant Hills. It was fucking freezing outside so luckily they had a green house. I will not talk much about it because there is not much worth saying about it. Instead I will talk about my new number two favorite place to eat in Beijing, the dim sum place right by the Lama Temple. It is so good and cheap. I haven't been to other dim sum places but from what I hear and from my opinion it is the best in Beijing. It definitely has earned my new "Scrumptulescent Gold Star Award.

On Monday, we went to Annie's it was the first time I actually have been to an Annie's restaurant, but I was quite impressed. The food is pretty good. I have ordered take out from the place, but the place is much better to go to and have a sit down dinner.

And that brings me to today, it is my friend's (part of the reason why I have not been writing recently) last day here, so tonight I plan to go to Centro and Purple Haze Bistro after work. Stay tuned for the fascinating details. But if we didn't get good reservations at Purple Haze Bistro, I am not going so there may be no story for that. For me its the best table or nothing from now on.

Highlight of the Day: Learning that I could possible make a dollars in a year by place ads on my blog. Safe to say expect ads to come in the near or distant future.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year From The Big Dumpling

I was so sick for New Years, but because I didn't want to be alone. I sucked it up and meet my friends at Q Bar, which probably my favorite bar in Beijing. But lucky for my half my friends were sick also. I would say a good fifty percent of the people in this picture were sick. Thank god for Dayquil it helped me get through the night. Today, I feel a lot better. I think it was the Dayquil and the classic but goody drink had at the club. Maybe you don't remember this, but I am pretty sure that is why I feel better today, but I had a greentea and whiskey last night. And it was just as good as I remember. I am pretty sure the whiskey helped bring out the antioxidants. I think green tea and whiskey is the best thing for a cold. New Years was funny. I am pretty sure everyone had a good time. At least from the pictures everyone had a good time. And I have to say, my beard looks so good. I don't care what my hater roommate says, my beard looks amazing. But what is really amazing is the amount of drunk people from this night, I think half the girls ended up throwing up. I guess they just can't handle there liquor.

I am pretty sure that being sick in Beijing is worse than being sick anywhere in the world. It is so dry here it makes your nose hurt. And the pollution doesn't help either.

My New Years Resolutions:

Increase my political influence (ways to increase my political influence: bring a government to Belgium, start my track to become president, bring peace to Darfur)

Increase my wealth (sell my blog to the wall street journal or newsweek or time, start my own hegde fund or private equity firm, or just finally sell some coal)

Become healthier (start working out once a month)

Do one of things I have been meaning to do (learn Spanish, go to South America, learn to play the harmonica, get people to stop calling me gay)

Chinese New Years would have been a little better if I knew where to go to see the fireworks. But having said that the count down was fun and being with my friends was good even though I was hella sick. There was only one missing from the group, too bad he went home.

And I leave you with a picture of the fellas.



Highlight of the Day:Waking up and feeling a little better