sábado, 19 de novembro de 2011

Hot Pot, nice to meet you!

Every time I travel simply have to try a local dish. I think this is a great and delicious way to get to know more about the place I'm visiting. The way it's prepared, the tradition and the ingredients used to produce a certain dish can tell us a lot of things about a place. Food is also culture, dear readers!

In my trip to China, it was no different. I had already read on the Internet about two very typical dishes from there: the hot pot and the dumplings and I must say: scorpions, larvae and insects are not part of the chinese basic meal as a lot of people think. These are usually touristy meals. On a day-to-day basis, the Chinese don't eat any of that.

My boyfriend and I went to the Hot Pot King, a restaurant very well recommended by his Chinese teacher, who gave us the pleasure of his company. Having a local with us made everything much more easier and clearer for us, since he knew exactly how and what to order. But don't worry if you don't have any local with you. They have menus in English so there will be no surprises when you order your meal.


In a simplistic way to say it, the hot pot is the cousin of the meat fondue. On the center of the table, there is a big pot with vegetables stock, very, very hot, steaming hot actually. You can choose the regular pot or, for the brave, the spicy pot. If you want, you can also order a bit of both to give it a go. Then, we had coming in two portions of raw meat (we ordered sheep and beef), mushrooms, some raw shrimp cakes, pork and raw vegetables. You also could customize your gravy to go with the meat: mine had coriander, pepper, parsley, soy sauce and vinegar.

And then the game starts! You get your chopsticks and a spoon and dip the meat in that boiling stock and in a matter of seconds it is ready to be eaten. Don't rush, you have to appreciate it very slowly. Then, you through in some mushrooms, which take a little longer to get ready. After the mushrooms, the vegetables and the shrimp cakes, which cook pretty fast. It's part of the tradition to eat in this order: don't ask me why!


At the end of everything, when the stock is already delicious because of the ingredients that were cooked in it, you get a bowl and have it as a soup! Delicious! To drink, we ordered some beer, which, in my opinion, "harmonizes" very well with the dish! hahahah Well, just as the fondue, the hot pot is a dish for the winter. For that reason, the places available in the restaurants are more scarce, while in the summer there are very good deals to attract the public. The hot pot was for me one of the most amazing surprises. The food is light and healthy (lots of vegetables), nothing fried or fat. Excellent!


The Hot Pot King is one of the most popular places in Shanghai due to the quality and freshness on the ingredients. For that reason, don't go there without a reservation otherwise you might not get a table. The reservation must be done at least two days in advance and it is desirable to arrive about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. If you don't make it on time, you are at risk of loosing your table.

Hot Pot King - 1416 Huaihai Middle Road, near Fuxing Road (2nd floor) - French Consession

phone number: 6473 6380

Enjoy, Fê

Key-words: what to eat in China; eating in China; hot pot

terça-feira, 8 de novembro de 2011

If gluttony is a sin, join me, dear sinners... in Segovia, Spain

For those who think that Spanish gastronomy is restricted to tapas and paella, it is time to open your minds: Spanish cuisine is (I dare to say) almost as rich as Italian or French cuisine.

In a trip that I made to Spain, I had the pleasure to get to know Segovia, a beautiful small town that is just 30 minutes from Madrid via the high-speed train. I visited the city for one day and I had the opportunity to eat at the restaurant Jose Maria, which, according to a friend of mine that was born in Segovia, is the best place to eat the cochinillo - the suckling pig (the other restaurants are more touristy and not as good). The restaurant seems small from the outside, but as you get in, you realize that there is plenty of room for the whole family.

The cochinillo is a suckling pig slaughtered at a very early stage, when it's just a few weeks old (oh, dear, I can already feel the reader reprimanding me for the doing something that is ecologically incorrect...). Unfortunately (or fortunately), the weight in your conscience goes away when you taste the dish and feel the crunchiness on the outside and the softness and juiciness on the inside when you taste the dish. The meat is so soft that they cut the suckling pig with a plate to serve two people. The flavor is more subtle than other types of pork. For seasoning, nothing but salt and water. This is what differentiates the cochinillo of Segovia from the others prepared across the globe. The restaurant Jose Maria has its own farm and, therefore, they can assure that the taste of the meat is perfect and doesn't need any additional seasoning to disguise the pure flavor of the meat. One salad to balance the dish (after all, it IS heavy) and voilà: one of the tastiest meals I've had in Spain.

For the dessert, ask for the tarta de Segovia, which is light, has a very soft cream and comes with some ice cream (no guilty feelings now, you've already crossed the line). To finalize, un cafecito (a small coffee)… Otherwise, your trip will end there. The town has plenty of nice places to visit: a nice walk to help on the digestion won't be a burden.

For train tickets from Madrid to Segovia: http://www.raileurope.com/
Website of the restaurant: http://www.rtejosemaria.com/

A special thanks to my friend Cristina for being so patient on being my tourist guide and for having introduced me to the cochinillo.


key words: restaurant in Segovia; cochinillo; suckling pig; day trip to Segovia.

sábado, 5 de novembro de 2011

360 degrees at Schilthorn (Piz Gloria)

(official website picture)

For Christmas last year, my boyfriend and I received a gift from my uncle and aunt: a day trip to Schilthorn, a mountain 2970m high on the Swiss Alps. From the top, it is possible to see the most famous mountains in the country such as Titlis, Jungfrau, Monch, Eiger and Mont Blanc. Amazing, isn't it?

The trip there is already worth it, because of the beautiful landscape of the Swiss Alps. The arrival there through the funicular is overwhelming! The projects for the construction of a railway to Schilthorn to transform one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland and to allow the access for tourists existed since the end of the 18th century, but the Geographic conditions and technology at the time didn't make its construction possible. It was not until 1967 that a group coordinated by Ernst Feust overcame the technical and financial difficulties and constructed the longest aerial cableway of the world. Not satisfied with breaking one record, he idealized the construction of the first rotating restaurant in an altitude of 3,000 m. 

The top is so surreal that it became the set for the filming of James Bond's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. So, you can have an idea of the what you can find there. When I went there, in the middle of the European winter, the temperature was of -10°C and the whole place was covered with a "snow carpet". Maybe that's why since 1928, the longest down hill sky race of the world (another breaking of record) takes place there, known as "hell". When I was there, there was no one skiing because there was an avalanche risk (strong emotions!). It should be very interesting to see a completely different (and still marvelous) view of the place in the summer. 

The rotating restaurant allows you to eat with a 360 degrees view of the place. There I ordered a Gimmelwalder Kalbsgeschnetzeites mit Rosti, i.e., veal meat cut in pieces with mushrooms Gimmelwald style with rosti potatoes (which I love). To go with a typical Swiss dish, a regional red wine.

Official Website: http://www.schilthorn.ch/en/

A special thanks to my uncle Michael and my aunt Sissa, who introduced me to the rosti of the mountains when I was still a kid and gave me the gift of this wonderful day trip!