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Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 2)

This is the second installment of my travels in Taiwan. For part one, go here.

Thinking back to the trip makes me realize on how I marked each day by what we ate. And, really, that wasn’t a bad decision because, if anything, that soupy noodle soup or that hot bread from the street vendor are worth talking about.

As we looped around the southern tip of the island and started driving back up north, we passed through an area where a lot of tropical fruit flourished.

We stopped along the way at a stand that sold a local variety of dried mango. I sampled the fresh mango, and it had a richer, more complex flavor than the varieties from the Philippines or Mexico that get imported to the U.S. This little road-side shop had many different dried fruits and little cakes (and lots of samples).

Pineapple fields, semi-reminiscent of a past visit to the Dole Pineapple fields in Hawaii

Continue reading “Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 2)”

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Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 1)

This post chronicles what I ate on a recent trip to Taiwan. Hang on as I share some low-quality photos and high-quality memories. 

Moments after stepping the plane at approximately 5:34 a.m., we walked out to the curb where we were greeted by our driver in a white Mercedes van. After a 14-hour red-eye flight, we (I, my parents, two sisters and grandma) weren’t the perkiest version of ourselves. Sick of watery, tasteless airplane food, we craved something juicy and fresh.

We headed to an open-air fruit stand on the corner of a busy intersection. I could hear the blaring sound of traffic — bikes, mopeds, cars, and taxis.

 

Cherimoya fruit

 

Being on an island meant I got to try some fruits I’d never seen before because exotic fruits thrive in Taiwan’s tropical climate. One of them, cherimoya, tasted stringy and almost pungently sweet. We also ate wax apples a couple times, which, true to their name, are like a watered down version of apple — crisp but rather bland. We also tried mango, pineapple, and bananas, and the Taiwanese varieties proved to be sweeter (the mangoes and pineapple) and creamier (the bananas).

The first day, we headed into Taipei. As a highly populated city, Taipei boasts smoggy air, mad swarms of people riding mopeds, and lots of face mask-wearers. During our trip, we planned to get a survey of the island, starting from the northern part of the island, driving along the eastern coast to the southern tip and through the middle of the island back to Taipei’s in a week’s time. Therefore, every night we lived in a different hotel — the constant, on-the-g0 nature of our trip was exciting yet exhausting. Continue reading “Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 1)”

Confessions of a Scrap Paper Hoarder

photo (1)My love for paper — perhaps you could call it an obsession — started when I took a trip to Michaels (the craft store at which I can never not spend money) and purchased a 5-pound bag of colorful scraps of paper for $5. Mind you, this was probably when I was in fifth grade, so the obsessive behavior continues to this very day. That plastic package contained sheets of all sizes — the standard 8.5 x 11, small 2×2 squares, 12×12, and everything in between. There was cardstock, corrugated cardboard, and paper of different thicknesses. Continue reading “Confessions of a Scrap Paper Hoarder”

Nut Bars & Musings of an #SSS

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It’s funny how we use food for both celebrating and for coping.

This has become increasingly evident to me due to one word: college.

In the last two weeks, many early deadline college decisions have been released, either through online portals or in emails. I can’t say I’m a fan of all this digital messaging because it makes the whole process quite impersonal, but such is life.

While these early decisions don’t directly affect me, it has been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster watching some of my friends hear from their top choice schools. When they’ve received good news, food has been used for celebration. And when my friends have unfortunately been rejected or deferred from their top schools, food has been used to as a coping mechanism. (Disclaimer: I don’t recommend this, but sometimes people need to do what they need to do to deal with disappointment.)

All this college hullabaloo makes me feel kind of wishful because I won’t know where I’m going to spend the next few years of my education until late March or April. Four months seems like an eternity. I just keep reminding myself that I and all my friends will eventually find a place where we’ll be happy and able to grow as people. Maybe we’ll find out now, maybe it’ll be in the spring.

Continue reading “Nut Bars & Musings of an #SSS”

Egg Roll Cookies

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My family has a semi-strict rule against purchasing kitchen appliances that only serve one purpose. For example, a cherry pitter or a kiwi knife or a panini maker are absolute no-goes because they take up valuable cabinet real estate. If the device or appliance has only a single capability, we believe that more multi-purpose paring knife or just a good ol’ frying pan can do the trick. Continue reading “Egg Roll Cookies”

Weekend Cheesecake [recipe]

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Let’s talk guilty pleasures.

Okay, yes, in reality there should be no such thing as a “guilty pleasure” because we eat decently healthy 80% of the time, leaving us room to splurge about 20% of the time (the 80-20 rule) without feeling an ounce of guilt.

I don’t follow that suggestion to an absolute “T,” but I do try to eat healthy most of the time and save the not-so-nutritious stuff for special occasions.

All that goes to say that I am a dessert connoisseur — probably not in the way you were thinking. Yes, I always consider my options (and who doesn’t love options?), but I look for quality. If I’m going to have dessert, it better be worth it.  I’m not a fan of a low-fat diet food ice cream sandwich with unpronounceable pseudo ingredients. I want the  real thing made with cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla bean.

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apple banana lemon green smoothie [recipe]

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Green smoothies continue to be all the rage in the realm of healthy food trends. There’s something about drinking your greens in a tasty, cleansing smoothie that makes those vegetables much more appetizing.

In my town, we’ve been experiencing a bit of a heat wave this week. Because I had frozen bananas stocked up in the fridge (confession: I quite frequently eat them straight out of the freezer like popsicles), it was even simpler to whip up this cooling smoothie in a matter a seconds. Continue reading “apple banana lemon green smoothie 

Food Sighting: Gayle’s Bakery

P1060244Aaannnnd I’m back! I’m well aware of the fact that it’s been a long time since my last post. Junior year was crazy, and I do admit that I got lazy and had other things to focus on besides blogging. Never fear, though, because I’ve got lots of new things planned and hope to post more frequently during the upcoming school year. First up, a peek into one of my foodie-related adventures this summer at the renowned Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola, Calif. 

P1060212As I’m sure anyone who’s currently in school or has been in school can relate, I’ve come face-to-face with the brutal reality that summer break is dwindling and school will begin in just four short days.

It’s easy to say, “If I just had one more week of summer, then I’d be ready for school to start.” But then I remind myself of the importance of just living in the moment and being content right where I am. I should appreciate for the fun times spent with friends, the memories made, and the days I got the privilege of sleeping in. The break blessed me with time to relax and rejuvenate before I enter the daunting college application season.

With that in mind, food always plays a quintessential part in my summer, not just because it brings people together but for the way it captures the flavors and spirit of the season.

My family stops by Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola, Calif. when we’re in the Santa Cruz area. I absolutely adore the shop’s ambiance because it provides a space for people of all types — the coffee-drinking and newspaper-reading customers who lounge by the large windows, the tourists who gaze in awe at the case of buttery pastries, the parent whose child needs a quick bite after school, and everyone in between.

Continue reading “Food Sighting: Gayle’s Bakery”