Final Beijing update from FooDiva…
Saturday, 4th September: There’s been so much to do, see, buy and eat here, not much time left to blog…anyhow FooDiva’s back with a final update.
Dear friends that recommended Green T. House, you’ll be delighted to know we dined there on Wednesday night. Wow what a creative concept – decor was flamboyant, glamorous, minimalistic – right up FooDiva’s street. I am not sure my photos or description do it justice so please check out their website. Our ‘table’ was lounge seating a la Arabian majlis style but all white, where we kicked off our strappy sandals. Very romantic for mum et moi…where’s the sexy man when you need him. Dishes are ever so complicated, and I would definitely call it Fusion Chinese…having been down with the flu or haze allergy (they don’t call it smog here) my appetite had disappeared. We ordered ‘curly’ chicken Sichuan style with parmesan, and prawns coated in wasabi sauce. Stunning presentation, but food was disappointing and over-priced. Tea-wise, there’s over 100 different brews to choose from compiled in a wonderful educational menu – I even asked if I could buy the menu…they promptly declined. Great venue for pre or post dinner cocktails, but suggest dining elsewhere.
And elsewhere we certainly did the following night (Thursday). Thanks to having my aunt (Kate) and uncle (Robert) as Beijing residents, we dined at their house over a fabulous ‘drunken’ chicken. It’s a North Carolina dish (my uncle is American) where an open beer can is popped into a whole chicken before roasting…you don’t taste the beer, but it simply makes the chicken so juicy and tender. Nice to opt out of Chinese for a change!
Just as an aside, their compound houses a fabulous South African restaurant with an excellent and incredibly affordable South African wine list – I doubt you’ll be heading there as it’s a tad out of the centre, but just so you know that’s where I was last night!
A great lunch venue is Sureno at The Opposite House, a very funky boutique hotel in the Sanlitun district – the only district where you see a good handful of expats. An international Mediterranean-inspired menu with plenty of choice.
And last but not least, our final foodie experience of my three week trail, was high tea at The Peninsula Beijing this afternoon. It’s one of the few British foodie traditions that I absolutely love, and for some odd reason, I always try to fit it into a city break. Having said that, I’ve had better high tea experiences elsewhere, so suggest trying out another hotel.
A sightseeing must is the Summer Palace, do spend a few hours uncovering hidden pagodas and the marble boat.
The bizarrely named 798 Dashanzi Art District houses numerous galleries, boutiques and cafes – ‘At Cafe’ is perfect for lunch (try the lovely stone-baked pizzas).
Beijing is a shopper’s paradise – we shopped till we dropped…made so much easier by my aunt’s driver and car. Thank you Kate and Robert! I have enough tea to open my own shop (there are stores round every corner – my recommendation is TenFu’s in Wangfujing). I love their green rose tea.
Pearls (you can have your own designs made up in minutes) and handbags are also great buys – Kate knows the right shops. If you don’t have your own Kate on tap, it’s Shelley for pearls in the building right next to Hongqiao market, and Monica’s for handbags hidden away in the same building – ask for quality S (the best!). Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market and Silk Market have hundreds of stalls selling clothes and silky knick-knacks of every variety – if you hunt, you’ll discover some unusual pieces. You gotta haggle like mad though. Start at a tenth of a price, and be prepared to walk away – they’ll come running! Antique collectors should head to Panjiayuan weekend market – make sure you know what you’re buying though. What better way to chill those weary legs than with a foot massage (aka reflexology without the explanation).
Dearest friends and family, I think that’s pretty much it for now – our flight is Dubai-bound tomorrow. It’s been an exhilirating three weeks, and I’ve relished every breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner experience. But I am glad to be heading home, gosh Dubai I’ve missed you! Can’t wait to try out my Asian recipes. If you’re planning a trip to Japan or China, I would love to help pull together an itinerary.
And if you’ve enjoyed the blog as much as me, stay tuned for my next surprise experience. Will be in touch!