A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: ChipFondue

Back to Yak!

My first taste of a horny, long haired cow.

semi-overcast 26 °C

Mongolian delights

I expected my Mongolia diet to have dishes containing one of these
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(Yak)

some of these
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(Goats and Sheep)

and maybe one or t'other of these
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(Mongolian Prezwalski Horse)

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(Mongolian Pika)

But the only recipe I managed to write down from our three weeks camping in the wilderness is as follows:

Tsuiwan (pronounced towen)
Ingredients

Cooking oil
Onion
Carrot
Red pepper
Green pepper
Swede
Salt
Dried dill
Diced smoked pork sausage
Potatoes
Shredded cabbage
Fresh pasta
Paprika

Method
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion, carrot, peppers and swede and gentle cook until softened.
Add a pinch of salt, dill and sausage, add more salt and stir.
Cook for 4 minutes, then add a little water to cover the vegetables, then add the potatoes and cabbage,
do not stir, but leave to steam with a lid on for 10 minutes.
Once the potatoes have cooked, stir in the paprika and pasta chopped into small pieces and cook for for further 4-5 minutes.
Serve with bread.

It was filling and tasty, but every meal was a variant of this, you just substitute the pasta with white rice or buck wheat. The only time we didn't eat it was when I prepared a fresh tomato pasta sauce with boiled eggs & Mongolian tinned sausage
(it was supposed to be with tuna, but that was hard to find)

We did get to taste a nomad father's deer leg and potatoes late one night though...
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It wasn't until I'd travelled through Mongolia, Beijing, Northern China to Shanghai, Hong Kong and
back into Central China that I found a restaurant in Jiuzhaigou (albeit Tibetan) that served me these

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(Potato & Yak Cake)

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(Yak Kebabs)

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(Tibetan Bean & Yak Soup)

and more recently in Dali I had a Yak steak burger n fries
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Yak is tender and juicy and I recommend it to all.

Chinese food

Well what can I say...I'm sure we've all eaten in a Chinese restaurant, ordered a Chinese take away or cooked some Chinese food at some point in our lives. Even if you think you haven't, did you know that...radishes and spring onions originated in China? and who doesn't like a nice cuppa tea...
While we're on that subject - I unintentionally brought tea to China!

I left London on 1st August with a few loose tea bags that I didn't want to throw away, I fully expected to have drank all of these as I travelled through Russian and Mongolia, expecting to taste the wonderful array of teas in China, but I still have some of the original tea bags with me in Vietnam - I can't go anywhere without a guarantee of tea!

So what did I eat? To begin with, I thought it will be all chicken feet and fish heads, and yes, there were those delights on the menu almost everywhere you went, but I don't think you want to see me eating this
Market_bags_of_frogs.jpgHong_Kong_fowl.jpg
(Xingping - live fish, snails, eels and bags of frogs) - (Hong Kong - cooked chicken and squid)

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(Bus stop on the way to Jiuzhaigou - various meat drying in the sun)

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(Beijing - things on sticks ready to cook)

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(Tongli - bits of pigs)

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(Hong Kong night market - fresh seafood)

I want to show you the things that I bet you've never seen on a Chinese menu...like...

Pingyao_Moon_Cakes.jpg
(Pingyao - Moon Cakes)

Jianshui_p..ice_pudding.jpg
(Jianshui - purple rice puddings)

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(Hong Kong - Turtle Pudding - not made with real turtles)

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(Hangzhou, Grandma's Kitchen - purple potato juice)

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(Dazhai Village - Rice and peanuts cooked in bamboo)

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(Dali - Grandma Potato)

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(Dali - Local grilled cheese - tastes like a cross between halloumi and goats)

There are more photos on my blog page...http://stuartandneil.travellerspoint.com/author/609173/

I started this Adventure saying that I would try anything that the local people eat, but I've realised that I don't need to eat the food (especially if it doesn't look as though it will do you any good) to know what it tastes like. Thanks to Parmy who says that chicken feet are a bit nibbly and Stuart who says that yak milk curd tastes like very strong parmesan and fermented horses milk is bad yogurt.

We've just entered Vietnam, renowned for eating deep fried insects - I'm the sort of person who is bitten by every insect going, whether they have the organs to bite or not, so I'll relish in devouring some of those little critters...
photo evidence will be posted here in due course.

And finally...

I've been likened to many people in my life
Simon.jpg

Simon Pegg - London 2001+, almost everywhere following the series' of Spaced

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Bruce Willis - Mongolia 2013 by our tour guide Zaya

But, honestly...
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Wayne Rooney - Chinese lunch stop 2013, those coach drivers need to drink more water with it!

anyway, you decide
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Yes, the beard is still with us, I think it's growing on Stuart...not literally!

Thank you for reading.

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11.11.13

p.s. Well done to a Mrs Trellis from North Wales for correctly identifying the Russian outlets of western food chains in my last post. http://stuartandneil.travellerspoint.com/5/

Posted by ChipFondue 16:43 Archived in Vietnam Comments (4)

Panda-monium!

overcast 14 °C

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Panda Car

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Neil and the little Giant Panda

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Stuart and the little Giant Panda

Posted by ChipFondue 06:32 Archived in China Comments (0)

What a Lotta World!

semi-overcast 12 °C

There's a whole lot of world out here, and we're only going to see a minuscule part of it.

We love travelling by train, that's why Stuart and I planned our Journey to Oz involving as few aircraft trips as possible. So far this only numbers one and that one was at the beginning and so doesn't really count…

!*!CLICHE ALERT!*!

When travelling by train the world passes by your window. Well actually it doesn't. Only the bits where the train tracks go, and what I've seen out of the window of our numerous Chinese trains, there's going to be a whole lot more of China visible through train windows in the future.

We've travelled over a thousand of miles on Chinese trains and nearly everywhere you look you can see the construction of pillars to carry new high speed train tracks. Maybe they're showing off by putting the trains on stilts or maybe they think digging a tunnel is a waste of effort like London's CrossRail or most of HS2 or the Chunnel (perhaps a tunnel was necessary for the last example...)

China is definitely not ashamed of showing their economic boom and progress in building infrastructure. I quite like the pillars (unlike wind turbines, don't get me started on those monstrosities...) It'll be a shame if nobody can afford to travel on the high speed trains when they arrive over the next decade, not that Chinese train travel is expensive, in fact compared to Western European train travel it's pennies, or yuannies. But the Chinese economy could collapse and all the infrastructure would litter the landscape like a ghost of the hopeful past

We have just spent 25 hours on a train from Guilin to Chengdu for a mere £49, you can't even go from Euston to Morecambe for that!

Chinese trains all have boiling water for a cuppa tea or a pot of noodles; a restaurant carriage and trolley service where you can buy anything from fresh fruit to a toy train; and they even have smoking areas. They have a guard or two in every compartment and security is tight, you're sometimes not permitted to move from class to class.

Glamourous?...well...

For those of you who haven't been on a train in China, or a train in any other country outside of Western Europe, they range in comfort from business class, airline style seats on high speed trains to hard beds, stacked three high and 66 to a carriage on rural long distance trains. It looks like a mobile mortuary, all you'd need are the toe tags.

The cleanliness also varies from operating theatre clean to needs fumigating or incinerating. Don't get me wrong, as I said, I like travelling by train and I'm sure more people would do a lot more of it in the UK if the price was affordable, without losing the standards.

Posted by ChipFondue 06:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

TV Supplement

rain 17 °C

I've heard on the grapevine that ITV has launched a celebrity dancing competition in a revenge attack on the Beeb for setting The Voice against BGT a couple of years ago. Well, from what I also hear, and I don't know the line up of either programme, it won't take much to beat the ratings of what has been described as the second worst line up in the history of Strictly.

As you can see, I'm not missing British TV at all, especially when I can enjoy such wonders as American X Factor with a Russian voice over for Simon Cowell's gasps as his contestants aren't voted through and for Steve Jones' commentary - I can almost hear the Welsh accent!

The only Mongolian TV I've managed to see was one night in a ger, shared with a nomadic couple, their six month old daughter and their extended family and friends from neighbouring gers. It seems we were in the only ger in the village with a TV.

The satellite dish was picking up Korean soap/dramas dubbed into Mongolian, and although I couldn't understand a word, the facial expressions and tones of their voices gave you a good idea of the plot. They seemed to go on for hours and as I drifted off to sleep - I heard a familiar voice. It was the late night movie (late night being about 8:45pm) and although it was still in Mongolian, I heard the name Erin Brockovich...

Chinese TV is quite a delight, I've seen plenty of it the hotels in Northern China, our suite in the Fairmont Peace Hotel Shanghai and even in the cupboard of a room in down town Hong Kong. It comes in a variety of genres: news, shopping, singing, martial arts dramas, but perhaps the most unusual is quiz programmes about Chinese characters.

The first of these I saw was for school children with a similar format to a spelling bee. Each child is told a phrase and they have to transpose that into a Chinese characters on an electronic drawing pad. One by one the contestants are disqualified for failing to correctly put the lines, hooks, dashes and dots in the right place.

More fascinating is the adult version, whereby one person is given a character or set of characters and they have to tell the host what it means, giving their partner a chance to grab a prize, ranging from a toaster to an air conditioning unit. The kind of good old prizes from 70s UK quizes, although perhaps not A/C units.

It's hardly surprising that these shows exist, considering that nobody knows how many characters there are (a figure which is expanding quicker than the OED) and that you need to have a grasp of at least 2,500 to read a newspaper!

It's funny then that there are only eight strokes used in the construction of a Chinese character. I do know the character for gents toilet, and that's about as much as I need to know, oh and the word for beer.

Posted by ChipFondue 05:59 Archived in China Comments (0)

OMG!

The Peace Hotel Shanghai

You'll have to excuse me for skipping the Mongolian and Chinese food blog, because of this....IMG_6591.jpg
and this
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and this
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and that is all...and I love you
Nxx

Posted by ChipFondue 09:40 Comments (1)

Food Glorious Food!

semi-overcast 10 °C

We've just returned from 14 days travelling around southern and central Mongolia (formerly Outer), but more about that later...

Food Glorious Food…Well, as I should have expected from the former capital, capital and major tourist destinations, there wasn't going to be glorious traditional fare - take the picture quiz at the end of this post to see if you can identify which places we didn't visit whilst in Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Ekaterinburg.

Saint Petersburg, was our first port of call and the starting place for our journey to Oz. Stuart doesn’t think we’ll make it that far, but I’m determined to follow in Dorothy’s footsteps and find the Wizard and a way back home…Where the devil are my slippers!

We arrived late at Hotel Vera and we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant, which had some Russian dishes on the menu, I chose a plate of pickles to start with followed by plamen, which is Russian ravioli, usually tightly filled with minced packed cow and pig*, but sometimes fish then cooked and served in a herby broth with a large dollop of sour cream on top, this was delicious, but then anything with a large dollop of sour cream on top can’t be bad.

  • I say cow and pig because they use all of the animal in Russia, you don't know which bits, but they taste good, if seasoned correctly.

The starter of a plate of pickles, a traditional starter for Russians, and if you like your mushrooms and cherry tomatoes pickled, a lovely starter for you too. The mushrooms were pickled in a slimy vinegar and the cherry tomatoes took on a very strange taste, sort of sweet and sour. The other pickles were your bog standard gherkin, silver skin onions, mini corn and the obligatory sauerkraut.

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The mushrooms are under the red onion, and there where they should stay...forever!

Stuart’s dinner was Russian chicken en croute, but with minced chicken which gave it a soggy sponge texture, not nearly as bad as the mouth feel of the mushrooms though.
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The ramakin is full of melted butter...yummy!

After five nights of tourist type food we asked the hotel receptionist to recommend a local restaurant with good Russian food, she wrote down the name of a restaurant a few streets away and we headed off.

By this stage, I'd pretty much grasped the art of reading Cyrillic (Н is pronounced Ne, И = He & Л = L, thus my name is Cyrillic is written НИЛ), but all of this doesn't help when there are no street signs and the restaurant decides to update its fascia.

We eventually found it and settled into a very empty, ye olde style Russian eatery, something which all the guide books tell you to avoid at all costs. The menu looked perfect, meat, pickles, more meat and cheese.

Traditiona.._Restaurant.jpg
Stuart waiting for service in a Saint Petersburg traditional Russian restaurant

Firstly, we had Russian pasties filled with potato and onion; and cabbage and cheese.
2013-08-04_Pasties.jpgThis is mobile photo, so they don't look amazing, but tasted fantastic.

Here are a few more dishes I consumed in Russia, most of which I've already shared on FB.

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Goat cheese and beetroot salad with balsamic dressing, not really Russian, but really tasty.

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Steamed salmon and red caviar cream sauce, served with boiled broccoli; and boiled and breaded cauliflower.

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Raw fish amuse bouche.

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Salty beef stew and creamy mash.

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Raw fish starter at lake Baikal

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A platter of tinned cherry beef (from top left going clockwise), fried potatoes (soggy french fries!), roasted egg plant and cheese; and pork escalope covered in cheese with baked potatoes covered in cheese...you gotta love cheese...especially in Russia!

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Borscht on the train from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, and then again on the train from Moscow to Vladimir, and again on the train from Vladimir to Irkutsk, and again.....you get the picture.

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This is rice and meat (I think it was cow?) with carrot and peas, again on a train. I would have compare it to British Rail food, but I haven't tasted that in decades.

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My beef stroganoff and a glass of wine t 10:30 pm: during the White Nights in Saint Petersburg. White Nights refer to the fact that the sun doesn't completely set during late June and July, but they carry on during August for tourist purposes.

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Stuart's specially made sorrel soup was delicious!

And now test your knowledge of international high street food brands, answers on a postcard please...

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You should recognise the colours and font, if not the words.

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You'll know the name and it's the first branch of his restaurant in Russia, he chose Saint Petersburg.

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I haven't seen this chain on England, but there are many cool outlets in Goa!

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Again, you should know the font and the fact it begins with M!

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No more clues...

Sign up to the blog now because we won't have FB foe a few months in China.
Love and miss you
N&sSxx

Posted by ChipFondue 06:43 Archived in Mongolia Comments (0)

TV Dinners

rain 22 °C

As Stuart and I were planning this escapade, I decided to blog mostly about the love of my life and along side Stuart my love for food is well known; as well as making it and delighting guests with my creations, I love eating it!

So my blogging was primarily going to be about regional foods, a potted history of the food and what it tastes like. I thought that if local people are surviving on the cuisine, then I should be able to eat it and survive too.

It could turn out that it's the same food I eat at home, but with a different name or slightly different ingredient, or it could be offal. I would, where possible, try and find out what a foodstuff was made from before woofing it down, but if I couldn't do that then the 'point to the item on the menu to order and poke around with a fork when it arrives' technique would be used.

However, upon arriving at our hotel (the tale of this journey will be told in a later story), I realised there are three loves of my life, that being foreign TV. I t's one of the first things I do when I get to a hotel room, if there is a TV...on it goes, well I need to know if there are any episodes of Cagney and Lacey I missed.

Having found a news channel, this time it was the good 'ole BBC, sometimes it can be one of the wonderful American broadcasters, oh how I love to see the World though their eyes. Then I trawl though the rest of the channels hoping for something that might broadcast in English, or American, but loving it when I find a programme or series I'm familiar with and listening to the marvellous dubbing into the local language.

So there you have it, I will be mostly blogging about my eats but also my TV treats, and sometimes I might mention Stuart....

Errors and omissions - if you do spot any, keep to ourself, it's not due to me lack of understanding of the English language or gammer, it could be die to my fat fingers getting used to this keybord, dodgy transportation or inability to type in tthe local script...I will of course try and prof read when I can...hope you enjoy reading.
Nxx

Posted by ChipFondue 21:42 Archived in Russia Comments (2)

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