Saturday, August 7, 2010 on the lake

The capital of Zhejiang Province of China is Hangzhou, which is located in the on the southeast coast of China where it is beautiful, green and lush. Looks like Beverly Hills. Hangzhou cuisine is known for delicacies that are distinctively light and artistic. Lots of seafood and little meat. Pork is the main meat. After a morning of touristy scenic boat rides through West Lake, we dined at a private resort house right on the 
water. (This is, yet, another overdue post that got lost in the transfer!)
Beautiful, executive-style room, scenic views, as if we were on a movie set. Perfection. Check out this lazy susan--it's sparkling! Place settings are cool and modern with none of that bright gold and red, prominent in Beijing dining halls, in sight.Beautiful carved mural, by some famous artist,was the main evidence that we were still in China.Head Cheese Immediately, appetizers and coldcuts were brought out. Housemade cheesehead cold cuts with dashes of paprika. Look at that plating, that stacking, the colors and shapes. AhThe plating, beautiful attention to colors and shapes.Lotus Root.  I've only ever seen lotus root cut into round slices, but never into chunks. This was drizzled in bright thick red sugary syrup, garnished with a poky stick and fresh jasmine leaves.Shark fin soup in a chicken broth.  There is a lot of controversy over shark fin, but in Chinese culture, it represents luxury and is usually only served at very important events. Shark fin strands are like thick, firm glass noodles. Very expensive. Remember, presentation is everything.This is the spectacular bowl of Shark Fin Soup ever seen. Gobs of straight, quality, firm, crunchy, sharkfin in a rich broth. The bowl sat on a porcelain fondue-style pedestal with a lit flame. All the usual garnishes were served on the side: cilantro, bean sprouts and red vinegar. I have vivid childhood memories, from of growing up in San Diego going to wedding banquets, overhearing mom's girlfriends speculate on how much the wedding would cost depending on the quality of the Shark Fin. (My only memories of eating sharkfin have been bowls of thick starchy broth and only a few strands of shark fin floating around with filler chunks of crabmeat and mushroom. Nothing like this.) Salty Fish.  Served cold, topped with some black fungus. Amazing.Black Fungus.  Served cold, crunchy, flavorful. One of my favorites.Lobster in eggwhite-drop soup Bestest lobster presentation ever. Hollow spiny lobster sits on display surrounded by eggshells filled with eggwhite drop soup and lobster meat. The shells stayed put on carrots slices with holes. Pretty groovy, huh?Too fabulous for words.Almonds with sesame, dried fruit, and sweet mystery yummies.Bean Sprouts.  Served cold, tossed in a vinegar. Outrageous.White Fungus.  Cold, crunchy, delicious. Spicy sauce was hot as hell!Duck.  Tender, flavorful, gorgeous. Amazing pea garnish.Sea Cucumber.  Done three ways, the sea cucumbers were cut up into bite-size pieces and stuffed into bell peppers then sprinkled with peanuts and sesame seeds. Fab presentation. What a creative way to do serve such a creepy slimy sea cucumber? Decadent.Steamed Fish with Pork Belly.  Beautiful and AMAZING. Local fish steamed and cut with pork belly in soy and ginger. My favorite.Tofu Soup.  The broth was light, yet rich, and delicious with bits of crabmeat, baby shrimp and scallion.The soup presentation was cool, set in thick parchment paper over a tealight flame. The importance of keeping soups warm!The portion-control soup bowls were perfect. Bokchoy. A classic and can never go wrong.Broccoli and Wild Mushrooms.  Wok-tossed broccoli and wild mushroom. Tasty.Water Chestnut, Cumber and Chinese Broccoli in Sweet Soy.  Beautiful cold veggies with seasoned soy poured tableside. Fresh water chestnuts so delicious.Cucumber, water chesnuts, chinese broccoli...Soup Dumplings!  Light, juicy and fabulous.Bamboo Shoots.  Fabulous preparation.Meat and Jelly Filled Pastries.  Each piece was filled with something different and fabulous!Fruit Plate. Toothpick business card.Gorgeous day, lush landscapes on the decks.Finish up to explore more of Hangzhou...

1 comment:

  1. As a fellow foodie I find it important that we understand how our food is prepared as well as where it comes from. I encourage you to do a little research and education on the subject of shark fin soup and the industry of shark fining. It is a horrid practice and utterly shocking to know how the soup (which needs to be flavoured because shark fin has no taste at all) is having such a devastating effect on marine ecosystems. As one foodie to another, please please please don't eat this vile stuff. Thank you.