Monday, April 25, 2011

Snapshot/dessert: i strongly recommend ice cream & saltines sandwich from TAIDA CAMPUS



I've seen ice cream sandwiches made from all sorts of cookies, but this is first time I've seen it with giant saltines!




It kind of works, especially for those who like the sweet and salty combo that's popular these days, for only NT$15. I love that the saltine is crispy, not soft and the ice cream is milky, not artificial tasting. My aunt brought some to us from the Taida campus store, where there are also frozen treats like red bean and peanut popsicles or bing bang. I'll have to try it next time I have some saltines and ice cream at home.




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

desserts/events: 2011 TAIPEI INTERNATIONAL BAKING SHOW



I had my eye on the 2011 Taipei International Bakery Show ever since I saw the write up by Yi on My Several Worlds last year and I had to wait a whole year for it to come back around! So when I spotted the coupon/flyer at a neighborhood bakery, I snatched it up and luckily caught it on the last afternoon of a four day run.




It's definitely worth checking out if you are looking for baking supplies or just want to browse the eating side! They had tons of stuff for the hard core and bakery owners- industrial mixers and ovens, as well as for the home baker- sprinkles, cookie cutters, candy molds and mega packs of cupcake liners.






The Wilton area had a lot of great supplies, cake toppers and cutters. I even picked up a cupcake carrier there for a 15% discount since it was the last day.


One day, you will be mine...



There was no shortage of too-cute-to-eat confections to gawk at and take pictures of.



One of my favorite eats was the gelatos- there were quite a few vendors on the "professional side."



How do they get the colors on these cakes to look so smooth? Spray on 'frosting' in spray paint bottles.



Where else would you see shoes made out of chocolates?



It was kind of cool to peek inside the world of industrial baking. The sizes of these mixers and baking molds was kind of awesome. I can't even imagine the price tags. It's hard to tell, but the last mixer in the picture below was probably almost as tall as I was.



Huge silicone rubber baking molds that were the size of the rubber mats that would go on the floor of your car.
It was cool to see non-bakery things like cheeses and flour too. I was surprised to see Din Tai Fung even having a mini display, that of course had a line going for it.




Would you buy Chiahe flour because Din Tai Fung uses it?



I got suckered into buying a few packs of this wheat noodle and the sesame/chili sauces, but it was actually a good purchase. The packs were huge and separated into individual portions and cook quickly. The sauces, I'm kind of addicted to now. I'll have to do a separate post on these and find the ordering/purchasing information.


There was a sugar molding competition where the chefs created amazing delicate and huge displays that you could get up close to see (behind the glass, of course!)




The one sample area that I found was not worth getting mobbed for. Everyone elbowing and gunning for a small sample, many people grabbing 3 or 4 at a time. This small toasted slice was brushed with sugar so it was crispy and sweet.



I thought I'd be swimming in samples and food, but I realized that the showroom is split in two sides- the industrial side and the bakery side. Turns out, I ended up wandering around the supplies and vendor side first after spotting a shop full of cupcake liners. By the time I made it to the "bakery" side, they were packing up and getting ready to clear their stalls... like this guy:

But popular bakeries like How Sweet, Florida Bakery and others were selling their popular items like egg puddings and cheesecakes.


I'll definitely be back next year and be a little bit more organized about walking around and getting better photos instead of doing it last minute for a few hours like I did this year (thus all the iPhone pictures). Mark your calendars- March 2012!

Monday, April 18, 2011

mexican: i recommend TACO2GO



TACO2GO
No. 10, Lane 76, XinSheng S. Rd, Sec. 3
(02) 2368-3209

MRT: Gongguan

website: Taco2GoTWfacebook page

hours: 11AM - 3PM; 5PM - 9PM

$

Kid friendliness: only 4 outdoor stool seats; can take food 2go

Visit reviewed: 4/3/2011


Let's not forget what city we're in, but somehow Taipei has seen the opening of three new Mexican joints the past six months (Taco2Go, Macho Tacos, Mayan Grill), revamping of one opened last year (Oola), but the closing of four others (El Gallo, La Casita, Yuma Southwestern Grill, Taco Bar). The math is complicated, but the taste test is easy.

Hot, cheesy and cheap- that's a good start for my bite of burrito right?


In a blink and you'd miss it location tucked along the alleys near Tai Yi Milk King, Taco2Go is the perfect name for this colorful, five month old hole in the wall. If you thought Macho Tacos was small, you haven't seen Taco2Go yet. There's only four barstool seats so if it's crowded or raining, you should get your food to go. Thanks to readers Ginny and Mei for the heads up that I should give it try.


The tacos, burritos and quesadillas (with ground beef or chicken) are impressively under NT$100, while the nachos are NT$129. The quesadilla is NT$50- seriously, how can you beat that? The couple that runs this tiny kitchen moved back from the states and the spirit of Taco2Go seems very friendly and wanting to please. After a drought of good Mexican food in Taipei, I find it amusing that there's suddenly a new wave of entrepreneurs want to take that on, but I'm pleasantly surprised. Keep it coming!


I watched as my burrito was quickly made with spoonfuls of pre-made rice and refried beans. Setting it on the panini grill made it nice and hot, and melted the cheese which glued everything together. The ground beef seems spiced with taco seasoning and tasted like something I might have made at home- but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not going to the most authentic thing I've ever eaten, but it's probably just as good as what I could quickly make for myself (unless I was craving enchiladas and guacamole- for that, I'd have to get in the kitchen).

The more I ate it, the more I liked it and it reminded me of when I ate my panini-grilled shawarma in Toronto, walking and devouring. The size was good for the price and taste was good enough to make me curious about the nachos. I'll have to go back again. A bonus is that I'll save room for a big bowl of shaved ice afterwards, with Tai Yi just a few lanes over.

Are you just as surprised as I am by the new Mexican food wave? Don't forget to tell them where you heard about Taco2Go if you go check it out and write back and tell me how you liked it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

italian: i recommend BUNNY LISTENS TO THE MUSIC



BUNNY LISTENS TO THE MUSIC
No. 15, Lane 6, Qingtian St
(02) 2395-9388

MRT: Guting

website: bunnymusic.com.tw

hours: 11:30 AM - 10 PM

$$

Kid friendliness: no high chairs spotted, room for strollers

Visit reviewed: 3/23/2011



I had been hearing about Bunny Listens to the Music for awhile (maybe years), but with such an unusual name, I didn't know what to expect. So it wasn't until my friend wanted to have lunch there that prompted me to finally give it a try. And you know what? It's definitely worth a try with its stylish interior, creamy pastas and desserts and breads from its sister bakery, Boite de bijou.

The decor is roomy and warm, and filled with customers- reservations are definitely recommended for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner.



Lunchtime business sets change monthly and run from NT$360-500 and include a soup, main dish (pasta, risotto, seafood or chicken), dessert and coffee or tea. And nice crusty bread that we devoured with butter.





We must have asked for refills on the bread at least three times. I also like getting my drink lemon ice tea with my meal.



I got the tomato beef soup, but recommend getting the onion soup instead. The tomato beef soup was very peppery, while the onion soup was sweet with carmelized onions.



I liked all our main dishes, but my favorite was probably the risotto with crab meat and vegetables in pumpkin cream sauce (NT$420).



Al dente and creamy with lots of fat pieces of fresh crab meat and slightly sweet from the strong pumpkin flavor. I dislike it when a dish says it has crab in it and you can't find even one piece. This one had chunks in every other scoop.



The spaghetti with sauteed pork and garlic, chili peppers and olive oil (NT$400) had a nice light touch yet a kick from the chili peppers.



I was unsure about the tagliatelle with shrimp and scallops in tomato cream sauce (NT$400) because the cream sauce had a slightly sour flavor, but it grew on me.



The server recommended the roasted 1/2 chicken with devil sauce (NT$500) which we thought was going to be crazy spicy, but it was manageable. I probably wouldn't order it again since the pastas were more memorable.



When this plate of cookies came to our table, we had to double check and ask "is this our set dessert?" When the answer was yes, we asked if we could trade it for the real desserts. The good stuff!



So the dessert sampler tray came out for us to choose from. Which one to choose? So hard to pick! We ended up getting the poached pear and apple tart and Macallan (+NT$110).



After my first bite of this rich chocolate dessert, I gasped "Oh my god!" Not because of the amazing taste, but because of the strong alcohol flavor! Named after the single malt scotch whisky that is used in the dessert, the Macallan is definitely memorable. We laughed at my friend who sought out dessert, having had ordered it before and really loved it. I'm not a big drinker, so for me, the alcohol taste overpowered the sweetness of the chocolate.



Overall, good food in a good space- could be a really cute place for date night and get your date tipsy with dessert. And you can walk a few blocks away to check out Boite de bijou to take some more goodies home.

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