Tuesday, September 30, 2014
I love a good Chinese restaurant. I'm not talking about cheap takeout, because my standards have been raised sky-high by all of my discoveries in New York's Chinatown. I'm a little on the picky side when it comes to authenticity, and I've been bummed out about the Chinese population over here in England. Don't get me wrong, it's not like this country is devoid of good Chinese cooks, but there's a distinct lack of large immigrant groups in small areas. Let's be realistic; America is relatively young, and most ethnic groups that immigrated together, settled together. Not really the case over here, since there wasn't that sort of immigration boom in a short period of time. So I started to panic that I wouldn't be able to find the really good Chinese food that I grew to know and love in NYC.
I hate to be proven wrong most of the time, but not this time. After our Sunday adventures at Blackbushe market, hubby and I went out for a lunch date at Yangtze in Windsor. Down at the end of a street, a little off the beaten path, without any real signage or decor outside, lies a £14 all-you-can-eat experience that will knock your socks off. It's like a buffet, but different and better. To be honest, I think this is a genius idea, though I've never experienced it in an Asian restaurant before. You basically get a menu - with plenty of options for first, second, and third courses - and you just pick as much as you'd like. The portions are sort of tapas-sized, so you get to try a lot of stuff (although, we may have overeaten just a little bit).
Wonderfully authentic flavors and ambience, I'd recommend it to anyone. It cured my homesickness instantly (Isn't it kind of funny that I was most homesick for Chinese food?) and I can't stop thinking about the crispy duck pancakes. If you haven't had them before, it's super crispy duck, cooked pulled-pork style, accompanied by cucumber, slivers of spring onion, and a sweet plum sauce. You wrap everything up in a wafer-thin pancake (sort of like a tiny burrito) and it's fabulous. This place totally rocked it, and I can't wait to go back and stuff my face again.
Monday, September 29, 2014
A warm and sunny late September Sunday ended up being the perfect day for a little adventure. I'm a sucker for trashy outdoor sales adventures, so this had my name written ALL over it. Flea market meets carnival meets street hawkers: Yesterday I got to experience the mayhem and magic that is Blackbushe Market. I have to admit, I've been to a lot of outdoor selling/buying events, but nothing quite like this. From a distance, it looks like a county fair; flags marking food trailers selling questionable burgers and endless deep fried eats, children's games and rides towering above the crowds, and colorful tents in long winding rows. But step inside, and nothing is quite as it seems.
The auctioning was the first thing that caught my eye. It's the first time I've had the pleasure of witnessing anything quite like it: a butcher standing above a crowd, shouting out cuts of meat and loading them into a plastic bag, then selling it off to the highest bidder. Same thing was happening at the fruit & vegetable stands, too! What a way to buy the week's groceries... I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was a teensy bit temped to get involved.
I began to get a little discouraged when the first few stalls greeted us with nothing more than cheap handbags and dollar store knick knacks. But between the endless rows of useless and cheap clothes, bedding, plastic odds and ends, and knockoffs, I have to say that I was really surprised at how many of the vendors really exceeded expectations. All in all, it took about an hour to walk around and see everything. Homemade fudge (I had to have samples of everything, obviously), a Chinese food stand where I FINALLY was able to find and buy sriracha and hot chili oil over here, a greek olive stand that helped me get my weekly fix of my favorite snack, and a great booth selling all kinds of vintage coats (including a 70's green suede one that's still on my mind).
As long as the weather holds out, this is definitely somewhere I'll be returning to occasionally in the months ahead.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
This week has had a lot of out-and-about action, and consequently not as much computer/blogging action. But some things are still normal despite the more hectic schedule, like Doopy relentlessly insisting on playing fetch with his stuffed ducky, and me baking bread. I'm pretty proud of myself this week; I pulled off a rosemary and olive loaf that has completely derailed any weight loss progress I've had in the past month. I'm excited for this weekend, for a DIY/recycling project I'm itching to post, and a restaurant destination tomorrow afternoon. Can't wait to share it all!