Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Another Sunday Brunch

I love going to brunch.  I love looking at all the food stations.  I love having Champagne.  I love everything about it.

Last Sunday, we had brunch at Le Royal Meridien.  The hotel is on the top floor of the Brilliance Shimao International Plaza, in the center of the pedestrian area of Nanjing Road by People's Square.  More than half the diners were Western, the rest Chinese.  Like many of the big hotel brunches, there were food stations for sushi, carved meats, dim sum, seafood, etc.  But since the Meridien is a european hotel group, there were also food stations for charcuterie, caviar and foie gras.  There was a fantastic Indian-Malaysian food station with curries, laksa and tandoori meats as well.

The restaurant had a BBQ & smoker just outside on the patio - we could see it from our table.  Different chefs walked the room serving skewers of meat, chicken wings and sausages.  Also BBQ oysters with shallots - very awesome!

Weirdly out of place, there were a couple of girls in slutty-nurse uniforms that pushed a cart with toy syringes of drink-shots, and oddly, thermoses of soup(?).  This is not TGIFridays!  Kinda awkward at an upscale brunch like this.

There was a magician, named Calvin, who went from table-to-table entertaining with sleight of hand tricks. He did a few tricks with the girls, and they loved it.  

whole roasted salmon
hot dogs, sliders
foie gras ready to sear
so much chocolate goodness
just checkin' it out

American-style breakfast
cotton candy for lunch? you betcha

Calvin & assistants
did not expect that
pink bib... that's supposed to make it alright?
caviar, foie gras, dim sum
C & K

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Things I saw this week in Shanghai

Princess Mishelle lives on our street.  She has two cars with the exact same paint job.  BMW and a convertible Mini Cooper.  Both cars have her name on them, and both have Hello Kitty car seat covers.  She's twenty-something, talks on her phone while driving and when she has the top down on the Mini, she has a cute Alaskan Husky dog that rides in the back.  
     She either has a rich father, or a rich "Daddy".

Not to be outdone by Princess Mishelle, her neighbor has a new paint job on his Bentley.  A Fushia iridescent highlight on the white mother-of-pearl top coat.  The pink reflection is really eye-catching in the sun.

Uniqlo has a line of Disney-themed products.  T-shirts and kids clothes, I get,…but mens sleeping pants with pink or green camouflage Mickey?  Really?

 This display comes out every summer.  The mannequin is covered with mats made of tiles of bamboo. Or is it fake plastic bamboo - not sure.  In China, lots of people do not have air conditioners.  It's so humid, that people lay on / sit on / sleep on mats made from these tiles.  They keep you cooler, and do not attract mold.  Stacked behind the mannequin are "pillows" or head-rests made with stringing the tiles taut around a plastic tube.  It's actually pretty ingenious and inexpensive.

Wine prices here are pretty high, especially anything imported from the US or Europe.  Australian & New Zealand wine is better, South American wine is very inexpensive.  Chinese wine is crap.
But beer is cheap.  So lots of companies bottle for the Chinese market and sell everywhere.   
Belgium Wheat Beer

making brownies for fathers' day
blue ice cream? why Katie, why.

Dinner with Katie

A few weeks ago, I had a special day with just me and my Katie.  Emily was staying at a friend's house and Chris was working late.  Katie and I did some shopping, ran errands and had dinner "just the two of us" at Cantina Agave.  It was nice to have her all to myself.  

We talked and laughed and let things slow down for a little while.  I have to remind myself that the kids' "China Experience" is all their own - and separate from mine.  They maneuver their world (school, friends, family) the best they can.  They have less control, but are naturally more open.  They also need a break sometimes.  

I asked the girls if they wanted to sign-up for any summer activities or camps, but they weren't interested.  It was around the end of school, and I think they were just tired.  They want to hang-out, swim, shop for the next few weeks before we head back to California.  I like that idea too. 

Katie's dinner

my dinner

our drinks

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jing'an Temple

Last week, Chris and I took the Metro into Puxi, to Jing'an Temple.  The temple is one of the major tourists destination inside Shanghai, and has a lot of history - it was built in 247 AD.  The name means "Temple of Peace and Prosperity".  When entering the courtyard, like all the other temples, there is the strong smell of incense.  People burn incense to clear the air of unwanted spirits.  Visitors toss coins into the iron pagoda to make an offering to Buddha, and hope for good fortune.

tossing coins
incense holder
Jing'an Temple sits amongst modern high-rise buildings and hotels in Shanghai.  Inside the courtyard, there are three main halls. The architecture is impressive not only because of when it was actually produced, but because of all the detail work.  Two carved silver chairs are decorated with lotus and chrysanthemum flowers, really beautiful.

 silver chair
carved wooden balconies
Sakyamuni Buddha, the first Buddha
Myanmar white jade, 11 tons

Guanyin Bodhisattva, Buddhist Goddess of Mercy
Carved from 1000year  Camphor wood tree
In the main hall, there is a floor-to-ceiling marble and jade mural depicting different scenes from the life of Buddha.  It was so startling, yet impressive.  Inlaid are carvings of different colors of jade, marble, mother-of-pearl and other precious stones.  Visitors can get right up in front of it, and touch the detail.  There are no ropes or stations to keep you back a few feet.

Jing'an Temple is also a working monastery.  At noon, the monks came out and performed a short ceremony.  Then a family gathered, and burned papers and photos in a small bin.  I think this may have been some sort of funeral rite.

Jing'an skyline

This statue is in front of the main doors to the temple.  It depicts a female Imperial Guardian Lion restraining a playful cub.  Looks pretty ferocious to me.

Jing'an Park is just across West Nanjing Road from the temple.  It is ancient, with traditional stone walkways and twisting steps.  You can really feel old Imperial Chinese history here.   We walked along the paths, and came upon small tea pavilions and ponds with koi.  People bring snacks and drinks, and take a break in the shade.  Old men play cards.  It's really serene and beautiful - no sports fields or kids areas.  

park entry
stone steps

feeding coi
hey, get off the phone!
old rampart wall 
restaurant by the pond

stone walkway