An “artists lunch” in 798 Art Zone 艺术区 in Beijing, China

June 14, 2013

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Utrans Wines Culture Center in Beijing

I wanted to visit the 798 artists village since a very very long time but in the past had never found the time to do so. Last spring when I visited Beijing again I especially took time out for a visit tot he many art galleries in 798 Art Zone.

I was particularly interested in the On/Off exhibition at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art 尤伦斯当代艺术中心(UCCA. The Center had commissioned 50 artists and artists groups born after 1975 to express their ideas about freedom. All of them were born after the so called Cultural Revolution. All of them have grown up in a China of radical change characterized by market reforms and increased individual freedom. On/Off comes from the graphical interface of a common VPN which allows access to the internet and the outside world or not, depending on the speed of the censors and the energy of the user to find the loop.

I just loved the exhibition and the Ullens Center and was glad that I had come. Visiting galleries makes tired and hungry but luckily I found refuge in the above Utrans Wines Culture Center just across the street from the Ullens Gallery.

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Utrans: Bar and tables

Some of the Christmas decoration was still hanging but the cherry tree outside was in full bloom. Spring was in the air and every body was in a boisterous mood.

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At the back of the place were shelves full with various bottles of wine from various wine regions including Germany. The colours of the decoration suggested that a recent event might have showcased Italian wines. Utrans is a Xiamen based wine importer.

The dilemma of entering such a Mecca of fermented grape juice alone is that a bottle is quasi out of the question, and one has the choice among the house wines only. I settled on a French red.

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The bottles revealed the following:

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2010 AMBAR from Bordeaux

2010 AMBAR Grand Vin de Bordeaux, 13% which was bottled by an winery in Gironde. It was a decent house wine, more pedestrian in character but drinkable with red fruit aromas  and a decent finish.When I later googled the wine I could not find any useful information.

After a while I decided that wine without food would be like sex without orgasm and I had a look at the food menu. I settled for a salad and a salmon pasta. And here as an old China hand I should have been less trusting and/or more knowledgeable. The salad was a positive surprise: the mushrooms were warm which gave the whole affair a special character. The portion was huge.

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Warm mushrooms on a bed of green salad.

The pasta turned out to be Chinese noodles. The stuff was edible though, but not what the title suggested. What is al dente (?) in the case of Chinese noodles anyway; that’s a no go. The dish doesn’t look to bad in the picture I should have definitely ordered some Chinese food but not pasta. I have only myself to blame. After more than 30 years coming to China I should have known better.

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My Chinese noodle dish with salmon

Would I go there again, you might ask? The answer is: absolutely.

The waitress was very friendly, the service good and the atmosphere just right.

I will come again and explore some more of the 798 Art Zone and its culinary delights.

Beijing is awesome. Have fun and explore the 798 Art Zone. It’s worth it.

Address: 798 Art Zone
Ceramic 3 St. 798 Road, 798 Art District,
4. Jiuxianqiao Road/Chaoyang District
Beijing P.O. Box 8503

朝阳区酒仙桥路4号
P.R. China


Wang Ping Steak House in 桃園 Taoyuan, Taiwan

November 26, 2012

The shutters of Wang Ping Steak House when still closed

Together with my friend Jim I went to Wang Ping Steak House in 桃園 (Taoyuan) for a kind of farewell meal. The International Center Land Policy Studies and Training (ICLPST) had made a booking but we had to be there at 17.20 h already, because the place was fully booked.

Can you imagine that? Chinese gourmets seem to know what is good, and they eat early. So off we went and presented ourselves at the above time. It was a rainy day, with low hanging clouds, and it was dark when we arrived.

We had to wait a few minutes. Then we were shown to our table on the ground floor. The menu is in Chinese and in English. Straight forward so to say. We ordered in no time.

The appetizer arrangement

The salmon and mushroom arrangement was lovely and wetted our appetite. We were offered a glass of fizz, so to say, fizz with a sweet plum taste. We did not protest.

The fizzy plum drink

Both of us had ordered the mushroom soup. It came in two vessels, a soup bowl with the mushrooms lumped together like a little tower, the broth came separate. I was not quick enough to take a photo of both. The soup was good, fully flavoured, creamy and intense.

The mushroom soup

We ordered a bottle of house wine. Red was the colour we had chosen. I do not know much about French wines. When a bottle of ‘2010 Ginestet Bordeaux’ arrived, I was wondering what it would taste like.

As it turned out, Maison Ginestet is a wine trading house specializing in Bordeaux wines.

The wine was full bodied, had beautiful forest fruit aromas, and was dense with a long finish. Just the right wine with red meat, I thought. The typical Bordeaux blend is a good choice when eating beef or lamb.

Grand vin de Bordeaux

I liked the dark red colour

The sorbet

To cleanse the palate, a sorbet was offered. Again it had a plum taste. The fine acidity made sure our palates were ready for the main course.

Dried plums and plum sauce for the lamb

Jim’s main course: lamb

Beef fillet

Jim went for the lamb chops, I ordered the beef fillet. Big dishes but we were ready for it.

Chocolate dessert with ice cream

Crème brûlée in a shell

Also the desserts did not disappoint us. What a lovely way to end our farewell meal.

The service at Wang’s is very efficient. The well trained waiters and waitresses are polite and attentive. We both enjoyed the evening.

I was about to board a plane a few hours later. Jim stayed behind for another two weeks at the Centre. As always we are confident to meet again for another joint teaching engagement at ICLPST.

Chinese flower tea

Come and eat at Wang’s

PS: I highly recommend a meal at Wang’s. They have several outlets, I think.

Address:
Wang Ping Steak – Taoyuan Jhongshan Branch
No. 546, ZhongShan Road, Taoyuan
Taiwan –
Tel.:+886 – 03 – 339 1650