Go out and listen to something…

April 26, 2011

Shanghai: Food

Filed under: Art, music, travel, food, China Tour 7, China — burnett @ 8:15 pm


Last night it was a new, and now my favorite, restaurant called Lucky Zen & Veg, a Bhuddist restaurant on Ma Dang Lu.  I was the guest of my very good friends Zhang Cong Mei and Ai Ling, and we had a feast.  Everything from the orange blossom tea to the soup, mushroom and cashews, limas and cashews, hot pepper beans and filo tofu, shredded filo tofu with ginger, etc, etc.  Very delicate, light, and wonderful flavors.  

Later stopped by JZ to hear my current favorite talent, Joey Lu.  Joey is an exciting pianist, a confident and stylish singer.  I can’t say I’ve seen anyone recently with her presence, bandleading ability, vocal talents, and immaculate command of the piano.  Of course, she had the  ’super trio’ behind her of Sean Higgins, Mike Hicks and the Chris Trzcinski. 

There is always something to see in the street here, and the moment can be so intimate, that I hesitate to take a photo.  I got past that for the “toilet on a bike” scene.  Convenience is everything in China, so why not a loo on the bicycle?  Save those time-consuming roadside stops.

My hotel, the Yesinn, is under renovation.  So I am in a construction site.  I’ve stayed here for 5 years, and don’t have the motivation to leave.  There are a handful of people still staying there, and we eye each other nervously in the elevator, wondering  what kind of person would remain in such a dreadful environment.  But aside from the wet concrete on the hallway floor, the power tools on the steps and the jack-hammer at 7:30 a.m. sharp, what’s to complain about?

photos:  BT & Zhang CongMei, Mike Hicks, Joey Lu, Chris Trzcinski, Sean Higgins’ elbow, bike vendor, bike loo


April 21, 2011

Wuhan: 武汉黄鹤楼 Yellow Crane Tower

Filed under: travel, restaurants, food, China Tour 7, China — burnett @ 8:47 am

Today was just a lovely day of touring the Wuhan Yellow Crane Tower and gardens, preceded and followed by various Wuhan cuisine specialties.  Wuhan is somewhere between Shanghai and Sichuan, meaning myriad flavors and some quite spicy hot.  Including the marvelous 辣的跳, a very spicy and fragrant and downright flaming hot frog dish.  Also a beautiful sliced and breaded lotus dish with unusual spices graced the table at lunch, turnip in a fragrant soup, and so on.  It never ends.  I have never had a Chinese meal without a brand new dish I’ve not before seen or tasted at some point during the feast.  My hosts were Wang Meng, Ming Yue, and Yun Song. 


April 7, 2010

Wuhan day 2

Filed under: music, music education, travel, food, China Tour 6, China — burnett @ 6:00 pm

Left: Erhu professor Ren Jing.

Jumping heat:  la de tiao.  Very, very spicy frog legs, a specialty of Wuhan.  I highly recommend it.  It was gourmet cooking at its best and one of a parade of featured entrees last night as guest of Wuhan Music Conservatory.  The lotus root soup was also memorable, another Wuhan specialty.  (In a hurry, so will leave more comment later…)  This marvelous repast was hosted by Professor Jiang, Dean of the Piano Dept. 

The lecture and classes, both at Wuhan Conservatory were both memorable for the gracious reception by the students.  The students really got the whole package with the ‘intro to jazz piano’  master class, and I wish I had more time with them.  Jazz is so foreign, new and also so welcome from these students who prepare so diligently with their majors here.  There is a very large popular music program here, and I need to learn more about it.  The conservatory has 5,000 students.  Below:  raising a glass with Prof. Jiang, faculty, and Consul General Diane Sovereign.

July 6, 2008

Finally: Pastry Xpo in MY neighborhood

Filed under: restaurants, food — burnett @ 5:37 pm


Yes, we finally have an excellent cafe in the neighborhood, Pastry Xpo.  Beautiful French delicacies and cakes, and superb coffee.  I just hope it lasts.  They offer samples every morning, and I could sustain myself on those alone.  It is a very high end pastry shop, and a real treasure for the neighborhood… Just have a look at the rave from the Washington Post this week.

April 8, 2008

Xiang Cheng restaurant

Filed under: Education, food, China Tour 4, China — burnett @ 9:04 pm

There are a million food joints in Shanghai, so new discoveries are made every second.  My latest favorite is a Sichuan restaurant near my hotel.  The address is  1297 Kai Xuan Lu, at Anshu Lu.  It is a typical rustic style Chinese restaurant, with big wooden tables and plenty of big red lanterns hanging from the ceiling.  A big feature is the home brewed beer.  Yes indeed, you may order black or white, and both are superb.  Otherwise, we ordered some fine dumplings, a tasty frog dish with plenty of that Sichuan whallop, and a very flavorful chicken dish.  Flavor.  No shortage of it at this joint. I was the guest of Shen Hong, a Shanghai educator, who graciously and patiently listened to my outrageous ideas on secondary education (exam free, arts heavy, etc.)  Jing provided the lively conversation.


April 14, 2007

The tea in China

Filed under: Art, food, China Tour 2, China — burnett @ 6:09 am

Pu-er is my favorite tea.� It is good for the digestion, easy on the tummy and has a good, dark flavor.� I first had it in January in Shanghai and then ordered some from a company called Adagio Tea here in the U.S.� Their tea (expensive) � smelled and tasted like rotten spinach, so when I went back to China, I stopped in a tea shop to see if my perceptions had been misstaken.� The shop owner invited me to be seated, and graciously tolerated my mandarin while I inquired about the teas.� She gave me a few pours, and I left with a few ounces of Pu-er.� (more…)

August 18, 2006

Food in Georgetown

Filed under: food — burnett @ 7:27 am

What are the best restaurants in Georgetown?� Actually, there is no great restaurant in the neighborhood.� They tend to be small and� dependent on walk-in tourist trade.� The Seasons at the 4 Seasons hotel is expensive, but has never had a great reputation, and the last time I ate there, the meat was overcooked, and the food otherwise unmemorable.� So barring a truly great restaurant, one tends to look for the restaurant with character, a comfortable place where you are always welcome, can always get a table, the food is good, where you can feel very, very relaxed and take clients and friends alike.�

Now we are narrowing things down, and the answer to this puzzle has been the same since 1980 or before:� Bistro Francais.� The other outstanding option is a breakfast and lunch joint called Furin’s, across from the hotel.� Furin’s has my favorite breakfast:� scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, hash browns, english muffin and coffee.� There are outside tables and inside.� It is VERY casual, and everybody goes there eventually…in shorts and tee-shirts.� The lunch is superb:� various salads and sandwiches to pick and chose deli-style, to eat in or take out.� Fresh, imaginative, inexpensive and quite singular in Georgetown.� Some tourists find it, but it is has an inauspicious appearance, and depends on the insiders to stay afloat.

� Bistro Francais is just that, serving provincial French fare from lunch to 4:00 a.m.� The avocado stuffed with crabmeat (order the dressing on the side…it’s a bit heavy)� has been my favorite on the menu for at least 25 yrs.� Lunch, tea, dinner, late dinner after show, ultra late (3:00 a.m.): � the atmosphere is consistent, the service sometimes good, the baguettes usually fresh, the desserts ALWAYS fine, and the food is consistent over the decades.� Most of all, it is comfortable.� They get a heavy tourist trade, which is why they have survived.� But there is heavy local business as well, and the room is relaxed, easy going, and the prix-fixe is one of the best bargains in town.� But don’t get the house white wine.� It’s terrible.� Chose from the by-the-glass menu, which is quite good.� The creme brulee is brilliant.

June 30, 2006

New York City

Filed under: travel, food — burnett @ 8:26 pm

Just spent two days in New York, notably at St. John the Divine Cathedral, Chinatown at Church of the Saviour, Central Park and Fiorello’s restaurant at 64th & Broadway.� Oh, and at a notorious dive in the West Village whose name escapes me.� It is notorious for having several hundred variations of sandwiches on the menu.� What a town.� One forgets just how dangerous those cab drivers really are.� But for shear romance, New York is it…the shear dimensions, the shear numbers of people, the monuments…in fact, everything is a monument in Manhattan.� Every corner, every restaurant, avenue, street, lamppost, coffee shop.� My new favorite is the Teleon Cafe behind Carnegie Hall.� Inexpensive, wireless internet, you can sit and face the street, watch people, check the news, etc.� But what about Fiorello’s?� Not the best food, but what a charming place.� It’s now my favorite restaurant in the city.� Yup, a tourist dive, quick dinner before Lincoln Center and all that.� But it’s got that something.

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