26 January 2009

Chun Jie Kuai Le!

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year! Since we do not have an extended family to eat dumplings and set off fireworks with (even though all our Chinese friends ask if we are going home for the New Year holiday as they do, not realizing the home is a 15-hour plane ride away), we decided to celebrate at a Peking Roast Duck restaurant. Last year at this time, we were in Beijing (formerly known as Peking) but were not feeling well so we never sampled the city's most famous culinary delight. Luckily, a branch of one of the more famous chains opened in Qingdao.

We ordered half a roast duck (which they carve tableside), cold mashed potatoes (which were oddly sweet), asparagus and mushrooms (which was surprisingly tasty), and soup. They also brought a small plate of jiaozi, or dumplings, because it was New Year's Eve and everyone HAS to eat dumplings. The duck was kept warm on a trivet over a tea light so that the skin stayed crispy. To eat it, you smear the duck pieces in plum sauce and then wrap them together with slices of green onion in a pancake--very tasty! In addition to the duck meat from our half duck, they brought out half a head and tongue. Turner sampled the duck tongue, as you can see from the picture, and the brain but said the rest of the head tasted strange... imagine that. At the end of the meal they served us duck soup, cloudy broth with slices of cucumber floating in it. It was tasty for the first few spoonfuls and then just tasted oily.

After dinner, we decided to seek out a sweet treat, heading first to Haagen Dazs but, upon finding it closed, settling for a 30-cent cone from the 24-hour McDonald's. On our walk, we saw fireworks light up the sky throughout the city, being set off in front of hotels and banks--think the Fourth of July times twenty for about five hours.

Best wishes for a prosperous new year!

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