Tuesday, February 24, 2015

❀Afternoon Tea at Waldorf Astoria on the Shanghai Bund❀

        While I was in Shanghai, China for around one week during my February school break (for my close family member's funeral), I visited the Bund, a long street lined with old Victorian style buildings that border the HuangPu River. Across the river, one can see the famous Pudong skyline with an assortment of skyscrapers.
        Today, I will be sharing a couple, fun hours I spent enjoying afternoon tea (with my mom) at Waldorf Astoria, a luxurious hotel on the Bund. I discovered this place after watching a YouTube video. I've been craving tea sandwiches and pastries for a long time, so I thought this would be a wonderful experience and it really was!

Be warned: this post is extremely long because of the excessive amount of pictures that I took. ALL pictures (excluding two pics that I have credited others for) were taken personally by me. CLICK the pictures to get a zoomed in view.

I took a picture in front of the building, but accidentally deleted it. So here is a picture from Google Images. 
The following pictures are of the interior of the hotel. There were various red decorations throughout the hotel in celebration of Chinese New Year. 

Because this place is extremely popular and we didn't make reservations enough time beforehand, we didn't dine in the red velvet inspired room Salon de Ville (pic on left). Instead, we sat in the lobby (pic on right), also a beautiful location overlooking a large dining area, to enjoy the Waldorf Astoria's signature Red Velvet Afternoon Tea Set (named after their signature red velvet dessert; there is no red velvet tea:P).
Left picture is from Sugared & Spiced. Right picture was taken by me.
There was a relatively wide variety of teas to choose from (I think around 20 different flavors): my mom went for Japanese ginseng tea and I ordered a peach tea (forgot the actual name). I really loved the combination of the fruity flavor and brown sugar cubes.
Now onto my favorite part: FOOD! :) The food came atop a three-level tier display
with little savory sandwiches and pastries on the bottom,
deliciously baked scones on the middle level (never have I had better scones. These were moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside layer. I really liked the raspberry and blueberry jam),
and finally, delectable desserts on the top.
I am a food enthusiast, so I'm going to going into detail with all the treats.Hopefully you enjoy looking at these pictures; possibly you could feel inspired to make your own?:)
Left to Right, Top to Bottom: cheese and sausage tart, cucumber egg salad sandwich, tuna fish spread over bread garnished w/ pistachios and cranberry, ham and tuna spread sandwich w/ cranberry garnish, baked curry pastry, baked salmon pastry, smoked salmon sandwich
Left to Right, Top to Bottom: strawberry mouse w/ tart crust, red velvet whoopie pies, chocolate mousse cake, plain cheesecake w/ grape garnish, cream w/ raspberry jelly, fruit tart with mango mousse filling, mango mousse, cream puffs with custard filling (my favorite), raspberry macarons
That afternoon was fantastic and one that I'll remember for years to come. We took some left over desserts home:
The cost was approximately 350 yuan (RMB) per person, which is around $54.05 USD per person. (This price includes the afternoon tea set and waiter tip. The service was very nice.) I don't think I will ever be returning there, but I'm glad I was able to experience it all. I'm grateful for my mom who came with me. And I would say that my money (earned from work) was well spent on a relaxing, memorable occasion. 
I worked really hard on writing this post. Thank you all so so much for reading! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cooking Up a Storm!

If you've read my New Years Resolutions blog post, you know that one of my goals for this year is to cook and bake more. For the past two weeks, I've been "cooking up a storm" (shoutout to my friend for that phrase:) ), and I'm here today to show you some of the things I've made. This post will consist of all the things I've cooked recently. Overall, I think messing around in the kitchen is extremely therapeutic and fun at the same time. I like to play some music on my iPod speaker and dance around while I'm mixing ingredients together. (Also, I apologize beforehand for the slightly yellow-tinted photos. The yellow light in my kitchen and dining area provides a more home-y, warm feeling, but not necessarily the best lighting for pictures:P)

First off, my cooking spree started with these deliciously healthy stuffed red bell peppers.
The stuffing consists of tomato sauce, rice, ground beef, peas, corn, mushrooms, and of course, looootss of cheese! I've never been a big fan of bell peppers, but this way of eating them tasted much better than I've ever had them before. I will definitely be recreating this dish in the future.

Next, this is spaghetti squash! I discovered a bunch of spaghetti squash recipes on Pinterest and felt really inspired to try out this unique vegetable.
Overall, I thought it was quite easy to make. The only important step is in the beginning: puncture approximately 10 large slits into a raw spaghetti squash, microwave for 3-5 minutes, and the squash will be extremely easy to cut open. The sauce/filling can consist of whatever you liked, but I used ground beef, mushrooms, peas, corn, a little dash of tomato sauce, and lots of cheese. The texture was different from anything I've had before, but it was very filling and tasty. The pictures shown are of one squash cut in half. There were a lot of leftovers for the following day.

Thirdly, one random night I wanted to whip up something quick as a side dish for dinner. So I discovered a cheese dip recipe and put my own twist on it. It was absolutely delicious and so quick to whip up.
This was a combination of cheese (parmesan and cheddar), broccoli, sour cream, and alfredo sauce. We ate this with toasted bread and the dish was scraped clean within minutes. If this sounds like something you would like to try out, you can always add grilled chicken strips to make this appetizer more hearty. 

Lastly, I created something inspired by a taco and it was a success. These are egg roll wrapper cups filled with ground beef, onion, corn, peas, cheese, and garnished with a little sprinkle of parsley. 
It would say it's a fusion between Mexican and Asian cuisine because I used egg roll wrappers. But of course, you could switch them out for tortillas, dough, or anything else you like. We ended up eating them with some sour cream and guacamole. I think the thing I loved the most about this dish was the texture of the crispy, crunchy outer wrapper to the chewy inside filling. 

P.S. I also made a chicken pesto panini for a couple lunches, but they didn't turn out looking too well (tasted realllly good) so I didn't end up taking any pictures. Also for you bell pepper lovers (I'm starting to become one), I will be sharing a very simple recipe that I like to make very soon :) I'm really excited that I have a little more time this semester to cook and I hope to be writing more posts about that soon!