dumpling week 2009 [food // taiwan]

in an effort to commemorate and, in some sense, memorialize my time in taiwan coming to an end, i decided to stage dumpling week 2009 both as a sendoff to myself and as a gastronomic homage to my favorite taiwanese food: the dumpling. the festivities (meals, to the layperson) took place between the end of july and the first few days of august 2009 in various cities and locations in taiwan, and included dumplings of varied fillings and preparations. despite that i was negligent in photographing most of my meals, i have to consider this years dumpling week a resounding success, and i look forward to future fests. full report after the jump.

saturday, july 25
as a kickoff to the week, i ate a meal of boiled pork and cabbage dumplings (shway jiao), dredged sweet potato leaves, and spicy cucumber salad with mauriah at a restaurant with pictures of the beatles on the walls. this move could be considered risky, since this is my favorite dumpling shop and i've chosen to eat here first. i'm thinking high-risk, high-reward. as usual, the dumplings were perfectly cooked and delectable; bonus points for sweet potato leaves (hua yeh tsai), also a favorite.

sunday, july 26
off day due to previously arranged thai dinner with friends.

monday, july 27
boiled pork dumplings and dry tofu at 88. 88 is an excellent cold-weather eatery for spicy soups and can be counted on for consistently good dumplings, but i think their dumplings would be better with a thinner noodle.

tuesday, july 28
pork and chive dumplings in spicy beef broth (neo-roh tang jiao) and spicy cucumber salad at hope noodle, a small local chain. dumplings in soup is a top 5 rainy day comfort food. ignoring that fact, i stepped into a location of hope noodle that i've never been to before on a sweltering july evening. with a sweat-pocked brow, i slurped this classic and it was well worth it. great remedy for evening grumpiness between tutoring appointments.

wednesday, july 29
hump day double-up! my first dumplings of the day were boiled vegetarian dumplings at a family-owned vegetarian shop, name unknown, with mauriah. these guys were joined on the table by various steamed vegetables and some fried noodles. i actually love these dumplings for their inconsistencies. sometimes they blast you with fresh ginger, but today they were earthy. bonus points for being pocketbook friendly.

second dumpling pitstop: previously unknown shop, with mauriah. i ate one bamboo steamer tray of steamed pork soup dumplings (xiao long bao) and drank water, mauriah had a taiwan beer. this style of dumpling - with a bit of soup inside the noodle - is traditionally eaten with fresh ginger soaked in rice wine vinegar, and the shop-owner's spread was spot-on. these slightly oily, hardier dumplings were a surprise treat on a long late night walk.

thursday, july 30
boiled pork dumplings and tofu at a nondescript place near my former night job. always good, but rarely cooked perfectly, these were true to form; nostalgia helped buoy this unremarkable meal.

friday, july 31
denied! a favorite spot which makes very rare pan-fried pork dumplings would not sell them to me to go. *note: said dumplings would have joined us for a burner between the uni/7-11 lions and the la new bears in which the reigning champion lions held off a late bears rally for a 6-4 win.

saturday, august 1
pork soup dumplings at my favorite breakfast shop. i rarely eat breakfast, but this was my farewell meal, eaten on the hsinchu train platform with spicy soy sauce. a-mazing. i almost had to choke out the cleaning lady when she tried to "clean up" my unfinished dumplings.

sunday, august 2
in hualien, having just spent a great day at taroko gorge, we made a short pilgrimage to a dumpling shop we noticed the night before with a ridiculously long line. after some mumbo-jumbo from this impatient guy behind us, a former co-worker randomly came out of the crowd. after catching up, i was able to order a few steamed, especially bready pork dumplings [bao-dz']. believe the hype. these bao-dz' (pictured above) were so delicious that after eating i spilled my lemonade in rejoice. mauriah and some old taiwanese guy laughed about it at length. i wasn't even mad.

thus closed dumpling week. it was epic. i think i gained weight. i haven't eaten that much meat in one stretch since i was a regular for tailgating at miller park. i hope for more chances of this unnecessarily idiotic nature in the future.

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