cait +tiff

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T / happy monday / gong hay fat choy!!!

LP-FinalOh man. I am the worst Chinese this year.  Firstly, I woke up on Chinese New Year’s eve with hangover-mediated dim sum on my mind (there was a little fun had after Cait’s big show on Saturday!).  Secondly, I also forgot to procure all my ingredients for my annual daikon radish cake making bash (and of course, all the markets were closed because it’s CNY).   I’m also putting off calling my parents because it means talking to Asian parents.  Mark Zuckerberg is doing a much better job at this whole CNY business.  I am however wearing a red T-shirt at the mo’, so that counts…right?

I just spent a good couple of hours searching for a video that:

  1. Won’t offend my elders,
  2. Doesn’t dive into the whole ethno-cultural question because that’s probably all over your newsfeed (though I find this one hilarious)
  3. Fulfils all beautiful/delicious/thoughtful indicators

Naturally, this had to be a video on dumplings.  It’s tiny like the little morsels, yet meditative and calm; which is how you need to be when making jiaozi by hand.

I know it’s also Superbowl right now. but these little dudes make the best tail gate food.  So I hope at least your wings are covered in sesame seeds and you’ve got a decent Cantonese roasted pork belly on your table.

Happy happy red envelopes!

Beijing Jiaozi from Berlin Brooklyn on Vimeo.


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Montmartre Photo Credit: The beautiful and lovely Alissa Pries.

Montmartre Photo Credit: The beautiful and lovely Alissa Pries.

Another busy week, another hot day, another ladies lunch. It’s been a week of re-planning, photo shoots (of us! What?!?), organizing and prioritizing. I love shaking things out and seeing where they land. We are both deep into side projects right now. Tiff has taken on some graphic design work and is currently re-tooling our site. Cait is working on styling and design projects and can’t wait to brag about all of it. Still having a hard time believing that this is our job and grateful for it. Everyday.

Freunde von Freunden got together with Airbnb and had a sumptuous, soft lit baby.

Love the monogram trend, and this cracks me up. BAG.

A Butler brother from The Arcade Fire puts out song based on a Guardian news story every week!  The most recent one? The Greek debt crisis of course.

This performance from the Alabama Shakes is just awesome.

Ummmm, a podcast network devoted to small business, blogging and a general appreciation for design and good and real eats? Yes please! (My faves already are After the Jump from Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney and Radio Cherry Bombe)

Got into silk dying last week for Sarah’s dress. These were the very helpful tips given to me, that I quickly ignored.

It’s the last day of Chinese New Year celebrés tomorrow, so I’m going to squeeze one last mention in.  The first dumpling house in Suriname.  ‘Nuf said.

Anthony Vaccarello for the classic badass in all of us.

Must get butt to Mexico. Must stay here.

Ace & Jig is now selling on ShopBop! Now waiting for the sale…

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T / happy monday / happy new year

The year of the goat is upon us! And I could spend the next few lines telling you about what that means.  But what I really want to focus on is the most important thing about Lunar New Year…the food.

Most cultures will tell you they are total and complete foodies.  Well, the Chinese are EATERS.  And we are loud ones on every parameter of consumption (sorry about that).  And as with most eaters, I credit my mom for introducing me to the nuances of food and cooking. The difference between a dried longan and a dried lychee.  Which types of condiments are appropriate for which dumplings (black vinegar for pot stickers, people!).  The benefits of developing a near flirtatious relationship with your local fishmonger.  My parents have even dragged me to Chinatown in Havana to have an adventure in exploring what happens to cuisine when you’ve got a trade embargo.

I’ve encountered Chinese food in nearly every place I have visited.  From Lahore, Pakistan to the islands of Belize.  I love what fusion has come from Hakka migration to India and Jamaica.  Don’t even get me started on the merger of Jewish and Chinese cuisines on Christmas day whether you’re at home or at Mile End in Brooklyn (and have you met Molly Yeh?).  One of the most important things that my parents imparted to us first-generation kids, is that food, like one’s culture, is a smorgasbord.  Go crazy.

So without further to do, I have two little meditations on Chinese food.  One on it’s art (of the dumpling that is), and the other on where one dish came from and how far it went.  And remember: Chinese New Year festivities officially go on until the Lantern Festival (which lands on March 5 this year); and there are over 300 types of Chinese dumplings and 56 different ethnic groups in China. Just sayin’.


T / of dumplings and disappointment

dumpling-mehWhen you live in a country that is not your own.  Or more specifically, when you live in a country that is climbing the slow and steep Sisyphysean hill towards greatness, you can get easily excited when something new pops in.  At least I do.  So when a message about deliciousness is accompanied with a photo of potstickers, xiao long bao and jiaozi lands in my whatsapp feed…!!! cannot describe my elation.

In the last five years, I have moved or spent a lengthy amount of time in four cities. Upon landing, my first google search is “best dumplings in [insert city].”  We all have that food that feeds our soul.  For Cait, it’s good Mexican. For me, it’s all encompassed in a little ball of meat and veggies wrapped in a thin layer of dough that is sufficiently sturdy to hold its soupy contents, chewy to please the mouth its being subjected to and thin enough to denote an appropriate level of daintiness.  Any lover of dumplings can wax poetic for at least 12 minutes about this.

So based on this excited message that I received, I decided to take a one-meal break from the paleo challenge and dragged Cait plus her recovering tummy to test out this potential beacon of heaven and home yesterday.  Off we went in a tuktuk, down streets only typically used as shortcuts during big bad rush hour.  And there it was.  The little shop across the street from a school, its signage only in Chinese script, but the pictures of dumplings out front were the alerts that we had arrived. A big pile of expats were leaving just as we arrived.  The Chinese family who ran the joint only spoke Mandarin.  A smidge of Khmer.  No English. These could all be signs of greatness, right? potstickers-and-jiaoziSadly no.  The xiao long bao first arrived cold.  We had to asked them to be warmed up.  Then there was the anthemic horking of mucus and related fun from a neighbouring table.  This may have caused both of our appetites to flounder significantly.  And at the end of it all. The xiao long bao, jaozi and potstickers were…okay.  They were meaty, nicely flavoured and even made in house (see below).  Cait wasn’t a fan of the dense yet weirdly fluffy dough casing the xiao long bao (I on the other hand, was).  We both liked the potstickers.  But at the end of the meal…I wasn’t quite satisfied, and I was happy to leave, relieved that a meal for to only cost $6 (because that is pretty much how I valued our dishes).  Although if you ask Cait, I seemingly maintained my optimism.  Little did  she know of the disappointment that lurked in my dumpling heart.

The subject of focus should be Cait's nails.

The subject of focus should be Cait’s nails.

Later that night, when my partner (giddy referrer of the disappointing dumplings) returned home, we discussed the perplexing situation.  Perhaps whenever a beacon of gastronomic hope rears itself in our toddler of a city, we as expats have a tendency to get too…excited…conflating expectations and all that.  If you are interested in testing this place out for yourself, you can find it on street 199, near the intersection with street 348, across the street from a school.  Look for dumplings!

There are now two things I know for sure about dumplings.  Nothing will leave me as satisfied as a bowl of my mother’s noodle soup and a plate of perfectly crispy pot stickers for a cold winter’s lunch. A winning result of having been subjected to a Saturday morning of Chinese heritage and language class.  Also, the best dumpling joints will always reference a figure of maternal authority (see Mama Wong’s  in Phnom Penh and Mother’s Dumplings in Toronto). Cuz you know. Mamas know best.

And I can’t finish without Tiff’s List of Dumpling Love:

Potstickers at Mama Wong's in Phnom Penh, White Rose Dumplings in Hoi An, Jiaozi at Dong Bei Dumplings in Manila

Potstickers at Mama Wong’s in Phnom Penh, White Rose Dumplings in Hoi An, Jiaozi at Dong Bei Dumplings in Manila

Toronto – Anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area where you can find Chinese people.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Mama Wong’s, Street 308

Vientiane, Laos – Liaoning Dumpling Spot Hoi An, Vietnam – White Rose Dumplings

Manila, Philippines – Dongbei Dumpling, Chinatown (Binondo)

London, England – Jen Café, Chinatown

Song Fuelling This Post: St. Lucia – Elevate (Passion Pit Remix) All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.

PS – Many thanks to Victoria McGinley for the awesome arrow, heart and star vectors! I’m still figuring out my Wacom Tablet and need all the help I can get!