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Guild Hall Dining, #1

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While on a walking tour of Beijing’s Tienanmen Square and environs, I learned that from way back when each province of China has had guild halls where envoys from the provinces would stay. These halls also have restaurants where anyone can sample the best cuisine from each province for a relatively low price.

I found a list of these spots on a blog called Eileen Eats and have wanted to visit some for quite a while. This past weekend I had a friend who was game and we went to Xingjiang Fanzhuang Urumuqi Muncipal Office for lunch.

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Since the blog contains the addresses in Chinese as well as the romanized pinyin, we could show a taxi where to go. Urumuqi is the capital of Xinjiang, a western province with a large population of Uighurs, an ethnic group that differs from the Han Chinese in language, culture and politics. I’ve had good Uighur food in Beijing at a restaurant that’s disappeared and on my trip to Urumuqi.

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Lamb & onions

After a 15 minute taxi ride from the South Cathedral at Xuanwumen, we arrived in a neighborhood and weren’t sure we got to the right place, then we saw a Central Asian facade on a building set back from the street. Sure enough this was the right place.

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Potatoes

Upon entering we where struck by the noisy bustle of the restaurant. The place was busy and the wait staff scurried about. Soon someone noticed us and gave us a card with a number. Then after awhile someone was shouting a number in Chinese and was getting frustrated that no one was responding. I guessed, correctly, that they were calling for us. We were shown to a table and given a menu with English and with photos. Since it seemed we were the only foreigners there we were surprised, and delighted that there was English. The menu featured a lot of lamb dishes and some exotic items like braised camel’s feet. We chose a lamb and onion dish, some meat pockets, which were a lot like what a Mongolian friend would make, and Xinjiang vegetables, which turned out to be potatoes in a spicy sauce.

The food was fine, but not spectacular. Our tab came to 62 rmb (so less than $10 USD). The decor was Central Asian with a touch of Russian.

I think we should have followed Eileen’s advice and gotten the “polou rice.” I was just delighted that we found a place off the beaten path. I’d definitely try another provincial restaurant and possibly go back to this one if a friend was eager. It was easy to get a cab back to the city center.

(Tip – If you don’t speak Chinese, just say Tienanmen or Wangfujing and you’ll get to a place where you’re likely to find something to do or hop on the subway.)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Tiny

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Some tiny appetizers, tiny desserts and a tiny teddy bear that the Sofitel surprised me with.

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Frame

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Chicago, Illinois

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Nara, Japan

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Thailand

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fun

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1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

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1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other themed photos:

BBQ Pit Boys

I’m intrigued by regular folks who make a name for themselves on YouTube. These guys started out making how-to barbecue videos. It started with one man, who when he received a surprise (to him) check for his videos, recruited some pals and learned some camera techniques. Now his posse is watched by people all over the world. Some have set up clubs like BBQ Pit Boys Germany or BBQ Pit Boys Taiwan. Here’s a few of their videos. Maybe you can gather some friends and grill an alligator this weekend.

https://youtu.be/uZhnpAhYmb0

They were featured on an episode of Sarah’s Weekday Meals on PBS.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites

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You can’t tell by looking but the green vegetable is very tart and the jelly in the center is very sweet.

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinnertime!

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is Dinnertime, which in a food culture like China is one of the best times of day, slightly ahead of lunchtime. Here are a few of the dishes at a recent meal at a duck restaurant.

Other good photos:

Travel Theme: Spice

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Are you ready to spice things up with your own interpretation of this week’s theme? If you would like to join in (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  1. Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Spice.
  2. Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too.
  3. Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday.
  4. Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes.
  5. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.

“I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season, with lots of spicy food, spiced drinks and spicy company!” Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?

June Staycation

Dragon Boat Zongzi

Dragon Boat Zongzi

Since Friday the 26th is our last day of class and I’d given two tests and they needed to be graded, going out of town for the long Dragon Boat Festival weekend seemed foolish. So my colleague and I came to Jinan’s Hyatt hotel where we frequently enjoy their Thursday Ladies’ Night music and cocktails.

We booked the executive floor, which perfect for “staycationers,” who can go to local restaurants anytime. The breakfast and cocktail hour were more than enough to delight and nourish. The cocktail hour offered salad or cold vegetables, breads, cheeses, hot appetizers, drinks and desserts. What more do you need?

How creative the chefs here are! Top notch! I particularly liked the mango pudding, scones, little cakes, fresh juices, and cheeses.

Congee and its accouterments

Congee and its accouterments

Grading was a breeze, if not a joy in this setting. I could take exercise breaks, had BBC, CNN or Channel News Asia to divert my attention, got three free English newspapers, and didn’t have to make my bed or tidy up. My time was so focused.

Sunday after breakfast a friend and I walked to Five Dragons Pond where we could take in nature and the art gallery.

The Hyatt staff speaks English well and are so eager to please. They strike the perfect balance of friendliness and professionalism.

The Hyatt’s right near a night market and Wanda shopping center so bargain hunters can find new goodies to take home. (I was able to avoid temptation in this area.)

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