Taiwan with Cho-Liang Lin: Food and Wine!
Apparently you can ask most Chinese in China where to find the best Chinese food, and be told “Taiwan.” Over a one week period I have learned this to be true!
On our first free night in Taipei, Jimmy Lin and I were treated to dinner by our friends Chris and Sue Fan. I’ve been assured that I’m about to experience Peking Duck so good that it’s been informally renamed “Taipei Duck.” I have to agree. It was the meatiest Peking Duck I’ve had, and full of flavor, giving the Dadong Duck House in Beijing a real run for its money.
On Thursday, after rehearsal, we were treated to an extraordinary wine tasting hosted by Taiwan’s Wealth magazine.
Jimmy contributes tasting notes from time to time, so I suppose you could argue that this was actually “work”, but any wine lover who sees the labels in this photo will understand that it was more like insane pleasure.
For oneophiles, I should mention that the bottle that lost its label is a Lafite Rothschild ’96. You might just be able to make out the Lafite relief stamp on the neck of the bottle, an authenticity measure begun that year. The secondary proof was the cork once removed from the bottle, and of course the final proof was in the tasting. Still, it was hard to overshadow the ’91 La Tâche that we tasted earlier. That was truly perfection in a bottle, as was the ’95 Guigal La Mouline that finished us off (literally…)
Taiwan isn’t exactly a large nation, but in southern Taiwan they are protective of their culinary renown for DanDan noodles. This aggressively flavored dish features a highly garlicky meat sauce over a small bowl of noodles. (Not to be confused with DanDan noodles, Shanghai style, and certainly not to be confused with the bland Americanized versions that appear in Pei Wei!)
Of course, DanDan noodles need a little accompaniment, and soon I found myself in what was to become a familiar scene in Taiwan: surrounded by delicious food!
I shouldn’t forget to mention breakfast. The Landis Hotel breakfast included everything from customized omelets to shu mai dumplings. But one morning Jimmy takes me out for a local Taipei breakfast.
This has to be the ‘whitest’ breakfast I’ve ever eaten, at least in appearance! The items on the left are fried bread in a roll; a true carb lover’s dream. There are many kinds of dumplings and warm soy milk, which I can see is bringing Jimmy right back to his childhood.
Today, a part of our extraordinary experience at Chin-Ai Elementary School in Aowanda National Forest was lunch. In fact, we were served lunch shortly before performing. I can’t speak for all musicians, but most of us eat lightly before concerts, and heavier afterwards. (I’ve been known to break both rules, however…)
This lunch was enormous, but filled with so many local goodies that we had to try everything at least twice!
Taiwan is unquestionably food paradise. Dieters be forewarned!