Friday, 25 July 2014


My favourite kind of eating is family-style.

All sat around a big table, laden with food and wine; shouting over each other and grabbing food before someone else does. When you have friends that you will happily fight over the last bruschetta for, then you know that you've found good-uns. 
Mediterranean food compliments this style of eating perfectly- meze, tapas and Italian are the best!
My favourite Italian in Shanghai is called Salute on Fuxing Xi Lu. It feels so homely, authentic and sitting in their beautiful outside space feels more Tuscan village than Chinese mega-city.

The waiters are lovely people; they come along with a giant chalkboard full of the food that's available that day and wait as you drool over everything and inevitably order too much. They also have a wonderful wine selection that starts at very reasonable prices.
After 10 or so minutes the food starts to arrive...

The potato salad here is to die for, it always keeps me coming back! The tomato and cucumber salad was also delicious, as was the gloriously salty focaccia.
However, what we were really waiting for was this...

A beautiful prosciutto and rocket pizza. It went very quickly. 
Also worth trying is the tomato and basil bruschetta, which was smothered in garlicy olive oil. There's a method to eating these little toasty pieces, which take a bit of mastering for know who you are...but getting oily hands and lips is very worth it!

There was a lot of talking, a lot of grabbing for the last piece and a lot of mmm-ing over the food and wine.

It was a wonderful meal and a lovely night. The Salute family and even a cat are always around, making the place feel friendly and comfortable. It's very easy to sit there for a long time, even after all the food and wine has gone! Next time I'm saving room for dessert! Thank you Salute for making my Italian dreams come true!

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Eat, Yoga, AC.

Last month I did something that I've been wanting to do for a long time- I joined a yoga studio.

It's so nice having proper classes, feeling great at the end of them and really learning something at the same time. I joined Yoga Space next to Hengshan Road, if you're interested: I recommend it highly! 
Not only am I enjoying the overall Zen that yoga gives to my life, but I'm also loving the knowledge that now I'm burning away those cals on the yoga mat, I can eat more. It's like a big Karmic feast.
However, the fiscal side of my life has not been great lately and eating out in Shanghai can be pretty I've gone back to my culinary roots and have been doing a lot of cooking. Well, I've been watching my other half, who is better than me at everything food related (really, I can't believe it either). 
This week also marks the start of Summer in SHai. The rainy season has left us with lots of sunshine and sweltering heat and humidity- hence the AC, it's my new best friend...
Back to the food!

Ahhh tortilla. I will never be underwhelmed by the beauty of adding potatoes, onions and eggs together... Unfortunately I cannot make tortilla without a grill, I've tried so many times and I always fail. Luckily, this one was made for me!

My latest obsession is edamame. I always loved it as something I'd order at a sushi restaurant, but I didn't realise how easy it is to DIY (literally boil in the shells for 5mins then de-shell into some nice sauce). God, they're good and so, so cute. Nothing much better than sitting in the sun shelling your edamame.

This is my 3rd Summer in Asia! I now think of Summer as humid, sticky and full of ripe mangoes. Fruit is a really big part of the Chinese diet; its the snack of option for the old and young alike. When you've got fruit as good as we do, why not? Currently, mangoes, peaches and watermelons are in season and juicy as ever. Mango, peach, honey and yogurt anyone?

My other latest addiction was started when my good friend introduced me to Vietnamese coffee. Specifically, from Aniseed Pho in Xintiandi. It's honestly the best coffee in the world. It's addictive; I dream in Vietnamese coffee. I don't care if it's full of condensed milk, every day at 2pm I get that familiar feeling and I know that its time to take a trip across the coffee border. My home-made attempts just don't cut it.

I will leave you with a heart-warming story that perfectly illustrates my belief that food brings people together; across cultures and languages. Me and my roommates have an Ayi (cleaning lady) who visits us once a week to make everything look beautiful and arranges your bed in a way that means an amazing night sleep (how does she do it?!). On Saturday, Joe had bought some funny looking pastry stuff from the supermarket, he thought it was to make spring rolls, but we weren't sure so we asked the Ayi. She explained that you fill the sheets, fold them in a particular way and boil them. Despite my limited Chinese I understood it all, but maybe I looked like I couldn't be trusted with Chinese traditional cooking because she soon set to work in the kitchen, making us vegetarian mushroom and egg dumplings. They were delicious, some of the best Chinese food that I've ever had. I knew they would be. But what was so special was the fact that our Ayi and us were just stood in the kitchen, folding dumplings together and laughing at how bad the Laowai's attempts were. I learnt so much and it was one of the best experiences I've had here, I hope she enjoyed it as much as we did!

We loved them so much that yesterday Joe created his own version, with cheese, of course.

Well, now I'm hungry. I'm off to yoga this morning, so I can stuff as much food as possible in my mouth before I go! Yay! I'll leave you with a photo of my Father's new dog...perhaps a warning to me and my eating habits...

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Thursday, 17 July 2014


SHai is wonderful, but sometimes you just need to get away from the constant 24/7-ness of it all.

Luckily, you don't have to travel far out of the city to discover a whole other world. Me and the man jumped on a train and 2 hours later we were sitting in the sun surrounded by bamboo covered mountains. 

Moganshan is a pretty popular destination for Shanghaiers looking to get a break from the humidity, the smog and the traffic. It gets very busy over Summer and on national holidays, but luckily we went on a random week and it was almost deserted! Which is exactly what we wanted. Going from a city of 28 million to a village of 100 and a hostel where we were almost the only guests. That's not to say that the hostel wasn't good- it was absolutely lovely. Think wooden cabins, sauna-like showers, big comfy beds and delicious local food. Heavenly.

We spent most of our time there eating, sleeping and walking. There was a lot of walking, climbing and getting very lost... However, all the calf-muscle work and sweat was worth it to see the views from the top.

Tangent: I've always walked around SHai wondering where the hell all the bamboo scaffolding comes from that is supporting the constant work that takes place here, on a daily basis. (Trust me, its a lot of work and all the scaffolding is bamboo). Well, as soon as I arrived in Moganshan, I knew. There is literally bamboo as far as the eye can see...more bamboo than, well, you could shake a stick at. It's in the ground, on your plate, it makes the furniture you sit on...its impossible not to take a million photos where bamboo is the unlikely focus. 

Another thing, the water that comes down from the top of the mountains is the cleanest, coldest, purest water I've ever had...and I'm half Scottish. My people pride themselves on clean water. But would I drink straight from the ground in Scotland? Not sure. Did I do it here, in China, where tap water is deadly? Hell, yes! (This may have also partly been down to the fact that we had been lost and walking for hours and had run out of water and I genuinely felt like a Franco-style 127hours scenario might be on its way).

God, even writing this and looking back at the photos is zen-ing me out. It was honestly one of the most relaxing holidays I've ever had. So beautiful, refreshing, peaceful and calm. Exactly what you need when you live and work like a crazy person in this city. I keep telling all my SHai friends that they need to get out there and I recommend it to anyone who is thinking about visiting China too. It's the misty mountains, crouching tiger place that every foreigner in China is looking for. Plus, it's cheap and easy to get to. Bamboo winner.

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