14.12.16 Maokong

Food is important to us and we love cooking but we haven’t cooked anything for three months (I don’t count pouring boiling water onto a pot noodle)

In Fiona’s Airbnb apartment there is a kitchen and down the road is a wonderful local market which we described in a recent post here – locals market

So tonight we aim to take advantage of these opportunities and cook a meal. Sadly, we are very excited about it.

We hit the market with another one of Fionas guests who is from Hong Kong, so we have a translator! Green vegetables are great and often neglected when you’re eating out a lot, so we buy broccoli, bok choy and spring onions. 

For flavour, we buy garlic, ginger, Asian chives and limes. 

For body,  cep mushrooms and black fungus and the star of the show, fresh salmon fillets.

We also buy a pineapple for breakfast which the stall holder peels for us.

The market is a great experience and we really enjoy it. The stallholders are so friendly and the produce is so enticing. We drop our bounty back at the flat and take the MRT to Taipei Zoo at the end of line 1 where we ride the Gondola to Maokong, a tea growing region to the south of the city. This is all done using our ‘easy’ card which as well as being an MRT (tube/metro/subway) pass gives us a discount on the gondola.

The weather is a bit cloudy today, but we can still see Taipei 101 in the distance.

At Maokong we stop for a snack at one of the stalls around the gondola station then head to the tea promotion centre following the valley road.

We try a local oolong tea which is really smooth with very little tanin. We walk back enjoying the views down the valley and the well ordered landscape where tea bushes grow in rows on terraces. We stop at a tea house and bag a window table with a view over a cloudy Taipei. We try two different Taiwanese teas and local snacks of dried fruit and biscuits. The teas come in cups which include strainers and saucers in a clever design. The tea leaves can be reused and the teahouse owner keeps topping us up with freshly boiled water. 

We chat and spend time discussing our trip so far and how we miss everyone, especially at Christmastime. Suddenly, out of the blue, the stereo plays “Please, Please, Please let me get what I want” by The Smiths. It is so out of context and so poignant we are taken aback. A song which meant so much, in what seems like a different lifetime.

On the way home we stop at Carrefour for wine to go with our meal. 

In the apartment it takes milliseconds for us to slip into our old roles. I open wine and put on music while Al chops veg. Fully prepped but scared of ruining our only cooking experience, Al hands over to me to cremate the food. The two electric hot plates are new to us so I don’t get the timings quite right but the salmon has a wonderful crispy caramelized side. We are both pleased with our work and the veg tastes wonderful.