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A love letter to 牛肉面 Beef Noodles

If there is one Chinese dish that sends me into tailspin of nostalgia for my time in China then it is niúròu miàn (牛肉面), or beef noodles. I have so many memories attached to this one simple dish, and it seems to be something that I have eaten all over China. Niúròu miàn was one of the first dishes that I could spot on a menu, and it very quickly became my fail-safe option when eating out. Even when I came back to the UK, my first mission for finding the real Chinese food was hunting down an authentic bowl of niúròu miàn, which I did find! Even if the prices made me want to cry - on New Years Eve I paid £7 for a bowl of niúròu miàn, compare that to the 70p bowls in China and you'll see why I was horrified. But you'll also notice that I did pay my £7, however grudgingly, because niúròu miàn is really that good! I hope that in this love letter to a bowl of noodles I can show you why. Read to the end for my favourite niúròu miàn restaurant in London. When you order niúròu miàn you …
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A Homemade Chinese Feast

Everyone knows that I love eating Chinese food, but recently it has become a bit of an infatuation to master cooking Chinese food. So I decided that I would host a Chinese feast with some of my favourite dishes for a group of my closest friends. One might think it would be a good idea to learn how to cook various dishes and then host a dinner party, but that’s just not how I roll. I made up my mind to jump in at the deep end and just figure it all out as I went along.Very quickly I realised that cooking for so many people wasn’t going to be easy, especially when the basic concept of a Chinese meal is many small dishes for everyone to pick over. To be honest, I hadn’t expected that everyone I invited would be free, but it just so happened that almost everyone was free so I was faced with cooking a full on Chinese meal for 10 people. Now, you may say that I could have just scaled everything back and not done a full Chinese feast, but where’s the fun in that? Never one to shy away from …

Have I told you about the time...I almost drowned my boyfriend?

Have I told you about the time...I almost drowned my boyfriend? Swimming, in China, isn't really something that children learn as standard. I always found this strange because I started swimming classes when I was 6 weeks old and I absolutely love being in the water. But in China, as in a lot of Asian countries, people don't really learn to swim and every so often a news story will pop up about someone who fell into a river (usually because they were looking at their phone) and drowned because they didn't know how to swim. Of course, some people can swim and I have written about my experience of going to the swimming pool in Suzhou (long story short, everyone in the pool stopped swimming so that they could better stare at me and my friend swimming. It's very unnerving so bob up to take a breath and see a pool full of eyes looking at you.), but my boyfriend in Yinchuan was not one of these people.So when we went on holiday to China's tropical island of Sanya he dec…

Have I told you about the time...we almost got recruited to a brothel?

Have I told you about the time...we almost got recruited to a brothel? When Jenny, Jonas and I first moved to Suzhou we were immediately keen in the early days to make some friends. In any new place it is important to find the people who you can connect with, and when you’re surrounded by a totally new and alien culture I think that it is only natural that you seek out those who are similar to you.
So we were looking for the expats. It turns out the expats aren’t so easy to find! But we reasoned that if we could find the bar area then we would also find the foreigners – Westerners like to drink right?!
We had a couple unsuccessful evenings of dead bars without a foreigner in sight, but eventually we tracked down the name of a bar street that looked to be promising.So one evening we got a taxi and were dropped off at the bottom of the bar street.
We had no idea where to start, and to be honest everything looked pretty dead (in hindsight we may have been a little early in the evening…

Have I told you about the time...I went skiing on a fake mountain?

Have I told you about the time...I went skiing on a fake mountain? Straight off I will say that there is a little bit of exaggeration in that opening sentence.
To call where we went a mountain would be a bold faced lie, it was actually a quite large hill dumped with imported snow (just as ridiculous as that sounds), and as you can imagine any "skiing" that can be done on a quite large hill is limited. But take this with a pinch of salt, it's a much better story that way!On New Years Day, my boyfriend at the time, Orion, suggested we take a little trip somewhere for the day. This was not a particularly unusual suggestion as there is plenty to do around Yinchuan and we often took advantage of the nearby mountains or old movie studios for a day out. But this time he suggested something a little bit different, skiing.I had never been skiing before, but Orion seemed confident so I agreed and off we went to ski. The only thing was that I wasn't sure exactly where we woul…