Monday, 20 October 2014

Taiwan Day 4

Day 4 was the one that I am the most excited about! It is the night that I FINALLY get to attend the concert of my favourite band in the world, S.H.E! This is a Taiwanese band that consist of three members, Selina Ren, Hebe Tian, and Ella Cheng. They are super popular in Taiwan and I have been following them since junior high. They rarely do concerts outside of Asia, let alone in Cow town. So imagine how happy I was when I found out I was going to be in Asia when their latest concert is going to be held in Taipei. And imagine how happy I was when I went online and managed to buy a single ticket after hours of trying! Now I can tick one off my bucket list!

The concert is held in the evening and I am still separated from my cousins for the day, I decided to sign up for a cooking class. I was hoping for a pastry class but none of the classes I wanted matched my schedule. So I ended up signing up for a traditional Chinese cooking class through Niceday. It was taught by Anqi Cheng who is actually quite famous in Taiwan. She has released numerous cookbooks and her mother was dubbed as the Julia Child of Taiwan. I did not know this until after I returned from my trip so I was glad I chose this class. 

 The class was about $85 CAD, lasted about two hours and consist of six dishes. The dishes are meatballs, shredded chicken noodles, Italian styled chicken (yup not very Chinese), wonton soup and dumplings in chili oil. The class was held in a small classroom. Everyone had a seat and was given a recipe book. Funny thing, the recipe book was in Chinese but I wrote everything down in English on the opposite side. I am sure the assistants passing by probably thought I was crazy.

The class consisted mostly of moms and a couple of dads. There was only a couple of people around my age. The instructor was very approachable and it felt more like a mom passing off her recipes down to her children than a class. She kept on giving us tips and answering questions. When she was doing the wontons, she encouraged all of us to come and try the different methods so we can get a feel of it. The class was encouraged to take pictures and videos which I thought was great! The assistant even placed the finished dishes in better lighting for us to take pictures.

The instructor bounced between the recipes, she started by cooking up sweet soy sauce and red chili oil for three of the dishes. I tried making these sauces when I came home and the sweet soy sauce turned out well, the chili oil is meh because I didn't follow the recipe well. The instructor then proceeded to demonstrate how to do the Italian style chicken. Now this dish is very out of place since not much Taiwanese residences have an oven. The recipe was easy, just rub the chicken in Italian spices and place on top of vegetables and bake in the oven. The chicken came out very tender and juicy. I can't wait to try out this recipe when I am holding dinner parties.

Now I may have the sequence wrong, but I think the instructor may or may not have done the meatballs before the chicken. Not that it matters too much. This dish is the only dish that the instructor will teach and then we will cook after the teaching portion ends. I call it meatballs but they are not the Italian style meatballs. They are made with ground pork and includes chopped dried shrimp, green beans and green onions. This is a great way to hide vegetables for picky eaters. They are also steamed instead of boiled or baked. The meatballs comes out in sitting in its own juice and is very tender.

Next dish to be completed is the shredded chicken noodles, which consist of noodles mixed with shredded chicken breast meat and bean sprouts covered in a red chili oil sauce and some peanuts. The noodle and chicken mixed well together with the sauce, which added slight kick at the end. The peanut pieces and bean spouts adds a little crunch to the dish.

The last two dishes were wonton soup and dumpling in chili oil. These two has different names but are similar. The fillings are different but the skin was the same. Wontons in the soup have a fuller filling and it has more variety for the filling. The dumplings have a plain and smaller portion of fillings. The folds are different as well and if I did not take a video I probably would have forgotten both of them. The wonton soup has shredded fried egg added just prior to serving to add an additional flavour to the soup. The dumplings are tossed in the chili oil and soy sauce, hence the name of dumplings in red chili oil. This dish was so good compared to the ones in any of the restaurants I been to in Cow town. The ones I tried had chili oil that are more salty than spicy. The chili oil in this dish is actually spicy and you can enjoy the oil mixture instead of the meat.

The dumplings and wontons concluded the teaching portion and onward we go to producing our very own meatballs. Everyone had their own station to prepare the meatballs, which included the ingredients, a steamer, and an apron.

I forgot the steps of the meatballs already so thank goodness for the recipe book and the attentive students around me. My meatballs are pretty big and the instructor walked by and told me to chop the beans to half the size next time.  Mental note, check. The meatballs were kind of big but they were yummy. I was very happy to have a homemade dish while on my trip. I made so much that I brought them back to the hostel and shared it with my cousins who just returned from the farm.

I tried making these meatballs when I came back and the product was ok. I used lean ground pork instead of a mixture of lean and fat. That made the meatball to be slightly crumbly as there was little fat to hold it together. I also made the meatballs smaller and steamed it for a longer period so it dried out a little bit. Live and learn. Will try again in the future. 

After resting in the hostel for a few hours, my cousins and I headed out to the Taipei Arena for the S.H.E concert. Unfortunately we planned this trip after I purchased my ticket so we could not find tickets for my cousins. I went to the concert by myself while they explored Taipei.

I headed inside as soon as the doors opened and found a light in the shape of a clover stuffed next to each chair. The light has a microchip that is controlled by the stage crew and shine different colours at different times. I love this concept! During the concert, the lights formed the shape of a clover, words of S.H.E and SHERO. I love being part of it! 

I sat next to a really nice girl who is an active member of a fan club and she told me lots of things about the fan clubs. She definitely added to the experience of the concert. I felt like I had a friend and was not afraid to sing my little heart out during songs and act like an idiot. 

Selina Ren 
Hebe Tian 
Ella Cheng
Now I wasn't supposed to take pictures, but the girl told me the fan club is ok with it as long as you only take a few and don't block someone's view. I did get too excited and the usher had to come and tell me to stop. I still take a few more pictures and videos after she stopped me but I made sure I did it on the shoulder and not block anyone. I feel bad for breaking the rules but this is pretty much once in a lifetime experience and I had to make sure I get most of it. 

The concert was wonderful, the girls were exactly as they appear in the media. They joked around, cried and chatted to the fans like they are friends. I loved being part of it and was so happy when they sang my favourite songs. It still makes me emotional whenever I think about finally being able to see them. I was super lucky because this was the show that had the special guest of Mayday. Mayday is a super popular band in Taiwan and the two groups never collaborated on stage before. Everyone was so happy and the two bands interacted extremely well together! Definitely the best concert I ever been! It kind of felt like I was destined to be at the concert! 


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