❤️Homemade Venison Taco Soup with Wild Boar Sausage- Happy Valentine’s Day from a Nonconformist ❤️

I am not crazy about February 14th as the Valentine’s Day, mainly because it’s usually too cold to wear a skirt in New York. I also take pity on all the men who have to buy things for their women but secretly really rather not to. In comparison, Chinese Valentine’s Day is on the 7th day of the 7th month in the Lunar calendar and that usually lands it in July or August when the weather is warm and my toes can be in sandals and legs without tights. No gifts have to be bought for the Chinese Valentine’s Day. When I think through the history of Valentine’s Day, I think the Chinese myth is also much more romantic, where two lovers are separated by the Milky Way and can only meet once a year on Qixi 七夕 (7th day of the 7th month) over the bridge Magpies formed for them.

Aww.

On this Valentine’s Day weekend, my wonderful friends reminded me why being a conformist can be good from time to time.
My hunter fiend, Mike, gave me a care package containing his homemade venison taco soup with wild boar sausage, Mexican shredded cheese, and chips. Gave me instructions on warming up both the soup in water and the chips in the oven.
This is the end result. The soup has both red and white beans, corn and tasted very much like chili but with a distinct taste of the venison. Yummy behind belief. This is why people hunt.

I ended the meal with dark chocolate with orange peels, one of my favorites, from my friend Dan, whom I had not seen in a long time. Maybe Valentine’s Day is not too commercial or contrived when you have good friends.

I heart ❤️ friendships and good meals anytime.

Red Hat in Irvington, NY- A Competent French Bistro with A Stunning View of the Hudson River 

I have not been to Red Hat since they relocated to the Bridge Street building by the Hudson river. The setting is stunning. They have a deck overlooking the river and floor to ceiling windows in the dinning room. My friend and I had the high table with a perfect view of the entire restaurant and the deck! The sun was shining in the baby blue sky and reflecting on the slow-moving water. Red Hat has come a long way since the little bistro front on the Main Street of Irvington.
AUTUMN VEGETABLE SOUP: carrot, potato, butternut squash, turmeric, parsley. This was the best! And you ask me why? Because it was a delicately balanced vegetable soup with turmeric. I liked the punch of the carrot and the starchy texture from the potato. It was homey and delicious. The bread was perfect, as French bread goes.
OMELETTE:cherry tomato, grass-fed Irish cheddar, and parsley, choice of greens vinaigrette, bistro salad, frites, or breakfast potatoes. This started out very promising. I adored the frites at Red Hat. The frites are done the the traditional French way- thin, crispy and not greasy. I loved them. Sadly, the omelette was a miss for me. I believe it was the cheddar. Too overpowering.   EGGS BENEDICT, NORWEGIAN, OR FLORENTINE
poached eggs, hollandaise, english muffin, oscar’s smokehouse canadian bacon or smoked salmon or spinach, breakfast potatoes, fruit compote. This was finished completely and my friend was very happy with her choice.

Red Hat is a very competent French bistro and with the setting, it’s hard to beat. If I lived closer, I would be a frequent diner. Try it- you will most likely enjoy it.

This experience took place at

Red Hat
ONE BRIDGE STREET
IRVINGTON-ON-HUDSON, NY 10533
(914) 591 5888

Appétit Bistro in Port Chester, NY- My New Go-To French Bistro in Westchester

Calling all friends and foodies of Westchester, there is a new and excellent French Bistro in Port Chester, NY! The food was fresh and outstanding. The menu was short and perfect. The location is easy to get to. After sampling Encore Bistro Francais in Larchmont and Rye (meh to ok in my opinion), Le Provençal Bistro in Mamaroneck (ok and expensive), Le Jardin Du Roi in Chappaqua (much better than the other two above), La Panetière in Rye (slightly over-rated and stuffy), Red Hat on the River (no written review but it was excellent), I believe Appétit Bistro in Port Chester, NY will be my new French bistro go-to. French bistro is my comfort food… this means a lot to me and it’s only because Appétit Bistro scored very high when I went at the end of August.Calamars á la Plancha: Tomato / Avocado / Basil Pesto. Delicious. The squid was tender and with a slightly they texture. The seasoning was perfect. Loved the texture contrast between the avocado and the squid.Baked Clams: Special that day. Really fresh. Really juicy.
Red Snapper: Yellow & Green Beans / Heirloom Tomato & Truffle Vinaigrette. I loved the beans and the sauce. Therefore, the fish was  also excellent.Moules-Frites: PEI Mussels / Mariniere or Saffron-Tomato / Fries. Who can say no to Prince Edward Island (PEI) seafood? The PEI mussels were as good as the PEI oysters, which are one of my favorites. I am a sucker for seafood and moules-frites when the mussels are clean and fresh and the frites are fried perfectly.These were perfect. Perfectly French.

I often write terribly when the food is real good. When I recall the experience, none of my descriptive vocabulary comes up. All I have are the bodily sensations of oohs and aahs. This is one of those times.

In addition to providing an excuse for sub-par writing, I want to state that I am not writing this post while hungry. I just had a 3am snack. Therefore, my recall is true to the outstanding food that I received that night. Highly recommend Appétit Bistro in Port Chester, NY.

P.S. to Appétit Bistro, please have separate page titles/URLs for different areas of your site. It will help with your SEO ranking. As an example, every time I mentioned your name in this post, I can link to multiple areas of your site to make your site more relevant.

This experience took place at

Appétit Bistro

540A Willett Avenue,
Port Chester, NY 10573
Phone:(914) 690-2000

Wanderlust Edinburgh, Scotland- Patisserie Valerie and My Ménage à Trois of Desserts

I love desserts, especially anything chocolaty. Since I was in Europe where some of my favorite desserts come from, I went and investigated the dessert scenes in Edinburgh. Patisserie Valerie is a chain bakery and I visited one on Rose Street (next to the famous pub Rose & Crown) in the Edinburgh town center. I was a bit hesitant when I saw only this display case of cakes. Was not terribly impressed.These are my selections. From left to right: tiramisu, chocolate mousse, and double chocolate cake. This is my ménage à trois of desserts where both chocolate cakes triumphed. The chocolates were dark and not repulsively sweet like the Godiva. The mousse had the perfect texture- beaten just soft and fluffy enough to caress with a lingering sweet aftertaste. The double chocolate cake was perfect in taste- the spongy dark Belgium chocolate cake portion coupled with smooth/soft cream puff on top played well off each other.As life would have it, the fire alarm went off at 1:43am in the morning in the hotel while I was enjoying my cakes. I got myself out of the room after my call to the front desk went unanswered. The customer service at the Apex Waterloo Palace Hotel was not excellent. Furthermore, both their paid search and organic research results are currently linking to a runtime error page. Obviously their digital marketing efforts also sucked.

Definitely check out Patisserie Valerie when visiting Edinburgh but not the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel.  Patisserie Valerie is well worth a stop and a cup of tea.

This experience took place at

Patisserie Valerie
158-162 Rose Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 3JD
+411 0131 2201336

Wanderlust Taiwan- Café Un Deux Trois in the Luxurious Mandarin Oriental Hotel

I went from the French bistro, Le Pain Grille, to Café Un Deux Trois in the luxurious 5-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Taipei. Let’s just say the price tripled if not quadrupled in the Mandarin Oriental. I did not necessarily get better tasting food; I got better presented food, a beautiful surrounding and a more elite group of diners. Maybe even complimentary parking. It’s definitely NYC priced but with more elbow space. I am sure glad that I put on a dress vs. showing up in my running shorts and a tank top, my usual attire in the hot summer days.Room temperature butter. Good bread. L’ESCARGOT PETIT-GRIS BAKED SNAILS (6 pieces)馬爹拉甜酒奶油烤田螺(六顆) $450NT or $15USD parsley butter and condiments, deglazed with madeira. This was terrible. My ex French mother-in-law does it better. How was it terrible? The escargot were over-baked, too soft and too much butter was used.LA SOUPE DU JOUR | SEASONAL DAILY SOUP | 主廚例湯. This was the pumpkin and carrot soup. My friend enjoyed it. FILET DE SAUMON | SALMON FILLET | 鮭魚佐柚香醬搭鮮蔬扁麵及蛤蜊 Vegetable tagliatelle, carrots, zucchini, clams, yuzu hollandaise LA SAINT-JACQUES | PAN SEARED SCALLOPS 香煎干貝佐薩丁尼亞麵疙瘩 $720NT or $24USD sweet turnip, fregola, spicy emulsion. As expected! No better and no worse. LE SOUFFLÉ NOISETTE | HAZELNUT SOUFFLE 榛果舒芙蕾佐柚子冰沙 $350NT or $13USD served with yuzu sorbet. This was fun. It had good flakes! The soufflé was ok but the sorbet was better. GRAND CRU CHOCOLAT THÉ | CHOCOLATE TEA GRAND CRU 茶香濃情巧克力 $350NT or $13USD red fruit tea infusion, chocolate cream, fruit confit. This was excellent! The tea and chocolate combination was tasty. I liked it especially because it was served chilled.

My friend ordered from the set lunch menu which ranged from $950NT to $1600NT ($36USD to $54USD). I went a la cart and ended up with around $73USD. The food was ok for this price but the decor was elegant and comfortable. The service was outstanding… They anticipated every need and were never intrusive. They jumped up when I knocked over my glass of water.

Would I return? Probably. The showcase for soap on the way out was extremely enjoyable. All right, it’s not a soap show case; it’s FUEGUIA 1833, a high-end Argentina perfumery. This was worth visiting. 🙂

But the best part of the entire experience was the company, my friend 何郁瑾. Thank you for listening.

This experience took place at

Café Un Deux Trois in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

No. 158, Dunhua North Road,
Taipei City, Taiwan 10548
+886 2 2715 6888

Wanderlust Taiwan- Le Pain Grille| Agnès b. Rue de Marseille for the Expats 

There is a large population of foreign workers in Taiwan. There are the manual labor types who usually come from the South East Asian countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. See my post on the Mail Order bride who became a beautician. There are the professional types (the expats) who come from around the world to capitalize on the Taiwanese technology, highly developed infrastructures, language and associations to China. I met a few people like that on this trip. They are from the US, Holland, Colombia, Canada, Switzerland,and the UK. What better way to get to know someone than to bond over a meal or tea?

One of Le Pain Grille’s restaurants, Agnès b. Rue de Marseille, is located near Taipei 101 where almost everything is in English and the food is geared toward tourists and expats.
 Ratatouille Provençal $290NT or $10USDThis is a decadent chocolate dessert which if I recall correctly is dark and not so sweet, exactly the way the French dessert would be. Beautiful and smooth. Unfortunately, it’s not on their online menu. This is their pineapple flavored tea which is recommended by my expat friend. It was delicious but not my cup of tea. I don’t think pineapple and tea should be combined. Pineapple in Taiwan is so full with flavor and sweetness and therefore takes away the bitterness of the tea. I don’t like it. For me, it should either be tropical fruit juice or tea. But not combined.
Staying true to the French way, Le Pain Grille has a long list of chocolate drinks. Really really yummy.  Never too sweet and dark.

Would I return? Maybe, if I live in Taipei for many months and crave French food. It’s decent. But the set up is weird… They charge for bread and you can’t ask or tap water. That’s not the worst thing… The worst is that they explain it to you like you are three and explain it multiple times.

This experience took place at

1~2樓, No. 16, Songgao Rd,
Xinyi District, Taipei City,
Taiwan 110

Wanderlust Taiwan- Ham and Egg Breakfast Crêpes Taiwanese Style. Fusion is Who I Am.

To make up for my error from the first breakfast, I stopped at this joint that serves breakfast in a fusion style… I am usually not a fan of fusion food but this has been an interesting experience for me. When I left Taiwan decades ago, fusion breakfast did not exist. It was shao bing 燒餅, you tiao 油條, 饅頭 and dou jiang 豆漿 all the way (will cover the traditional breakfast soon). I discovered this fusion style when I returned a few years ago. This type of establishment serves sandwiches, bagels, and crêpes Taiwanese style. How is it Taiwanese style, you may ask? For example, the ham and the eggs all taste different. They are all made in Taiwan. 😋


At this kind of place, you don’t pay for packaging. So the two crêpes here were stuffed into a small paper box for me to bring home. The two crêpes are $50 TWD or approximately $1.7 USD.

The store front. If I had the balls, I would have pointed my camera at the cook top. The whole operation is fascinating to me: three people man the small counter, money changes hands quickly, food and money are often handled by the same hand, multiple languages are used (Taiwanese, Mandarin, and something else I didn’t recognize.)

The fusion menu with categories in burgers, toasts, bagels, crêpes, snacks (side dishes of fries, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, red bean pancakes, and onion rings), Chinese style (scallion pancakes, taro cakes, dumplings), noodles (pasta and Asian style noodles), jams (from peanut butter to green tea/taro/black sesame), drinks (from soy milk, black tea, green tea to cafe latte).

The lady who took my order called me “Mei Mei 妹妹” or “little sister” in a diminutive but affectionate way.

I am finally home. For now, I am fusion in Asia. ❤️💜💛💚💙

This experience took place at

美而美
台北市崇德街在捷運六張犁車站旁邊
On Congde St right next to Liuzhangli MRT station
Daan District of Taipei City