Tuesday, August 26, 2014

To Review Or Not To Review; That Is The Question!

Ahhhh, there is so much eating to be done here in Beijing!

The STARAfood team favors two kinds of eating: the local hole-in-the-wall (or in some cases obscure huge chain restaurants that we never heard of) super cheap eatery with unexpectedly satisfying dishes or…the super nice, get dressed up to the nines and go all out to town restaurants. Most often we enjoy the first option and we live to tell the tale.

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of mediocre or just plain bad eating to be done. Restaurateurs with (hopefully) good intentions but who cannot quite follow through with the authenticity of the food, d├ęcor, hygiene, pricing….you pick!  We understand; Beijing is not an easy place to operate a service centered business; cultural and culinary differences are many and great and more often than not at least one of the two falls short.  

At STARAfood, we have come to the point where we simply can not review most of the western Shunyi establishments.  On the whole, they are mediocre attempts to bring Western food to the suberbs so each review will be a repeat.  We will focus instead on the good, surprising eats and share them with all of you.  We have no problems with being guinea pigs for this operation and will do our very best to share the results of our investigations!  We also have no problem being honest with our perspective on what we are not happy about and what needs to be improved.  Therefore, after much consideration, we have decided to focus on the unexpected and to find the gems in the culinary jewel box that is Beijing and hopefully inspire some readers to try something new.

Do you have any unexpected food finds?  Share them with us and all of our STARAfood readers.  Guess commentary welcome!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to Reality

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu…. Hello! Bonjour! Hej! Ni hao!

For expats around the world, spring is the time when we either pack up our belongings, say goodbye to our friends or just breathe a sigh of relief that we do not have to do either. All we have to do is get through the last few days or weeks of the school year, organize the class parties and teacher presents, attend countless going away parties, organize our house before summer, pre pay all bills, board the pet, instruct the help and pack our bags for a hopefully relaxing and rejuvenating summer holiday.

Coming back after the summer holiday is bittersweet. We leave clear blue skies, driving a car without feeling like part of a video game, picking berries and fruits straight from the tree, biking on country roads, meeting horses, easy parking and being able to go to one store, and one store only, for the whole shopping list. What luxury!

Coming back also means reconnecting with Beijing friends and, of course, meeting new people. We have all been there. Being new not only to a new home but to a new country, city, language and culture. And China is a special place to be new. It is overwhelming with its noise and dirt, all the people and the smells, strange food and people who already seem to know each other so well. Being an expat often means starting anew over and over again and there are times when we just don’t feel like it. When meeting new people seems like a chore and finding things to do is a struggle. The cashier becomes your new best friend because that is the face you see almost every single day.

As the STARA team embarks on our second year, we are happy to announce our Back to Reality event, held in tandem with our friends at Clicia’s Designs and Shayne’s Treasures.   Bring a new friend and join us for a drink and a nibble.  Please be sure to RSVP for yourself and your friend as there are special surprises for those who do!  

Back To Reality
Clicia's Design and Shayne's Treasure
Lake View Place at Dragon Bay Villas
Wednesday, September 3
11:30am – 4pm

This event is a great opportunity to grab a space in your favorite STARAcooking classes.  This year we will offer new takes on old favorites, along with some exciting additions (chocolate or tapas anyone?).  

We are also excited to announce our STARAseries.  These two four-week sessions focus on a different country each week, offering more in-depth tips and techniques.   Our first series focuses on the cuisines of the Old World - Italy, France, Spain and Scandinavia (or you choose!).  Our second takes us west to the New World of the Americas.  Dates for the STARAseries are flexible and will be set to the schedules of our students.  This is an excellent opportunity to gather a group of friends and have fun in a relaxing environment.  Contact us for more details.  

We look forward to seeing everyone soon!  As always, email us at starafood@gmail.com with any questions and check out the blog – www.starafood.blogspot.com.

Happy Cooking!