Wine was hideously expensive, so the only two bottles opened in my entire stay were from my hosts’ private stash. Otherwise, it was G&T’s for a fortnight, plus an occasionally cocktail thrown in.
In theory, coffee wasn’t too hard to come by, since there are Starbucks on every corner. But Starbucks coffee is crap, so this wasn’t particularly helpful. There were other places here and there where you could get OK coffee. But, bottom line, I drank less coffee, and seemed to survive OK.
The other major highlight was ‘cream puffs’. Somewhere there is a French influence in China, because you could get these beautiful cream puff things (choux pastry?) filled with a delicious creamy custard and topped with chocolate icing. We ate a fair few of these! Nearby I also found Chinese style custard tarts. In Beijing, we found a boulangerie called ‘Paris baguette’ which had custard filled puffs and buns and madeleines and and and . . . Pity for my hosts, this doesn’t appear to exist in Shanghai!
We went to Carrefour supermarket, which is evidently a French chain, so it was in the western style, but had some distinctively Chinese features to it. We started off slowly, strolling through the non-food section (a bit like K-mart), moving through the confectionery section, where it was all about presentation and packaging (boxes of chocolate within boxes!). Then we hit the fresh food section . . .
Live crabs, clambering out of their container. Live fish, jumping out of their vessel. Live turtles, frogs, eels . . . OMG. Shanghai crabs are a delicacy available for only four weeks of the year – apparently that includes now. They’re a little hairy, and they were being sold trussed up (alive?). There were open trays of chicken feet, so you could pick out your own. The chickens were sold fresh, plucked and gutted, but with their heads and legs included! It’s enough to turn anyone vegetarian. There was also a pre-packaged meat section, but this included all forms of offal etc, as well as the more prime cuts of meat. Multiple forms of steamed buns. Loose leaf tea. (For a non tea drinker, I’ve purchased quite a lot of tea!) The supermarket was fascinating.
Beijing Night Market
We had dinner along here one night. The options are many: anything you can think of on a kebab (including scorpions, beetles), stir fried noodles, toffee fruit on a stick, fried ice cream, banana fritters, stir fried meat/vegetables in pancake wraps . . . I think between us we tried almost everything! All was yummy, except for my squid on a kebab, which was dreadful, primarily because of the way it was cooked and the sauce/spices on it.