Posted by on May 6, 2011 | 2 comments

Joy Wine Poster

Blue Nun Label

Rose's Town Restaurant

In&Out Menu Poster

Beijing Agricultural Center

China Potato Expo

Agricultural Expo Stair Carving

Wine China Exhibition

Wine China Posters

In&Out Awning

Inside In&Out Restaurant

In&Out Wine Display

Brian at In&Out

Roasted Fish

Hei San Duo

Mashed Potatoes

Guard and Children Watching

Dry River

Dry River Boat

River Boat

Flowering Tree

CCTV Building Seen From Taxi

Xi Bei Interior

Brian Eats Lamb at Xi Bei

Brian at Xi Bei

Yuan at Xi Bei

Xi Bei Buckwheat Noodles

Yuan Looks For Bank

Interesting Street Lamp

CCTV Building

Xi Bei Menu

19 April 2011

I got up a bit later than usual on Tuesday morning – I think it was around 6:30 instead of 5:30. Yuan made a really nice breakfast cereal out of chestnuts (the ones we picked up on Wangfujing Street the day before), raisins and pineapple, served with yogurt, and some boiled eggs.

I was not feeling well that morning. I had a sore throat, and felt like I might be coming down with a cold. Looking out the window, the air outside was thick with a yellowish hue. It was going to be a bad pollution day.

Our mission today was to go to the Beijing Agricultural Center for the Wine China Exhibition, so that Yuan could do a little market research. The best way to get there is by subway, but it is too far to walk to the nearest subway station. So we got into a taxi and took off on another roller coaster ride through the city streets. This driver seemed particularly annoyed as he weaved madly in and out of traffic, complaining about all the bad drivers on the road.

When we got on the subway, it was much less crowded than it had been the day before. It was back to being a clean, modern, efficient and inexpensive way to get from one place to another.

The Wine China Expo itself was very interesting. The event is an opportunity for wine producers from around the world to find importers here in China. We spent some time talking to the producers and sampling the wines. All the wines we tried were generally very high quality. The producers seemed relatively happy with the results from the expo, even though it hadn’t matched the level of professionalism that they were used to (there was a shortage of clean wine glasses available, for example). This was the first year for this event, so things will undoubtedly improve in the future.

We spent the most time trying the wines from Germany, especially the Rieslings. We ended up buying a bottle of wine from one of the producers.

Lunch Time

We got in another taxi at the Agricultural Center, and the first thing he did after pulling out of the parking lot was to drive straight through a wall of cars (3 lanes across) that were headed directly towards us and making a left turn, while we made our way to the right lane. The driver didn’t even flinch. Somehow the oncoming cars made their way around him, and he made it through the pack unscathed. I could only shake my head in amazement and disbelief.

We had a delicious lunch at the In&Out Restaurant, which makes dishes from Yunnan province. Their specialty was the roasted fish, which was one of the best I have tasted. They also made a really tasty dish called Hei San Duo, consisting of pork with green and red bell peppers, and an interesting preparation of kohlrabi that looked almost like black beans. We had been told that they had a mashed potato dish with chestnuts that was not to be missed, but unfortunately it was no longer available, so we ordered a different version of mashed potatoes. Lastly we had a dish of bean jelly in a spicy sauce that was excellent. We washed it all down with a very nice osmanthus flower tea. Another very satisfying Chinese meal.

After lunch we went for a walk, trying to look for a Citibank branch to cash some travelers checks. We passed by what appeared to be a river under construction. It was almost dry, but in a couple of spots there were river boats floating in it. They were beginning to pave the bottom of the river with bricks. It looks like this will be a whole new commercial district in a few years.

It turns out that Citibank here cannot cash travelers checks unless you have an account at the China branch (despite what our local Citibank branch in California had told us). We were also finding that very few stores or restaurants would take our American credit cards. Cash is the way to go here.

Dinner Time

We took another taxi to dinner. Yuan was trying to find a particular restaurant and had the address, but we couldn’t find the place. It turns out that on many streets having the exact address doesn’t help you, because the businesses are not arranged in numerical order! You just have to get close enough and then wander around hoping to find the place you are looking for.

We ended up going to a different place in the same neighborhood called Xi Bei Oat Noodle Village. Their specialty (aside from the noodles) was lamb, and they use every part of the animal. We ordered a dish where the lamb was roasted with cumin, and I think it must have been made from the spine, judging from the sort of bones and gristle involved. We also had a really nice salad that included cucumbers and peppers, a yummy sour soup, and some very flavorful and chewy buckwheat noodles.

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