Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Arriving and Wandering Around Shanghai

I arrive in Shangai and splurge for a fast trip from the airport, spending 40 RMB ($5.76 USD) to ride the Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) train into the city.  This train is the fastest high-speed electric train in the world, using magnets to raise the train above the tracks and propel it forward at up to 431 km/hour (268 miles/hour).  Once in the city, it's a short hop on the Metro to my hotel near the Shanghai Railway Station, changing trains in People's Square Station, the main east-west and north-south interconnection station in Shanghai (in addition to serving as a major destination station for offices, parks, malls, and tourist attractions) and one of the busiest Metro stations in China with over 700,000 passengers per day.

 Maglev, crowd at People's Square Metro Station

I immediately head out and start to wander around the city, visiting familiar sites and finding some major changes from my last visit a few years ago.  Shanghai is always reinventing itself and its various districts and a lot has changed recently.  I immediately notice that the Wusong River passing by the hotel is still tranquil, with quiet walkways along both sides, but many of the small neighborhoods along the river are now new high rise apartments.  The view from my hotel room, which used to look across the river toward Nanjing Road, now looks into new apartments across the street.

Wusong River

View from hotel room, previously and now

Down along the Huangpu River, just above the Nanpu Bridge and below the Bund, recently-built commercial buildings on the river are being demolished to build a new entertainment district.

 New construction above the Nanpu Bridge

But, among all the hustle and bustle, the city still has its sense of whimsy and humor.

 Joy City Mall:  frog and ferris wheel

 Whimsical art at several other commercial centers

 Randomly found while wandering the city

I visit a favorite small park at the top of the Bund, just at the Waibaidu Bridge over the Wusong River as it flows into the Huangpu River, to see the current seasonal topiary and floral sculptures.  This time, the park is in transition (as is the rest of the city, but at least this one will be done soon) and I view a work in progress.

Park in transition

It's good to be back in Shanghai and I'm looking forward to new adventures in this great city, visiting some old favorites and finding new and exciting places that I haven't seen before.  There's a reason that Shanghai keeps drawing me back!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Sauteed Petrale Sole with Lemon/Butter/Parsley/Capers Sauce and Boiled New Potatoes

Petrale sole is an incredible fish and this simple recipe highlights the sole and complements it with a spicy lemon butter sauce.  Petrale sole is fine-textured and delicately flavored and simple sautéing in olive oil and butter is all it takes.

We usually get our sole from our local fishmonger, JP Seafood, but this last weekend, we visit with our good friend and relative Gary from the northern California coast, who has fresh cut sole for us.  We hurry home and cook some of it the next day.

Petrale sole, sautéed, with boiled new potatoes

The sole is dredged in flour sprinkled with salt and pepper, then cooked in olive oil and two tablespoons of butter in a non-stick skillet.  While the sole is cooking, the ingredients for the sauce are prepared:  lemon juice, finely-chopped parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, and drained capers.

 Sole dredged in flour, ready to cook

The sole is sautéed about five minutes a side, until golden brown, and then transferred to warm plates and covered loosely.  The sauce is made by wiping the skillet clean, melting two tablespoons of butter, then stirring in the lemon, parsley, red pepper flakes and capers, cooking a bit, and then spooning over the fish.

 Sole cooking in olive oil and butter

Sauce of butter, lemon juice, parsley, red pepper flakes, and capers

Sole plated with sauce

To accompany this great fish, we make boiled new potatoes with butter, cooked in garlic and peppercorns.  We cover a pound of whole new potatoes with water, and add a whole garlic cut in half, a bay leaf, black peppercorns, and salt.  The potatoes boil for about ten minutes, then are drained (remove and discard the garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns), halved, and tossed with butter, salt, and pepper.

 Potatoes cooking, and ready to go

We add some potatoes to our plates and we are ready to dine!

Time to dine, Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland since the 15th century and is the seat of the Scottish government, a center of education, and the second-largest financial center in the United Kingdom.  We arrive during the Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world, which has taken over the town.  We started 6 months early and managed to secure tickets to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, held every August since 1950.  The Tatoo draws musical groups from all over the world and about 30% of the audience are from overseas.

We catch a cab into the craziness in the center of Edinburgh.

Welcome to Edinburgh

 Glimpses of Edinburgh on the way to the Tattoo

 At the Tattoo

The audience at the Tattoo is from all over the world, from San Francisco to large groups from China, and many people from South America (and of course England and Scotland).  The performers are just as diverse, from the UK, Europe, the US, Mexico, the Middle East (Oman), and South America.  We sit back and enjoy the show as the bands and performers entertain us on the field and the Edinburgh castle serves as a large backdrop for visual displays in support of the performance.

 The Tattoo!

We had never before considered a band concert with bagpipes, a string orchestra, and a full brass band, all playing together.  Wow, what a great sound!

After the concert, we make our way out into the city.  Luckily, we had advice to head to the train station to look for a taxi and after a few blocks of wading through the crowds, we make it and find one.  The next day, we're up early and off to the airport for and early flight to London and a connection back to San Francisco.

 Crowds leaving the Tattoo