Weekend Musings (20-Mar-2010)

By the time you read this, Suanne, Arkensen, Nanzaro and I would have been cruising down the I-5 on the way to Oregon. We are going for a short spring break vacation. We have scheduled a few posts to release while we are away but we might not be able to answer emails or approve some of the comments in a timely manner.

When we are back we will bring you reports of the food cart scenes of Portland and also a report from the factory of the newly crowned best cheddar cheese in the world.

The Eight Great Treasures of Chinese Cuisine

The project is very much on execution right now. The Eight Great Treasures of Chinese Cuisine (8GTCC for short) is a series of dinners organized by chowtimes focusing on the eight main Chinese cuisines.

Back in January, Suanne and I wanted to embark on an exploration in learning about the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine. We are just intrigued by the differences between these distinct regional cuisines — we want to do a series on them over a period of time.

The Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine are defined as follows (with the 4 major ones marked with ***):

  • Anhui
  • Cantonese ***
  • Fujian
  • Hunan
  • Jiangsu (Huaiyang) ***
  • Shandong ***
  • Sichuan ***
  • Zhejiang

We would love to engage chowtimes readers in this journey with us. As you know, the traditional way to enjoy Chinese food is to have it banquet style. We are thinking of organizing something along these lines:

  • We meet once a month on a Saturday. Each month, we will focus on one of the eight regional cuisine
  • We will organize a few tables (ten to a table) with a multi-course dinner.
  • A 8GTCC team members will research about the cuisine and share with everyone prior to the dinner
  • We will learn about the region, the ingredients, the cooking techniques, famous dishes, the people, etc.

After all, I am of the opinion that Vancouver is home to the best authentic Chinese restaurants in North America. I think we can even go as far as saying Vancouver is home to the best authentic Chinese restaurants outside of China.

It will be a great time to learn, meet fellow foodies and most important of all, enjoy the best each of the regional cuisines has to offer. When I first brought this idea up, the response were overwhelming beyond my expectations. I received over 40 responses! Hang on first — don’t send me anymore requests. We will be announcing the details very shortly to announce the details.

This is a project that Suanne and I know we cannot do on our own. We have assembled a team of very capable volunteers. I had not discussed how much I can reveal who they are but I can tell you their pseudonyms. They are fmed, LotusRapper, Keev, DylanK, and Joe.

Last week, the team had a meeting and we have completed the plans on how we are moving forwards. And it is a great team too. I was awed by the collective body of knowledge and research capability we have in all these people. Gosh, if we really pushes it, this team could even write an authoritative book on the 8GTCC. I am not kidding. Just look at the comments generated by them over the last few days in chowtimes and you will see. I can’t wait for you all to meet the team. I think you will be amazed with them as I was.

For Suanne and I, we are in for the learning and is willing to let the use of chowtimes as a rallying point for everyone interested in learning the finer points of Chinese Cuisine. The first cuisine had been selected and the team is hammering away in producing a comprehensive write-up of that cuisine. Members of the team will take turns providing the leadership in each cuisine. The first one will be led by fmed who had done more than expected in compiling even the framework on the way forward.

This is going to be so exciting. I hope you all will find it so too and join us in this exploration.

A Couple Of Other Things

I met a most amazing chef last week. There were so much common energy between us that we generated quite a lot of ideas in doing some pretty innovative activities that we know will delight not only foodies out there but also those who enjoys cooking too. We will let the ideas incubate for a little longer but at the rate things are going, I am pretty excited about it that I just gotta say it out loud. Like the 8GTCC, we might need volunteers to help pull this off.

The other thing is my buddy, Rey, had some Kopi Luwak brought in. As you might know, Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world and get this … it is made from the droppings of the civet cat. LOL! The real Kopi Luwak costs up to $500 a pound but the one that Rey has is cheaper, way cheaper. He wants to share this with chowtimes readers but we don’t know … how to do it. We were thinking if there is a pastry shop (who has the necessary equipment to grind/brew the coffee) out there who is willing to host this event for us. We were thinking of trying the Kopi Luwak and compare it with the local coffee while having a nice team getting to know one another over pastries and stuff. If you know of any pastry shop who is willing to host, please send me an email and we will take it from there. This is going to be fun … too!

OK guys. That’s it for today. Have a great weekend and eat well!

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. egirlwonder

    Hi Ben & Susan – if there’s a sign up sheet for folks interested in taking part in the 8GTCC dinners – put me on it! 🙂 Love the work you guys do!

  2. Eric

    Concur with egirlwonder. It’s something that would be cool to be apart of.

  3. Doug

    Jiangsu (Huaiyang) I’m interested in this one! I’m Chinese and I don’t even know there was so many different variety of Chinese cuisines. =D I know the usual Cantonese, Shanghai, Beijing, and Sichuan.

  4. Novi

    Both David and I like the green onion picture the best. Have a great trip you guys!

  5. ET

    “After all, I am of the opinion that Vancouver is home to the best authentic Chinese restaurants in North America.”

    >> Agreed, though we’re probably a little biased since we live in Vancouver. Toronto also has some excellent and very authentic Chinese restaurants.

    “I think we can even go as far as saying Vancouver is home to the best authentic Chinese restaurants outside of China.”

    >> Unfortunately, I don’t think so. I can easily think of more than a few restaurants in Singapore that would beat anything that exists in Vancouver. I also have it on pretty good authority that there are some excellent Cantonese restaurants in Malaysia as well. What we can say say though, is that Vancouver may be home to the most authentic Chinese cuisine outside of Asia (though I suspect that will raise the ire of some Torontonians and Californians… 🙂 )

  6. Erick P.

    Hi Ben,

    Long time I haven’t commented, but been thinking about you and visiting your blog every chance I get!

    To the dismay of my friends in California (SF and LA), I have to agree with you in saying that “Vancouver is home of the best authentic Chinese restaurants in North America.”. I lived in both LA and SF and they still can’t hold a candle to the taste of Vancouver. You’re very fortunate that you live there and have easy access to some of the best Chinese food outside of SE Asia. In fact, I’d rather eat in Vancouver vs. Hong Kong where the surroundings/cleanliness may be a bit suspect.

    Being that we live in Seattle, Vancouver is just a short 2.5 hour drive away ;-).

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