October 2008


The greatest thing about 798 is you can’t tell where art ends and where reality begins (and vice versa). The whole place is like a huge gallery. Anything you see can be a deliberate art piece, or reality as is (mostly abandoned factories and machines).

We didn’t have time or energy or wish to see a certain numbers of galleries, so we just strolled around (with a map in hand) and had fun.

Most galleries are small, but this one has a big hall leading to a restaurant/cafe. It has a few small rooms of installations.
Modern art is a lot more accessible when it’s based on familiar and traditional art. It’s a creativity shortcut, but sometimes it gets really interesting. We saw a nice piece at Princeton, and this one is also based on Van Gogh. Look closely at the flowers.
We stumbled into one of the main factory-galleries, with its signature Bauhaus shed roofs.
The guy could be an action artist, or a cook, or both.
 A couple of fun cartoons. The latter is placed in a shallow underground well so you indeed view it from above.
Pen is indeed mightier than sword, when it becomes a cruise missile.
A creative series about mining and miners.
The girl could be a high school student, or an action artist, or both. The gaudy colors seem to suggest the previous.
798 has become more of a tourist attraction. There’s even a day tour covering it and some other art zones. Most people snap photos in funny pose with anything, and this little bazaar is packed with no less than 1/3 of all people inside 798.

I met He Wei in a cafe next to his office (Professional Light Design magazine). Afterwards I stayed there for a while to wait for dinner, enjoying cappuccino and art books (what a life). There’s a book on how to run a cafe by a Japanese on a coffee table, which seems to belong to the cafe owner. Here’s my notes from the espresso chapters.

There are 3 types of beans (coffee species): arabica, robusta*, and liberica. Wikipedia lists another: esliaca. The latter two is very rare.

Espresso roast is less bitter than latte roast.

Ristretto: 15~20ml/cup. Espresso: 20~30. Lungo: 40~50. The more volume, the more caffeine vs. coffee oil, thus more bitter.

Tamper:

  1. One clockwise circle with 20kg force.
  2. Use the other end to hit the rim to clear the residue.
  3. One clockwise circle, then a counter clockwise circle, 10kg.

The tampered coffee surface should be about 3mm lower than rim.

Milk: 250ml per cup. The target temperature is 65℃, total heat time 15s.

  1. Heat 2s with wand down to container bottom.
  2. 2s with wand close to surface to get air. End temp about 30℃
  3. Churn: twist the container back and force.
  4. Bump the container on table top to break large air bubbles.

From Wikipedia: about 1/3 of world coffee production is robusta. Vietnam only produces it and is world’s largest exporter (and 2nd to Brazil in terms of all coffee export). Robusta is easier than arabica to produce, thus(?) considered inferior. It has twice the caffeine.

Date Lunch Dinner
10/2
10/3 home 炸酱面
10/4 回龙观 烤鸭
10/5 龙城宾馆
10/6 百荣世贸 担担面 麻辣烫
10/7 动物园 豳*风堂餐厅
10/8 南礼士路 半亩园 前门 面爱面
10/9
10/10 Uncle George’s 肉末烧饼
10/11
10/12 便宜坊 烤鸭 新光天地 云南快餐
10/13 中关村 一心
10/14 风入松对面小馆 担担面 中关村 汉莱自助餐
10/15 孔已己 东直门银座 味千拉面
10/16 中关村 中8楼 第三级 康师傅私房牛肉面
10/17 golf club house 西单大悦城 麻辣香锅
10/18 798 永一格 home crabs
10/19 知春路友仁居 涮羊肉

As always, food is the greatest thing for our China trip. This time two impressions stand out: the nicety of Chinese fast food, and the extraordinarily beautiful and chic decor of 中8楼 and 永一格.

The good old regulars like roast duck and hot pot are still as good as always, so nothing to write about. The other couple of family banquets are also good, but since we didn’t make the order, they aren’t that special. One fun surprise is the restaurant in the zoo. It looks pretty upscale from outside, but inside it’s exactly a 食堂. The food is surprisingly good with huge portions.

半亩园 has been our favorite through the years. It was quite expensive for us back then, but now it constitutes an important part of the coming-home feeling. It does feel a bit old compared to the other really nice new fast food chains, every one of which is clean and nicely decorated, with beautiful menu and tasty stuff.

The highlight is definitely 中8楼 and 永一格, though. My dad told us about the former, and since we loved Yunnan food from our trip in 1996(?), we looked hard for it in 中关村. It’s pricey but boy is it worth every penny! The decor is superb, every page of the menu is museum catalog quality, and how we wish we could get every single dish! The best one we had is 小米粘, a “small rice” cake in the style of 八宝饭.

永一格 is also very cool, proper for its prime location inside 798. We got its incredibly pretty coupon on our way in, and had a real treat of food and decor.


From zdic.net: 豳(bīn),古都邑名,在今陕西郴县。豳风是诗经十五国风之一,共有诗七篇,其中多描写农家生活、辛勤力作的情景,是我国最早的田园诗。

(Given all the bailouts lately, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out what I mean by USSA.)

First a rundown of the days we just spent in Beijing, before I forget. There are many topics to write about, if only I can find the time between pretending to work and sleeping for jet lag.

  1. Wed
  2. Thur
  3. Fri
  4. Sat
  5. Sun: 佳忆市场
  6. Mon: 百荣世贸
  7. Tue: 动物园
  8. Wed: 百荣世贸; 大栅栏; Legation Quarter; NDR Symphony Orchestra at National Theater
  9. Thur
  10. Fri: visit George
  11. Sat: 回龙观公园; Dad’s brother family visit
  12. Sun: photo shoot; Dad took us to 蓝色港湾 and 新光天地; J went to Shanghai
  13. Mon: transfer 户口; meet Ben; review album
  14. Tue: buy laptop RAM at 中关村科贸; 风入松; meet He Wei
  15. Wed: J came back; 4+2+1 to Olympic Center; Vienna Boys’ Choir at 保利
  16. Thur: 中关村; 第三级bookstore
  17. Fri: golf with Eddy at Beijing Country Golf Club; meet J’s colleagues at Goldman Beijing office on Finance Street; visit Lane Crawford and 西单大悦城
  18. Sat: 798
  19. Sun: Walmart; get albums
  20. Mon: busy morning packing and fixing up computers