First exciting thing: I gave the 'ol blog a new look - after seven years a makeover was overdue. I even wrote a new About me section and reorganized the Recipe index. All cleaned up and up-to-date. Not my favorite task..but one that sorely needed to be done.
Second even more exciting thing (if anything could be more exciting than organizing recipe links): My husband and I have moved to Harbin, China! We packed up the house, said goodbye to my stand mixers, and flew to the other side of the world. We're a few weeks in and already feeling settled in our new place.
Some clips from our first few weeks here
Generally when Canadians think of China, Harbin is not the first place that comes to mind. In fact, it's not even the fourth or fifth place. However within China, Harbin is famous for it's insane ice and snow festival and it's unique Russian architecture. In the early 1900s Russia funded the Eastern railway and for a period of time Harbin had a majority Russian population. The city looks like nowhere we've ever been before. It's a mashup of Russia, Europe and China with big spacious streets that seem so different from Beijing's crowded little hutongs. But that's not why we chose Harbin, although it is an interesting plus. We decided to come to Harbin because we're studying Chinese and we heard it's a good place to learn Mandarin.
These are a few things that made Harbin attractive to us when we were deciding where to go:
-The locals speak standard Mandarin (unlike Shanghai or Chengdu where many people speak local dialects)
-There are fewer English speakers because the expats are mainly from Korea and Russia
-The people here are friendly and the cost of living is low compared to Shanghai and extremely low compared to Canada
So far, all of the above has been true. We are really happy with our choice.
What's Harbin like?
It's huge! Massive! Enormous! Coming from Calgary we just can't get over the big-ness of it all. Apartments upon apartments, restaurants upon restaurants, food stall after food stall. The metro is sparkling new and the streets and sidewalks are kept clean by an army of street cleaners at all times of the day.
The buildings, even the newer ones, look a little grimy from the coal pollution generated in the winter. It adds a gritty feel to the pretty (and sometimes bizarre) architecture.
The food is cheap and delicious. Lots of hand-pulled noodles, boiled dumplings, grilled skewers of meat, Russian-style sausages, savory crepes, and sweet bubble waffles. During the warm summer nights, people head out to grilled meat restaurants set up on the sidewalks or to one of the many beer gardens serving the local Harbin beer.
We've had hot pot, jian bing, heaps of noodles, piles of dumplings and a variety of stuffed buns..and I feel like we've barely scratched the surface of all the food they have to offer.
We've also joined a gym for obvious reasons.
Hello from China!
Instead of my usual roster of cookies, cakes and peachy summer desserts, I'll be sharing what we eat, see and do here on the blog and through videos. So that's life right now. Studying Chinese, eating dumplings and sharing our adventures with our friends.