24 December, 2013

A Favourite Haunt & A Second Opinion

Situated close to Tonghua Night Market (a few streets behind LeLi Road, near Liuzhangli MRT) is one of my favourite little coffee shops.

Le Beau Lieu cafe

 It masquerades under a delightful pseudo-French style, but what I like about it is the quality of product it serves.

 It has a modest interior and, sadly, is never terribly busy; or at least not so during the hours I visit it.

 The salmon sandwich made the list of my most recent sampling. It was deliciously fresh and (unlike many Taiwanese restaurants) weren't afraid of using tomatoes.

 One of my regular choices is their fruit waffle. Having one with only ice-cream or syrup may sound attractive, but I find fresh fruit a much nicer choice. What I like about this shop is their fruit varies based on what's fresh and in season.

One delight over, now it's time for a disappointment. 

They say you should never judge a place based on a single experience. While I have yet to determine exactly who these "they" people are, there is truth in their words. Recently I made another stop at the new bar, Beer & Cheese. On reflection I feel there is something missing and some things the place would be better without.

The beer of choice that night was Cascade-Amarilla.
Well, to be honest it wasn't my first choice, nor was it my second. If I recall correctly it was either my fourth of fifth choice. It seems they were simply out of stock of all the things I wanted to drink. This bar may be new, but as it's had its official opening, one would expect it to have a steady supply of the drinks on offer.

But their biggest problem is the smokers.
Sensibly they've cast out smokers to indulge their filthy habits outside. Stupidly the designated area for smokers - indicated seating and counters for drinks - is the damn entrance way. This means anyone wishing to enter the venue was to pass through the dense fog of putrid air emanating from the witch-like figures who cling to the doorway, as the onset of the rainy season threatens to melt them should they venture further afield.
It also means that anytime the door is opened a gust of polluted air sweeps straight into the bar. Considering the bar isn't what one would call spacious, one gust effectively sends the contaminated air throughout.

Disappointments aside, there is one positive thing that must be said. Their pumpkin pie is fantastic. I'm not sure if it's the pie or the eggnog I like more, but with this dessert they have done well. At least there's one positive note I can end with.

11 December, 2013

A Swedish-Taiwanese Wedding

Introducing the illustrious bride and groom

The celebration was wonderful and surprisingly not heavily drawn out, as often happens with Taiwanese weddings. For example, the tradition of the bride disappearing from time to time in order to change dresses was not adhered to. This made the event feel more like a community of family and friends, rather than a a stage on which the bride is shown off.

The bride and her bridesmaids.

The groom and his parents.

As there were numerous cameras dominating the scene I decided to focus on the things often forgotten about - various family members and friends, bits of decor, food and this guest's tattoo.

Speeches presided in the preliminary stages of the event to a captivated audience, shifting between a video and words from various individuals.

Even the children were still... mostly.

Then came the announcement that food was ready. Table were laid with a delightful spread, and more tables were brought in on which to lay out the sweeter items.

Seafood pasta

More pasta

Stir-fried chicken and peppers

The obligatory Swedish meatballs.

Mini dumplings

Fried rice topped with powdered pork

Beef with onions

A kind of tofu

Children rarely need to be told twice when it comes to things they enjoy, like eating. The mention of food had they scrambling to fill plates.

Or having the luxury of being fed by others.

As grown-ups we had a more subtle approach. We first surveyed what was on offer, picking gamely at this and that before selecting. Of course this is more formality than anything else, but, living in a different culture, it's always a good idea to analyse what you're about to eat. Especially where there were three overlapping cultures with their respective food palates.

We scrutinised everything.

Being people I choose to associate myself with, my friends are never far from the edge of good humour. We allowed that aspect of ourselves to bleed through into the festivities.

Yes, my foot.

It was good to see that we weren't the only ones exhibiting our humour.

It wasn't long before music began, but not the regular songs played off CDs and records by some DJ. This was live music played by friends and family. 
It began with a group of youngsters playing a love some for the new couple.

This trend was followed up by various others.

Including the groom.

This is quite understandable. It turns out the entire family is musical and their chosen style of music gravitates toward rock 'n roll.

The groom with his parents.

 Then came the inevitable part of the evening when music and certain couples must intertwine for the amusement of all. Bride and groom, accompanies by their bridesmaids and groomsmen respectively, entered the stage.

(Sadly I didn't get too many good photos, but there were enough cameras on them that I'm sure it all got recorded).

Of course no wedding (or indeed no major function) is complete without its cool cats. There were a few that I managed to span pictures of.

The guy with the hat.

The one too cool to get involved.

The one who finds a tablet game more involving.

Some final pictures of people enjoying themselves that night - family and friends.