Friday, May 22, 2009

Mandarin, Pandas, Webcams,

Today we are joining some friends for a Chinese lunch at the Mandarin. When I first went there, I didn't realise it was a chain restaurant, but nevertheless it is very good and certainly a cut above a lot of chains. Their hot and sour soup is to die for, probably one of the best I have tasted and I have tasted a lot I assure you. However, everything else is good too, they have an excellent selection of Chinese dishes, they also have sushi and pizza and for those who don't like different cuisines, Western food. Personally I wouldn't go there for non Chinese cuisine, but I guess if your party wants Chinese and you don't, then at least you can eat something. They do a special price for seniors and to date I have never been asked for proof of my age, but apparently last time our friends went, they were asked so if I am not asked today, I shall be grossly insulted *g*. There was a segment on the news today about the Pandas in the National Zoo in Washington, DC - unfortunately their lease has run out. Apparently they were rented from China for 10 years for $10 million. Lot of money. They are now in the middle of sensitive negotiations to retain the animals for a longer period. Not sure, but I guess if the ma and pa go, then baby goes too although the baby, Tai Shan (not such a baby any more) having been born in D.C., is an American citizen surely? I cannot believe it is good for the animals to be shipped around the world like that, however, if negotiations break down, then I guess there is no option. There is a Panda cam on this site as well as what looks to be a daily Panda blog. You can definitely see the Pandas moving around, I got a tad distracted this morning watching them. I have always enjoyed webcams, particularly animal cams, but in the early days I was fascinated to watch pictures of a tanker going through the Panama Canal. This was done in a series of still photos. I just checked and there is an accelerated Panama webcam here which shows a heck of a lot of traffic going through the locks. In fact there seem to be a lot of web cams showing either the Milleflores Locks or the canal itself. I guess there will be no hopping off the boat at the lock and tying it up. Used to be one of my jobs as a youngster, paying out the rope, or hauling it in, depending on whether they were emptying or filling the lock. I have had a Chinese flavour in most of this blog today, so I figured a recipe with a Chinese flavour would be appropriate. Wok-Seared Chicken Tenders with Asparagus & Pistachios Source: Eating Well Makes 4 servings, about 1 1/4 cups each 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 1 ½ pounds fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces 1 pound chicken tenders (see Ingredient Note), cut into bite-size pieces 4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger 1 tablespoon oyster-flavored sauce 1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce (see Ingredient Note) ¼ cup shelled salted pistachios, coarsely chopped Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add asparagus; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add chicken; cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Stir in scallions, ginger, oyster sauce and chile-garlic sauce; cook, stirring, until the chicken is juicy and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Stir in pistachios and serve immediately. Ingredient Notes: Chicken tenders, virtually fat-free, are a strip of rib meat typically found attached to the underside of the chicken breast, but they can also be purchased separately. Four 1-ounce tenders will yield a 3-ounce cooked portion. Tenders are perfect for quick stir-fries, chicken satay or kid-friendly breaded "chicken fingers." Chile-garlic sauce is a blend of ground red chiles, garlic and vinegar and is commonly used to add heat and flavor to Asian soups, sauces and stir-fries. It can be found in the Asian-food section of large supermarkets. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. Have a great day.


  1. Chinese restaurants used to be very popular here in Paris; one could eat there cheaply (like 20 Francs for three dishes to be shared by two with a bottle of wine). Unfortunately they have now become as expensive as French restos which means that instead of going to the local Chinese resto for a quick inexpensive lunch, the Parisians now pop into the local fast food place like Mc ... etc.

    Chinese restaurants have also been receiving some very bad reviews lately with tv investigative teams showing us what goes on in the kitchens. Some do not even have kitchens (as such); they buy from private individuals who prepare and cook the food in apartments under the most unhygienic conditions. So, all very unappetizing.

    As for those pandas. Yes, it's a lot of money ...

  2. The hygiene conditions are strictly enforced here, a Chinese supermarket was shut down after being warned a couple of times. In some respects, they are super cautious.

    A lot of money for the Pandas, but I do hope they manage to negotiate a new loan.