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Food Culture in Taiwan

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by Cristina Dimen (subscribe)
Cristina crafts pieces on travel, parenting and lifestyle. Connect with her at or and @CristinaDimen on Twitter. WN mentor link:
The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York hosted its first-ever exclusive culinary event to celebrate the launch of a new website, Food Culture in Taiwan. The site highlights and introduces visitors to Taiwan's food heritage, which comprises flavors and techniques incorporating indigenous, Hakka and fusion influences.

TECO-NY celebrates Taiwan food site launch with tasting event.

TECO's 42nd Street Manhattan location was abuzz with excitement on Thursday, December 8, 2011. About 100 attendees, including members of the press, enjoyed a special treat that evening as they personally experienced the best of Taiwan's cuisine in the heart of the Big Apple.

Guests mingling and enjoying pre-event drinks.

A string trio of violins and a cello filled the venue with Chinese melodies—complementing the visual and culinary aspects, with traditional sounds, creating the overall essence of Taiwan.

Traditional Chinese tunes emanated from the string trio.

Attendees milled about, and conversed while holding small cups of Bubble Tea from TKettle—amidst a backdrop of reds and Chinese calligraphy by Yang-Tze Tong—part of the inaugural exhibition of the Taiwan Academy.

TKettle is located at 26 St. Mark's Place in the East Village.

A Taiwanese concoction from the 1980s, Bubble Tea is shaken to infuse flavors, resulting in a bubbly foam surface. Tapioca pearls reinforce its name.

Bubble Tea is shaken, not stirred.

Glasses of beer and a shot (or two) of award-winning single malt whiskey offered guests a more potent, alcoholic drink.

World-class beer brewed in Taiwan

A shot of Ka Va Lan, an award-winning single malt whiskey

To the crowd's delight, Master Chef H. J. Jan, winner of numerous gold medal awards at events, including the International Professional Culinary Competition, demonstrated his exemplary carving skills.

Master Chef Jan has been honing his carving skills for 45 years.

He informed inquiring attendees that it had taken him 36 hours to work on the watermelon designs, adding, "I spent seven days" carving the many intricate creations on display that evening.

The exquisite fruition of many hours' work.

Beautiful intricate designs on fruits and vegetables.

Butterflies flit around a flower.

And, of course, it wouldn't be a tasting event without trays teeming with an array of delicious signature Taiwanese dishes—ranging from street fare to gourmet banquet-type entrees.

Guests filled their plates with tasty Taiwanese cuisine.

Sample of seafood dishes - lobster salad

Steamed glutinous rice with red crab

Sweet and sour spare ribs

Braised pork in steamed bun

Sun cake

Hakka rice snacks and cakes

Tea is a staple beverage in Taiwan, and to round out the evening, guests headed to the second floor where Ninchi Fang, a tea master, steeped leaves to perfection, and then invited everyone to take a cup of the comforting drink.

Ninchi Fang from Fang Gourmet Tea hosts a tea ceremony.

With regards to the proper steeping time, "the leaves tell you when they're ready," explains a staff member from Fang Gourmet Tea. She notes that the tea variety to be sampled, Dong Ding Oolong tea, "is named after the mountain where it's being planted."

Getting ready to offer tea to attendees.

Each guest received a cotton drawstring pouch to store the white cup they used to sample their tea—a keepsake of the tea ceremony, and the event.

It was a festive evening of tasty fare, photos of entrees, fun food facts and great conversations with new and familiar faces. For additional information, visit their website to learn more about Taiwan's rich food culture. Abby Lee, TECO executive press officer shares that there will be other upcoming events—so stay tuned.
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Why? Click on the site to learn more about Taiwan's food culture.
When: Visit the website any time
Where: 1 East 42nd Street
Cost: Visiting TECO site is free; cost for products on other sites vary
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