[Guizhou, China] A Look into the Buyi Tribe 布依族

Buyi Tribe (布依族)

buyi-tribe-weaving

This week (mid-March 2017), I took a 3-day excursion to Guizhou, China to visit a village inhabited by the Buyi tribe (布依族) to take a close look at their rich heritage of craftsmanship into plaid weaving.

To get to the village, I took a 3-hour plane ride from Shanghai to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou and then another 1-hour high-speed train ride to Guanling (关岭). From there, I took a 1-hour car ride to a village close to Anshun (安顺), where many Buyi people reside. 

History

A sub-clan of the Baiyue Clan (百越名族), the Buyi ancestors have been living in the Southern and Northern river basins for around 4000-5000 years. Referred to as "Zhongjia" (仲家) by historians, the Buyi tribe is most-known for their rice-farming heritage.

Currently, the tribe is comprised of over 3.2 million people who live mainly in Guizhou, Yun'nan and Sichuan provinces. 

Clothing

With over 3,000 years of cultural inheritance, the Buyi people's traditional clothing has become part of their identity.

 
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buyi-spinning

The Colors of Buyi

Mainly inspired by their rice farming culture, their garments are made with locally grown cotton and tradtiioanl crafting techniques such as indigo wood root dyeing, Buyi plaid weaving, brocade, batik, tie-dye, embroidery and silver ornaments making.  

The colors and patterns of their plaids are mainly inspired by their beautiful environment: rsurrounding blue skies, white clouds, evergreen mountains and clear waters. 

Symbolism of the Plaids

The plaid patterns are characterized by a complex arrangement of tiny squares within squares lined within a grid. The grid symbolizes their motherland, China, while the squares represent the multitude of scattered clans spread across the country. The tiny squares within represent the Buyi people in the clans.

Reflecting their hamonious relationship with nature, specific patterns take the shape of waves, thunder storms, mountain curves, contour of terraced fields, rice grains, fish bones, birds, sunbeans and more.

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Purpose

What an enlightening experience to see these lovely crafts entirely made by hand by these women. Which brings me back to the main purpose of my trip: to learn more about their culture, history and capabilites and help them raise cultural awareness. In short - to help the Buyi tribe sustain their traditional handicrafts and heritage by connecting them with pertinent parties (eg. artists, designers, brands) so they can market their product and sell them at a price that's well-deserved.

YAN Artisans, the organization I'm working for, aims to establish sound institutional structures and sustainable business mechanisms to help them build connections and partnerships with modern markets in the fashion industry. So... Potentially interested artists, designers, fashion enthusiasts or anyone who's keen to learn more - feel free to private message me!

Me trying to wrap glutinous purple and yellow rice in a leaf

Me trying to wrap glutinous purple and yellow rice in a leaf

A local lunch in the village

A local lunch in the village

[Orlando] A February Summer Toast

Snapshots from my 4-day escapade from snowy New York earlier this month.

A premature toast to summer - where else to go but the "happiest place on earth?" I've been to all the other Disney parks most more than once, but first time in Orlando! Bucket list item checked!

Finally fulfilled my childhood obsession/fantasy of visiting (ahem, I meant attending) Hogwarts. Butterbeer, you were a little too sweet though...

Sunshine and magic, turkey legs and lemonade, palm trees & salty breezes-
with lots of love from Pooh bear & friends:

Thanks for reminding me of my youthful spirit again, Orlando x

Flying over snowy New York 

Flying over snowy New York 

Diagon Alley! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios <3

Diagon Alley! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios <3

A whimsical, all-you-can-eat buffet with some favorite friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood (oh hello Pooh, hello Piglet, hello Eeyore) at the Crystal Palace inside Magic Kingdom

A whimsical, all-you-can-eat buffet with some favorite friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood (oh hello Pooh, hello Piglet, hello Eeyore) at the Crystal Palace inside Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom

The Dragon atop Gringotts in Diagon Alley - he breathes out real fire once in a while!

The Dragon atop Gringotts in Diagon Alley - he breathes out real fire once in a while!

Big huggie with Pooh at the Crystal Palace while buffet feasting x

Big huggie with Pooh at the Crystal Palace while buffet feasting x

Meatballs & spaghetti at the Italian restaurant where Lady and the Tramp had their first kiss! (Tony's Town Square Restaurant, Magic Kindom Disney)

Meatballs & spaghetti at the Italian restaurant where Lady and the Tramp had their first kiss! (Tony's Town Square Restaurant, Magic Kindom Disney)

Ready for Epcot, Disney!

Ready for Epcot, Disney!

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Magic Kingdom fireworks above the castle

Magic Kingdom fireworks above the castle

Buffet lunch at the Tusker house with Safari Donald Duck and friends! Best food of the Disney restaurants. Amazing grills and stews at this colorful Harambe marketplace restaurant inside Animal Kingdom

Buffet lunch at the Tusker house with Safari Donald Duck and friends! Best food of the Disney restaurants. Amazing grills and stews at this colorful Harambe marketplace restaurant inside Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom sunset

Animal Kingdom sunset

Can't enough of the trees

Can't enough of the trees

[NYC] Sushi of Gari 46 - Omakase Dinner

Categories: Japanese, Sushi Bar
Address: 347 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036 (Manhattan/Midtown West)
Date Visited: Feb 2017
Price: ~$220-250 for two, not including drinks, tips or tax
Verdict:  YES! First off - flawless, fresh ingredients. This Midtown joint is pretty well-known in town and based on my first visit, I think it lives up to its expectations. The environment was a lot casual and relaxed than what I had expected (in a positive, unpretentious way). Very solid meal overall. I strongly recommend it. 

The original location (1 Michelin star) was opened by Chef Masatoshi "Gari" Sugio on the Upper East Side in the late '90s and was one of the first unorthodox sushi chefs in New York. He made such a name for himself that he opened two other locations in the city (this one included) as well as one other location in Los Angeles. 

Chef Masatoshi "Gari" Sugio opened the original Upper East side location in 1997 and made a name for himself on the scene by serving experimental sushi. He employs tactics and ingredients not found in traditional houses, including signatures like a fluke topped with sweet onion sauce, quail egg, and white truffle oil; or a scallop with proscuitto and sundried tomato sauce. Sugio, whose flagship restaurant has a Michelin star, was one of the first big avant garde sushi chefs in New York. He now has three other locations in NYC, and one in LA.

THE FOOD: Experimental and fun, the dishes presented here are ones you won't find anywhere else.  ALL the omakase nigiri pairings I had were fun and innovative, but more importantly - devine. Everything was lick-in-your-lips-twice delicious. Toppings were playful and delicate; nothing too overpowering so you can taste the raw delicacies of the fish. 

What to Order: OMAKASE! My personal favorites were:
        * Salmon Sautéed Tomato (their signature dish)
        * Sautéed Kingfish with creamy mushroom
        * Blue Fin Tuna with tofu purée & homemade chili (A MUST)
        * Baby Yellowtail with jalapeño
        * Sautéed Foie Gras nigiri (YES)
        * Sea Urchin (if you're a fan of uni, this is a must)

Our omakase courses in order (I came with a regular who knew what to order so some pieces we requested, such as the salmon sautéed tomato nigiri & foie gras nigiri but most others were chef's choice):

  1. Amuse bouche - mushroom with sweet soy and ginger, garlic oil chicken tenderloin, Sasabune-festival inspired soybeans
  2. Snow Crab / Sautéed Kingfish with creamy mushroom  / Baby Yellowtail with jalapeño / Toro with ponzu soaked radish
  3.  Japanese Red Snapper with lotus chip / Santa Barbara sea urchin (uni) / Seared Cod with Miso garlic / Blue Fin Tuna with tofu purée with homemade chili
  4. Salmon Sautéed Tomato  / Korean Sweet Sauce Marinated Tuna with roasted pine nuts and nori seaweed
  5. Sautéed Foie Gras with sweet balsamic and pickled turnip
  6. Seared Fluke Fin with sweet onoin sauce, poached quail egg and white truffle oil  
  7. Seared toro

Gochiso-sama (deshita)! ("It was a feast!") I'll be back for sure, especially since it's just a block away from my apartment :)

Amuse Bouche - Mushroom with sweet soy and ginger, garlic oil chicken tenderloin, Sasabune-festival inspired soybeans

Amuse Bouche - Mushroom with sweet soy and ginger, garlic oil chicken tenderloin, Sasabune-festival inspired soybeans

Bottom to top: Snow Crab / Sautéed Kingfish with creamy mushroom  / Baby Yellowtail with jalapeño / Toro with ponzu soaked radish

Bottom to top: Snow Crab / Sautéed Kingfish with creamy mushroom  / Baby Yellowtail with jalapeño / Toro with ponzu soaked radish

Snow Crab

Snow Crab

Salmon Sautéed Tomato  / Korean Sweet Sauce Marinated Tuna with roasted pine nuts and nori seaweed

Salmon Sautéed Tomato  / Korean Sweet Sauce Marinated Tuna with roasted pine nuts and nori seaweed

Left to right: Japanese Red Snapper with lotus chip / Santa Barbara sea urchin (uni) / Seared Cod with Miso garlic / Blue Fin Tuna with tofu purée with homemade chili

Left to right: Japanese Red Snapper with lotus chip / Santa Barbara sea urchin (uni) / Seared Cod with Miso garlic / Blue Fin Tuna with tofu purée with homemade chili

Seared Toro

Seared Toro

Me caught in the moment: (awkward happy face) eating :D 

Me caught in the moment: (awkward happy face) eating :D 

LOOK AT THIS FOIE GRAS.  JUST LOOK AT IT. AMIGAWD.

LOOK AT THIS FOIE GRAS.  JUST LOOK AT IT. AMIGAWD.

[Shanghai] Fu He Hui 福和慧 - Autumn 2016 Dinner Tasting Menu

Awards: Michelin One Star (2016), Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2016

Categories: Vegetarian, Fine Dining

Address: 1037 Yuyuan Lu, near Jiangsu Lu, Changning District, Shanghai

上海市长宁区愚园路1037号, 近江苏路**

Price: Tasting menu only, 880RMB per set, without drinks

Verdict: YES for refined & innovative vegetarian dishes. Forget about what you think you know about Chinese vegetarian food. Be prepared for a good mix of traditional vs experimental offerings and displays, eg. Shanghainese-style stir fry gluntinous cakes with shaved black truffles to smokey porcini on sticks in a jar. Spectacular services, environment and presentation.

"Matsutake" (松茸); with taro, crisp rice & snow pea

"Matsutake" (松茸); with taro, crisp rice & snow pea

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"Truffle" (松露) glutinous rice cakes; garden greens, bamboo shoots and BLACK TRUFFLES

"Truffle" (松露) glutinous rice cakes; garden greens, bamboo shoots and BLACK TRUFFLES

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"Bean Curd" (豆腐); organic tofu, gingko, peach gum, soy - super silky and smooth tofu covered with a gelatinous jelly-like topping

"Bean Curd" (豆腐); organic tofu, gingko, peach gum, soy - super silky and smooth tofu covered with a gelatinous jelly-like topping

"Lotus Fungus" (荷仙菇) soup; baby corn, white fungus, black medlar, vegetarian consumme - immaculately pure without losing taste - not oily or greasy at all!

"Lotus Fungus" (荷仙菇) soup; baby corn, white fungus, black medlar, vegetarian consumme - immaculately pure without losing taste - not oily or greasy at all!

"Lotus Fungus" (荷仙菇) soup

"Lotus Fungus" (荷仙菇) soup

"Truffle" (松露) glutinous rice cakes

"Truffle" (松露) glutinous rice cakes

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[Recipe] Easy Baking - Soft Green Tea (Matcha) Cookies

Soft & Chewy Matcha Cookies Recipe

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Prep time: 20 mins
  • Baking Time: ~25 mins

I'm not really sure why my baking urges seem to always strike around midnight. I wanted cookies, real bad. Chocolate-chip, I thought. However, upon realizing that I'd ran out of chocolate chips, I scoured through my pantry to see what little ingredients I have available to bake. And guess what I found... matcha powder! So here goes, a very simple recipe with very few ingredients to make green tea cookies.

They came out lightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Make sure to cool off in room temperature and best eaten 30-60 mins after cooling. I'd advise AGAINST putting it in the fridge as it'd suck out the moisture and make it less soft (but you can do so if you like crunchy cookies). Enjoy!

gofindalice-matcha-cookies-recipe

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and stir in the vanilla extract. Dissolve baking soda and salt in hot water. Add to the batter. Stir in flour, room temperature water and matcha powder. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheets.
  3. Bake for about 11-12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 20g matcha (green tea) powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup room temperature water