Chinese New Year Banquet

We headed out in the cold last night to attend an 8-course Chinese New Year Banquet at a local seafood restaurant. Hosted by local foodie walking tour guide, Shirley Lum, the evening was both delicious and informative, as Lum explained Lunar New Year traditions and discussed various aspects of the Chinese zodiac as we ate.

Seated at a table of nine people, I must say, the evening, while festive, wasn’t especially banquet-like. Dishes didn’t come out in order, and for the $50 per person charge, we certainly didn’t leave as full as we normally might have if we had gone on our own. it was an opportunity to try many new dishes, however, and Greg even made a new friend.

Because we were at a large round table with a lazy susan in the centre, I wasn’t able to get shots of all the dishes as they arrived, but I did my best.

Each place setting had two kumquats and two candies. The candies represented the red and gold packets of money traditionally handed out at Chinese New Year, while the kumquats also represented wealth and life.

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Over the Moon

Despite the fact that it’s 32 freakin’ degrees celcius in Toronto today, it is actually Autumn. And in Chinatown, where they’re getting ready to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, they’re buying mooncakes.

Wikipedia says:

Mooncake is a Chinese pastry traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4-5 cm thick. A thick filling usually made from lotus paste is surrounded by a relatively thin (2-3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Mooncakes are rich, heavy, and dense compared with most Western cakes and pastries. They are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by Chinese tea.

I’ve been able to find non-egg mooncakes all year long throughout Chinatown, but the ones with eggs are more readily available during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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