Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Escape

We caught up with some friends today in New Jersey. They have a super large house replete with a finished attic apartment and a wine cellar and a hot steam bathroom (every bedroom also has its own bathroom). Oh yes, and they also have a trampoline at the backyard for their hyperactive

Did I mention that they also have a nanny who takes care of their kids and cooks them gourmet Chinese food every day (lucky!)

Knowing this in advance, I had originally planned to bring them a handmade green tea cheesecake, which unfortunately tumbled out of existence yesterday. So instead, we went to Martha's Country Bakery and got them an apple pie.

I've always wanted to come to this place to try a piece of their pie. But it is rather expensive at $4/slice. So I was going to postpone until a special friend or occasion came along. 

 Their counters are full of delicious treats such as pastries, baklavas, cupcakes, bundt cakes, pies, and the whole nine yards.

Lovely as a cupcake

Did I mention there's gelato too? 

Heavenly Merangue

These were all very very tempting.

Fruit tart pie

Slice of creamy goodness

Simple yet elegant 

Divinely Chocolate

This is what we got for our friends out in the country (in hindsight, it was very fitting, especially given their natural-esque house and setting).

Flower Apple Pie

So after perusing all of their choices over and over again, we finally settled on this one. Hubby got an iced coffee to cool down during the ride. It tasted very different from the iced coffee from other restaurants, because it was pleasantly sweet. Hubby said it was because they mixed sugar with some hot coffee first so the sugar would dissolve (as it doesn't do in cold coffee), and then poured in the iced coffee with ice cubes, and some milk. Give it a good shake and voila! Almost like Viet-style coffee.

We arrived around 12, and took a tour of their gigantic mansion. Every house in the neighborhood was kind of like hers, with four+ bedrooms each with their own bathroom. I was thinking that our apartment would only be 1/7 of their house.

Then we sat down for a proper Chinese style 13-course meal for 6 people (and two other kids).

Colour Palates

Green Mushroom Machine

I really enjoyed the bak choy with mushrooms and the snow peas with sausage, as well as the sour pickled vegetable with fatty meat. There were specialities from Yunnan, Guangdong, Nanjing...basically covered all the major sub-categories within traditional Chinese cuisine.

Spicy Thin Beef

Though I'm not the biggest fan of meat, I really enjoyed this tea-infused chicken. It was flavorful and tender, and went really well with rice.

Tea infused duck

The mushroom tofu fish soup is the feature of the day. It has super ma-la spicy green peppers, and after drinking it your whole mouth is numbed like there's no tomorrow.

Spicy but good

Finally for dessert, there was this lovely soup with papaya, barley and a Chinese plant called ying-er, which purportedly has skin purifying benefits. It was not sweet at all, and the texture is smooth and melt-in-your-mouth, as it is slow-cooked for four hours. 

Ying-Er Papaya Soup

After lunch, we sat down for some lovely Pu-er tea to digest the meal with some post-meal Asian snacks like sesame candy. About an hour later, they served the apple pie, and much to my surprise, even the most traditional of the bunch liked the cinnamon-almond goodness. I wanted two slices for myself, but resisted (hubby was too full from lunch and didn't want a full slice so he ate some of mine =-(

Then we chatted for the rest of the afternoon until dinner-time (mostly shop talk which bored hubby half to death) when we left. The only exercise I got for the day was jumping around on the trampoline with their son, which btw is uber fun and highly recommended if you ever get the chance to go on one. I hope the tea helped to digest the meal.

All and all, lovely house, wonderful hospitality and hope to be back again! (They should really open shop for a Chinese Jersey B&B!)

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