I’ve been wanting to share about this since my last trip to Taiwan which was like in early February this year. And now is almost nearing to the end of the year and I haven’t get down to posting about it. LOL. That just goes to show how busy, or rather, lazy I am. Anyway I was sorting out the pictures in my various memory cards when I saw these pictures from the trip once again. So yes, here I am, I gonna blog about it for sure.
This was a very random trip to begin with, imagine having it booked just one week plus before the trip. And I had wanted it to be a very non-itinerary based one, having the luxury to sleep till I awake naturally and deciding where to go for the day only upon waking up on that day. Except for this particular cooking class which was intended prior to the trip because the class has to be pre-booked in advance, depending on the instructor Ivy’s schedule.
I chanced upon her blog and Facebook site when I was doing a search for Taiwanese cooking class. And because it was on a 1-1 availability which I thought was pretty cool, having all the time to my own and Ivy actually also provides a personal market tour, at an additional charge. Since I have never been to a real local fresh market in Taiwan, it seems a pretty good opportunity for me to explore this option too. And having a personal guide introducing you to all the local produce makes all the way better.
In all it costs me NT$5000 which includes cooking of three dishes and a market tour. Payment is made via cash only during the class, so you need not fret about on how to make payment in advance.
We correspondence through emails prior to me reaching Taiwan. I was given a picture of the market and the directions on how to head to this place.
The market address is at Shi Dong market 士東市場， No. 100, Shidong Road, Shilin District，台北市士林區士東路100號. and I was told to meet her at Entrance 2.
You can reach there via MRT to Zhishan station 芝山站 (exit 2), and transfer by taxi to the market for about NT$85-.
Here are some snippets of what I experienced from their fresh produce market. Taiwanese people are super friendly by nature, and because Ivy stays near this market which makes her a familiar face there and I got to sample out some of the food that was sold at the various stalls.
Ivy introduced me to the various local Taiwanese produce and some of their seasonal foods. The country is indeed self sufficient by their agriculture nature. The entire market tour took about an hour or so and because it was still within the CNY period then, some of the stall holders have not fully resumed business. And in Taiwan, fresh produce markets do not operate on every Mondays, so do make a plan if you are intending to visit one next time ! After shopping for our ingredients for the cooking class, we proceed to Ivy’s home for the cooking class by foot, which was around a 10 minutes walk. It was a small apartment unit located on the (can’t remember) 3rd or 4th floor.
Her apartment is a very cosy one, something like our 3-room flat, with 2 bedrooms and a hall. There was an area dedicated for all these decorations, which she said are her daughter’s masterpieces.
She made some Chinese tea and served them with Taiwanese snacks, handled me the recipes for the day before we start the real cooking.
For the price I’ve paid, I was given 3 recipes of which I can learn from. And during the reservation of the class, I had already decided on Taiwanese pineapple tarts, Dan-dan noodles and Xiao Long Bao as the desired 3 choices. And here’s where all the magic begins, a very compact but self equipped kitchen !
Of course due to time constraints, Ivy had some of the items prepared way before the class. But she was patient enough to answer any of the queries you have and since this is a hands-on class, I get to have a go at everything too.
The most tedious one has to be the Xiao Long Bao. It took me a good while before I could knead the dough skin to a right texture and even longer on the wrapping of the dumplings and it still wasn’t perfect enough. But Ivy said it was a good attempt for a first try though.
The noodles was the most straightforward, and we actually prepared enough for 2 bowls of it which both of us had the noodles for our lunch thereafter.
Ivy had the pineapple paste prepared before that and I was handled down with the recipe. So I had a go at the skin dough and the baking thereafter.
It turned out that Ivy was also the author of a cookbook and I readily purchased the book from her on the spot as well which she sold it to me at a good discount.
Taiwanese pineapple tarts are different from ours in the sense that they are much bigger, usually in shapes of square, hence they have their own of such moulds and packaging to cater to them. She introduced me to some of their local baking supplies stores and I manage to patronise one of them thereafter too. It was a pretty old and small shop. In Taiwan, their baking supplies stores are spread all over the country, hence it’s quite impossible to visit many of them unless you have all the time to travel around.
Here’s the only one which I went to :
洪春梅西点器具店 located at 台北市民生西路389號 Taipei, Taiwan 103
Of course as usual, I couldn’t resist but got some of their moulds and packaging back. Hehehe.
So that somehow conclude my day’s worth of activities with Ivy and overall, it was a very rewarding and enriching experience. From her, I garnered much of their local food and cooking knowledge and if that’s anyone who’s keen on a Taiwanese culinary experience like such, Ivy’s Kitchen is one good option for consideration ya. :)