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The title is a bit of a misnomer, but I promise that there is pig in this story.  And ice cream.

Taiwan can be hot and steamy, so what could be more refreshing than cold, cool, refreshing ice cream? At Snow King, they offer just that.  If you look at the rather bad photo, you can see a whole range of flavours – and what flavours!  Sesame oil chicken, beef, pig knuckle — not exactly the flavors to expect at an ice cream shop, let alone one that’s been in business since 1947.

Yet these are a few of the long-standing choices on the menu at Snow King, located near Zhongshan Hall in Ximending. The shop serves more than 70 flavours of fresh homemade ice cream (priced between NT$60 and NT$120 per scoop), which range from the classic to the bizarre.

The regulars come for the house specialties, red bean and watermelon, while the tourists, mainly from Japan and Hong Kong, often go for the exotic flavours: the Japanese prefer lychee and peach; Hong Kongers like curry and wasabi.

The unusual flavors are a source of pride for Snow King. All of the shop’s recipes, now a family secret, were conceived by the founder, grandfather, Kao Jih-hsing, who founded the business on savings from selling ice cream on the streets of Taipei.

If you’re interested in trying many flavors at once, bring a group of friends. Each flavour of ice cream is sold only by the scoop. However, while it’s fairly common to see groups order as many strange items as they can and share them, shop proprietor Kao Ching-feng says that, ideally, each ice cream should be savored individually for its pure taste.

ADDRESS: 65, Wuchang St Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市武昌街一段65號)

TELEPHONE: (02) 2331-8415

OPENING HOURS:Daily from noon to 10pm

PRICES: NT$60 to NT$120 per scoop

How to get there: Snow King is near the corner of Wuchang Street (武昌街) and Yanping South Road (延平南路). If traveling by MRT, get off at Ximen MRT Station (西門捷運站), Exit 5, walk north, and turn right on Wuchang Street.

 

SQUIRL is a new take on traditional preserve and jam making.

Based in Los Angeles, SQUIRL only works with farmers who farm organically. The fruit is then preserved simply with a minimal amount of organic cane sugar, naturally occurring pectin and crafted in small-batch copper jam pans handspun by nearby coppersmith, David Burns, of Rough and Ready.

Preserves are a mix of the traditional, such as preserved Meyer Lemons and Moro Blood Orange Jelly, as well as more unusual ideas, including Mulberry & Thai Basil jelly, and Mandarinquat (a hybrid cross of Mandarin and Kumquat) spiced marmalade.

Long Beach-born jam-maker Jessica Koslow spent time working in pastry at the James Beard award-winning restaurant Bacchanalia in Atlanta, Georgia. When she returned to California, Jessica was attracted to the diversity of local produce – beautiful and honest snapshots of the state’s vigorous growing seasons.

Her preserves are made without shortcuts. In order to maintain the brightness of the fruit a batch can take up to three days to produce due to the stove-top pectin making process: SQIRL’s pectin is derived from seasonal fruits, which are soaked then cooked low and slow to pull as much pectin from the fruit and rinds as possible.

The results are meticulously crafted preserves that not only portray the wealth and diversity of California’s crops and its generous seasons, but also remind us of the value in the antique process of preservation. Sqirl — it’s the jam

Last night, I was contemplating my first day in Taipei.

It’s an amazing city, probably even more so if you can speak/ read Taiwanese or Mandarin, but being able to say hello and use sign language coupled with a big smile goes a long way.

A great way to see some of the amazing food on offer is to explore one of the food courts that are located in the basements of most of the shopping malls – especially when you’re a new visitor and don’t speak the language.

Having managed to get around a few yesterday, one thing is painfully obvious: the Taiwanese have a sweet tooth. Cakes, donuts, icecream..they love them all.

Mister Donut

Originally from America (where the brand was mostly amalgamated with Dunkin Donuts), the Asian version is owned by a joint venture between Taiwan’s Uni-President Enterprises Corp and Japan’s Duskin Co, owners of the Starbucks and 7-11 franchises. However, they’ve made every effort to appeal to Asian tastes, with unique flavours, and packaging that ticks the very Japanese ‘Cutism’ trend.

Offering both sweet and savoury donuts, flavours include Green tea, Red bean and Peanut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BAC

Short for Black As Chocolate, this is a small chain specialising in rich chocolate based cakes as well as chocolate truffles and iced cocoa to enjoy on the premises. Set up by Stella, a well known Singer/Actress/ Model from the Chinese speaking world, they specialise in indulgent gifts via either mail order or to take away, which are divided into Tease, Rush, or Overkill, based on the amount of chocolate used.

 

 

 

 

FuJi-San Ice Cream

I haven’t been able to find a suitable image to illustrate them (I’ll try and take a picture tomorrow), and their website appears to be down, which would suggest that they may not be hanging around for much longer, but if you imagine what looks like slices of Arctic Roll on a stick minus the sponge, and you have the idea.

Except in this case, the roll bit is another ice cream flavour, so you have interesting combos, such as peanut and vanilla.

A brand on the cutting edge of the premium cordials market, Thatcher’s Organic Artisan Liqueurs are made from sustainably farmed, all natural ingredients that are USDA certified organic .

The brainchild of Dave Racicot, a former vice president of marketing for Campari and SKYY Spirits in the USA, Thatcher’s Organic Artisan Liqueurs are a line of eight flavours: cucumber, elderflower, apple spice ginger, pomegranate, tres chili, dark chocolate, chipotle and blueberry.

The liqueurs are ackaged in lightweight, recyclable glass bottles and the labels are made from recycled materials.

The continent of Africa is the second largest landmass on Earth, and is home to hundreds of different cultural and ethnic groups. This diversity is also reflected in the many local culinary traditions in terms of choice of ingredients, style of preparation and cooking techniques. And as such, it is a little difficult to generalise in terms of cuisine.

Variations on tastes and cooking techniques differ, depending on the environment as well as locally available fruits, cereal grains and vegetables, as well as milk and meat products.

It is a direct result of this vast difference in tastes and recipes, that leave African cuisine open to being led into the mainstream. Of course, the slow cooked stews of North Africa have already started to make the move into popular consciousness, with a flurry of essentials, such as preserved lemons, harissa paste and Tagines being readily available, while Southern African Brais and Biltong are relatively common. And yet, the culinary surface has only been scratched.

It’s against this backdrop, that I came across Kitchen’s of Africa. While not the first company to attempt to literally bottle the spirit of Africa (see Delta Spices and Marinades or Mama Africa’s Sauces), they are certainly one of the most stylish.

Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Kitchens of Africa is a U.S. company, whose roots extend all the way to The Gambia, a tiny country in the western part of Africa, where founder, Jainaba Jeng was born and raised.  Her simmer sauces and jerk pastes allow authentic African cuisine to be easily prepared at home with fantastic results. Kitchens of Africa products eliminate the endless ingredient sourcing, lengthy prep work and countless hours of slow cooking. What once would have taken you hours to make, can now be on your dinner table in minutes.

The complete range consists of 3 jerk pastes, as well as Yassa simmer sauce – an onion based sauce that can be used for chicken or Maffé Peanut simmer sauce a  slightly sweet, spicy and tangy sauce that balances the rich and nutty peanut flavour.

Magma is a new mineral water. Neither sparkling or still, it is a unique proposition from Spain, presented in distinctive 500ml aluminium bottles.  Part of its USP is that from the moment the water is drawn from deep underground until it has been poured into a glass, this water has never seen the light of day: the bottle seals its contents from all elements, so that when the consumer first opens it, they experience the water as if it has just come out of the source.

The other part is that this water has a balanced combination of natural gas and bicarbonate – both elements that not only stimulate the taste buds, but cleanse the palate.

The Science Bit.

The Cabreiroa aquifer is a rainwater aquifer in one of Galicia’s best-preserved areas of countryside.  When the raindrops fall to the ground, they start a process that lasts over 200 years.  First of all, they run through the cracks in the granite massif and then they filter through layers of granite and quartzite.

300o metres underground, the water reaches a temperature of 100°C and mixes with the carbon dioxide from the magma as it escapes through the Regua Verin fault.  At this temperature, water mixes with the CO2 that rises up from the magma before it is pushed back to the surface.

After it has been filtered for a second time on its way up, the Magma water is collected at 150m deep underground and bottled.

A traditional crop of the Mediterranean, I’m quite surprised that in my purchases of Olive oil, I have never thought to buy a bottle of Greek olive oil, tending to pick Italian, Spanish or even Australian before even considering Greek. In part, this is hardly surprising: Italy and Spain actually produce over 60% of the world’s olive oil.

But if the statistics are to be believed (and this from someone who wasn’t particularly great at A level Maths with stats), Greece actually has the largest per capita olive oil consumption in the world: which would tend to suggest one thing.  They’re keeping the good stuff for themselves.

Of course, with the global financial meltdown, and the Greek economy needing a shot in the arm, the good stuff finally seems to be making its way out on to the global market – complete with style and flair.

Products from Esti

 

Esti

Originally established by two brothers in 1912, in Kalamata, Esti has grown to become one of the largest producers in Greece.  They grow a unique variety of olive called Koroneiki, named after the historic town of Koroni, in the Messinia region of the Peloponnese.

Koroneiki olive treese produce fruit that ripens between November and December and produces an excellent quality olive oil with exceptionally low acidity, a deep and bright green colour, with a fruity, bittersweet taste and smooth feeling of various fruits with a predominant apple taste.  Today, not only does the company produce oil, they have also branched out into olives and vinegars.

Candiasoil

Oils from Candias

 

Based on the island of Crete, Candiasoil produces Extra Virgin, Organic and PDO olive oils.  The Extra Virgin and Organic oils use the native Koroneiki olive, while the the 3 PDO oils are from 3 distinct areas, namely Peza, Sitia and Viannos.  Each bottle is beautifully presented.

Lambda

In a clear, sleek, glass flask simply engraved with a modern Greek letter logo and hand-sealed by a special silicone cork, exists one of the most expensive olive oils available today.  At 150 Euros for 1,000 ml, Lambda is branded as the first luxury, ultra-premium extra virgin olive oil in the world.

Lambda’s olives are pressed within eight hours of picking and processed through careful cold extraction. Then workers fill and label each flask by hand, without any machinery, to limit the harmful oxidation process which can affect taste and quality.

Lambda olive oil