On November 25, we began another morning by taking a walk into San Xia old town. We’ve been here 3 or more times, but each time, we get here too early, before the actual old town area wakes up. Each time, we’ve ended up eating and shopping in the nearby street markets and food stalls, then wandered up and down Old Street, which is totally dead early in the morning. We did not adjust our strategy this day, and it was no different, but street food in Taiwan rarely disappoints. We walked through the crowded and bustling markets and had some kind of fried potato vegetable pancake, followed by pork and egg noodles.
Old Street was again quiet, and most shops were closed. Vale is pictured below sitting in front of a closed storefront. My curiosity got the better of me, and I bought one of the bull-horn croissant-looking pastries that are ubiquitous in the bakeries in Old Town, but as soon as I had a bite, alas, I confirmed I should have trusted my initial instinct on this disappointing baked good. It was as dry and boring as it appeared. In later discussions with my mother, she described them as “a scam” and “horrific” (loosely translated). I would agree.
Vale fell asleep late morning, and we continued our walk. Also, as per usual, we picked up some beers from a convenience store. My general feel as of this trip is that 7-11 has better snacks and Family Mart has better beers. Family Marts tended to have one particular Hefeweizen called Buckskin, apparently a domestic brew, which I found quite palatable, especially when the weather was warmer. This was a fairly flavorful Hef. On this particular day, we also picked up a Weissbier by Taiwan Beer for the first time, which was even better.
After Vale’s morning nap, we had lunch with some of my parents’ friends, at their house. They live in another high rise condo a few blocks away, and we had a lot of good food there. One particularly notable item was the ren bing, which could best be described as a Taiwanese burrito. It was a soft, warm, tortilla-like wrap, filled with bean sprouts, sesame sauce, and beef.
Later in the day, while Vale was taking a nap, we were craving some bar action and decided to leave her with the grandparents to have a drink. However, we had inordinate difficulty finding a bar nearby, which is shocking for a college town (there is literally a university a block away from my parents’ condo). We found a wine bar within walking distance, but as we were making our way toward that direction, Jenn had a better idea – to hit up Carrefour, a French grocery chain. The last Carrefour we visited was in Barcelona in 2007, but apparently their reaches extend to many corners of the world. As she predicted, this place was full of craft beers, domestic and international alike.
We loaded up on beers, including the ones pictured above. We bought a 750mL bottle of Chimay Blue, which was a steal. Too bad we forgot to drink it. The American IPA was well-balanced, but not hoppy enough. It was more akin to a New England IPA than a West Coast style IPA. The coffee stout by Sun Mai was decent as well but not mind-blowing. We drank these in the lobby while we watched a 7 year-old girl practice piano.
Later at night, we hung out at home, sang together, and listened to Grandpa play guitar.