Monday, November 28, 2011

Luodong: The farms, food, and baby animals grand tour

Thanks to my twisted ankle, hiking and other forms of walking-intensive travel were off the plate for a few weeks. But don't worry, I've still been keeping busy. For starters, Christine and I figured out how to bake muffins in a toaster oven (a general lack of conventional ovens in Asia is just one of those "cultural differences" I'm learning to get over).
Experiment #1: Pumpkin cream cheese muffins
If you can't tell, we voted them a success
Then, Christine, Cherrica and I got to go on a scooter-tour of Luodong with my host dad, Jason. As you may have inferred from my blog post title, baby animals and food figured heavily in said tour (my host family has already figured out my two favorite things).

After a wonderful lunch of homemade pork and green onion dumplings, we started off our tour at a goat farm/baby animal petting zoo/cafe/kid's carnival. I realize that that's a really bizarre description but I don't know how else to explain it. Anyhow, we skipped the carnival rides and headed straight for the animals.

Jason says, "bahh!"
The piglets were my favorite. I was sorely tempted to take one home with me (side note: this farm lets you rent piglets by the night, so taking one home with me was a legitimate option).

The farm also lets you buy milk by the bottle to feed to the piglets and the baby goats.

Awww! So darn cute! 

The farm also had some friendly free-range chickens and turkeys wandering about the cafe and the neighboring playground.

 Feeding the goats was also an option.

Of course, not all of the goats were strictly interested in eating grass.

And, just in case you still haven't reached your cute quote for the day, here's a baby bunny:
Happy year of the rabbit!
When Cherrica and Jason finally managed to drag Christine and I away from the animals, we headed to the night market for lunch (despite the somewhat deceptive name, many parts of Taiwan's famous night markets are open during the day as well). After a quick ride around town during which Jason pointed out all of the good places to eat, visit, or park a scooter, we stopped to pick up some 蔥油餅 (green onion pancakes) from the most popular stand in Luodong. For desert, I tried 豆花 (a desert made of shaved ice, tapioca pearls, and sweet tofu pudding) for the first time. 

 Lunch! Christine (right) got traditional 豆花 with peanuts while Cherrica (left) went for tried grass jelly (I promise, it tastes a lot better than the name makes it sound).

Next, we headed out of the city and into a beautiful patch of countryside to visit Happiness 20, a farm/restaurant/park with its own orchard and an emphasis on DIY crafts. Again, weird description but "farms" I've been to in Taiwan are just so different than most farms back home. I think maybe a tourist-friendly organic farm run by hippies in Vermont is about the closest you would come in the US.

Two of Jason's friends opened the farm a few years ago, so parts of it are still being built and expanded. One of the most fun things about the farm was their DIY pizza station, complete with a brick pizza oven (which Jason's friend constructed after watching an instructive YouTube video). We built a fruit, honey, and marshmallow dessert pizza and the owner's kids joined us to make a more traditional ham, tomato sauce, and green pepper pizza.

 We used honey for sauce. Other toppings included, pineapple, bananas, marshmallows, 
tomatoes (they're a fruit in Taiwan), and cheese. I feel like this should also be filed under 
"sounds weird, tastes wonderful."

After they put our pizza in the oven, we got to feed the goats while we waited for the food to cook. No offense to Dixie Crossroads, which will always be a special part of my childhood, but this was way more fun than feeding the fish while you wait for your dinner.

When they were ready, both pizzas were delicious. 

And we had fun herbal flower tea, complete with edible flowers, to go with it!
What more can a girl ask for?

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