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entrees, Gerald, out and about, pizza, restaurants, travel

Menage a Fromage

01.13.10 | 10 Comments

From what I hear, love is a complicated thing. I haven’t had the fortune (or misfortune?) of being in actual love, though I hope I haven’t missed the boat at my old age. Especially when one is not in love with anyone, it can be tough, or even sickening, to be around two people who are in love with each other.

I’ve spent a lot of time being the third/fifth/nth wheel—hell, I’ve been a third wheel when on half of the couple was present only through the modern miracle of text messages. I had to wave my hands around and be like, “Hello, I’m here in front of you!” You know who you are.

Getting to the point, with Jean and TJ, none of the above is true. It helps that I’m individually friends with each of them, but I always felt like one of the pack. On Saturday, our pack started the day with a edifyingly sugary breakfast of Frosted Flakes, fruit, and donuts.

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This is Jean’s hallway.

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We all marveled at how much better the hallway looks in the photo than it does in real life. The miracle of light—in reality it’s a dark, crumbling laundry-dodging obstacle course.

Sugared up, we headed to a noon showing of Avatar at Oscar Movie Theaters.

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The 3-D showings were sold out for the whole day, but honestly, I’m glad, because I had a headache just watching the plain-ol’ 2-D version. Since I was a film major, I can’t resist a review. In brief: pretty, too long by a third, terribly written and poorly acted. In briefer: typical James Cameron. Mr. Cameron, do us all a favor and hire a writer. I happen to be available for a reasonable price.

Donuts still in stomach, Jean and I munched our way through two buckets of popcorn and some Pocky during the movie, but when it finally ended, she led us to her favorite Hangzhou snack place for a late lunch.

Wait, popcorn wasn’t lunch?

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Not that I’ll complain if you buy me xiaolong bao, or soup dumplings.

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And a bowl of beef noodle soup.

z_zhiwei niurou mian

And a bowl of beef and another-kind-of-noodle (fensi) soup.

z_zhiwei niurou fensi

That’s love, folks—noodle soup and soup dumplings. And donuts. All within 5 hours of each other.

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We digested at a West Lake Starbucks as the sun went down and the animal prints came out.

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I pulled TJean out of their coffee chill-out because it was witching hour, the time just before the sun sets or rises when the light is ideal. It was time for a photo session in awwwww.

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Luckily they were more than willing to participate—the photos will come in especially handy during Jean’s US Visa interview next week. Photos together prove the ‘legitimacy’ of the relationship. I’ll consider these photos my meager contribution.

z_tj jean kiss

I am sending good thoughts your way. Good luck at the interview, Jean!

z_tj jean face

Before we knew it, it was dinner time. We went to another frequent TJean haunt: Babela’s, which TJ described as “Italian Chinese-Italian.” So in typical Italian Chinese-Italian style, we started with beer-fried bananas.

z_babela beer batter bananas corrected

I was skeptical that the white stuff in the dish was ice cream—I wouldn’t put it past an Italian Chinese-Italian kitchen to give us a scoop of butter—but it was mercifully ice cream.

Some vials of liquor that tasted like cough syrup.

z_babela drink vials

That’s what you get for 18 kuai.

Chicken toasts.

z_babela chicken toasts

When asked by TJ to describe what was beneath the cheese, I replied: “Brown.” He took a bite and agreed. “Yep, that’s pretty brown.” Ground chicken + black pepper= tastes like brown.

“Sicilian” Baked “Risotto” with “Italian Sausage:”

z_babela sicilian baked risotto3 corrected

If you don’t speak Italian Chinese-Italian, that means white rice baked in spicy tomato sauce with cheese and sausage.

To keep things balanced, we ordered a vegetable: Mashed potatoes and bacon.

z_babela mashed potatoes corrected

And cheese.

Pizza the second night in a row.

z_babela pizza corrected

*Contrary to how the photos look, these portions were actually fairly small.

The restaurant was in a mall, so we wandered, trying on funny glasses at H&M.

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And watching the kiddies play in the very padded play place.

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On our way home, we stopped at a bar because they had a special: Buy 6 beers, Get 6 beers free.

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I didn’t think we would, but over about 2 hours, the three of us consumed all 12 of those beers. I think I had between 2 and 3. Ugh.

We waddled home through the chilly night to jumpstart the days-long digestion process. The next day I had an appetite only for apples. Blame the cheese.

And I ended the weekend the devoted fan club president of TJean. Most of us want someone to eat donuts with, to eat pizza with every weekend, to check our eyes for stray eyelashes…

z_tj jean eye1

…and I’m so glad they’ve got each other. As my students like to tell me, I wish you two happy everyday.

z_xihu sunset1

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