Jane Rickards, TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post
Taiwan’s annual food festival kicks off next Thursday, with gourmet dining activities ranging from cooking classes with Taiwan’s famous chefs to savoring exotic alpine teas from Alishan.
This year the four-day Taipei Chinese Food Festival is larger than ever as it celebrates its 15th anniversary, with a total of 12 theme exhibitions and an overall focus on Taiwan’s regional foods
“Taiwan’s food has always been very good and we hope to introduce it to visitors,” said Chang Shuo-lao, Chairman of the Taiwan Visitor’s Association.
“We aim to integrate the resources from every region in Taiwan for the festival,” he said.
Visitors in the Papaya and Bamboo Shoot Dining section can listen to Taiwan folk music and feast on 96 different dishes, including cocktail treats, such as fresh scallops topped with caviar on a sauce made of Papaya, olive oil and lemon juice and Papaya prawn rolls featuring fresh prawns and slices of Papaya wrapped around mashed potatoes.
“Papaya can be prepared in a Japanese, Chinese or Western style,” said Wu Wen-chih, the head chef at Taichung’s New Palace, whose dishes feature in this section.
“Papaya has enzymes which can soften meat, making it taste better,” he said. At the nearby Mango Banquet section — which, like the Papaya and Bamboo Shoot Dining Section, has its own special section at the festival as part of a push to expand the markets for Taiwan farm produce — visitors can dine on 40 Mango dishes, such as Mango Lobster and Fillet Steak in Mushroom Mango sauce. Wu Sung-lien, an assistant professor in the department of Food and Nutrition in Taichung’s Hung Kuang University, who works in this section, praised the humble mango for its creamy texture, saying it could give the texture of oil to a dish without adding on calories. “Its a healthy food suitable for summer,” he said.
Visitors can also taste homemade Taiwan coffee and watch Yunlin traditional puppet theater in the “Taiwan, Homeland of Coffee, a tour of Yunlin” section. This section celebrates a government project, encouraging the growth of African Arabica beans in the hills of Huasheng, Yunlin County.
There’s also the Alishan Alpine Tea Food Exhibit, which features 60 tea dishes ranging from fresh tea deep fried spring rolls to Teriyaki Oolong ribs. It also features a performance by Tsou Aboriginal dancers.
The Banquets of Hangzhou and Yangzhou section reveals politics is not a barrier to gourmet dining, with mainland Chinese chefs showing off 32 dishes from this area. The festival also features performances from acrobats from Shanxi Province.
There’s also a Star Chef Cooking Class with Taiwan’s leading chefs. Organizers said it is best to register early for this event.
Chinese chefs from Shanxi Province will demonstrate their particular style of noodle-making in the Cooking Skills Demonstration section while the Fun with Food section offers activities for visitors, such as competitions.
In the World Culinary Arts competition, Chinese cuisine chefs from Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Beijing and Taiwan will compete over the best way to make Chinese dishes, with the competition judged on their innovation and incorporation of Western styles and ingredients.
There will also be a food court, featuring Taiwanese snacks and a section where 13 of Taiwan’s best hotels and restaurants show off their most popular dishes.
Tickets cost NT$250 for adults and NT$150 for children. The festival runs from August 12 to 15, 900 a.m. to 500 p.m. at Exhibition Hall 1 of the Taipei World Trade Center. For further information go to www.tcff.com.tw