A few months ago, I came across a recipe for macaroni and cheese muffins. When I clicked over on the recipe though, it wasn’t exactly what I had pictured. I had conjured an image of a savory muffin mixed with actual macaroni and cheese noodles and this recipe was more of a cheese muffin with noodles mixed in.

After I made my pizza cupcakes, I decided to try making my own version of macaroni and cheese muffins. It took a few tries before I created a version I liked. It’s a great way to use up leftover macaroni and cheese though it works best with fresh leftovers because noodles sitting in the fridge get a little hard and chewy.

My family had a lot of delicious meals during our trip to Taiwan, but the one we like to discuss the most is the meal we had at Shiyang Culture Restaurant, which no one enjoyed other than my mom.

I was actually surprised. I’m used to my siblings being very picky, but I’ve always prided myself in having a very open palate. But for some reason, our meal just consisted of ingredients I didn’t quite care for.

The restaurant is quite well known in Taipei. It’s located in the mountainside of XiZhi City. Reservations must be made well in advance and there is no a la carte menu. Instead all guests dine on the prix fixe menu which changes depending on the fresh ingredients available.  The price is approximately $60 USD.

The story for the restaurant experience startswith the drive. Windy, narrow mountain roads are never fun, especially in the rain. In addition, we encountered a strip of road where there appeared to be many wild dogs roaming. The dogs would sit in the middle of the road, and when a car approached they would move out of the way, only to chase the car, barking ferociously after it.  We passed by at least 20 of these wild dogs on our way to the restaurant, making me feel like I was in the middle of a horror movie.

Once we arrived, someone greets you at the top, and you have to give your reservation name. The person then radios down to check that you do have a reservation before letting you drive down to the restaurant. The restaurant is located in a lush green forest-like environment. It provides some breathtaking views. We couldn’t truly enjoy it because of the rain, but I did have an idea of just how beautiful it would look on a clear day.

The restaurant consists of several private Japanese style rooms. You remove your shoes and sit down on the benches of the long table. The clear glass walls allows you to enjoy the view while dining.

One thing that bothered me right away was the lighting and table set up. The dim lighting made it hard to take good photos to properly convey the beautiful presentation of the dishes. In addition, rather than have a tablecloth, a long piece of orange construction paper covers the table. The color made my photos even worse and it also made the table quite ugly because there would be stains all over it from the condensation of the various dishes. I really wished they had either left the table bare or put a proper table cloth on it.

The cuisine is a fusion of Japanese and Chinese. They concentrate on using organic local ingredients, with a lot of vegetables and fruit.

The first dish was a cold cup of guava puree and passionfruit topped with some passionfruit seeds, to open up the palate. The juice was quite mild, with no additional sugar added. The fruit used wasn’t very sweet either.

As you’ll see, most of the dishes would be decorated with some sort of flower.

Next came a trio of appetizers. On the far right was a piece of fried vegetable tempura. The middle was homemade tofu. And the end was abalone. I usually like homemade tofu but this one had a thicker, grainier consistency I didn’t quite enjoy. The item I liked the most was the abalone, which was pretty much left by itself, no fancy preparation.

Next came a steamed egg custard. One of the few dishes we did all enjoy because we all love egg custard.

I love the spring green color of this cake.

I made this a few months ago, but forgot to post about it until now. Being a big fan of avocados, I was excited when I came across this avocado loaf cake recipe on Table for 2…or more. I was immediately attracted to the color of the cake.

The cake was fairly easy to make and came out moist, with a texture similar to a pound cake. I was surprised by how strongt the avocado flavor was. I had expected something lighter.