Have you tried Biscoff spread yet? If you’re a fan of Nutella, I urge you to try it. While it doesn’t taste anything like Nutella, it’s originally from Europe and has been spreading in popularity in the US, much like Nutella did.

The spread is made of the popular European cookie. The cookie is crunchy, with a little bit of spices, perfect to eat with a cup of coffee. They are served on some airlines, which is how they started getting popular outside of Europe. I like the cookies, but I like the spread even better.

For one thing, the spread tastes exactly like the cookie. But because it’s in a spreadable form, it lingers on your tongue and you can really savor the taste more. Plus instead of just enjoying it in the cookie form, you can spread it on toast, crackers, eat it out of the jar with a spoon, or use it to flavor all sorts of delicious baked goods.

Biscoff spread can be found at World Market, you can also buy it on Amazonor on the Biscoff website.

Happy Chinese New Year! Look, even Hello Kitty is dressed up for the New Year. Since the Chinese follow the Lunar calendar, Chinese New Year falls on a different date every year. This year, it’s especially early, occurring on January 23, 2012. This new year is symbolized by the dragon.

Last year it was the year of the rabbit, and I was able to whip up a lot of bunny shaped foods. A dragon is more complicated so I didn’t even attempt it.

The new year is usually celebrated with a meal with close family and friends. Traditionally, you are supposed to cook up a lot of food before, and then on New Year’s day, you don’t do any cooking at all. We used to make dumplings, but we stopped. It is tasty but time consuming.

This year we actually went out to eat. Then because I felt like we had to make something for the sake of tradition, we stuck with something easy: scallion pancakes.

Given my love for Taiwanese snowflake shaved ice, of course I had to try it from the source.

As a quick recap, snowflake or snow ice was introduced in Taiwan a few years ago. Instead of crushing/shaving blocks of ice, water and condensed milk are mixed together and frozen. These condensed milk ice blocks are then finely shaven in special machines. The addition of the condensed milk and the shaving process creates an ice that is much more fine, fluffy, and tastes almost like ice cream rather than ice.

The last time I visited Taiwan, snowflake ice hadn’t yet become popular. So after eating it at various places in LA, I was curious to how it compared in Taiwan.

One thing I observed during my trip was that while snowflake ice is only now developing popularity in the US, its popularity in Taiwan seems to have waned quite a bit. In fact, the places we did try it at were mostly full of tourists. When I mentioned wanting to eat it to my relatives, they preferred the traditional old school shaved ice.

First up, Yu’s Almond Tofu (http://www.yustofu.com.tw/)

I love the way the ice falls into sheets. This spot is quite famous for their almond tofu snow ice. I got the recommendation from Hungry Girl in Taipei. It’s a chain of stores and I found locations in night markets, shopping malls, etc.

Almond tofu is a popular chinese dessert. It’s not actually tofu. It’s chunks of agar agar jelly, flavored with almond milk. The jellies are white in color, resembling tofu.

The snow shaved ice here was quite cheap (about $3-4 US dollars for a bowl). The toppings were a bit limited. They offered traditional shaved ice toppings like mochi balls, red bean, sweetened peanuts, mung bean, chewy jellies, etc. They placed the toppings at the bottom and then covered it with ice. I prefer my toppings to be on top so I know what I’m eating.