Friday, August 5, 2016

The week before launch!

I'm a fun person. Really. 

Ok, I admit I'm not so much fun since I got married and pooted out a baby who just turned 2 years old in July. But really... I used to be the Fun Meister that everyone wanted to know. I sharpened my teeth during my years living in Berlin in 2006-2010. It was harsh. It was a survival marathon. I have an entire bank of stories yet to tell from that era.

So it's been a while since I threw a P-A-R-T-Y, but girl's gotta still have it!

On Saturday (aka "tomorrow"), I'm going to try convert the Rote Beete Bar in Berlin-Schöneberg into Old Shanghai for the book launch event for Trixi Pudong and the Greater World (trailer below).

My launch party includes a Chinese Street Food buffet (zha jiang noodles, scallion pancakes, rice crackers, and fruits) plus an AWESOME Asian-themed cocktail menu (Red Lotus, Yoghurt Soju, and Summer at the Bund cocktails). There will be short films, cabaret music from Old Shanghai, a reading from my book, and of course, well... books.

And I'm doing it all myself.

Having a 2-year-old child to take care of while planning an event meant starting very very early. I have a thing for being organized, so I went gung-ho with my To-Do lists and even began practicing the recipes for the food months ago. 

Last weekend, I had an impromptu cocktail-mixing meeting with some friends along the river in Berlin-Friedrichshain to make sure that my exotic drinks were even drinkable in Europe. BOY AM I GLAD I TESTED THEM. Chinese alcohol is STRONG. In particular baijiu, a 54% schnaps that has been described as "paint thinner and a liquid lobotomy." To make sure that my guests don't regret showing up to my party, I had to drastically adjust the proportions. It's perfect now :-). I really hope everyone likes Summer at the Bund. Just getting the whiff of baijiu from this guava-based cocktail really transports you to a rooftop bar along the Huangpu River in Shanghai.

Next up, the Asian Store Safari. There were many rare ingredients that I had to track down in Berlin. Aside from finding a good-yet-affordable bottle of baijiu, I had to find lychee liqueur, Korean Soju wine, Yakult yoghurt drink, and all those Asian sauces... Oh the sauces... hoi sun, miso, jajang, and bean paste. These items are found in those occasional "Asiamarkt" stores throughout Berlin, usually run by Vietnamese families. But of course, no ONE store will have everything I need. I have to make several stops. And unfortunately, these aren't places where you can call them to check what they have in stock.

Because if the Asian store has a phone number on their website, they might not have a phone. If they have a phone, they might not answer it. If they answer it, they might not understand you.

Therefore, the only option is to hit the road and go see these stores in person. And for anyone who hasn't been to Berlin, that's a LOT of trekking. Berlin is a flat pancake of crazy, artistic, international culture, which means many hours in the S-Bahn and U-Bahn, schlepping bottles of highly flammable Asian liqueurs on my back while I hunt down two heads of Napa cabbage (aka "Chinakohl" in German).

Along the way, I ventured to the Dong Xuan Center in East Berlin. There, I saw the usual zoo of bizarre fruits and meats. I managed to pick up most of my ingredients here.

The last thing I was able to find was the Yakult shots that I need for the Yoghurt Soju cocktail. I was surprised that the Vietnamese markets had none. Thankfully, the trusty Kaiser's supermarket at Ring Center on Frankfurter Allee had Yakult!! Whew!

Yesterday and today I've been cooking, cooking, cooking. I'm staying with my in-laws, since we just moved out of Bamberg to Berlin (oh yeah, that too. We moved). But because I'm an organization freak, my in-laws never knew what an insane Chinese food-factory their kitchen became while they were at work. The sauce is done, the pancakes are ready to be warmed up on Saturday.

Tonight, I'm going to double-check my music and videos. Then make sure I can squeeze into my silk dress (think Singapore Airlines, but in purple) that I haven't worn since 2009. Gulp.

Can't wait to see you there!!

Book Launch!
Trixi Pudong and the Greater World
Saturday 6 August

Rote Beete Cafe and Bar
Gleditschstr 71
U7 Eisenacher Strasse and Kleistpark
U1-4 Nollendorf Platz

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