First Dinner Party of the New Year


Our dinner parties always seem to fall apart as summer begins to rear it’s bright, warm head. It’s to be expected, the weather is nice and we all want to go do fun things, travel, etc. I could probably should figure out a way to keep the dinner parties going though. BBQ? Smoking? I’ll have to try it out this year. I do enjoy cooking with friends as we gorge our bellies whilst laughing, drinking, and indulging in each other’s company.

Gua Bao (割包) are probably one of my favorite things in Chinese cuisine. Before Christmas I finally attempted to make them. I’ve since had more successful results and have been pretty good at consistently making them. I wanted to share my joy, so I arranged our first dinner party of the year!



I wanted to have different fillings than the traditional pork belly. So I asked some of the others to come up with ideas and we could do like a “make your own taco” type of night. My contribution was a Jing Jiang Rou Si (京醬肉絲) filling. This type of dish was made by my mom when I was younger and I loved it. My dad would make Chinese tortillas and we’d wrap them and basically make little burritos. It’s definitely a comfort food for me. I thought, why can’t I put that same delicious filling in a gua bao? So I made some minor alterations and there was great success.


Ben had made his own venison pastrami at home. Cured for 12 days. He brought that over, and we paired that with some mustard and put it in the bun. Fantastic. Worked out remarkably well.


Hannah did some research on the internet and we found a five-spice fried tofu filling that was paired with avocado and a kimchi mayo. We made it, and we ate it. Result? Deliciousness. A resounding success on all three fronts.

Meanwhile, I got a loop pedal over Christmas and finally started playing with it. Here’s the result of about 1.5 hours of tinkering:


I’m hoping I can figure out some fun things to do for covers with just the violin. Playing guitar chords in an arpeggiated fashion is passable, but won’t work for everything. I did just randomly play a backing track and improv over it as well. I’m confident that with some more time and practice I’ll be able to do some fun things and get some licks and stuff in my repertoire.

I also took the loop pedal to Dan’s and I just marveled at his prowess. He’s never used it before, but he very quickly figured out some fun stuff to do. I just enjoyed sitting back and listening. He is truly a man of many talents. I’m hoping to play more music with him in the foreseeable future. But I need to practice some more so I can pull my own weight!


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