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AN ODE TO “SHANGHAI GIRLS,” CHINESE NEW YEAR, AND CHOCOLATE TERRA COTTA WARRIORS

4 years, 10 months ago Comments Off on AN ODE TO “SHANGHAI GIRLS,” CHINESE NEW YEAR, AND CHOCOLATE TERRA COTTA WARRIORS

China Poblano's Terra Cotta WarriorIn homage to the Year of the Dragon and Chinese New Year, the book club of Yours Truly opted to read Lisa See’s “Shanghai Girls” to celebrate the very auspicious occasion. Not only did we read (well, most of us) the book, which features a main character, who is most serendipitously a dragon sign, but we also held our gathering at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas’ China Poblano to try José André’s special Chinese New Year menu.

First the book. “Shanghai Girls” takes place in 1937 Shanghai, which is considered the Paris of Asia, full of great wealth and glamour, home to millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister May are having the time of their lives, thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business.

Though both wave off authority and traditions, they couldn’t be more different. Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and living the carefree life…until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth, and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides.

That’s just the first half of the book. You will have to go to the library to find out what happens to May and Pearl as they find their way to America and learn the customs of a new culture and country.

Now for the food. Las Vegas Literary & Libations Society met at China Poblano on the first day of the Chinese New Year (January 23) to partake in the restaurant’s two-week celebration which ends February 6. Prepared by Chef José Andrés’ culinary team, led by Head Chef Shirley Chung, the special menu features dishes like Golden Dragon (Maine lobster with cured eggs and scallions), Happy Family Jiaozi (pork, shrimp, mushroom, garlic and chive), and Gem of China (whole abalone with congee).

The Tea Eggs and Caviar were an exquisite decadence of tea marinated quail egg and Riofrío caviar. The Fire Phoenix of crispy young chicken and Sichuan peppercorn was like a Chinese New Year celebration for your mouth, especially with the unexpected topping of pork rinds.

China Poblano has also rolled out special cocktails for the celebration including Green Tea Sour (Jasmine Downey Pearls, green tea, Chivas Regal, and St. Germain), China Paloma, and Huang Di’s Kir Royale (cava/goji berry liqueur and goji berry pearls). Yours Truly was particularly smitten with China Paloma, China Poblano’s Chinese version of a Paloma made with Don Julio Tequila Reposado, lavender tea-infused grapefruit, syrup and soda. Very effervescent and zippy!

The restaurant’s Giggling Buddha Taking a Bath (strawberry gelee, lychee foam, and guanabana sorbet) is the special dessert for Chinese New Year, but we had a birthday to celebrate so we opted for the Chocolate Terra Cotta Warrior. The dessert’s focal point is a chocolate mold of a warrior filled with chocolate mousse and laid upon a bed of ginger ice cream and banana slices and surrounded by edible flowers and chocolate crumb dirt.

It was a fitting way to end multiple celebrations.

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