So I’ve been leading Chinese food tours in the San Gabriel Valley for awhile. It’s been pretty casual — consisting of a couple posts on this blog and my social media accounts. I’ve led three on-camera tours, two private group ones, and at least five to six public tours.
It’s been a weird, sporadic journey…but I finally pulled it together and created a company for my tours. It’s called Curated Gnomes. Gnomes = a play on the word nom.
Though we’re sticking to Chinese food tours right now, we’re currently in the works of bringing in other food bloggers & experts to curate their own tours and events. The catch? Everything has to have an educational angle.
Our next tours are Sunday, March 23 + Saturday, April 5.
All the details here.
I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. The Hallmark-infested holiday has traditionally made me uneasy because it essentially boils down to being a social media contest (whether we chose to participate) of whose boyfriend did it better.
“Best boyfriend ever!” “He got me flowers!” “Five-course dinner? What a keeper.”
We’ve been doing it all wrong. This time, I entered Valentine’s Day with one rule: “$1 spending limit.” (It’s probably better for the girl to suggest this, cuz a dude will probably come off as super cheap if he’s the one to bring it up.) Of course, my dude was totally on board, after a courteous, “Are you sure?”
Yes I was.
The results were marvelous. Here’s what happens:
1) You save money
It’s a known fact that everything is marked up around Valentine’s Day. Restaurants, chocolate stores, and flower shops know that they can’t do wrong and so the prices are marked up sky high. While I adore food, chocolate, and flowers — I can’t justify the extra mark-up. You can get me those when they’re cheap. But for V-Day, let’s save you a pretty penny. A trip to the dollar store is all you need.
2) You navigate away from the cliches.
A five-course dinner on Valentine’s Day? Huge teddy bears, a large vase of flowers on the desk? Awesome, except for the fact that millions of women are receiving the same gift across the world on the same day. Save those for when I’m having a shitty day or on a regular ol’ Wednesday. The surprise factor will win you points.
3) You’re forced to get creative
…and meaningful. Both of our presents were handmade and required a lot of thought. He took me night hiking and brought up his guitar in a case — while hilariously denying the entire way that he actually had a guitar in it.
“Oh! Is that a guitar?” a couple inquired on our way up.
“Never mind dude…”
There were quite a handful of other couples up the mountain (should’ve known) popping champagne, but his gift was amazing and required a lot of guts to execute. Plus, that one couple sitting right behind us eating pasta got a kick out of it. Free concert right?
Hands down, one of the most memorable nights of my life.
4) It becomes a celebration of your relationship
…not your wallet. While making each other’s presents, we were really forced to think about the other person. The day is no longer about how grandiose and flashy your significant other can go — but rather, what they can do to make you feel special with nothing but a dollar. Away with the materialism. Plus, hiking up a dark mountain with your person is super conducive to conversation. Your blood is pumping, it’s just you two, and it’s a great time to talk. Super recommended.
As some of you guys know, I had a food tour giveaway set up for the entire month of January. The whole thing was sponsored by the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth, a personal injury and immigration attorney based in San Gabriel.
I’ve drawn the winner and her name is Eileen Tien! Turns out she also has a food blog. I can’t wait to meet her and her friends. As part of the contest, she’ll be treated to a personalized food tour of the San Gabriel Valley led by yours truly.
A huge thank you to everyone who entered. “LIKE” my Facebook page for news on new giveaways, or just sign up for a food tour. $65 for four hours of noshing. Here’s the schedule page. I have two planned in the upcoming month.
*****BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE.*****
I had a very successful food tour on Saturday. Hit up Sichuan, Taiwan, Shaanxi, Wuxi all in one go. Wonderful group of eight people and plenty of leftovers to take home. So back by popular demand, I’m doing another tour this month but…
Breakdown: Switching up my normal itinerary and doing a walking tour this time. Definitely not for the squeamish. There will be lots of spicy places so please no dietary restricted folks. (Unless it’s very minor and you tell me ahead of time)
How this tour is different from others: Each stop will feature a different region of China. I’ve published articles on all of these restaurants and will be explaining cool little factoids and regional nuances of particular dishes. For example, did you know the Sichuan peppercorn is not really a pepper? It’s actually in the citrus family.
- Hunan spicy fish from Hunan Chili King
- Sichuan dan dan noodles from Lucky Noodle King
- – a 15 minute walk –
- Wuhan griddle dry pots from Tasty Dining
- Yunnan spicy chicken cubes and crossing over bridge noodles from Spicy City:
- Wuxi soup dumplings from Wang Xing Ji. (to cool down)
- – a 15 minute walk –
- And a surprise dessert break.
Meet at 534 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776 at 10:50 am. Price: $65. Estimated time: 5 hours.
*****BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE.*****
If you can’t make this one, sign up here for my mailing list to be notified of future events.
You’ve heard me talk about it before. I recently helped launch Xian Wei, a private regional dinner series dedicated to Chinese food. Each course is an homage to a different region of China.
How it works: There’s only eight spots available per dinner, and it’s held at a gorgeous private residence at San Pedro. (Only paid attendees will get the address.) The chef is a 19-year-old prodigy. There are five courses, and each course covers a specific region of China. Regions we’ve covered before: Anhui, Hunan, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Wuhan. I’ll be on hand to explain each region and its corresponding flavor profiles.
We had our first event on Saturday, the eight spots were sold out and all in all, it was a very successful event.
We’re having another one this Saturday, January 25 at 6PM and three in February. Book your reservations now! Here’s the schedule: https://xianwei.yapsody.com. And email me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
All the info is on our website: www.xian-wei.com
(And a warm thank you to one of our guests last time for such kind words!)