Saturday, August 31, 2013

Battle of the Foodies

It's the second week of school.  I had some doubts about this school year.  I doubted I'd find super cool people that I wanted to hang out with (I have, even if I miss the hell out of my old peeps).  I doubted we'd have enough characters this year for a new school edition of Apples to Apples (we do...oh boy, do we ever).  And I kinda doubted this school year could go by as quickly as last.  But then, as this week was streaming past in a blur, I was teasing one of my juniors, and he told me I'd be crying when the year was over, and all the hours of work and critique and yes, joking around, were done.  I assured him that I knew I would, especially since I might be leaving at the end of the year.  He was a little taken aback, realizing that yes, this was the second year of my contract, and most teachers leave then.  I'm not sure if I will, but the world is a big place and there are so many more places I want to see, so I've signed up for Search Associates, just in case.  And I can see the end from the beginning.

It's the second week of school, but it might as well be the last, because I know how fast the time will fly by, and how heartbroken I will be to leave Mongolia.  This is what I was thinking as I stopped on my way back down the hillside from a short hike this morning.  And the day progressed in a suitably weird fashion.  On my way to meet Engrish to check out this weekend's "Taste of UB" event, I ran into a friend I chose to excuse from my life (ie, I unfriended him on Facebook) on the basis of the fact that he didn't seem to want to have a part in it.  I'd kinda wanted to see him again but chose to avoid situations where I knew he'd be, because I didn't really want to be desperate and stalker-ish, but there he was, so I awkwardly called his name and asked how he was.  And it was awkward, but hey, closure!
Then there was Taste of UB itself.  If you're putting on a food festival, it kind of ought to be up and going in time for lunch, right?  Engrish and I circled the moat at the Children's Park three times before things were actually running, and by then it was 1:30 (and, sadly, some vendors were STILL setting up).  We had a few nice nibbles - I had a "taco" from Los Banditos Maharaja (the very unlikely Mexican-Indian restaurant),bruschetta from Marco Polo, and some saffron rice with chicken, pork, and fish from Essencia - but this was the second time an event at the Children's Park let me down.

However, this week was sort of like Grub Club Founder's Week.  So what if the Taste of UB was a bit of a wash?  Last weekend, as I mentioned, Viva City hosted the UB Food Festival, which was a much greater success.  I got out there around 1, and everything was rocking.  I tried a beef dish from Bi-Won Korean restaurant, Monet's mushroom risotto, and pho from the Pho House, and they were all delectable.
The UB food festival had a much larger variety of food.  In addition to Korean, French, and Vietnamese, they had Indian, Japanese, Italian, drinks, and a variety of other things.  The longest line that I saw was definitely the one for Namaste, one of our Indian restaurants, although Sky Lounge had quite a few dads in line buying drinks (food festivals being thirsty work!)
However, this week's Taste of UB beat last week's UB Food Festival in at least one respect: location.  Viva City hosted the food festival, undoubtedly as a way of getting people out there to see how awesome Viva City is.  But it's outside the city halfway to the airport, which is a pain in the butt, and besides that, Viva City isn't that awesome.  They are colorful and have shops on the ground floor (some of which are even occupied by restaurants and stores) and nice landscaping between the buildings, but when you look closer, they don't look that well constructed.  Also, they have that hideous uber-functional Soviet-era feel to them which all the bright colors in the world can't hide.
Whereas Taste of UB took place at the Children's Park, in the center of town.  Around the moat that surrounds a frigging castle!  It needed some shade, but otherwise it was a great location.  Too bad they didn't have equally good restaurants and most of them didn't have their shiznit together.  Oh well - it's the first year, for both events.  I'm sure that next year will be better...and if I do leave, that will be just another thing for me to cry over.

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