Ivy of Ivy’s Kitchen is no rookie at teaching strangers to cook. Her modest Taipei apartment has hosted curious foreign gastronomes for 17 years. Over a delicate Oolong tea served in doll-sized cups Ivy tells me about all the families leaving the cities to start organic farms in the island’s pristine east. Where possible, Ivy buys organic. “I cook a lot, so I’m interested in the source.”
Unlike some Chinese food, Taiwanese food is mild and light. While (dumpling chain) Din Tai Fung brought Taiwan’s dumplings to the world, Ivy teaches me three lesser-known classics: three cups chicken, preserved radish omelet and braised minced pork rice.
The pork is a highlight – so common and well-loved Ivy calls it “Taiwanese Bolognese”. The omelet is a fallback dish using ingredients in all Taiwanese pantries – great for feeding unexpected guests, Ivy explains.
Eating together is like dining with an old friend. We share some sweet homemade wine and when it’s time for me to (easily) hail a cab, she packs me a generous take-home box.