A new home for contemporary art in Beijing

By Kate Appleton
October 3, 2012

We just can't blog fast enough to keep up with the breakneck pace of Beijing's development, which extends well beyond its Olympics-related construction. Earlier this week, the city welcomed the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA).

One of China's few non-profit, privately funded arts organizations, the UCCA will host lectures and screenings of experimental films—in addition to contemporary shows, such as an inaugural one on the Chinese 1985 New Wave movement.

The UCCA's spare galleries, exposed support beams, and 31-foot-high ceilings recall the Bauhaus-style building's original function as an electronics factory. It's a natural fit for the 798 art district in Beijing's northeastern Dashanzi neighborhood, which got its start in the 1990s, when massive factories were converted into galleries, boutiques, and cafés.

UCCA, 798 art district, 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, 011-86/(0)10-8459-9269,, 30 RMB (about $4); closed Mondays.

Photo of an exhibition hall, courtesy of the UCCA.

EARLIER: The Great Wheel of China and Complete Coverage of the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Keep reading

Pisa's leaning tower gets "toppled"

If you've been planning to visit the world's most tilted tower, you're going to need to exchange those plane tickets to Italy. The Guinness Book of World Records says you'll need to fly to Germany instead. According to a Reuters news report, the upcoming 2009 edition of Guinness has ruled that the record belongs to a church steeple in the small village of Suurhusen, Germany. The Slate Tower, built in the 15th century, tilts at an angle of 5.07 degrees, while the famous Pisa tower only tilts at 3.97 degrees. Whether this is something to celebrate, I leave up to you. After all, the tilting is generally due to shoddy construction and poor planning. But the fact that each structure is still standing after hundreds of years means that the work couldn't have been that bad, right? RELATED Dream Trips: Leaning Tower of Pisa RELATED Trip Coach: Germany for the Holidays Suurhusen photo by edwardyanquen via Flickr and Creative Commons Pisa photo by Argenberg via Flickr and Creative Commons


Lock it up

It's gotten chilly here in the Northeast, which ultimately gets me daydreaming about a day at the beach. To me, there's nothing better than spending a day on the sand and swimming in the salty blue. But if you're like me, the pockets of your swimsuit are often full of the essentials: Cash, ID, keys, perhaps a cell phone—though there's no way I'm taking a call. So what's a beachgoer to do with all that stuff when it's time to take a dip? I don't know about you, but bobbing around with my back towards the horizon and my eyes focused on a towel-covered pile is not my idea of a good time. That's why I love the TravelSafe 100 from Pacsafe, a manufacturer of innovative, anti-theft travel gear. The lightweight portable safe can be secured to just about anything, such as your chaise lounge—plus, it's lined with stainless steel cables making it slash proof, snatch proof, and tamper proof. It retails for $40 at, a small price to pay for beachy peace of mind. MORE BY DAVID LAHUTA Delta's food for thought.


The Great Wheel of China

Set to debut in 2009, the Beijing Great Wheel (see the computer-generated image above) will reach about 682 feet into the sky. The Ferris wheel will have 48 air conditioned observation capsules, each of which can carry up to 40 passengers, according to a Reuters news report. Prices haven't been set, but officials were suggesting 6 yuan, or about 80 cents, per person. EARLIER A new cookbook offers a taste of China. RELATED's Beijing 2008 Olympic Games coverage.


A Chinese feast for all the senses

One of the things I've noticed as the editor of our Trip Coach column is that regardless of who's traveling or where they're going, the couples and families we send on trips eventually ask the same question: Where should we eat? I get it. Food matters—the way it brings people together, gives us insight into other cultures, reminds us to slow down, or, when it's really good, completely stops us in our tracks. This is never more true than when we travel. If you're like me, your answer to the "how was your trip?" question inevitably comes around to the food: the perfect crêpe with Nutella in France; the käsekrainer (cheese-stuffed sausage) and hot spiced wine that kept you warm during a sub-zero Christmas fair in Vienna; the delicious, stick-to-your-ribs marathon dinners your Hungarian hostess prepared to fatten you up. What we eat, and whom we eat it with, shapes our trip and, ultimately, our impression of the place. I'm thinking about all of this because a of cookbook that hits bookstore shelves on Wednesday, Nov. 8: My China: A Feast for All the Senses, by Kylie Kwong (Viking Studio; recently $37 from It's gorgeous and full of really amazing-looking recipes, but that is true for a lot of cookbooks. What I love about this one is that it recognizes that food and place are inextricably linked. The author—whom my editor tells me has a great restaurant in Sydney—traveled to ten cities in China and Tibet for her research, and she devotes a good chunk of the book to recounting her journey. Among the recipes for dumplings, rice congee, and soy-braised pork belly, we get her observations about the people, the history, and the culture of China and Tibet. (If Kwong weren't a good writer, this wouldn't work, but she is, so it does.) There are also pages and pages of stunning photographs—of the dishes, of course, but also of people, landscapes, markets, and street scenes. My China is food the way it should be: a really important part of a much bigger picture. Here's one of the recipes I'm dying to try: Rare Beef and King Prawn Salad with Soft-Boiled Eggs [From My China: A Feast for All the Senses, by Kylie Kwong. Slightly re-formatted from the book version.] Marinade »2 garlic cloves, finely chopped »1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped »2 tablespoons brown sugar »1/4 cup shao hsing cooking wine »1 tablespoon light soy sauce »1 teaspoon sesame oil Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Then add: »10 oz. best-quality beef fillet Mix well. Cover, place in refrigerator, and leave to marinate for 1 hour. Remove beef from marinade and sear on a hot grill pan or in a heavy-based frying pan for 4 minutes, then turn over and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all salad and herb leaves in a bowl. »1 handful watercress »1 handful baby spinach »1 handful mint leaves »1 handful cilantro »1 handful Vietnamese mint leaves »2 tablespoons peanut oil »8 uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined but with tails left intact »2 free-range eggs, soft-boiled and peeled Next, combine all dressing ingredients in another bowl and mix well. Dressing »1 tablespoon brown sugar »2 tablespoons light soy sauce »1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar »1/2 teaspoon sesame oil »1/3 cup best-quality extra virgin olive oil Heat oil in a hot frying pan or wok and sear prawns for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Toss salad with a third of the dressing and transfer to a serving platter. Cut beef into 1/4-inch slices and arrange over salad, along with prawns. Carefully cut eggs in half and place on top of salad, then drizzle with remaining dressing and serve immediately. Serves 4 as a starter. * Vietnamese mint, also know as laksa leaf, can be found at Asian supermarkets; if it is unavailable, just add a little more cilantro and mint to the salad. MORE FOR FOODIES Simple Paella Recipe from the classic Spanish cookbook 1080 Recipes, newly in English translation this month.. Vietnam: Stealing Buddha's Dinner Eating on tour with the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand Montreal: The favorite restaurants of the bloggers behind "An Endless Banquet."