spunktitud3

Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun


3 Comments

Taiwan – Step into a candylicious fairytale at Cingjing’s Nina de Chocolate 妮娜巧克力工坊

Nina_01

Who can ever resist such pretty bonbons?

Tucked away in the picturesque mountains of Cingjing, Nina de Chocolate is a cute, little candy house making exquisite handmade chocolate bearing interesting flavours with locally-sourced ingredients such as Cingjing gooseberry, kaoliang liqueur and even Alishan wasabi.
Nina_02Located within Florence Resort Villa, Nina de Chocolate reminds one of a candy house found in a fairytale. It is one of the attractions in Cingjing, and people come here to buy their special handmade chocolates home or have tea.
Nina_03
Even their mode of transport is so cute!

Nina_04
The theme of the place is whimsical, and great for families with kids or just about anybody with a sweet tooth (dats me!).
Nina_05
Enjoy the cool air and have your chocolates at the outdoor terrace.
The chocolate atelier is maintained at an optimal 18 degrees celsius to ensure the best quality of chocolate, so if it gets too crowded, visitors are offered tea and invited to wait at the terrace for a short while.
Nina de Chocolate 妮娜巧克力工坊
With such delicious dessert, everyday is Christmas ;)
Nina_06
Nina de Chocolate was opened by the owners of Florence Resort Villa as a present for their daughter named Nina who loves chocolate, and Nina also means ‘girl’ in Spanish.
Nina_07
The interior of the shop is a cosy space with a retail area and chocolate DIY corner. All the girls were naturally attracted to the chocolate. The welcoming shop staff also offer you chocolate samplings *squealing with glee* :)
Nina_08
Nina de Chocolate uses Swiss Lindt and Belgium chocolate to ensure a smooth, rich taste and no preservatives are used. They creatively use locally-sourced ingredients such as gooseberry and red tea from Cingjing, wasabi from Alishan, Kaoliang wine, Taiwanese black sugar and peaches to create unique flavours.
Nina_09How do I resist this amazing spread – I want to try every single flavour! :p The chocolatier also offers seasonal flavours, do ask for them when you visit.
Nina_09a
My eyes lit up when I saw the alcohol series; there’s cherry liqueur, blueberry liqueur and even rice wine flavour!
Nina_09b
Their attractive packaging makes for awesome gifts to bring home. Do note they do not keep long as no preservatives are used, so only buy if you are travelling home within the next 3 days.
Nina_10
This is the lucky girl Nina :) By the way, the three Italian gondolas beside her are made of chocolate. They do not melt as the air in Cingjing is perennially cooling.
Nina_11
These attractive chocolate pops sure make attractive gifts to bring back home for visitors.
Nina_12These chocolate-coated nuts have a slightly longer shelf life, so you can buy them home. They are easy to pack in the luggage too ;)
Nina_13
These ink stamps are so Japanese-inspired!
Nina_15
The pretty chocolatier introducing the cocoa bean to us, and showing how to make a chocolate-coated gooseberry which was freshly plucked.

Showing us how chocolate is prepared
Nina_16What’s more special than simply visiting a shop to buy chocolates? We made our own at their DIY chocolate-making class. Classes are held daily and each session lasts about 2 hours with a maximum 15 pax. While you can register on the spot, the DIY classes are pretty popular with kids and groups, so I would encourage you to make an advance booking online if you can.
Nina_17Here’s my very own chocolate mold and decorative ingredients; time to unleash the Picasso in me :)
Nina_18After you are done with your designs, chocolate which was earlier prepared by the staff is poured into the mould and put into the refrigerator to cool for 15 minutes.
Nina_19
And viola – my masterpieces! :)
Nina_20Proudly showing off the fruits of our labour :) Nina_21
And we indulged in a chocolate feast to reward ourselves ;)
Nina_21
One of the most special flavours in the shop is this attractive pink-coloured one named Galaxy. Much like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, it is made up of cotton candy, strawberry crisp balls, Belgium white chocolate and…… jumping sweets which fizzles in your mouth!
Nina_22
Looking inside of Galaxy – Interesting flavour worth a try :)
Nina_23
Oooh…the kaoliang rice wine is oozing out of my chocolate! *hic*
Nina_24I love dark chocolate, and the 85% raw chocolate sent me to the moon. I can still remember the feeling of smooth, rich chocolate filling up my mouth. Mmmmmmm…sinful pleasures ;p
Nina_25
This green wasabi flavour is one of the shop’s most popular offerings – there were only three left! (And I ate two muahaha)
Nina_26Saying it with a chocolate – I LOVE it!
Nina_27
My master creations all wrapped up and ready to go home with me :)
Nina_28Nina de Chocolate is really a fairytale come true, cos’ we had so much fun and chocolate to last the entire trip – I felt like a child again :) Do drop by for a visit the next time you are in Cingjing!

Nina de Chocolate 妮娜巧克力工坊
Address: 南投縣仁愛鄉大同村榮光巷8之3號 (at Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯民宿)
Tel: +886 (0)4 9280 2988
Opening hours: 9:00AM to 7:00PM
Website: http://www.nina-choc.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Nina.chocolat

Read more of my travels in Taiwan

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Taiwan – A taste of Yunnan at Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理 Cingjing Lumama Yunna Restaurant

Tuck into a feast of authentic Yunnan dishes at Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Apart from enjoying the ubiquitous steamboat meals at their minsu, visitors to Cingjing can also visit Lumama Restaurant, a popular eatery serving authentic Yunnan/Shan tribe cuisine. Located just above Cingjing Farm 清境農場, the restaurant boasts a scenic view of the Central Mountain Range.

清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理 Cingjing Lumama Yunnan Restaurant

Lumama is housed in a pretty stone mansion. At 2044 metres above sea level, come in long pants and a light sweater, especially during night time. You’ve been forewarned ;)

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

The spacious restaurant occupies two levels
Mama Lu, who was originally from the Bai Yi tribe, settled down in Cingjing with her veteran husband who fought alongside Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces. The family decided to open a restaurant featuring Mama Lu’s Bai Yi cuisine which gained popularity with visitors. She now runs the dining establishment with help from her children. They also make regular trips to Yunnan to source for ingredients and special soup pots 汽锅。

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

客似云来
What’s special here is that the restaurant combines authentic Yunnan recipes with local produce from the nearby farms, ensuring a unique taste found nowhere else.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

You can order ala carte or if you have enough people (or are REALLY hungry) set meals which includes their specialty dishes. The portions are hearty.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

香酥包料魚 Crispy Stuffed Fish
God is fair – You are so ugly, but so tasty. LOL. Herbs and spices are stuffed into the Wu Guo Fish/Taiwn Lu Fish 吳郭魚/台灣鯛魚, a cichlidae species, bound with a string to keep the ingredients from falling out and then deep fried to a crisp.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Crispy Stuffed Fish 香酥包料魚
Super yummy – this is a must-order.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

It’s Fear Factor time – Crispy deep-fried Bamboo Worms 香酥竹蟲
One of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, these critters are imported from Burma and Thailand inside bamboo cylinders. Once you get over the initial hesitation and pop one inside your mouth, trust me – you will not stop. It was like eating crispy, airy French Fries, minus the fats and pile on the protein and fibre!
I could have easily polished off an entire plate by myself. Just don’t stop to examine the worms – I did that for 3 seconds, looking at the many legs and almost gagged. Just eat and don’t think, don’t look, lol.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

 Cold Appetizer 凉拌薄片
A crunchy and spicy cold appetizer of pig’s head skin 猪头皮, peanuts and spices

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Spicy Mung Bean Cake 凉拌豌豆粉
A popular cold appetizer, this is a green jelly served with cucumber, coriander and ground peanut dribbled with a sweet, spicy sauce.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Home-made Yunnan preserved meat 腊肠 + 腊肉

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Cold Pork Jelly 水晶凍
Think collagen-rich and start eating

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Tang Kwei Chicken Soup 當歸鸡汤
This was one of my favourite dishes. The wholesome soup warmed me up nicely and the tang kwei 當歸 so fresh, it was grown in their own backyard.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

We even asked the restaurant to dig up a fresh tang kwei to show us since we have never seen this plant in its natural form lol. It is more commonly found as a dried herbal medicine, and best for women. :)

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Thick Vermicelli in Soup 傣味米干

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Yunnan Chicken Stew Pot 云南汽锅鸡
This is another star dish, do note advance order is required for this dish. Go for it.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Fried minced meat with Preserved Sour Vegetables 酸菜肉丝

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Fried Local Cabbage 炒高麗菜
Another simple dish well done. The locally grown cabbage was sweet to the taste, no extra condiments were needed.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Yunnan Pepper Chicken 云南胡椒鸡

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant 清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理

Jin Sa 錦灑 Minced Pork with Herbs wrapped in Cabbage
A popular Shan dish, it is eaten by wrapping the savoury minced meat with raw locally-grown cabbage. I love the crisp of fresh mountain produce which paired very well with the meat. Best part – low carb! ;)

We were all very satisfied with the hearty meal – it was value for money at TWD3,500 (est. S$148) for 12 dishes + 1 soup. I never thought I could savor authentic Yunnan cuisine at Cingjing, cleverly adapted to make good use of locally-grown produce. The ingredients were fresh and dishes unique, I would think it’s worth a visit for any visitor to this part of town.

Cingjing Lumama Restaurant清境魯媽媽雲南擺夷料理
Address: No. 210-2-1, Renhe Rd, Datong Village, Renai Township, Nantou, Taiwan
南投縣仁愛鄉大同村仁和路210-2-1號〈近松崗博望新村〉
(Just off No. 14 Jia Provincial Highway 省道台14甲線 above Cingjing Farm 清境農場)
Opening Hours: 11:00AM to 9:00PM (kitchen closes 8:00PM)
Tel: +886 4 9280 3876
Email: lumama2003@yahoo.com.tw
Website: http://www.lumama.tw
Cash only
Getting Here

Read more of my travels in Taiwan


Leave a comment

Taiwan – Baroque Splendor at Cingjing’s Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊“This is a minsu 民宿? You gotta be kiddin’ me – it looks more like a castle!” I told my Taiwanese friend when we first arrived at Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊. The Italian-themed minsu is no doubt one of the best accommodation that Cingjing has to offer, coupled with a breathtaking view of the scenic mountains and lush grassland of Cingjing. It’s no wonder they are always fully booked by both local weekend trippers and overseas guests.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

The humble entrance along the road belies the grandeur of the resort which is made up of two main buildings – main Italian Rural Castle 義大利鄉村城堡(一館) and Constantinople 君士坦丁堡(二館).

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

The main Italian Rural Castle 義大利鄉村城堡(一館) and stairs leading to the second building Constantinople where most of the larger rooms are. They offer spacious lofts which can comfortably accommodate the whole family.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Catch a view of Bihu/Emerald Lake 碧湖, part of Wanli Reservoir 萬大水庫 running through the mountains of Cingjing from the villa. Mesmerizing.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

With such gorgeous scenery and weather, even I am tempted to go for a morning jog :)

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Farms co-exist harmoniously with the numerous minsu in this area, providing delicious local mountain produce 山菜 for visitors

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

I got hungry by just looking at those crisp-looking leaves!

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

The view is so surreal, it’s just the perfect place to relax and forget about the cares of the world.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

You can find floral blooms almost anywhere…along the roads, growing out of crevices, anywhere.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Cute figurines welcome you as you enter the lobby of Florence Resort Villa

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Da Xiong (which looked more like a lion) the resident Golden Retriever is also at the lobby to welcome you. We woke him up from his nap haha.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Venetian carnival masks line the the stone wall in the lobby. I wonder if I can borrow one for the night :p

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

The decor of the villa is heavily Italian-inspired

Florence Resort Villa

The villa organises special programmes for guests as well depending on the season, such as this star gazing activity. It would be really cool to photograph the Milky Way adorned with Cingjing’s mountains.

Florence Resort Villa

There’s a library of DVDs and books which you can borrow, so no fear of boring nights :)

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

A little cafe area beside the lobby where you can relax and have tea.

Florence Resort Villa

Florence Resort Villa

Coffee, tea or me?

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Nice little area for guests to relax just outside the main Italian Rural Castle building

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Go round the corner down the slope, and you will discover a whimsical little hut, much like Hansel and Gretel’s. It’s actually Nina de Chocolate 妮娜巧克力工坊, a popular little chocolate atelier set up by the villa owners for their daughter Nina who loves to eat chocolate (lucky girl!). People specially come here to buy hand-made chocolates, while we went a step further – we took a short lesson to make some :)

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

I shall take my hand-made chocolates and eat them here, and pretend I am in a magical forest :)

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Here is where we are staying – Constantinople.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

It’s no wonder people call Cingjing Little Switzerland – for a moment I thought I was in Europe!

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

The guestrooms are named after the renowned cities of Italy, including Venice, Milan and Firenze. Here’s our friend’s spacious Baroque Double Room, an ideal choice for couples and honey mooners. You can almost play hide-and-seek here.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

This is home for the trip, also a Baroque Double Room in another colour scheme.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, can I stay here for good? :)

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Super huge bathroom with a stone tub to soak in. The only gripe I have is that only a thick curtain separates the room and the toilet, so I will get a little conscious when I am taking a dump lol. Well, I guess if you are a couple, you gotta take each other’s good and crap – literally, haha.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Super plus point for me – heated toilet seat! Yeah, I like my bum warm and cosy, especially in a place where temperatures are 10-14 degree celsius in general :)

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Most of the essential toiletries are provided

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

All the information you need is conveniently documented in a red book. You can also take the villa’s shuttle services to visit attractions in Cingjing, or charter one of their vehicles to bring you around.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

They even provide ambient music to get you into the relaxed mood.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

The villa provides every room with their own coffee machine, a tap to dispense hot/cold water (right) as well as hand-made chocolates from their chocolate atelier.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Even Dottie the bunny can’t wait to get to bed :)

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Gorgeous view from the room balcony. I don’t want to go out.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Hang out at Starry Bar with your loved ones and watch the stars dance above you during the night.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Dining area

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

The villa provides steamboat meals as well as Western/Italian dishes with buffet.

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Oooo…many choices of beverages for breakfast! I love soya bean milk :)

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Part of the breakfast buffet

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

Bon appetite :)

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

We had a very pleasant and luxurious stay at Florence Resort Villa. There was much to do, we never felt bored. The warm hospitality of the service staff made us feel welcome as well, and we were blessed with good weather to take in a superb view of the scenery from the villa. I would recommend this place for couples and families looking for a special, fuss-free holiday or celebrating something special. While it’s not the cheapest option out there, we didn’t feel short-changed from the entire experience. Afterall, it’s not everyday you get to feel like an Italian princess :)

Florence Resort Villa 清境佛羅倫斯渡假山莊清境民宿
Address: No.8-3, Rongguang Ln., Ren’ai Township, Nantou County 546, Taiwan
南投縣仁愛鄉榮光巷8-3號
Email: florance568@yahoo.com.tw
Tel: +886 4 9280 3820/3832
Website: http://www.florance.com.tw
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/floranceresort

Searching for a minsu in Cingjing? Here’s some you can consider:
The Old England Hotel 老英格蘭莊園 (Creme de la creme of the lot; 6 months advance booking)
– Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊 (Gorgeous Italian-themed villa; very popular too)
– Starry Minsu 清境民宿觀星園景觀山莊 (Highest-located minsu in Cingjing; good aerial view)
Misting Minsu 雲濛仙境民宿 (Convenient location)
Qingjing Xiaozhu 清境小築 (Homely place with nice scenery)

Read more posts on Cingjing
Explore Taiwan with Spunktitud3!


Leave a comment

Photography – Once Upon a Sunny Tale

Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊

This scene taken at Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯渡假山莊 in Cingjing 清境 reminds me of a fairytale, complete with castles, cottages and a cheery sun. Now I just need my fairy godmother to send a Prince Charming, and the picture is complete :)