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245 Celestial Vinegar

 Yuan Zhou knew the rabbit meat had a texture of acidity like that of the roe deer. Besides, if the eyes of the rabbit were closed after it died, it cannot be eaten. This had been recorded in ancient books.

The rabbit meat cooked by Yuan Zhou was naturally free from all these concerns. Originally, Yuan Zhou replaced the white sugar with honey because the sweetness of the honey would linger although it wasn't really strong. Apart from that, the honey itself contained a slightly oily feeling and hence would become shinier and smoother as well as brighter in color after being fumigated.

Only after he had finished all the work in the restaurant did Yuan Zhou have time to go upstairs to sleep soundly until the next morning. Thinking of the soup dumplings that hadn't been cooked for a long time, Yuan Zhou rolled over to get up.

Having washed up, Yuan Zhou went out for jogging. The long journey for the past few days had shown the benefits of exercising, therefore he paid more attention to that.

After taking a rest for a few days, Yuan Zhou opened the restaurant for business again. Although his usual expression still remained, his state of mind changed a little. The shadow of the old royal chef was still lingering in his sight.

"Hu.... I had better do my things first and then consider others." Yuan Zhou settled down to his work and began to knead the dough earnestly.

"Jia Jia, do you think our boss has opened the restaurant?" asked Shen Min uneasily.

"Of course. Our boss has always been punctual." Zhou Jia answered affirmatively. She didn't have much anxiety, in other words, she took things in easily.

Shen Min, however, was a different person. Due to her character, she had always been worried that Yuan Zhou would quit the business. Like the person of ancient Qi kingdom who worried the sky would fall, she was always anxious.

It also might be because she had already studied quite hard, but her accomplishments were always not very good. Even for the entrance to the college, she gave all her effort. Zhou Jia was different from her. Despite her poor family conditions, she always came first in examinations even if she was just studying courses for adults.

"Min Min, you really don't need to go to class today?" Zhou Jia looked at Shen Min and asked her with care.

"No problem. The first two lessons are self-study classes. So don't worry," Shen Min thought for a while and said affirmatively.

"Then you can go back after we check the restaurant," Zhou Jia said to her earnestly.

"Humm." Shen Min nodded the head, not giving any positive or negative answer.

In a while, the two of them arrived at Yuan Zhou's restaurant, where there were many acquaintances waiting in line outside the restaurant.

"This Boss Yuan is damn hateful. As soon as he comes back, he cooks delicious dishes." The first person was Wu Zhou. He said unreservedly while smelling the fragrance of the soup dumplings.

"If you don't want to eat, you can leave," Ling Hong looked discontentedly at Wu Zhou who was ahead of him and said discourteously.

"I don't mean that. It's just that my wallet is going to bleed again and I don't know how to explain to my girlfriend." Wu Zhou revealed a miserable look of "You single people know nothing."

"What do you think if we throw you out of the line?" Octopus stretched out his head and asked Wu Zhou while looking at him seriously.

"No violence is allowed over here at Boss Yuan's restaurant." Wu Zhou revealed a solemn look. Apparently, he was imitating Yuan Zhou's usual expression.

"Ho Ho. No one would say no if I throw you out," said Octopus indifferently.

"Then I can move forward to take your position," Ling Hong said arrogantly.

"We might as well discuss what dishes Boss Yuan will cook for breakfast." Wu Zhou changed the subject stiffly. However, the subject did work well.

The crowd started to guess the breakfast dishes one after another. As the regular customers, these several people were more certain about the specific dishes. After all, they ate here many times and were quite familiar with that.

When Shen Min and Zhou Jia arrived, they saw the bustling scene and instantly became relieved.

"So there's no problem now. Min Min, you hurry back to attend your classes." Zhou Jia said with a smile.

"Yes, I will come by in the evening." Instead of waiting for Yuan Zhou to open the door, Shen Min directly headed back to her college.

Just in a little while, Yuan Zhou's restaurant was opened punctually at the agreed time. And although the customers were unable to wait longer, they didn't forget Yuan Zhou's rules and all waited patiently in the line for seats.

"Boss Yuan, what did you do when you were away?" having the least scruples, Wu Zhou directly asked.

"Collect honey." Answered Yuan Zhou with an indifferent manner.

"You went to collect the honey by yourself? Boss Yuan, did you get stung?" Wu Zhou looked at Yuan Zhou up and down.

Wu Zhou once had the experience of touching a bee when he had seen one fall on the ground during his childhood and then getting stung on his thumb. Ever since then, he hated bees very much. The source of the hatred was, of course, the fear, which was the reason he asked.

"Of course not," Yuan Zhou answered him with quite a firm tone.

"He might have recovered after being stung," Ling Hong revealed an evil smile and then said suddenly.

"No, that's impossible. I remember it takes at least one week for the bulge to vanish after bee's sting." Wu Zhou seemed to have a lot of experience.

"The propolis is said to have the function of hastening healing." Octopus also showed up and participated in the heated talk.

"As a chef, collecting food materials is an indispensable capability. We chefs have nothing to fear," said Yuan Zhou shamelessly.

He had totally forgotten how he followed Liu Zi and asked him humbly all the way and how cautious he was while going down the cliff.

"Hey, you guys. Are you eating or not? This old man is going to starve. Why do you all still chirp endlessly?" Lee Yanyi really couldn't bear that and thus complained with a blaming tone.

"Hi. May I ask what you like to order?" Zhou Jia went up and asked him hurriedly.

"Humph. You guys are all as dense as a tree trunk and, moreover, have so many rules." Seeing the girl come to greet him, he contrarily wasn't worried anymore. He first complained for a while and then started to order his dishes.

"A serving of Soup Dumplings and a small plate of Celestial Vinegar." Every time Lee Yanyi ordered the dishes, he brought out the name of the vinegar.

"One moment, please," Zhou Jia answered neatly.

Yuan Zhou straightforwardly placed the two dishes on the tray and gave it to Zhou Jia to pass to the customer.

"Sir, how do you know it's Celestial Vinegar?" Ling Hong was to some extent an experienced foodie and loved the soup dumplings most. However, he had never known much about the vinegar. It was also the first time that he had met with Lee Yanyi.

Certainly, he knew Lee Yanyi, but nevertheless didn't uncover that he was a food critic.

"Huh, a lad naturally can't recognize it just by eating." Lee Yanyi had always talked with Yuan Zhou like that. He never knew what was called courtesy.

"It's indeed Celestial Vinegar," Yuan Zhou suddenly uttered and confirmed that.

"Of course, this old man won't make that mistake." Hearing that, Lee Yanyi appeared to be more complacent.

"Here are your dishes." At that time, Zhou Jia carried the soup dumplings and the vinegar to him.

"The vinegar is red in color and acidic in the taste. It wasn't astringent at all and moreover was fresh and delicate. It's supposed to be the first yield of the newly made vinegar. Otherwise, there wouldn't be such a taste," Lee Yanyi said in detail while pointing at the vinegar in the small plate.

"But Boss Yuan, which method did you use to make the celestial vinegar? It surprisingly has no dregs and extra odor. Besides, even the color is so transparent." Lee Yanyi had long been expecting to ask him about that and only got the chance this time.

"Take the rice cooked on the lunar month May 1st and shape it into rice balls. Store one every day until noon of the next May 1st. Crumble them and then wash the rice clean. Next, put all of them in a jar along with the water used for steaming the rice. Use the willow branch to stir for the first seven days. And one month later, the vinegar is produced naturally." Yuan Zhou brought out the preparation method as concisely as possible.

Since Yuan Zhou had personally experienced the whole process before, he explained carefully in detail.

"It's truly complex." Lee Yanyi looked at Yuan Zhou with a complex gaze.

Preparing this thing required much patience. He needed to make it at a fixed time every day. Even an auxiliary material was so complex, let alone the main ingredients. That was why Yuan Zhou's dishes were so expensive.

Although some people would complain about the price, most of them were convinced of Yuan Zhou's craftsmanship.

Speaking of the celestial vinegar, could anyone find another store that sold the same one in Chengdu City?

"Master Yuan, your craftsmanship is truly supreme," Lee Yanyi heaved a sigh and then said earnestly.

"Thank you." Yuan Zhou expressed his gratitude calmly.

But in his heart, he was naturally very happy. Yuan Zhou had already known that this person was a food critic. Although he came for meals frequently, he never wrote any comments for his restaurant. For the overdue compliment now, Yuan Zhou, of course, wouldn't feel embarrassed.