Chapter 276: A Whopping 8.5 Million Yuan
Atlas Studios Atlas Studios
Regarding the storefront’s renovation and design, Wen Xinya called Gu Junling. Indeed, he had connections in this area and introduced a designer who was very experienced in ancient architectural design. After several rounds of communication and alterations, the storefront was finally confirmed to be styled after the prosperous Tang dynasty, combining honor and extravagance, truly forging an imperial royal banquet.
Gu Junling even introduced the original renovation crew of the Ninth-Heaven to Wen Xinya. Naturally, Wen Xinya was overjoyed and fully handed over all matters concerning renovation works of the storefront to them. The renovation of the storefront was being carried out hurriedly and was understood to be able to be completed in just three months.
With this matter settled, Wen Xinya decided to treat Gu Junling to a meal as a show of her appreciation. Of course, she also asked Zhou Tianyu, Xu Tongxuan, and Ling Qingxuan along—it was a pity that Han Mofeng couldn’t join them due to the strict discipline of his military school.
Naturally, she couldn’t treat Gu Junling to a meal at the Ninth-Heaven—otherwise, it would seem too insincere. After all, the Ninth-Heaven was his family’s estate and he had already tasted all the dishes and beverages there before.
Wen Xinya heard Grampy mention a private kitchen by chance. Thus, she brought Gu Junling there to try some dishes together.
After school, the few of them came to a small alley at the southern district of the capital city together. The small alley, which still retained ancient architecture, felt deep and quiet, having been through the vicissitudes of life. The slightly peeling walls were filled with signs of aging, yet felt surprisingly simple and unsophisticated.
Wen Xinya brought them to the door of one of the units and lightly tapped the copper ring on the door a few times. Very quickly, the door swung open to a forty-odd-years-old middle-aged woman wearing a blue-printed cotton shirt, her hair meticulously combed up to the back of her head, and her nails neatly trimmed, making her feel like a plain and clean person.
“Are you guys here to dine? We only accept reservations here!” Although the woman was speaking words of rejection, her round face was full of peacefulness and smiles, making one unable to dislike her.
Wen Xinya smiled and said, “Old Mr. Mo introduced us here.”
The woman hurriedly pulled open the front door with big smiles. “Please come in.”
It was a compound with houses around a courtyard which was common in the old capital city. In the middle of the courtyard was a man-made lake with a rockery which housed a school of colorful koi fishes swimming about freely with their joyous tails trailing behind them playfully. A clump of elegant bamboo with gently rustling leaves added to the peacefulness of the courtyard.
The woman brought Wen Xinya and the rest into a room with a bamboo painting with a poem. Wen Xinya could recognize Grampy’s handwriting at first sight and couldn’t help but feel slightly surprised.
After the few of them sat down, the woman smiled and said, “What would the few of you like to drink? We only have tea and water here.”
Wen Xinya said, “Bring us a pot of Biluo tea and a few types of snacks.”
After the woman left, Gu Junling couldn’t help but laugh and said, “This is indeed not bad. I myself have been to all the places of interest in the capital city. However, I didn’t know that the capital city actually hid such an elegant place.”
The furnishing in the room had a vintage feel to them—especially that bamboo painting with a poem which added a touch of finesse grace to the entire room.
Wen Xinya smiled and said, “I also only learned about it after hearing it from Grampy. Ay! The bamboo painting with a poem up there is Grampy’s handwriting. Looks like my Grampy is on pretty good terms with the owner here.”
Many people pursued Grampy’s works, but his paintings rarely spread outside. The fact that this private kitchen could possess Grampy’s autograph showed that it was definitely very close to Grampy.
Gu Junling said, “So it’s Old Mr. Mo’s handwriting. Old Mr. Mo’s paintings are mostly majestic with thick ink, such a leisurely work is indeed a first for my eyes. Seeing this, Old Mr. Mo’s indifferent state of mind is indeed more befitting of such leisure.”
Zhou Tianyu looked at the painting on the wall with twinkling eyes. “Previously, on my birthday, the Perseverance article written by Old Mr. Mo for me impressed my Grandpa greatly. He kept saying that Old Mr. Mo’s words and paintings are one of its kind in this world, and even said that the fact that Old Mr. Mo looked at me and gave me pointers is the fortune of three of my lifetimes, so I have to be thankful.”
Xu Tongxuan said, “My house has a painting of eight fine horses by Old Mr. Mo which Grandpa treasures greatly.”
Ling Qingxuan smiled and said, “Once, I saw a charming landscape painting by Old Mr. Mo at an auction overseas—it was truly majestic and awed everyone. Eventually, it was won by a foreign businessman with a bid of 8.5 million yuan. Old Mr. Mo is the only current artist whose work commanded such an exorbitant price.”
As the few of them chatted away, the room’s bamboo door was pushed open to another forty-odd-years-old woman, similarly wearing a blue-printed cotton shirt, who brought in some tea and snacks.
The woman looked gentle, and although her looks were not considered pretty, she looked very pleasant with an ancient, scholarly feel in her eyes and brows. “Young Mistress and Mistress really look identical, but your aura is more similar to Old Master—indeed a child of the Mo Family.”
Wen Xinya was stunned—did such a tone indicate that this woman had also been a servant of the Mo Family once?
The woman smiled and cleared things up for her. “I’d once served by your Granny’s side—you can call me Mother Bai. After I got married, I left the Mo Family and started this private kitchen.”
“Nice to meet you, Mother Bai!” Wen Xinya called out accordingly.
Mother Bai seemed very happy. “Young Mistress and guests, what would you guys like to have?”
“It’s our first time here. Mother Bai, you can just arrange a few specialty dishes for us.” Wen Xinya attitude became friendlier towards this woman.
“Okay! I’ll go get them now!” Without saying more, Mother Bai turned her back and left the room.
As the few of them enjoyed the snacks, Xu Tongxuan raved non-stop about the snacks here. “Xinya, this Mother Bai of yours is too awesome—it’s my first time tasting such yummy snacks. I’ll definitely have to pack some back later before leaving.”
Zhou Tianyu took the chestnut cakes in front of Xu Tongxuan and placed them in front of herself. “Don’t eat so much, otherwise you’ll be too full for the main dishes later.” Saying which, she took a piece of chestnut cake and started eating.
Wen Xinya could taste that Mother He’s confectionery skills were probably imparted from this Mother Bai.
The dishes were quickly served—various cuisines prepared via steaming, cooking, frying, and stewing quickly filled up the entire table. The main courses were stewed white eel, braised yellow croaker with tofu, deep-fried meatballs, steamed pork ribs, as well as some other dishes which left Wen Xinya and the few of them in awe.
Gu Junling was experienced and knowledgeable, but also couldn’t help but praise. “These dishes may look common, but a closer smell reveals that they were prepared with secret recipes and techniques. Not only are they rich in color, flavor, and taste, but also, more rarely, retained the rustic flavors of home-cooked food.”
“Who cares if they’re rustic or not—I’ll start eating first!” Xu Tongxuan took her chopsticks and picked up a piece of fish tofu. Instantly, the fresh and tender tofu, with the rich aroma of fish, made her widen her eyes. “It’s really too delicious.”
Wen Xinya liked spicy food. She picked up a piece of stewed white eel—the fresh and tender eel flesh had the authentic spicy flavor of Huzhou and made Wen Xinya feel very happy eating it.