Mid-Autumn Mooncake Munchies

Ooh the annual mooncake munchathon is upon us and I am delighted to take a break from sugar free and totally healthy and join this most fun of festivals in Hong Kong.

Its a time we all watch the weather – is that Typhoon coming, or not, to rain on our parade? No apparently not this year!
Is there going to be a basket of candies and fruit to deliver – a few this year again and its a pleasure ( thanks to all our wonderful clients for supporting us)

And then there is the BIG debate – which is the best mooncake to buy, give or relish…Well this year I am going to put my neck on the line for the NO EGG, nutty, not so sweet cake as opposed to my collegues choices of mango centred chocolate mocchi or green tea snowy ones that melt before you eat them. As time goes by it seems the traditional two egg yoke cakes are disappearing – I have never liked them and I guess more Western tastes are creeping in. Soon we will see McDonalds making twoallbeefpattylettucecheesespecialsauceonasesameseedmooncake and then I reckon the west will have won and we can all go home… Thankfully this is not yet. We all live in  Asia and happy to participate in this cherished family activity.

Have a wonderful Mid-Autumn Festival with friends and family, relishing the love of your kin if not the mooncakes in your tin.

 

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New Years Resolutions

I tried not to make any New Years Resolutions this year. A seasoned fail addict I even worked a phrase – “I am not a failure, I have found 1000 things that do not work”
The only New Years Resolution I have kept was to give up smoking for ever on 1 January 2007 thanks to a wild and sickening ride back from Lamma on a Junk following a New Years Chinese feast and wine fest at the yacht club – it probably was not the cigarettes but today some 9 years later I think I can still recall that last one and feel so ill I do not wish to recap the experience.

The Whole 30 – fail in 3 days
Brings me to my favorite topic FOOD in Hong Kong

I LOVE to eat out in Hong Kong and I like to find unusual places where the budget is not hit too far and the surroundings don’t take me back to my days of retching off the side of the boat or learning to lube a car.

When a South Indian friend scoffed at my predilection for Chung King Mansion dives and Lock Road veg aka Branto I decided to take his advice on Saravanaa Bhavan http://www.saravanabhavan.com
Its the BEST Indian restaurant I have ever been to in Hong Kong – I say this with a few curries under my belt. The food is light veg and varied, the place is bright with an outdoor terrace and clean fresh feel and the service is fun, intelligent, intuitive and all round all star. I give this a FIVE MEGAN STAR and I don’t know when Mr Michelin will arrive and agree but I warn you to get there before that happens.

I took my NZ cousin and his English wife , their Australian friends and invited my American friend to keep it varied (!) No Politics please !!!- the banter was good after the first round of Sweet Salty Lime Soda’s and the South Indian and North Indian Thalis gave us a chance to try the feast without walking out with the rights to the place. It could not have been a better choice and I shall now make this my regular hang hole in TST for guests and local catch ups. At $140 each who can complain?

I am so grateful for the colour and complexity of Hong Kong. I’m now seated looking out over the Sha Tin River as the rain lifts and my twins hit the water in their boats and looking forward to a busy day of Rowing, Rugby, a Rooftop BBQ with Indian friends and some client contact over the weekend to discuss schooling options with a young family relocating from KL – I can legally be entrusted with recommending family move because of the variety of experiences that HK gives us.

 

 

Missing Mum’s Meals

When this afternoon a link appeared in my email box saying a Tai Tai Pie place was following me on Twitter, I was mildly irritated. It’s FRIDAY for heavens sake and I’m busy and I’m hungry because lunch was not on my menu and I’m HOME SICK, I realise, for a taste of my Mum’s home cooking.

WHY?
My Mum

Tomorrow (19th September)  is my Mums birthday in NZ ( well its her birthday in Hong Kong too but I’m here and she is there) – Happy Birthday Loeta – not a bad looking 82 year old I must say. Inherited my genes for stamina from this woman!!!
The link for Tai Tai Pies ( so Hong Kong)  is fairly golden in tones as is my memory now of my Mum’s pies. Of course I recall the late summer rhubarb with the lattice pastry and sour and sweet undercurrent, and then there is the Fish Pie made with real trout and mashed potato. The real deal is the one that I have never been able to replicate – Steak and Kidney with a gravy that just bites hard into your buds and turns into comfort food before you realised you needed comforting!!

Now in Hong Kong I have managed a couple of decades of relatively Pie Free diet but I wanted to share a few places, that if you happen to have a Mum turning 82 back home somewhere, and you can’t get to spend it with her, you CAN go and re live a bit of Mum cooking.

Firstly if you have any friends who are members, go to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for Lambs FRY. Before you hook up your friend to order you the offal do observe the RULES of dress…
Ladies
– May not wear baseball, sailing or sports caps.

Gentlemen
– May not wear headwear unless it constitutes national dress or is for religious reasons.
– May not wear shorts unless accompanied by knee length socks.
– May not wear singlets or sleeveless vests.
– May not wear shirts without collars.
– May not wear open-toed footwear other than for medical reasons.

Ladies and Gentlemen
– No dirty, soiled or wet clothing.
– No clothing which has recently been used for sports action.

( Now what ever it is that constitutes SPORTS ACTION … well its British and Royal and I love that – see previous Brit post)

Back to the Menu…

PIES – The HYATT REGENCY Sha Tin has delicious PIES particularly Apple and they come in an expensive take away box -well the pie is expensive but the box makes it look like its worth it.

My Mum made a Scone that I can only find at the Helena May and they serve several with the cream and jam.. again you need a member to take you but well worth finding one as the squishy cushions, magazine selection and the scones are superlative.

Then there is the Fish and Chips option – my  Mum never made fish and chips but we would go for cold beach excursions to Maketu ( that famous Bay of Plenty fish and chip mecca) and find the best F&C and eat them from Newspaper wrappers with vinegar or my Dad would go to the Kawaha Chippy and get a load on a sunday night for a treat. So when it comes to a walk down memory lane a Fish and Chip experience can work wonders for me. HOOKED is a NZ owned and run Chippy and they even serve L&P and Kumara Chips!! OH YES I’M ALMOST HOME Mum…

What am I SAYING ???
Hong Kong IS HOME.. and has been for 22 years and YES I DO LOVE IT.

I do not have to go back to NZ to experience the taste of my MUM’s cooking, but I do miss her hugs and maybe her Steak and Kidney but WAIT… Hooked does a Steak and Kidney PIE
I AM HOME Really truly home…
IN HONG KONG!!

Happy Birthday Mum

xxxxx Love from your daughter in Hong Kong on her way to get an L&P and S&K to celebrate your BD. hope to share many more with you.

Saikung Soul

As a Real Estate Agent and a resident of HK, I have a long term relationship with Saikung. I started The Flame Tree and Flame Tree Rugs there, held a few exhibitions and became known for The Christmas Carols By Candlelight event. I specialised in Saikung and Clearwater Bay real estate and I’ve done some time at Steamers Bar as a local – (before it was taken over as Starbucks)  I’ve watched Saikung not change significantly over 20+ years.

Of course I have witnessed bad village house policy, degradation of the Country Parks, traffic build up and a proliferation of new Real Estate Agents ( a whole street of them in fact) but what I see surviving in Saikung is a SOUL. Its still possible to wander the town and see the personalities that have made Saikung a thriving small business community. Service with a soul is rare in Hong Kong, and knowing Saikung as well as I do, I see it less and less in Real Estate. The old days of your friendly neighbourhood Real Estate may  be gone but I count a few real estate agents in Saikung not as competition but as co-operating friends. We meet, we greet with a kiss on the cheek, we swap notes on housing and we serve our clients with integrity. A few of us really do know how to work with our clients to find the perfect home. I’m so glad to be able to work in Saikung.

Spending a day photographing Saikung property is always terrifically inspiring. The houses of Saikung have personalities as different as people looking to live in them.
Do look at our site http://www.locations.com.hk for our latest Saikung Listings

There is so much to offer families in the area – beaches, rugby, art lessons, boating, restaurants, bars, kids play areas, bookshops, country park walks, cows, markets and the rare opportunity to iive in a village of Tanka people and understand some of the wonderfully colourful culture that abounds….and then there is always just a chance to lease a great piece of real estate, make a HOME and LIVE a life that is natural and normal – just like HOME.

Locations - making our Hong Kong your home
Locations – making our Hong Kong your home
Locations - Stunning home for lease
Locations – Stunning home for lease

Real is the New Fake

Ever seen a lime green Maybach? A hot pink Chanel snakeskin bag or a woman with her nails ‘sculpted’ with bunches of plastic flowers? Well in Hong Kong our people do expensive with lack of style. I shouldn’t say this because I’m not a style icon myself but I know a pair of English velvet, gold monogrammed slippers when I see them – and seeing them walking down Stanley Street in the direction of the Graham Street Halal Meat Market seems a little out of place. The problem being they are likely to be REAL.
Being fake is so out of date – we all know a fake Prada bag used to be de-rigeur but these days, when Canton Road has buried its lurid past under a Dolce and Gabbana banner, and Christmas trees are covered from head to foot in Swarovski crystals,  I don’t think fake cuts it any more.
REAL is REALLY not so hard to accomplish in Hong Kong any more. Fake is really, really hard to find.

In my business more housing estates are putting in distressed leather, distressed wallpaper SMOKING lounges for the hard worked bloke to relax between mistresses. ( Queens Garden being my favorite – I could write a novel in that room) More shops like DUNHILL have coffee shops ( like ALFIES) hidden up around behind the suits, and you can take a bag of crafted MACAROONS to a dinner or an afternoon tryst and not feel you under spent ( Trust me you won’t have)

But real comes at a price and with a little history – after all the New Rich Chinese didn’t INVENT real, they bought it. REAL appears in the current atmosphere to encompass anything quintessentially BRITISH which strikes me as ironic given Hong Kong’s past. But there we have it… what goes around comes around and we are back to being Anglophiles again. I had afternoon tea at Alphies yesterday ( there goes the diet ) and it was so nice to slide onto those plumpy leather seats I just might feel a dose of English flu coming on and head in there more often as a respite from the heat and dust of shopping…. in Dunhill for velvet slippers.

I love the real of Hong Kong – its taken away the pressure to head to Shenzhen to find fake.
I love being real and this is what keeps me in Hong Kong because being real means being myself. I have taken 22 years to find myself in Hong Kong and I sure am not leaving now that I have found the perfect relationship.

If you need a little help with the Gentlemans digest – https://anaspiringgent.wordpress.com/tag/when-to-wear-smoking-jacket/

alfies

Alfie’s by KEE

address: M/F, Prince’s Building 10 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong
telephone: 2530 4422

Hong Kong’s Love Affair with Lunch and Ginger Tea

I’m on a diet – its a public fact but I’m fascinated by the ‘lunch’ culture in the office and in the public areas of HK.
It seems that there are levels of lunch etiquette that I don’t understand. My lunch is a box on my desk – WRONG! I can’t eat at my desk and its physically recoiled from if I eat and talk shop at the ‘lunch table’.
Then there are the lunch box delivery services where for a song one can order in sushi, bowls of noodles or rice boxes but they come in and are set out on the lunch table and they sit, and they sit and when the clock says 1pm its ALL ON! But no-one can talk shop and eat.

Venturing outside at 12.55 you can get a seat at any place in the block. 1pm NOT A CHANCE… its ALL ON. Now my thinking is if you want to eat, go earlier but NO you can’t. Instead you must LINE UP on the street to wait while noodle schloopers and lunch box guzzlers go for it inside and finally vacate a table for you leaving a medical autopsy of bones and spit out fleshy bits and honked in tissues – tasty. Its kind of interesting to see the lines at one place and not the other. I suppose its the daily special lunch of pigs intestines and pork soup that gets the crowds because Starbucks is deserted.Seasons reflect the agricultural products and this is still the case in HK, so winter is green leaves, and HOT. Summer is more COOL with cucumbers and tomatoes. Traditional cold remedies like Fresh Ginger Tea (Keung Cha) are being replaced by Panadol but its really worth trying if you are a bit chilly. (see below)

My favorite lunch truly is a box at my desk but tomorrow I’m going to ‘DOT COD’ with a client and I am paying. That means my diet will look like I am being CHEAP – which I’m not and which ‘DOT COD’ ISN”T ! I view a menu that charges over $380 for a potato rosti even if they did chase a trout to drip its eggs on it with some scorn.  Gone are the days of a beer over lunch. Gone are the days of Swire serving Fish on Fridays in the staff canteens. Gone is the turkey from the Christmas bar and roast beef sliced thin. Now its a bigger canteen, run by Maxims so its airline food on speed. The Hong Kong Club, the Helena May Ladies Club are going on diets – well at least they still serve Bread and Butter Pudding out at the Cathay canteen. Pity I’m not invited there for lunch! I could forgo my diet for a bowl of that with custard….

My colleague Dominic’s Keung Cha Remedies 

Ulcers or Sore throat
Ginger Tea – slice of ginger, boiled hot water, touch of salt

Little babies vomiting milk
Ginger Tea in a bottle before giving milk

Overeating
Ginger Tea or put a slice of ginger in your mouth

Diarrhea
Ginger Tea water with a fresh egg in the water ( Ill stop now – Im feeling queazy)

Headache due to Air Conditioning
Ginger Tea

Cold
Ginger tea with brown sugar – 2-3 x a day

Coughing
Ginger tea with brown sugar AND garlic (Fresh) boiled – 7-8 cloves

Cold with fever
Ginger tea with red sugar and a stick of LEEK ( I kid you not) When the Chinese look at leek or garlic they don’t see the boarding school  vegetable we see. They carry anti-inflamatory properties – who knew!!

ROLL ON WINTER – I’ve got it covered!

Dot cod

ginger tea

Sunday Brunch in Kennedy Town

Brunch with my friend Simone (love that girl – she does’t count my calories!)

In my opinion, Hong Kong’s consistently BEST Eggs Benedict, are served at K Town Bar and Grill and indeed by all the restaurants owned and run by the team of Mr Parfitt and family at Castello Concepts. I’m not ashamed to say I indulge in the same thing every time I visit. Along with their lattes, which are always superlative I can recommend the pork lollipops but these are just too good to share. Simone enjoyed crepes with citron and cream washed down with home made lemonade ( they do a version of it with Campari but that seems like a waste of good lemons to me) and we were hugely entertained with a spot of cute Chinese baby watching. It seems that all babies look like their Dads on Sundays. I wonder if they look like Mom during the week ( tired and fractious) but today – FATHERS Day – lots of Dads were taking the reins of their little doppelgangers. Good for you Dads. Sunday chivalry family style.

FRIENDS, FAB FOOD, ILLEGALLY PARKED STROLLERS, ILLEGALLY PARKED PORSCHES, CUTE KIDS, GREAT SERVICE, A NEW MTR, WALL TREES (Under protection), CAR DEPOTS JUXTAPOSITIONED WITH TRENDY BARS and a vibe that just seems so WRONG in a washed out dumpy end of the Island that used to be the cargo offloading area and the abattoir.

k townIts a whole new world out WEST guys!

K TOWN BAR AND GRILL
Address: Shop G7 & G8 G/F Sincere Western House
44-46 Forbes St Kennedy Town H.K.

Phone:+852 2855 1368