Friday, March 27, 2009

A few more from the Flower Show 2009

Just got hold of some more photos taken during the Flower Show. One on the right - one of the many bonsais on display during show. On the left are the mascots of the event. When mum and dad went there on the final day, the mascots have already wilted and the weather was overcast. So they had to settle with the pictures taken using auntie's mobile phone. But the quality was surprisingly good!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Ever since dad decided to put more of an effort to update this blog, he's been busy taking photos of everything around the house and anything that's new to the house. And yesterday, he was busy with a pineapple. He made pineapple and mango granita with the fruit and he's also trying to grow a pineapple plant from the green stem. The recipe for the granita was simple and if the pineapple stem does take root, he will show its progress on this blog as well. We tasted a tiny bit of the granita as a treat today, it was really refreshing, so unlike the food we eat everyday!!

Cattleya Orchids

The white-washed walls in our house, which only had a few framed photos of Peter Lik, have seen a surge of bright colours recently. Mum literally went "flower crazy" when she visited the Hong Kong Flower Show 2009. When we drove past Victoria Park the first Sunday when the show was held, the park was jam-packed with people. As always, mum was put of by the crowd. A few days later mum and dad went there in the evening when it was much quieter. The quality and variety on offer were impressive and the prices are much cheaper than what you get in the Flower Market of Mongkok (near Prince Edward MTR Station).
Mum is having some success with her recent batch of orchids, which unlike everything before them, have started to flower again after the the first lot of flowers wilted. She set her sights on the more exotic varieties during the flower show and brought some weird stuff. Be your own judge and take a look at the photos.
Both photos are both Cattleya orchids. Perhaps dad will take pictures of the other varieties we see later.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Li's Family Dishes Restaurant 厲家菜

As soon as we stepped into the house from our nightly after-dinner walk, mum casually mentioned that the TVB foodie show "日日有食神V" (Gourmet Secret Agent Season5) was showing Li's Family Dishes Restaurant 厲家菜. While we were always wary of foodie recommending their local restaurants in their columns or TV shows, recommendations on foreign soil were usually safer; fewer chances of conflict of interests ensure a more unbiased view. After all, this was a restaurant that mum and dad tried in Beijing last November before seeing or reading any reviews or recommendations. And dad, ever so picky about famous restaurants, was truly impressed by the parade of different tastes on offer in that one meal.

Tucked inside one of Beijing's fast disappearing hutongs 胡同, the location isn't what you would associate with emperor's cuisine. But this is what Li's Family is famous for. Mum has reserved the table several days before going to Beijing and their driver appeared lost when trying to get there. But once they found the place, they got ushered into a small room with two small tables, one fit for 4 people and the other, which they were seated, fit for 2 people. The waitress went through the menu quickly. Mum and dad went through their usual ritual of agonising over which dishes to order. It's been made easier because the whole menu was based on one basic tasting menu and you get some extra dishes by ordering the more expensive courses. They ordered 2 different sets with one extra item different in each set.

The food came and they were in tiny portions which we can no doubt finish in one gulp. But everything has a unique taste and a unique texture. One wouldn't normally associate with simple Chinese dishes as refine, but the creations here were delicious as well as refine. It wasn't long before mum and dad finished all the dishes. As they were no big-eaters, the small portions were just perfect. They left with their stomachs satisfied and taste buds fully challenged, but without the usual urge to take a nap after a heavy Chinese meal.

As you can see the prices were not cheap, but they reckoned the food was worth every penny. Below is an excerpt from the on this restaurant.

宮廷風味宴 由厲氏後人主理的宮廷風味菜,可謂來頭不小。厲家菜菜館創辦人、現年八十多歲的厲善麟教授,為滿族白旗人後代, 爺爺於清朝同治、光緒年間,擔任內務府大臣,主管宮廷衣食。退休之後,將記憶中的宮廷菜寫成食譜,傳給厲氏後人。「厲家菜」的宮廷風味宴的特色在於菜式 多,單是前菜小碟已有十款,賣相精緻之餘,用料與做法都相當講究。鎮店名菜包括鼓板大蝦、北京熏肉、翡翠豆腐、鴨包翅等都大受食客歡迎,難怪世界首富蓋 茨、武俠小說宗師查良鏞先生,甚至末代皇帝溥儀胞弟溥傑都是座上客之一。

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Eventful few days

The blog pages have been filled with travelogues and food blogs. Needless to say, mum and dad have been neglecting us, until 2 days ago. We went to the SPCA in Sai Kung to visit Rocky, a 4-month old female Schnauzer found abandoned in the street. We realized why she's called Rocky why we met her in the adoption centre.
We waited for a few minutes outside the cubicle where Rocky stayed. The door opened and we sniffed our way into the the cubicle. So many different smells surged through at once, guess a lot of our relatives have left their marks there. Before we knew it, there's this ball of black fur jetting around inside. Upon seeing us, she stopped running and started the customary friendly sniff. But that didn't last long, she started running around and jumping on us while we were busy getting dad's attention. The thought of another mutt sharing the love was on top of our mind and we didn't really bother to play with Rocky. But Rocky kept coming back for more and when Scottie jumped round and stepped on Rocky with his hind legs, she made a high-pitch squeak and that was the only sound that we heard Rocky made. While running around, she would traget on anything that she could land her teeth on. She bite on shoe laces and trousers. Perhaps her teeth were itching to grow just like when we were younger but maybe she's a destroyer reincarnated. The session lasted for about 5 minutes but we could tell that dad think Rocky will make a good companion for the two of us. Not sure how he came to that conclusion when even we couldn't tell. But at least we didn't start barking as soon as we saw Rocky, unlike some others we saw before.

The staff in SPCA told dad that he was eighth on the queue for adopting Rocky and chances were not great. When mum checked out Rocky's status yesterday with SPCA, they told her Rocky has been adopted. Lets hope she found a good home and good hungry companions like us.
And last night we had our shower. It's worth talking about because mum and dad haven't showered us for a long time. Our helper has been doing that recently. But last night mum found that Scottie had a bad patch of allergic skin so decided it's time to give him a quick shave and a medicated shampoo shower. Maybe we will get mum and dad to show you our photos before and after grooming next time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tapeo Wyndham St

Do you ever wonder why anyone would bother reading blogs written by complete morons like us? Perhaps you are less likely to pick dodgy places than going to places recommended by the "true" gourmets who get paid handsomely to endorse trendy places with their taste buds.

There was a small article in the latest Cathay Pacific in-flight magazine, Discovery, about a Tapas bar on Wyndham Street called Tapeo. Invariably, you get the usual dose of how wonderful this little restaurant is. Or what a rare find you get tucked in this chic corner between Wyndham Street and Holywood Road. You can get a taste of the article from TimeOut here.

First imagine the places that we, mutts walk past all day long; then read this.

You get your wonderful Veuve Cliquot champagne or the Burdundy white wine served to you ice-cold and the wine bottles are kept that way in an icebox. But little do you know that, the cocktails and the ice water that you get served are from the same icebox. Yes it is like "Sleeping with the Enemies". The sight of the barman shoveling ice cubes from that box literally had dad frozen at the bar. Now roll back 10 seconds and think the places we walk past........

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice 天天海南雞飯

It feels like mum and dad are never home these days and they disappeared again for a few days this weekend after having done so last weekend. Lucky that we never developed separation anxiety syndrome (we only suffer from not-enough-treat syndrome). Last week they kept talking about Portuguese food in Macau and dim sum at the old Lisboa; now they talk about the funeral that they went to and Hainanese chicken rice.

The urge for food hunting goes in the family, it's little wonder that we feel hungry all day long. They went to the Maxwell Hawker Center after they landed in Changi Airport. It was almost 3 in the afternoon and there was still this queue of 15-16 people outside the small shop front of Tian Tian. Grandpa was there securing a table while dad queue behind a Japanese couple with their baby in a pram. It was a multinational queue with local people as well as Japanese youngsters and Hong Kong girls. All Asians though, strange given that mum and dad only learnt about the place from Antony Bourdain's TV Series "No Reservations". Enough preamble. Cut right to the chicken and the rice. Chicken was very soft and smooth and the rice was very fragrant. The chilli sauce was hot!! Unlike most other shops, it didn't have crushed ginger. If queues of people don't put you off, then this shop probably offers you the best chicken rice that money can buy and best of all you don't pay a lot for the privilege to try. For a whole chicken, you pay SGD 22 and you pay no extra for having half a chicken, ie SGD 11. And the rice which in Bourdain's word "so fragrant that you can just eat on its own" cost just SGD 50 cents.

Again no pictures taken, but plenty of other bloggers have theirs on flickrs and here is a good recent example. The picture quality is better than what you will see in the shop now, as the real ones have severely faded colours. You can see Bourdain's endorsement on the right-hand top corner. Right next to it, there was a Japanese article comparing chicken rice in Singapore "チキンライス 食べ比べ", this perhaps explains why there are so many Japanese in the queue. In fact there's a blog entry about the shop just 5 days ago in Japanese.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Food blogs

Never understand how food bloggers get so many beautiful pictures in their blogs. Every time we see our breakfast or the long awaited treats, we will do our 100-meter dash and everything disappears within not more than 3 minutes! When dad went to Kenjo見城 in TST for Japanese sushi lunch last week, there were 2 ladies who spent more time taking pictures of the set lunch they share than actually eating. Doing food blog is probably a good way to lose weight.

Just imagine doing the same in the Fat Duck in the UK while having the tasting menu of more than 10 courses. Perhaps that's why, mum and dad never took any pictures there during their visit 5 years ago. But they kept saying that it was one of the best meals they ever had among all the Michelin-star restaurants that they tried. Just as well they were there 5 years ago and not now, apparently 400 people (yes not 40) have fallen ill eating there recently. Perhaps it was one of its many gadgets that failed, but at this point nobody is certain. Better stick to instant noodles, you never hear people getting sick from eating the odd packet of instant noodles, as long as they don't get the instant dumplings as well. (note all these poison dumplings that were reported throughout Japan claimed to be home-made 手作り餃子)

Instant Noodles インスタントラーメン - recently dad tried this brand 河村通夫の大自然ラーメン 胡麻醤油 from a Japanese speciality store. The packet claims to use all things natural and Japanese flour for the noodles. For HK$ 9.50, it's a bit more expensive than the local brands but reasonable given that it costs Yen 110 in Japan. The texture of the noodle is more chewy and the soup base is delicious with real sesame. Always cook the instant noodles according to the instructions, normally 3 minutes in boiling water is enough. Otherwise, they invariably become instant congee.

PS Michelin-star restaurants' business must be getting tough in London. While Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck lost hundreds of thousands of sterling in business during the temporary closure, Gordon Ramsay is having his own kitchen nightmares. His company, Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH), is in breach of debt covenants as reported in the much delayed annual report. Usually delays in releasing financial statements are really bad signs for a company.
Again mum and dad never took any pictures from the two different Gordon Ramsay's restaurants they visited 5 years ago. Shoots!! That's why we can't be food bloggers.

A different angle

Hardly a day goes by without hearing people caught up in drug abuse, from Olympic superhero Michael Phelps to the not-so-famous singers Kelvin Kwan and Jill Vidal in Hong Kong. All you hear are the same knee-jerk righteous condemnation of "Thou shalt not take drugs", "terrible role models", blah blah blah. Lets look at it from a different angle, as we mutts do all day long.

As the picture of Phelps smoking pot shows, he's not really "smoking" pot but instead inhaling cannabis through a vaporizer. You might say, "What the hack, he's still taking drugs!" Legally, either way, it's bad. But vaporizing is a safe form of cannabinoid delivery while smoking is really bad for you. Cannabis smoke has more ammonia, hydrogen cyanide and nitric oxide than cigarette smoke, which in turn is more harmful to your body than taking cannabis vapour. Better not go into the whole legality of cannabis vs cigarettes or alcohol issue. The medical journal, Lancet has a very interesting comparing the effects of many common drugs.

So Michael Phelps is a role model after all, he's doing it the "right" way. The "wrong" way obviously was what Kelvin and Jill did, smoke a cannabis joint.

By the same token, when the Hong Kong department of health was saying that the "electronic cigarettes" are more harmful than a packet of fags simply on the notion of higher nicotine content, it's ignoring the method of delivery and the harmful by-products.