目前日期文章:200510 (13)

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Have always considered Cafe Pumpernickel my neighbourhood cafe, and was initially surprised to find that so many people know of the place, and actually travel miles to Tin Hau to visit. It has become so successful that there are branches now in Causeway Bay and Admiralty. Its bread is its drawing factor, and deservedly so.



When I first came back from London, when people talk of buying bread, they normally refer to the neighbourhood Chinese bakery stores, which stock white/brown bread and also the Cantonese style buns, like sausage buns, pineapple buns, and creme puffs~ oh not forgetting egg tarts. Very rarely could one find the variety of loaf that one gets in London - baked with herb and spices, or kneaded using a variety of grains. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Pumpernickel should be credited for introducing Western-style bakery to the masses in HK. 

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B was feeling sporty but more importantly was taking pity on me so agreed to join me on a short hike on HK Island one bright Sunday morning.



We met up at Parkview and decided to just do a hike up Violet Hill (438m) and then hike back down to Wong Nei Chung Reservoir Park, which is a pretty easy walk. Was originally gonna go all the way to Stanley via the challenging Twins peak but decided against it as we both were still rather sleepy at ten in the morning.

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Remember my lament about the lack of reasonably priced scrub in the IFC area? Well it just got better (!)recently. As HKFoodie gently reminded me, my current diet is severely unhealthy, with almost no vegetable intake and lacking in vitamins and minerals. So the other day, I decided to start afresh and opted for the healthy dinner set at Canteen. This is the "health and beauty" alternative, containing a soup (borscht), a caesar salad,  and some garlic bread.



When I unwrapped the plastic bag at the office, I realised how pathetically small the portions were. Guess how much this is priced at - HK$48! And the milk tea is an additional HK$9, so my eat-in cost HK$57 - a total rip-off in my view, considering a normal lunchbox at Canteen of BBQ pork and chicken with rice would have cost HK$29 only, and HK$32 including a milk tea... this had better be good, I thought.

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Am going into Chapter 11 from all the fine dining this month - I had high expectations for Amber, given it is part of the Mandarin Oriental group. Billed as "serving the finest cuisine from world-renowned chef with an emphasis on innovation and presentation" and "a spectacular canvas of modern culinary art", we very much looked forward to our dinner gathering.



We walked into a long rectangular shaped, mahogaony-pannelled dining room, with a high ceiling that had gazillion gold long rods piercing down. V said this was too pressurising, as if the ceiling was about to come falling down on us any second. Apparently this was meant to be a huge chandelier. We felt it odd that at such a posh sophisticated dining room, there were many children diners - wonder whether they'd appreciate the fine food?

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It doesnt feel like autumn is here at all, with the temperature still up there at 26 degrees C and no sign of any breeze when walking on the street~ has HK become Singapore with its permanent hot weather? Even though it is still not quite the right time for hotpot, we decided to go ahead anyway and made a booking at Spring Autumn.



Reviews from friends and mags in general tip towards the bad side, and people complain about what a rip-off it is and how poor the service is at Spring Autumn. According to my friend who is from Canada, Spring Autumn originated in Vancouver where it has become so popular and successful that the owners decided to migrate the formula back to HK and chose Causeway Bay as the location. Prepared for the worse, we walked into a brightly lid ground floor dining room that was quite spacious and clean, giving us a good first impression.

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When the going gets tough...



THE BRICK

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door!

He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"

The young boy was apologetic.

"Please, mister...please, I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do," He pleaded. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop..." With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother, "he said. He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay.

"Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: "Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!" God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It's our choice to listen or not.

Thought for the Day:

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.

If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.

He sends you flowers every spring.

He sends you a sunrise every morning Face it, friend

- He is crazy about you!

Send this to every "beautiful person" you wish to bless.

God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

Read this line very slowly and let it sink in...

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

Pass this message to seven people except you and me.

You will receive a miracle tomorrow.

 From a circulated email~

 


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Having been in fashion for some time now, I have rarely explored the "upstairs cafe" phenomenon. No, this is not the same as private kitchen/ speakeasy restaurants. Think these cafes started popping up in HK a couple of years back when the economy was not as rosy as it is now (am still skeptical on the “rosiness” myself but that's probably another blog entry), and many graduates were having difficulty in the job market. In addition to start-ups, it became trendy to rent some cheap upstairs apartments in the busy environs of Causeway Bay and Mong Kok, and to convert these into all day cafes for people to gather round and hang out.



These differ from the loud and noisy upstairs bars and provide a creative outlet for many. Each is styled to a particular theme, and provides interesting drinks (like Yakault mixed with soda or juices) and light meals. Part of the attraction of these cafes is that they normally open late (around noon) and close even later (midnight to two). Some also serve as a shop front for the artistic ones, where they can sell jewelry, paintings and sculptures. One very successful upstairs cafe themes itself on cat – cats are allowed to roam free within the whole place and this particular cafe has become a popular haunt for cat lovers. Needless to say, this prompted a string of other upstairs pet cafes to open around town.

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I simply adore the ritual of an afternoon tea, from the mouthwatering selection of dainty pastry to the sunken sofa seating, from the excessive display of china to the towering silver stand. To me, it is the ultimate indulgent experience. In college, my fellow afternoon tea buff and I swept every single afternoon tea spot in London. We were the perfect partners in crime- she attacks the cakes and pastries, while I devour the scones and finger sandwiches. I miss those afternoons dearly, as so far, I have yet to discover the perfect afternoon tea spot in HK, and what's more, a number of the hotel coffee shops here prefer to serve tea buffet instead of the traditional English high tea.

On my recent hopover to London, we decided to relive this fond memory. We headed for The Park at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, which has a green and beige theme, complementing the serene greenery of Hyde Park, which is just steps away.

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This is the truth of my sad living - while I pretend to be enjoying the high life of eating out at the hottest and trendiest restaurants all the time, I actually spend most of my day and night in the office. I recently took a tally on my daily intake - and realised how pathetic it is. 

B: Tuna bun & choco milk L: Chicken spaghetti & Milk tea D: Pork ribs with veg rice & milk tea

Comment: The recently opened Cafe De Coral takeout branch at Airport Express is now our favourite joint - the spaghetti was really good. The pork ribs was extremely oily though... felt like I was drinking oil.
B: Home-made macaroni L: Expensive CitySuper sushi D: Cup noodle

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Recently all the foodie mags are plastered with features on the latest high profile openings - Amber, Angelini, Caprice, and the Fourth Floor. Little is mentioned of the once popular private kitchens anymore. In fact, haven't been to any for a while now, apart from the recent dinner with dsd.



Tung's is a private kitchen in Central famous for its chef, Tung's, Shanghainese speciality. Been once for its set dinner a long while back, and did not particularly fancy its greasy traditional cooking. Was craving for some noodles in soup the other day and someone mentioned Tung's has introduced some new affordable lunch sets and off we went.

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A young rider competing in the first session


No no no, not me. I haven't even overcome my fear of falling yet, let alone entering myself into a proper dressage competition. Went to Lei Yue Mun Riding School to cheer for my friend T's first competition this morning. Was extremely impressed by how seriously everyone took the competition, with their full set of gear, and careful braiding of the horse's mane and tail with cute little ribbons. Didn't realise there were so many horse buffs in HK. Had an urge to sign up when I saw how satisfied and thrilled everyone looked after competing... although at the same time felt a bit embarrassed by my appalling riding skills... 

Here's a few interesting snapshots I took of the competition~

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Whenever I visit the Harvey Nics in London, I always drop by the posh 5F Food Court and the GF accessories section, and could spend absolutely ages wandering round aimlessly. Sadly, for the recently opened HK store, management decided to do away with the food court. It still kept the restaurant though, and the tradition of naming this restaurant by the floor it is located on – which in our case, is the Fourth Floor restaurant and bar. Went with J for birthday celebrations there last week.



Was not particularly impressed with the decoration. The bar was located near the entrance, and extended into an awkwardly long and narrow dining room. Our first feeling was how uncomfortably low the ceiling was, and how multi-color the the floor and the ceiling were. In fact, as you can see, the neon color bulbs would, at an interval, changed from purplish to pinkish, and then back again. For a minute there, we thought we had gone into a lounge bar that was trying to be cool and hip. Perhaps we are too old-fashioned, but we felt a bit dizzy after a while sitting in this ever-changing twilight zone. 



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Am a milk tea addict - the Chinese local diner's style, "Chachanteng version" - in general I down at least three to four cups of milk tea a day. This is the full strength original, using condensed milk and black tea brewed with broken egg shells, not the watered down Western version. I generally buy them at meal times, one at breakfast, one at lunch, one in the afternoon and one at dinner. This is the bare minimum. Sometimes when my colleagues order breakfast after I have enjoyed mine, they'd always be kind enough (!) to swing in an extra milk tea for me.

My craving is so bad that on the occasional mornings when I didn't have time to buy my milk tea, I would be grumpy and edgy and whining non-stop to the people sitting around me about the lack of my morning brew. Sometimes they'd get so frustrated or tempted that they'd order a couple to be delivered to the office. 

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