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Food & Drink


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Culture in a Box


The Japanese cultural practice of a packed meal (called “bento”) dates back to the 13th century. Today, it’s become a global phenomenon. Get into the art of making lunch

Culture in a Box


The Japanese cultural practice of a packed meal (called “bento”) dates back to the 13th century. Today, it’s become a global phenomenon. Get into the art of making lunch

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

An elegant and complex bento by Yuka.Kuni

An elegant and complex bento by Yuka.Kuni

Culture in a Box

April 3, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: One of Mizuka’s delicious bento creations

Do you salivate when you see someone else’s lunch box turned into an edible work of art? If you answered yes, your favourites are probably on Instagram or other social media applications, where many people post pictures of their home-packed meal boxes – or as the Japanese call it, bento.

Famous for decorating meals with traditional Japanese curved meal boxes, popular blogger Mizuka (@xmizukax) shares her pretty bento pictures on Instagram every day. She usually moulds rice or vegetables into certain shapes, or accumulates a group of small rice rolls into one big flower. Mizuka also sometimes adds pink cherry blossoms and green leaves, bringing viewers a sense of spring.

Then there’s Li Ming, a mother who lives in Singapore with her two children and has made many adorable bento pieces for her blog Bento Monsters (@bentomonsters). Her Super Mario-shaped creation consists of strawberries, kiwi, rice and more. There are also bread, sandwiches, sushi and cupcakes featuring Hello Kitty, panda shapes and many other cute characters.

Another bento lover is Mike Kravanis (@omgiri). As a Disney fan and Disney Parks blog reader, Kravanis has been committed to cute bento after a trip to Japan several years ago. His creations for OMGiri take the form of famous Disney characters. Last September, he attended the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to share his thoughts about bento culture. Now we’re hungry…

A smiling bento by Obentomama140

A smiling bento by Obentomama140

OMGiri’s edible rendition of StellaLou, the cute bunny character at Tokyo DisneySea

OMGiri’s edible rendition of StellaLou, the cute bunny character at Tokyo DisneySea

Images: Instagram: @xmizukax (Mizuka); @omgiri; @yuka.kuni; @obentomama140

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Bordeaux’s Sweet Spot


Sweet Bordeaux is having a moment that’s as close to immortality as wine gets

Bordeaux’s Sweet Spot


Sweet Bordeaux is having a moment that’s as close to immortality as wine gets

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Bordeaux’s Sweet Spot

March 6, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Liquid gold, the gold standard, luxury in a glass, wine’s Chanel No. 5, the silence that follows a piece by Mozart in which the listener remains suffused with the music – that’s Sauternes, the sweet white wine from France’s Bordeaux region. Made from sémillon, sauvignon blanc and sometimes muscadelle grapes, it’s having a magnificent moment in Asia. 

Hong Kong and China are now the world’s second-biggest market for this sweet Bordeaux elixir, according to Emma Baudry, who represents the Sweet Bordeaux association and travels annually to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo to promote the golden wonder in October and November. 

At Hong Kong’s most recent Wine and Dine festival, Baudry and the Sweet Bordeaux delegation sold more than 13,000 glasses over four days to the trade, visitors and amateur oenophiles. “The winemakers worked hard to explain the diversity of AOC [appellation d’origine contrôlée] to the young audience of Hong Kong,” explains Baudry. And so popular it was, she ran out of stock. 

Sauternes, and especially at Château d’Yquem, its most esteemed estate, is produced 40km upstream of Bordeaux in a region nestled between the left bank of the Garonne and the immense Landes forest. This noble area of about 2,200 hectares is divided among the villages of Sauternes, Bommes, Fargues, Preignac and Barsac. Although they can all properly claim the famous Sauternes appellation, the producers in Barsac are allowed to choose between the
Sauternes AOC and its sister appellation, Barsac AOC, which controls production in a very similar manner. 

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Sweet Bordeaux’s silver bullet, irony of ironies, is something called botrytis cinerea, commonly known as noble rot and capable of reducing a potential harvest of 40 hectares to just 18. Sémillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle grapes are left on the vine longer than a normal grape, the result of which makes the grapes raisin-like and shrivelled, and covered in a veil of fungus. Sauternes is one of the few regions where contamination happens frequently; in years when it doesn’t, the winemakers desist from producing. 

Grapes are often picked one by one and winemakers may take batches for harvest each day as they assess their state of noble rot. Some estates harvest the sauvignon blanc as soon as it’s ripe to retain its aromatic finesse and acidity in order to produce fresh, more vigorous wines, while producers of heady, fuller-bodied Sauternes wait for the maximum amount of noble rot to set in. The natural concentration and selection process afford miniscule yields; a single vine produces just one to three glasses of this extraordinary wine. 

Feared everywhere else, rot is providential and makes sweet Bordeaux, in all its iterations, a wine with extravagant complexity and variety; notes of orange, honey, apricot, peach, grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, lemon, mango, lychee, cooked apple, ginger, vanilla, acacia blossom, walnut, almond, hazelnut, nutmeg, light and dark crème brûlée, and even saffron can all be evident. Really, no other wine bears such profundity in its sultry and seductive versatility.

So why isn’t it more commonly drunk? Sauternes and sweet Bordeaux have endured a curious agony-and-ecstasy of an image problem over the years, as a multitude of preconceptions have built up around the wine’s consumption. Among the most commonly misplaced notions are the following: that it’s only a dessert wine; that it can only be paired with foie gras, blue cheese and fruit desserts; that it’s expensive; that it’s wasteful, meaning not everyone wants to finish a bottle once opened; and that its sweetness has made it the preserve of women rather than the red-blooded male. 

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Edward Narby, Berry Brothers & Rudd’s Hong Kong-based corporate account manager, has noticed a rising interest in Sauternes in China – “though not to the consumption levels of dry reds and whites,” he says. He identifies several reasons for the change. “The emphasis on food and wine-matching with Sauternes – it goes particularly well with aromatic and spicy dishes, with the sweetness acting as a great complement to spice, which can often overpower red wines.”

Baudry and her cohorts have also paired sweet Bordeaux with seafood and found them to be agreeable to the broader Asian palate. “We have paired sweet Bordeaux with oysters, then lobster and finally a smoked saffron fish,” she says. “Very beautiful chords showed the guests the sweet wine’s pairing abilities thanks to its aromatic complexity, with a variety of textures and tastes.”

Narby also believes the region’s dining culture matches well with the libation: “The tradition of Chinese dining, where lots of dishes are served at once, also works with sweet wine, as it is surprisingly versatile. There’s also a psychological edge to Sauternes – gold is such a positive colour, too.”

But what about the commonly held belief that alpha males don’t touch the sweet stuff? “The notion of Sauternes being a more female-friendly libation is completely unfounded,” he says. “In tastings, I see that everyone enjoys these wines now. Real men drink rosé – they are drinking sweet Bordeaux, too.”

It’s also an elixir with staying power on the practical level. “A sweet white Bordeaux, once opened, thanks to the higher levels of alcohol and acidity, will easily keep in the fridge for up to ten days… if you can resist it!” says Narby. At the more remarkable end of the preservation scale, US wine critic Robert Parker tasted an 1811 Château d’Yquem in 1996 and awarded it a perfect 100 points. The house of Dior even combined with d’Yquem in 2006 to create an anti-ageing cream that utilised sap from its vines. 

Nicolas Sanfourche, who oversees 30 hectares of vines at Château Loupiac-Gaudiet, of which three hectares are dedicated to red wine and 27 to sweet white Loupiac, says both yes and no to Sauternes being considered a dessert wine. “It’s a dessert wine because it replaces the dessert at the end of the meal,” he says. “Never mix sweet wine and sugar, and if you really want to pair it with dessert, I prefer fresh fruits.” 

And on the point about the gender battle: “Soft drinks are sugared, too, but does that mean they are only for women as well?” he poses, noting that he sees more men in his cellar than women. Sanfourche also has two dancefloors in his cellar, where he invites 500 people and six DJs to while the weekend away. “The average age of the people is 25,” he adds. As of this month, he’s opened a space on the estate for Airbnb for those wanting a taste of the life more ambrosial. 

So what are you waiting for? Sweet Bordeaux doesn’t only taste sublime or match with all foods – it’s an anytime, anywhere libation, “People say sweet Bordeaux wine is only for the end of the year, a celebration, but my favourite time to drink it is next to the pool in the summer,” says Sanfourche. From here to eternity, go grab the sweeter life and aspire to iridescent immortality – a life Sauternal?

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Hong Kong’s Four Best Siu Mei Restaurants


Want an authentic taste of Hong Kong? Check out some of the city’s best siu mei restaurants

Hong Kong’s Four Best Siu Mei Restaurants


Want an authentic taste of Hong Kong? Check out some of the city’s best siu mei restaurants

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Hong Kong’s Four Best Siu Mei Restaurants

March 6, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Ask a smattering of locals “What is Hong Kong’s signature cuisine?” and one of the top answers is certainly going to be siu mei (燒味). It’s a catch-all term for those mouth-watering roasted meats hanging in a restaurant’s front window, deliciously flavoured, cured and dripping with palatable juices. If this embodiment of scrumptious Canto cuisine has already triggered your appetite, read on to see our picks of the top siu mei restaurants in Hong Kong.

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Chop Chop

Where Shop 3, 18 Wang On Road, North Point 

This modern-style siu mei diner delivers traditional cuisine in a fun contemporary setting. Headed by chef Dai Lung, whose meticulous cooking inspired the char siu dish “sorrowful rice” that featured prominently in comedian Stephen Chow’s 1996 film The God of Cookery, Chop Chop’s signature dish is the roasted pork belly char siu rice (HK$80), acclaimed for its delicate texture, succulent meat and remarkable juiciness. Other standout dishes are the restaurant’s roast goose (HK$250/half) and crispy pork belly (HK$90/half-catty). 


One Goose

Where 228 Ki Lung Street, Sham Shui Po 

This innovative, newly opened restaurant is a diner that has set out to revolutionise the traditional siu mei. One Goose’s exceptional black pepper-seasoned roast goose ($120/half) is an impeccable blend of East and West, while its roast goose cooked with the indigenous Chinese herb Angelica sinensis ($120/half) is another standout with a distinct flavour. A top tip is to order the lower quarter of the goose (instead of the upper), since that’s where the meat is the most succulent and tender – it’s a well-known technique used by many locals. Coupling the appetising siu mei with the restaurant’s classically posh interiors, you’ll definitely enjoy this one-of-a-kind dining experience.


Yue Kee Restaurant

Where 9 Sham Hong Road, Sham Tseng 

Sham Tseng is well known for its roast goose restaurants – and Yue Kee is the most coveted spot. Since its establishment in 1958, Yue Kee has been run as a family business. Today, the second generation of ownership insists on creating its roast goose (HK$175/half) in the most traditional way possible, with the bird sourced from its eight privately owned farms in China. All the while maintaining a divine quality level and a steady supply, the restaurant char-grills the goose according to an exclusive recipe, which lends a distinctive smokiness, with a thin, crispy skin topping some seriously succulent meat.

Luen Fat Restaurant

Where 17 Market Street, Tsuen Wan 

As unfussy and unpretentious as it gets, Luen Fat is a time-honoured spot. The restaurant has retained a fierce group of loyal customers who come in droves for the shop’s delicious honey char siu (HK$105) and tantalising roast pork ribs (HK$120), always resulting in a long queue outside the restaurant during peak hours and Chinese festivals. Its simplistic layout and rustic furnishings embody the traditional siu mei restaurant.

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Hooked Up


Fishsteria casts its net wider with a new waterside restaurant in Kennedy Town

Hooked Up


Fishsteria casts its net wider with a new waterside restaurant in Kennedy Town

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Hooked Up

February 20, 2019 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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In a harbour city such as Hong Kong, where fish is the staple diet of so many, it’s hard to catch and sustain the attentions and appetites of diners. But such has been the case with the restaurant, oyster and cocktail bar Fishsteria, run by chef-owner Gianni Caprioli. Having hooked the piscatorial taste buds of seafood lovers amid the hustle and bustle of Queen’s Road East in Wan Chai since its opening in 2015, it has now spawned a more laid-back sister restaurant, Fishsteria Waterside, in Kennedy Town. The new space, while still buzzy, overlooks the harbour and offers more easy-going dining, with floor-to-ceiling windows and bespoke light fittings crafted from the skeleton of a classic Italian rowboat. 

Much like the Wan Chai original, expect clams, oysters, crabs and bluefin tuna, as well as sustainable Italian seabass, Alaskan king crab, Dover sole from southern France and the oh-so-delectable calamari. Familiar dishes such as the famous Fishsteria lobster roll (HK$168) and tuna poke focaccia (HK$138) with lean tuna and creamy burrata, Italian tomatoes and rocket pesto still feature – and they’re joined by new creations, which include scallops and apple ceviche with lime (HK$198) and sea urchin chitarra (HK$288), featuring fresh square egg spaghetti. And loyalists will cheer to see the renowned giant macaroni lobster with brandy tomato sauce (HK$548) retained on this new menu. 

“We’re excited to open our doors and invite our friends in Kennedy Town to experience our unique brand of Fishsteria hospitality,” says chef Caprioli. “Our new menu features some of my most exciting creations yet, and I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends dive into our lovingly made food in our new waterside setting.” New Fortune House, 2-5A New Praya, Kennedy Town; (fishsteria.hk)

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A Bold Vintage


China’s historic roast-duck restaurant Quanjude opens in Bordeaux

A Bold Vintage


China’s historic roast-duck restaurant Quanjude opens in Bordeaux

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

A Bold Vintage

November 21, 2018 / by Zhang Yen

There are certain spots in major metropolises that become so iconic the very thing that once made them famous can become overly laurel-resting and highly touristic – think The Galle Face in Colombo, The Ritz in London and Les Deux Magots in Paris, to name just a few. But there’s a most interesting diversion in the case of the Quanjude restaurant in Beijing, a purveyor of the capital’s finest roast duck for more than 150 years, and which has served the likes of Fidel Castro and Richard Nixon from its multi-storey headquarters. This venerable institution now has branches all over the sprawling Chinese city, but chose to open its first European outlet on October 29 in, of all places, the French port city of Bordeaux. 

And Quanjude isn’t opening just anywhere in Bordeaux, but at the renowned 42–44 Allée de Tourny, the address that formerly housed the legendary restaurant Dubern, founded in 1894 and a long-time favourite of the Bordelais. Bordeaux chef Olivier Peyronnet will cook with chef Feng Xu from Quanjude in Beijing and another Franco-Chinese staff member in the new establishment. 

It’s a sign of the times if ever there was one. So how do prices compare? Well, a whole duck in Quanjude in Beijing will set you back RMB 200, while its Bordeaux equivalent registers at €120 (approximately RMB 950). 

Quanjude is owned by Beijing-based packaging millionaire James Yunjie Zhou, who also bought Château Renon in Tabanac on the Cadillac coast of Bordeaux four years ago – a milestone, as the 100th Bordeaux château acquired by the Chinese. (Zhou also owns the Sunshine Creek winery in Australia’s Yarra Valley). 

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At the time of the acquisition, Zhou, who also runs fencing and polo clubs in China, said he planned to use Renon as a base for his family in Bordeaux, and as a venue for entertaining people from the Chinese wine industry and the media. As such, visitors can stay at the château in the Pomerol Suite, or in a selection of rooms including the Saint Émilion, Cadillac, Saint Julien and Pessac Léognan. Renon was built in 1802 with 16th-century cellars, and includes stables. 

Zhou has big plans for Quanjude, too, with Bordeaux being the first of more to come. Currently there are plans to open Quanjude in Lyon and Paris, along with other European capitals. 

The menu comprises the best of the Chinese institution, slightly revisited through the filter of French gastronomy. Thus, à la carte starters include foie gras, hibiscus, quince and pear consommé for Gallic palates, along with Quanjude soup – a duck potage composed of fresh vegetables and noodles. And while there’s Peking duck for the main, there’s also an alternative Mallard served in a pie with salad and truffled sauce. Pescatarians aren’t neglected, either, so lobster tail, prawns, Mandarin fish (“served just like in Beijing”, according to the menu) and scallops all feature. There are set lunch and dinner menus, too, for those whose needs are more practical than stately. 

And given the owner’s penchant for French wine, there’s a large preference for Château Renon, which even has its own room at the restaurant. The estate’s red comes from hand-picked merlot (85%) and cabernet sauvignon (15%) grapes, is aged in new barrels and is characterised by a ruby colour, a complex nose that’s woody, roasted and fruity. It’s generally dense and warm, with good depth and length, and with the 2015 being the pick of the recent crop. There’s also a sweet white comprising semillon (85%) and sauvignon (15%) grape varieties. The sweet Cadillac is vinified and aged in new barrels. It bears a signature golden colour, with a woody nose redolent of candied fruits and honey, and goes down a storm with the Miso dessert, described as crème brulée – coffee cloud, caramelised pecan nuts and tonka ice cream. 

For those desireth of a last drop of global gentrification, there’s also the Quanjude Bordeaux Tea Salon, served on authentic Chinese porcelain. Given that Chinese investors have bought around 40% of all Bordeaux vineyards put up for sale in recent years and that by October’s end, an estimated 150 châteaux and wineries are now Chinese-owned in Bordeaux, Quanjude’s arrival is cultural new vintage. (quanjude-bordeaux.com)

Images: Facebook: @quanjudebdx

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Languedoc Rising


A below-the-radar vineyard in southern France, Mas de Daumas Gassac, is challenging the dominance of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Languedoc’s vinous moment is at hand

Languedoc Rising


A below-the-radar vineyard in southern France, Mas de Daumas Gassac, is challenging the dominance of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Languedoc’s vinous moment is at hand

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Languedoc Rising

October 24, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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The French region of Languedoc has been a victim of its own success since early times. The area was cultivated with vineyards by the early Greeks in the fifth century. Languedoc had belonged to France since the 13th century and Roussillon was acquired from Spain in the 1650s; the two regions were joined in the 1980s. 

Spanning the Mediterranean coastline from the French border with Spain to the region of Provence, the area has around 700,000 acres of wines and is the biggest wine-producing region in the world, responsible for more than one-third of France’s total. It was estimated that by 1980, Languedoc was producing ten per cent of the entire planet’s wine output. 

But where Bordeaux and Burgundy reign in France, Languedoc has been overshadowed by their influence – one that both regions have been happy to reinforce. However, that’s now changing, largely due a group of dynamic contemporary winemakers, and the supreme exponent of this mentality is Mas de Daumas Gassac, in the commune of Aniane. Although fairly under the radar in the larger wine world, the estate has been dubbed the Latour and the Lafite Rothschild of the region, and more widely as “the Grand Cru of Languedoc”. Whatever the declension, it has raised Languedoc’s viticultural game to a more competitive and keenly felt level. 

For 46 years, the property and its iconoclastic wines have been tearing up the rule book, highlighting the excellence of a terroir first revealed in 1972 by the estate’s creators, Véronique and Aimé Guibert. Although Aimé was a glovemaker by trade (he worked with both Roberto Cavalli and Pierre Cardin) and Véronique an ethnologist, they bought a 300-year-old farmhouse from the Daumas family, located in the unspoilt setting of the Gassac valley, named after the brook that cuts through it. The Guiberts asked eminent wine geologist Henri Enjalbert to analyse the land, whereupon ice-age scree (similar to the best soil in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or) was discovered. 

The couple began planting cabernet sauvignon in 1972, with the first vintage of Mas de Daumas Gassac released in 1978. Today, more than 38 red and 31 white vintages are ageing in the cellars of the estate. Those 1,000-year-old cellars were formed in the foundations of a Gallo-Roman mill. 

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Pont de Gassac White 2017

Pont de Gassac White 2017

Guilhem Rosé 2017

Guilhem Rosé 2017

Vins de Cépages Pinot Noir 2017

Vins de Cépages Pinot Noir 2017

 

“We bring wine from the Languedoc, but with a style that is different,” says Basile Guibert, one of four brothers who have inherited the property from their father, who died in 2016 at the age of 91. “Languedoc brings volume to the rest of the world – and if you take Languedoc out of the wine world, a lot of people will have no access to it. Forty years ago, this association with volume was bad, but now, people in Languedoc are making excellent wine, and even the most prestigious names like Rothschild and Lafite all have something in Languedoc.”

One of the reasons for this is the ease with which wine is produced in the region. “It’s an amazing product because we have amazing sunshine and amazing weather,” says Guibert. As a result of history, relations between Spain, Italy and France, and Languedoc’s trading and export to them, the varietals of vines are broad. Daumas Gassac typically does unusual blends of chardonnay from Burgundy, sauvignon from the Loire/Bordeaux, viognier from the Rhône Valley, and grenache blanc as well, in wines that are often described as elegant and distinctive. 

Most interestingly, during the recent French election, an article in the press compared the candidates to the country’s wines – a natural comparison, given that after exports of military hardware and aeronautical supplies, wine is second on France’s list of global reach. (Luxury products such as fashion and must-have handbags come in third.) President-to-be Emmanuel Macron was likened to Daumas Gassac. But why? “Because they described him as being young and unusual, and of course, showing incredible promise and commitment.” In other words, just as France looked at Macron and saw a more purposeful future, Languedocians look to Daumas Gassac to upscale the region, or at least a part of it, to new vinous heights. 

Languedoc hasn’t seen the rush of Chinese investors typical in Bordeaux and Burgundy, but there have been a handful of acquisitions in the last three years. “One hectare in Bordeaux, for example, of the top appellation, might cost between one or two million euros; Pauillac, maybe two million euros,” says Guibert. And then the big reveal. “From Languedoc, it’s more like 10,000 to 20,000 euros. Investors can dream of this idyll,” says Guibert. 

Much of the winery’s prominence stems from Aimé Guibert’s close relationship with legendary French oenophile Émile Peynaud, with whose assistance the first vintage was produced in 1978. “Émile Peynaud took it upon himself to advise Daumas Gassac, but on two conditions,” recalls Guibert. “The first: ‘I will never be paid’, he said. The second: ‘I will never come to your estate – don’t bother me, but you can call me any night after 9pm.’” 

Six months, later the two had become good friends, and Peynaud visited the estate two or three times per year. Such provenance has seen the likes of Jack Ma and Steve Jobs visiting, too. But why did Peynaud, luminary of French viticulture, choose to align with a cabernet sauvignon producer in the Languedoc? Guibert explains: “Peynaud said he’d been winemaking for Grand Cru all his life, but that he’d never taken part in the birth of a Grand Cru. ‘With Daumas Gassac, I had that chance,’ he said.”

Oenophiles, it seems Languedoc’s 21st-century moment is at hand. Start early, and at the below-the-radar pinnacle of the region, with Mas de Daumas Gassac.

Images provided to China Daily

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The Dough Must Flow


Making your own bread at home is relatively easy – and very enriching

The Dough Must Flow


Making your own bread at home is relatively easy – and very enriching

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

The Dough Must Flow

October 24, 2018 / by Howard Elias

Most people who make their own bread do so to control what goes in it. Bread should really only contain six or seven ingredients: flour, liquid(water or milk), oil, sweetener (sugar, honey, agave or molasses), salt and yeast. I often add an egg to my breads to give them some squeezability; for vegans, ground flaxseed works just as well. If you want to be fancy, you can also throw in things like herbs, fruit, nuts, seeds or cheese. Some people may add dried gluten to their breads to give them more elasticity, especially if they are using flours like teff or spelt that are low in gluten.

I recently had a look at the ingredients of a popular brand of locally produced bread – one that’s available in all the supermarkets here. Do you know what else it contains? Flour-treatment agents to make the loaf rise more so that the bakery can use lower-quality flour and less of it (you’re essentially paying for bread-flavoured air), emulsifiers to reduce the rate at which the bread goes stale, preservatives to prolong shelf life and stabilisers to assist in the uniform dispersal of ingredients. The use of all these chemicals in food is legal in Hong Kong, but is it any wonder that more people are experiencing food intolerance issues these days?

With the plethora of affordable bread-making machines available on the market, it’s never been easier to make your own loaves of wholesome, grainy goodness… not that it was that difficult before. My machine is a basic model that offers 12 settings for different types of breads (basic, whole wheat, French, et cetera). To be perfectly honest, I actually use the dough setting for all my breads and then pop the dough into the oven. 

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True, the advantage of using a machine from start to finish means that you only have one pan to wash up, but baking your bread in the oven means that you can shape it into something other than a boring rectangle. Thanks to an instructional video on YouTube, I’m now a pro at making a six-stranded braided challah. You can also add interesting items such as apple chunks, grated cheese or sesame seeds to the dough once it’s ready. (Some machines automatically add items like dried fruit or nuts during the process, but mine isn’t that sophisticated.) Oven baking also means you can get the crust just the way you like it.

Another good reason for making your own bread is because it’s therapeutic. When I focus my attention on that blob of dough on my kitchen counter, any trouble that’s been sitting on my mind just disappears. The aroma coming from the oven also helps to melt away any worries or concerns I may have. Bread-making is also a great way to bond with your kids over an activity; my friend already has her two-year-old helping her pour the ingredients into the machine. So go ahead and get baking! It’s easy, it’s fun and you’ll feel better knowing exactly what’s in your bread.

One of my favourite recipes is for beet bread. Yes, beets – though you wouldn’t know it. The result is a slightly sweet, hearty bread that’s a beautiful pinkish-brown colour. It’s healthy and the whole family will love it. Just don’t tell them it’s beets until after they’ve taken their first bite!


Beet Bread

  • ½ cup warm water

  • 14oz can of sliced beets, finely chopped or puréed

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 2¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 packet (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

  • 1 egg or egg substitute (optional)

Tip: To get a redder loaf, swap out half of the water for the beet liquid from the can.

Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select the dough setting. When the dough is ready, either pour it into a non-stick baking pan or mould it to your desired shape on a very lightly floured surface. If the dough is too sticky to mould, add very small amounts of flour at a time until the dough is soft. Cover the dough and let it rest for about ten minutes. Bake the bread at gas mark 4 (180°C) for an hour. You’ll know it’s done when you tap it and it sounds hollow. Allow the bread to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing or serving.

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Lovely Libations


Cocktails don’t have to be fruity, sugary or headache-inducing. Check out our drink picks for a more refreshing buzz

Lovely Libations


Cocktails don’t have to be fruity, sugary or headache-inducing. Check out our drink picks for a more refreshing buzz

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Lovely Libations

August 29, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

 
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Novel Surprise

The Old Man cocktail bar, inspired by all things Hemingway, is a safe haven for those who, like the famed novelist, hate sugary drinks (we’re looking at you, mojito). Asian elements are emphasised in Farewell to Arms, a tropical concoction that combines butterfat-washed gin, dry vermouth sous-vide nori and salted Pernod, served with onion pearl and nori dust. It’s intense, yet somehow also subtle and elegant.

The Old Man, 37 Aberdeen Street, Central


 
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New Pal

In his 1751 print Gin Lane, the English painter William Hogarth promulgated a cautionary, almost apocalyptic vision of the ills of gin. The spirit’s image changed dramatically in the 1800s, though, when British officers in India began adding it to their anti-malarial, quinine-laced tonic water along with a little sugar and lime – thus creating the world’s most refreshing and healthy highball. The bar Artesian mixes up some of the finest gin and tonics ever seen, using dozens of the world’s best tipples and garnishes to die for. 

Artesian, The Langham Hong Kong, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

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Tropical Cool

The Mai Tai has been raising rummy spirits since its inception at the famous Trader Vic’s restaurant in California in the 1940s. VEA Lounge has toned down the Polynesian vibes to create its aromatic, experimental Full Circle. It’s a twist on the classic Mai Tai featuring coffee-redistilled rum, clarified pineapple, smoked peach liqueur, lime, coffee “paint”, almond perfume and pineapple leather.

VEA Lounge, 29/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central

Images: VEA Lounge; Artesian; Leung Pui Yee (The Old Man)

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Let’s Get Cray


It’s not a proper Chinese summer until you tuck into some spicy, crispy crayfish

Let’s Get Cray


It’s not a proper Chinese summer until you tuck into some spicy, crispy crayfish

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Let’s Get Cray 

August 15, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

There’s a shining star in China’s hot summers and no one can deny its popularity. It’s spicy, crispy and tasty – and its name is crayfish. These freshwater crustaceans aren’t just delicious; intriguingly, they’re also ideal for modern communication. Chen Xiaoqing, the director of food documentary series A Bite of China, says that crayfish is the best option for talking with a group of friends, because everyone has to wear plastic gloves to keep their hands from getting oily, so they can’t pick up their phone easily. Though it’s unclear if crayfish were endemic to China hundreds of millions of years ago, or if they originated from either North America or Sweden, they disappeared for millennia. However, the invasive species returned to the region in the 1920s as Japan imported them and later introduced them to Nanjing; from that point, crayfish began its conquering course on Chinese dinner tables.

In the blazing hot summer, what’s more perfect than spicy crayfish and a cold beer? Be forewarned, though – if you want to have a taste, don’t delay, as there’s usually a huge crowd in proper crayfish restaurants. 

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Tea Power


A new tea-beverage brand is on the rise in China – Shenzhen-based Nayuki is gaining steam

Tea Power


A new tea-beverage brand is on the rise in China – Shenzhen-based Nayuki is gaining steam

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Tea Power

August 1, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

There’s a long queue forming outside a newly opened drinks store in Beijing, but it isn’t Starbucks, which has been hugely popular among the locals for quite a while now. It’s Chinese tea-beverage company Nayuki, which has just opened a branch there.

Launched in November 2015, Nayuki is headquartered in Shenzhen and has expanded rapidly. In less than three years, it’s come to operate almost 80 stores across 13 cities in China. Nayuki has become a fashionable statement for young people, too, but why? Well, its tasty tea beverages, for one; also its cups, which feature a mouth that’s specially designed to perfectly fit the lips; and its freshly baked bread, which is high in fibre and low in fat. And unlike many competitors that cut corners, Nayuki insists on the highest-quality tea and fresh fruits according to the seasons. 

Nayuki’s beautiful interior decor, which makes it appear like a luxury shop, is also a major draw. “When it comes to shop design, we work with different designers, artists and some influential KOLs [key opinion leaders],” explains Peng Xin, Nayuki’s co-founder. “We want to develop Nayuki in a fashionable and artistic way. And we have recently been collaborating with Estée Lauder and Sulwhasoo.” 

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The brand actually originates from a love story. Nayuki’s two founders first met on a blind date and Peng told Zhao Lin, a businessman with more than ten years of experience in the food industry, about her entrepreneurial plans. It wasn’t strictly business, of course – there was a happily-ever-after, as they fell in love at first sight and got married after three months. 

In terms of placement, Nayuki knows its main target – almost every one of the brand’s stores is located near a Starbucks. “All Nayuki shops’ monthly sales figures have surpassed those of Starbucks,” says Peng. “Nayuki pursues a bright, relaxing, fashionable lifestyle, which is far from Starbucks, whose main theme is dark and business-like.” 

In March, Nayuki finished its series A financing and was estimated at more than RMB 6 billion, placing it among the highest-valued tea brands in China. After its huge success there, Nayuki has officially begun its global expansion strategy, with a Singapore opening via a joint venture with BreadTalk in the second half of this year. “Singapore is an important market,” says Peng. “We chose Singapore to learn how to meet international standards – and then we can go global.”

With 100 new stores planned in China by the end of this year and further plans overseas, it seems this young Chinese tea brand is on the path to world domination. “We hope more and more people worldwide will fall in love with our brand and Chinese tea,” says Peng. “At the same time, we want to be an innovator and a promoter in the course of Chinese tea’s globalisation.”

Images: ©奈雪の茶. All rights reserved

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Tasty Treats


From the traditional to the most Instagrammable, check out this summer’s wonders of ice cream

Tasty Treats


From the traditional to the most Instagrammable, check out this summer’s wonders of ice cream

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Tasty, Treats

August 1, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

 
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Xuegaowu (雪糕屋アイスキャンデー屋) 

A thick, flavoured ice cream with a popsicle on top – can you think of a better way to enjoy the summertime? Taiwan’s Xuegaowu (“Ice Cream House”) has released its luxury showstopper for the hot weather. Add some tasty powder and chocolate sauce for even more flavour.


 
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Bistopping

If you like ice cream decorated with little stars, crowns and all kinds of lovely shapes, Korea’s Bistopping is a must. The handmade corn cones and chocolate chips are definitely worth a try. Taking photos of the treats in the shop before enjoying them is a major attraction for trendy Korean youth.

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Wuxie (無邪)

Can you imagine tasting 11 hot summer items in just one bottle? Chinese brand Wuxie’s new ice cream product, Wuxie 11, consists of matcha, chestnut, blueberry, strawberry, cakes, corn crisps, chocolate and more. One bite of Wuxie and summer will arrive in your mouth. 


 
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Mango Kulfi

A mango with ice cream inside – what a pleasant surprise! Indian street vendors cut into the core and fill the fruit with ice cream for this classic dessert that’s definitely a great choice as you saunter through the hot streets.


 
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Wooden Popsicle

You’d think these colourful popsicles would be a deliciously cool way to relieve the summer heat, but hold on, they’re actually wooden art objects – not for eating! Designed by Italian artist Johnny Hermann, each one is unique.

Images: Instagram: 雪糕屋アイスキャンデー屋-創意冰品; @bistopping; johnnyhermann; ©2002-2018 无邪日式甜品官网

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