Monday, December 21, 2009

Discovery/Hong Kong

I think I finally realized that I was actually flying halfway across the world when I glanced at the plane's map and we were flying across the North Pole. A 15 hour plane ride definitely gave me a lot of time to imagine what Hong Kong would be like, but the truth is all the images in my head were nothing like the reality. I could probably write the longest post ever describing every detail of my hike in the New Territories, my day in Macau and my long walks around Hong Kong. Instead, considering the whole food blog theme I have going on here, I'm just going to list the top three food experiences I have had so far (unfortunately, one of the the meals was not my own, although it's still totally worth writing about).

I know my mom would be disappointed to see any bad manners, but after one bite of Pastel de Nata in Macau (Egg Custard Puff Pastry tarts, which I don't have pictures of because I was too busy eating) all bets were off. The buttery, flakiness of the crust crumbled down my scarf and jacket, but luckily I still managed to get enough in my mouth along with the just-sweet egg custard to know that seconds would be in order. These decadent tarts, served warm, are remnants of Portuguese colonization and although the Portuguese are no longer in Macau, I am certainly glad that they left these behind. Seeing as more people than not were carrying the tan bags from Koi Kei Pasteleria, the most famous purveyor of these tasty treats, I have a feeling I am not the only who likes these so much.

The Graham Street market, is one of Hong Kong's many food markets, it is on the much smaller side, hidden on a steep street in the heart of the Soho area, a small enclave in a predominantly international, Western area. Although I also went to a different larger market, I think I preferred the small, outdoor shops and stalls at this markets. Some were selling beautiful fruits and vegetables others had live fish flopping around on chopping blocks and others had homemade treats and specialities like luscious bean curd. The whole time I wished I had a kitchen where I could have bought some of these things to try them out for myself, but I am definitely not complaining, sometimes the fun is just in looking and discovering.

As I mentioned before, in the Sheung Wan area of Hong Kong, I visited another, much larger indoor market. The atmosphere was much more convivial, with several floors of vendors wholeheartedly interacting with each other selling everything from frogs to bok choy to chicken feet. The best part of this market was the 'Cooked Food Floor' a whole floor dedicated to various dining facilities. I would compare it to a food court in style, although it was far more rustic, diverse, and, well, better than any food court I have ever been to. Although I enjoyed a good fried rice, I would be lying if I said I wasn't incredibly jealous of my friend's Thai Tom Yum soup, it was absolutely spectacular with a depth of flavor from bright lemongrass that imbued rich coconut milk which perfectly mellowed out the spiciness. The fact that it was served in an earthenware pot over a flame just made it that much better. The earthenware pot at the table next to us did explode, but despite the risk I am still tempted to go back and get my own before I leave. Sometimes the best food is risky business, but hey, it's always worth it; messy tarts, flopping fish, and exploding soup bowls, it's all part of the adventure, right?


maria said...

It all sounds wonderful ... it's so great to be able to travel.