Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The D-Day: Dim Sum

Since I knew I was coming to Hong Kong, I couldn't think of anything else but dim sum. On Sunday morning I met an old friend of mine who is living now there with his Hongkongese wife, and we went to yum cha.

Dim Sum

We went to a popular dim sum tea house, as dim sum should only be served with tea. The place was very busy, crowded and noisy, but it was really fun! Dim sum dishes were pushed around on steam carts by servers who went around the restaurant offering them to customers. The selection of the tea is, by all means, the most important thing when eating dim sum. Actually, and according to the history of dim sum, the small snacks were first introduced later to the tea houses.

Dim Sum

Dim Sum

Here a selection of the dishes we tasted (I hope my memory doesn't fail me): sautéed pork rips, turnip cake, chicket feet, tofu skin rolls filled with taro and duck feet, dumplings, cabbage rolls, duck feet, steamed rolls filled with sausage, sponge cake and steamed rice noodle rolls filled with pork meat.

Dim Sum
Dim Sum
Dim Sum
Dim Sum
Dim Sum

Traditional restaurants don't have a menu so, when you take a dish, the woman pushing the cart will stamp your bill card on the table, depending on dish and size of it. Then you pay when you leave the restaurant.

Dim Sum

It was really fun and absolutely delicious!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Postcard home

Dear family and friends,
I write this postcard from the last destination of my trip. I left Australia last Thursday and, as you already know through last post, I've made a short stopover in Hong Kong, basically to eat, I must confess. This is my first time in this side of the Asian continent and since I got off the plane I've been just lost in a state of fascination.


I think Hong Kong is an easy city for the Asia beginner like me: signs, directions, street names, most of the restaurant menus and so on, are written in English, besides Cantonese. The public transport is one of the most efficient I've ever experienced and very user-friendly too. Everything is well organized and, so my personal experience, Hong Kong people are polite and patient with the stranger, and most of them speak English.

People of Hong Kong
HK Skyline

And the street markets... well, the street markets deserve a different chapter for themselves...

Dried Food Market
Dried Food Market
Dried Food Market

I still have a couple of great meals in Hong Kong I want to show you. Until then, you can see more pictures in the Hong Kong Album.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Breakfast

Today I went out for breakfast. When I arrived at the place that someone had recommended me, I took the stairs to the semi-basement of the building without knowing very well what expected me down there. I pushed the glass door with red undecipherable letters on it and walked in crossing the wide entrance until I stood in front of the woman at the cash desk. She was seating on an old high desk, one of those you usually find in antique diners or restaurants. With a short hand gesture, she told me to go ahead and seat wherever I wanted. At the table I studied the menu for a couple of minutes, though it wasn’t difficult to choose one of the ten different options. Imitating what other customers did, I raised my hand like in good old school times and waited until the waiter saw me. When he approached my table, I pointed my choice at the menu.

While I was waiting for my breakfast, I observed the other customers: a mixture of employees from the adjoining skyscrapers, a couple of retired people and two small groups of students. That was at least my guess. Apart from the students, who were too busy playing with their smart phones, most of the customers seemed to be absorbed in their papers or snoozing lost in their dreams. It was pretty early. Delivery men came and went through the kitchen door carrying tottering staples of boxes. The waiters moved smoothly through the tables, leaving dishes and drinks on them without stopping. There was a known sound of dishes and cutlery and, in the background, the humming of the air conditioning and a television nobody was paying attention to.

For a short moment, a couple of eyes took a furtive look at the only person in the place who didn’t look Asian, as she was about to take a picture of the food in front of her. My breakfast had arrived. At that moment, a thought crossed my mind: this could be the same bustle you’d find in a Spanish restaurant during the busy breakfast time. But I was not in Spain, I was in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong

The Aussie food obsession

If you’ve ever been in North America, you’ll know for sure the great quality and, specially, variety of printed magazines about food and cooking they have over there. Well, multiply it by two and you’ll be getting closer to the offer there is in Australia. Some days ago, I was just going through all the magazines in a newsagency (as they call the newsstands in Australia) a little bit lost in my own thoughts, when a tittle on one of the covers caught my attention: “The train in Spain: Europe’s finest rail trip”, the magazine, Gourmet Traveler. I had to contain my tears when I opened it by the article’s page and saw those beautiful pictures of my hometown, and of the North Spanish region of Cantabria. (I hope you can read the article here.)

Markierte Fotos28IMG_0227

These five weeks I’ve been in Australia, I’ve come to a conclusion: Australians have a severe obsession for food! And you kind of... cannot blame them, as the basic products have so an amazing quality.
During television prime time, many channels broadcast cooking programs. Like the Australian Junior Masterchef, the junior version with contestants aged 8 to 12 years. So... is it at this age when they start getting obsessed with food? I don't know. But don’t you think these kids cook the classical kids’ recipes, no! Take a look by yourselves:

Many of the actual trend cooks or patissiers have once appeared or co-operate in this television contest. This is the case of Adriano Zumbo, a name which seems to be a synonym in Australia for the worldwide very popular macarons. His creations, let's admit it, are really a piece of art.

Adriano Zumbo

And there is of course the fusion kitchen. In this melting pot of cultures that is Australia, specially connected to the closest continent Asia, the cuisine has an exceptional mixture of influences. To close this mini article about the Australian obsession for food, I leave you here a couple of videos from two TV shows which I personally find very interesting and quality programs.

Peter Kuruvita was born in England, from an Austrian mother and a Sri Lankan father:

Luke Nguyen, born in Thailand, he grew up in Sydney where his Vietnamese parents emigrated when he was still a young kid.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cool Woolloomooloo

Sydney has a suburb called Woolloomooloo, isn't that cool? Even better, in Woolloomooloo you can find a popular hotdog truck which also serves pies. Harry's Cafe de Wheels specialty is the "Tiger" pie: a chunky beef pie with mushy peas, mash and gravy. Just decadently delicious! Pies seem to be a common takeaway food snack in Australia as well as, so I've read, one of the most popular consumed food items whilst watching an Australian football game.

Tiger PieTiger Pie

Contrary to what I'd thought, much more things in Australia remind me of things I've seen in Great Britain and not in the States. I know, I know, prejudices and horrible comparisons! If I just had paid more attention to the history books, I should have known!

Among those things are:

1) the meat pies
2) Marmite versus Vegemite (which both swear taste different)
3) women with bizarre huts at horse races
4) judging by the media, kind of an admiration for the British Royal Family
and 5) that both drive on the "wrong" way of the street ;-)

Leaving these silly things apart, there are other thinks I like to watch:

1) Flora

Flannel flowers
Old Man Banksia

2) Fauna


...more fauna

People of 

Australia: The Reader
People of Australia: 

RunnersPeople of 

Australia: Sex and The City

3) Architecture

Filigree Balcony
Filigree Balcony