In the Shop @ N*ICE POPS

Page_1 copy 2Summer is in full swing, and you’ll be glad you’re reading this because there’s a new kid (one year old!) on the block serving ice cold gourmet popsicles called N*ICE POPS.

I first came across their products at a Foodie pop-up event that I blogged about back in April, and knew I wanted to find out more. They launched in Summer 2014 and their world is only getting cooler (pun intended!).  Page_1 copyYesterday I visited their kitchen-slash-office space in Ap Lei Chau to interview founder Eddie Chan, so please dig in to the scoop below…

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 12.42.00 pmBakker’s Bites (BBITES) : What goes into your pops?

Eddie Chan (EC) : When we first started, we were naïve thinking that we could get all local, all organic fruits in Hong Kong. It didn’t turn out to be the case.

We do try working with some local farms; one of the first flavours we did was an organic beetroot and shiso, both of which we can get locally.Page_5When we see things that are nice and available, we’ll try to get it but for the most part it’s a trip to the fruit market or the wet market. We also have a few international suppliers across South-East Asia, and we’re using some peaches right now from the States.

The whole local thing was nice, but it’s really hard to get anything consistently in Hong Kong – it’s not happening right now.Untitled 3BBITES : I’ve covered Sohofama on my blog before, which also tries to source local-organic whenever possible, but they told me it remains a challenge. Would you say it’s getting easier over time to source locally?

EC : For produce, like most vegetables, it’s actually not too terrible. But we’re more fruit-based, and that’s different.

BBITES : Really? So sourcing fruits is more difficult than vegetables?

EC : Yeah, we can get some local bananas for example, and we’ve done dragon fruit before, although we eventually found the red Malaysian ones to be nicer. There’s some stuff, but sometimes they’re not the best.

BBITES : What do you do when you’ve found something that’s local and organic, but the quality isn’t living up to what you imagined? Would you then source from elsewhere?

EC : Yeah, for sure. We do actually have organic strawberries here in Hong Kong, but last season we kind of skipped over our suppliers to get them from the States because they had a bad harvest and they were tiny and bitter – just not useable. It happens.Page_5 copyBBITES : Ok, so when you’ve found the right produce you bring them to this kitchen. Then, is it a matter of just blending them together for the popsicles, or do you precook some things for the recipes?

EC : We do both. We precook more with our winter flavours or cooler weather flavours. For instance, we caramelised the banana before we put it in the pop for this one really popular one that we had.

We did an applesauce for an apple crumble pop before, too. For things like that we’ll do a little bit of cooking, but for warm weather it’s mostly straightforward.Page_2BBITES : How do you choose which recipes are for cooler weather versus hot weather, does that have anything to do with the Chinese philosophy of “heaty” versus “cooling” foods?

EC : Not really, although we should look into that. It’s more seasonal stuff, like apple sauce with cinnamon, or banana cream pies…art 3BBITES : Tell me more about the artwork in your kitchen. It’s awesome!

EC : Thanks! Well, from the beginning it’s been the branding. We always thought – well it was just me back then – that it would be nice to associate the brand with more of a handmade look and feel versus a corporate, clean-cut look.

Everything we do here, we do by hand and we wanted to have that association with street art, illustration and graffiti. Being a fan of street art myself, I thought it would be a really good opportunity to bridge that gap where it’s food but we can tie it in with that bit of culture.UntitledThe designer that helped me with the initial branding, Tim Wong, who designed our logo, he introduced me to some local artists from the Hong Kong street art scene, and we just went off from there.

Within the studio there’s four different artists’ work, and we actually have an artist – Bao, who’s a finalist in this year’s Secret Walls competition – helping us paint a freezer today in our friend’s studio downstairs, so we can go check that out later if you want.Page_3BBITES : Yeah, I’d love to see that. Do you have artists create images for specific pops, or is it just the workspace or freezer units? How does the artwork come into being?

EC : What we want to do is give the artists free reign, within a certain boundary. We’ve had certain artist friends do something that’s a little more adult than we’d like – we love it, it’s great, but our target audience isn’t just the cool kids and the adults. We have children and families and things like that. artWith the ice pop girl, there’s just a hint of that – a little edgy and borderline, but it doesn’t step over that boundary. I mean we’re selling ice pops at the end of the day.art 2BBITES : Your customer base is across the board then?

EC : In some ways, but we do target adults more than kids – we’re trying to get involved in a lot of parties this summer, for example – although there are more kid-friendly flavours in our menu now.

Some of our competitors are coming out the woodworks now, and they’re targeting the cutesy kids and stuff and that’s fine, it’s a big market, but for us that’s never where we want to go with our image and not with our products.

What we’re offering is a little more sophisticated in terms of taste and palate, with things like our boozy pops where we’re doing our own signature cocktails and not just copying existing recipes.

pops

BBITES : My flatmate wanted me to ask this question: how many alcoholic pops would it take to get drunk?

EC : I always tell people this when they ask: you’ll probably get brain freeze, or not feel your jaw or tongue before you get wasted on our boozy pops.

There’s about 3.5% alcohol, like a light beer, so unless you’re a complete lightweight you’ll be fine. We want people to be able to taste it, and not be wondering, “where’s the alcohol in this?”Page_3 copyBBITES : How often do you switch up the recipes, is it quarterly?

EC: Generally quarterly, yes. Sometimes it’s performance-based too. Things like our mango pop with watermelon, lime juice and a sprinkle of paprika, that one sells really well so we kept it on our menu.

But, in general every season you can expect a full menu change and even within a season we introduce new ones – so every other month. Now that we have more retail partners, we’re going to do more exclusives, too.Untitled 3BBITES : Favourite pop at the moment?

EC : Surprisingly, a very light one. It’s our green apple-cucumber-iced tea.

BBITES : Favourite pop of all time?

EC : Ooh… of all time? That’s a tough one. It’s a toss up between two pops we don’t do anymore but might bring back: an Old Fashioned pop with fresh-squeezed orange juice, bitters and bourbon; and one with oven-charred pineapples, a dark rum and vegan caramel.

BBITES : That sounds soooooo good!!!!!!!!!!

EC : Yeah, that was a favourite and was running for a long time, but as good as it is – and we do have requests for it – we want to keep things fresh and new. Untitled 2BBITES : Final question: how do you get inspired for new recipes?

EC : The inspiration comes from just loving to eat and drink. Maybe sometimes a trip to the market, you’ll see a fruit and think, “hey, never thought of using that before!” Most of all, though? Being a glutton…

BBITES : Perfect end to the interview, thank you so much!Page_2 copy 2Check out N*ICE POPS’ website or facebook for information on where to find them…

Thanks for reading!

Bakker x

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Quinary’s Lavender Meringue Pie

lemonI’ve been a fan of Quinary for years, and even interviewed owner Antonio Lai back in 2012 for this blog.

This post is just to share my latest obsession at the mixology bar on Hollywood Road with you: the Lavender Meringue Pie.lemon 2Developed by one of Quinary’s resident mixologists, Samuel Kwok, this cocktail hits all the right notes. I really like gin and citrus combinations in general, and the LMP rounds off a sophisticated lavender-infused gin with limoncello (YUM!!!!).

The icing on the top comes in the form of an inch-thick layer of insanely irresistible marshmallow fluff, which the bar burns before serving, just like a crème brûlée.

And if you’re wondering about the dried lemon slice – yes, you should eat it. I like to dip it in the foam and break off small crunchy pieces to nibble on for a concentrated citrus blast.lemon 3It’ll be a while before I shake off this obsession. I just can’t get enough, and recommend this to all sweet/sour cocktail lovers. SERIOUSLY – go try it!

Bakker x

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BBITES Mini-Post #10 x Foodie Market

1Spring is here and there’s fun events happening all over town. I went to a great one over the weekend in Sai Ying Pun: Foodie Market (as in Foodie magazine) at Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard.

2Just wanted to share some of the highlights with you via a few photos. So, please enjoy!4

The Foodie Market was spread out throughout Opendoor’s premises – with food stands inside, outside and upstairs. There was also some seminars and talks happening upstairs, but we (my friend Molly and I) focused on eating and drinking.
5I particularly enjoyed an alcoholic Sangria gourmet ice pop @ Nice Pops – and want to do an interview with them soon to learn more.. so hopefully that works out!
3Be back soon with more BBITES…

Enjoy the great weather in the meantime!

Bakker x
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BBITES Mini-Post #9 x snack time @ Genie

Page_1 copyHappy Easter!

Went to IFC the other day and stopped by Genie Juicery for the first time. I was following a friend who goes regularly, and decided to pick up a juice and snack as well.

Page_2 copyOf course, I’d heard of Genie before; one of the founders (Cara G. McIlroy) is a fellow model in Hong Kong – and their PR machine is quite effective. The prices (each bottle costs around $70) are a far cry from the fresh orange juice I pick up from local vendors in my neighbourhood ($12), but it’s not for no reason: the recipes are complex and everything is cold-pressed.

Among the many juices on display was the Life Blood juice, a “blood cleansing uplifter“. Sounded like exactly what I needed, since I’d had alcohol the night before.ababThe juice was delicious from the first sip with a consistency somewhere between water and a smoothie. The recipe was well-balanced: wholesome beetroot; apple and carrot, which always go well together; and lemon – the perfect citrus touch to round things up.

Page_2To pair with the juice, I also picked up a Pana Chocolate wild fig and orange bar. This brand makes chocolate by hand with no heat – and the result is an intense cocoa flavour, and an incredibly velvety, truffle-like texture. You have to keep these refrigerated as they melt once you start handling them, but that shouldn’t be a problem since I finished mine in under a minute. I eat orange-infused chocolates often, and this one was really great.

While I may not be ready for a 6-day cleanse just yet, I was certainly very pleased with my first taste of what Genie has to offer…

Bakker x

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Welcome to the Circus!

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Burger Circus is located at 22 Hollywood Rd.

If you’re a Central dweller or LKF crawler, you’re sure to have already walked past – and peeked into – Burger Circus.
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Isn’t it cute?!?! In the style of a classic American diner, Burger Circus serves exactly what you’d expect: burgers, milkshakes and fries.
3There’s fun details everywhere, from the menu holders to the staff’s old-school aprons and hats. Guests can choose between booth seating, or a spot at the bar.
4My friend and I ended up at the bar, and started with two shakes while waiting for our burgers.

The service is friendly and quick, so we didn’t wait for long. But long enough to both agree that the shakes were really good. There’s also some alcoholic milkshakes on the menu, but I’ll have to try that next time…

Topped with whipped cream and maraschino cherries, they were scrumptious and creamy 🙂
5The burgers, as you can see, are served in little paper boxes. I would advise to eat the burger using the box as a holder, because they are dripping with fabulous grease. Also, the bread is very fluffy and the whole thing is huge and quite difficult to eat by biting into it (without displacing your jaw, I mean).6Of course, to get the right photos, I took mine out of the box. Conclusion? –> Burger Circus is probably not the best place for a first date, unless you’re prepared to get really messy and have bits of food dangling out of your mouth 😀

7The menu has quite a few options, including chicken, and tuna burgers. I went for the Whole Show burger: beef patty, fried egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled beetroot and spicy mayonnaise.

It took a few bites to get into the spicy mayo in the middle, but boy was it worth the wait! A great combination in my opinion and, as a huge fan of beetroot, it was refreshing to see the underrated veggie make an appearance.

Overall the burger was really satisfying and hit the spot. Definitely a fan of the generous amounts of melted cheese oozing out of the bun. YUM.

Compared to a burger (similar price) I tried at Wan Chai’s Butcher Club a couple months ago, I felt like this one was better. And the awesome décor is just the cherry on the top!8On the other hand, while the sauce on the Circus Fries was very tasty (onion, cheese, and “circus sauce” reminiscent of “animal style” sauce from In-N-Out), I thought the fries weren’t thin or crispy enough to really blow us away.

After dinner, someone told me I should have tried the onion rings, which are great apparently – so now I’m living in regret.
9The whole experience was fun and fast – just like a simple burger joint should be. The convenience of the location, the irresistible design and feel-good burgers will have me back. Oh yeah, and it’s open till midnight EVERY DAY.

Bakker x

p.s. UPDATE (19/02/15) remember my post on the HK Beer Company? Well, Burger Circus stocks 4 of their drafts – so if you’re in Central and want to kill two birds with one stone, check them out! 🙂

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Bakker’s Bites – 4th Birthday!

1HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY to Bakker’s Bites! Four years have flown by, and we’re back with our annual bday celebration post 🙂

This year I enlisted the creative genius of one of my best friends, and I’m sure you’ll love the outcome as much as I do! ❤
As always, the bday images will be used for the blog header, and social media graphics for the next year.

But first, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane:
2Before showing you Janine’s creations in all their glory, here are links to the previous bday posts:

1st Birthday Shoot post and album
2nd Birthday Shoot post and album
3rd Birthday Illustrations post and album 3

You may recognise Janine from BBITES’ 2nd bday shoot. She’s a talented baker, and when she brought an amazing cake to Locofama’s anniversary I knew she would be the perfect person to collaborate with for birthday number four.4Janine used a variety of tools to shape and sculpt the amazing edible artworks. Even though they look super real, don’t forget: all of the images you’re about to see are made of fondant (icing), and chocolate cake. Incredible!!!

Please enjoy the final images for BBITES 4th Birthday… *drum roll*
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23Thank you so much to Janine for her wonderful work. Should you wish to reach her to commission any cakes, please use this email:

janineclaase @ yahoo.com

Let’s keep biting all the way till next year!

Bakker x

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For the Love of Mayo!

1Happy (belated) New Year! To kick off 2015 is a post I’ve wanted to write for a long time: a short and sweet write-up on my favourite condiment of all time: MAYONNAISE! As a half-Dutch girl, loving mayo is pretty much part of my heritage. The Dutch LOVE the stuff and are famous for french fries with mayo, as immortalised in this great Pulp Fiction scene: To order french fries with mayo in Holland, you simply have to say, “patatjes met”, which literally means, “potatoes with…”. The vendor already knows that you mean, “with mayo,”. Growing up, I watched my Dad eat mayo with: poultry, vegetables, fruit, seafood, and basically anything that’s fried… 2When you’re eating plain mayo with all of the glorious combinations above, the flavour and quality is of utmost importance! Now, you may think that all mayos are created equal, but to paraphrase George Orwell: some mayos are more equal than others. So, without further ado, I hereby present the mayolympics. 3Represented here are mayos from continental Europe, Japan and the United States. These are all regular mayos that can be found in supermarkets and are consumed en masse by regular folks like us! 4FIRST PLACE Coming in at 1st place are the European varieties: Amora’s Mayonnaise de Dijon from France, and Holland’s Calvé mayo. Thrown in for good measure is another Dutch mayo producer, Remia, with a variety especially made for French fries (that gives you an idea how serious they are about mayo + fries). What makes the Euro mayos taste so great is that on top of the regular ingredients used in mayo (egg, vinegar, salt, sugar…) they add mustard. Also, they only use egg yellows in their recipes. There’s more aroma and richness in texture compared to American mayos. Euro mayo is glorious! 6SECOND PLACE Second place belongs to Japan’s Kewpie, with its iconic squishy baby bottle packaging. Kewpie has been around since the 1920s when the Western condiment was adapted to Japanese palates; it’s made with rice vinegar instead of wine vinegar (like in France), or distilled vinegar. Like the Euro mayos, Kewpie also uses egg yolks only. The result is a sweeter taste, despite having no sugar added. Another reason for the irresistible flavour? You may have guessed it: MSG. 7THIRD PLACE Last, and I’m afraid least, comes American mayonnaise. I’m not a big fan of these mayos at all. Actually, I’ll only eat them if there’s no other choice (which sadly, is often the case in non-Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong). American mayos use whole eggs (white and yellow) in their recipes, leading to a blander and lighter taste. I’m sure there are people out there who prefer that, but I’m not one of them. Interestingly, a shared ingredient in Hellmann’s and Kraft mayo is lemon juice.

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At the moment, I have one treasured bottle of Calvé mayo in the fridge. It was a gift brought over to me by a dear friend all the way from Holland. But, I wondered – what if anyone reading this wanted to get their hands on some Dutch mayo here in Hong Kong?

I thought that the best people to ask would be the staff at The Orange Tree (a Dutch resto I’ve blogged about before). So, I gave them a call this morning and they kindly directed me to PrizeMart in Central, where they stock Zaanse mayo, AND stroopwafels.mayonnaise111Zaanse mayo has a stronger vinegar and mustard flavour than Calvé – definitely a mayo with lots of personality! A total steal at only HK$16!!! Happy mayo everyone… Bakker x Sig bbites