Tag Archives: bakker

Farewell BBITES – My Last Post

adiosamigos

Part 1 – Memory Lane

Dear BBITES Readers,

After nearly five-and-a-half years of Bakker’s Bites, the time has come for me to bid farewell to the world of food blogging.

In 2011, I was still an undergraduate student here in Hong Kong, dreaming of being published as a “food critic”. The first step I took towards achieving that goal was starting a food blog – and thus, BBITES was born on February 5th, 2011. My first taste of being published came in March, 2012, when Foodie Magazine featured a column that I wrote. I was so excited I wrote a post about it: Foodie Magazine – March Guest Column!

Page_1 copyMarch, 2013, was the next important date in my food writing journey: my first restaurant review was published in Time Out Hong Kong – and my first feature story in Crave Magazine.

Page_1Over the years, I’ve done reviews, travel stories and interviews on BBITES – and looking back, the posts I’m most proud of are my posts about the f&b industry in Hong Kong:

Page_3I also had fun sharing food facts and “philosophy” with you over the years:

Page_2And last, but not least, a trip down memory lane for BBITES’ annual bday posts (oops, I didn’t do a post for birthday #5):

That brings me to the end of Part 1 – Memory Lane. Last week, I had the good fortune of being invited to a presentation and round-table discussion on the future of food, and that’s what I’ll turn to now for my final BBITES post in Part 2.

Part 2 – TRENDxCHANGE: Food Future

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Last week, on Thursday, 21st July, I attended a presentation and round-table discussion led by French trend forecaster, Cecile Poignant. The title attached to this informative and interesting evening was “Food Future”, making it the perfect way to end Bakker’s Bites.

As it lasted two hours, I will limit myself to summarising the insights presented in Cecile’s keynote that struck me the most. After that, I will do the same with the answers given by four guests during a panel discussion.

PRESENTATION

Page_2 copy 2Cecile organised her presentation about food trends into four “stories”: Roots; Farming; Erotic; and Hybrid.

Roots

  • In response to our constant use of flat-screen devices, there is a return to texture and sense of touch.
  • Return to rustic aesthetics, and imperfection – with sophistication
  • Idea of taking time to create do things (e.g. Slow Food Movement in Europe)

“If you want to have the nutrients from an apple in the 1950s, you have to eat a hundred apples of today. So, because we made the selection to have the best apple for transportation, not for taste; because we made the best apples for conservation and not for nutrition, a lot of the things we eat today are not very rich in [nutrients]” – Cecile Poignant

  • Seasonal products and ways to conserve them for the rest of the year
  • Minimalism – people will eat less, but more well-chosen

“One of trends we hear a lot about is that people want to get rid of meat. I’m not so sure about that. What I know is that people are going to be more conscious: people are going to eat less meat, but well-chosen – they will know where it comes from.” – Cecile Poignant

  • Distancing from industrialisation – where everything is the same

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  • SILO Restaurant (Brighton, U.K.) is the first zero-waste restaurant
    • nothing thrown away
    • locally grown ingredients
    • furnishing/design elements all recycled
  • Awareness about food waste; a third of all processed food is thrown away

Farming

Page_2“I speak about farming, and I show you a photo of a city. This is not a mistake – it’s on purpose” – Cecile Poignant

  • 15 years from now: more than 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities
  • Growing food in cities means less conservation and more sustainability
  • Many chefs starting edible gardens on rooftops in urban areas
  • 1 in 4 people eat food produced in cities
  • Growing interest in green products, e.g. green tomatoes
  • Translates into dishes: softer textures, more green
  • Seaweed will become more important

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  • “Growing Underground” in London
    • business selling herbs grown in underground tunnel used as a bomb shelter in WWII.
    • constant temperature and LED lights enable growth
  • More people will raise their own chickens

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  • Hydroponic systems, like this one (above) by French designer
    • protoype / art project
    • grow things at home
    • uses symbiosis between plants and fish

Erotic

  • Health is important, but so is the “forbidden”
  • Relationship between food and eroticism
  • Huge comeback of mushrooms

Page_3“Mushrooms will do a lot for the future of mankind. Not only for food: you can make packaging [with them]. It’s under the radar, but a lot of people are looking at developing mushrooms than can eat the plastic we are throwing away” – Cecile Poignant

  • Fascination with black products (e.g. squid ink pasta) – which rarely occur in nature
    • also with burnt-out things, charcoal
  • Synesthesia: senses working together
  • Changing attitudes towards sugar

Page_4 copy 2“It might possible that in the next five to ten years, sugar is going to be seen as the tobacco of the twenty-first century.” – Cecile Poignant

Hybrid

  • “Food disruption” – reinvention of food

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  • 3D Printing; is in its infancy

“[3D printing] will change everything we know, every product we will touch. It’s going to change retail, the way we buy and share. It’s going to be huge. It’s going to change our lives in the same way that the internet has” – Cecile Poignant

  • July 25th, 2016: first completely 3D restaurant to open in London: food, cutlery, plates will all be 3D-printed

“[3D printing] is not very fancy, precise or refined yet – but we have to keep an eye on it. The future is always there. We are living in the future, we don’t have to wait for it” – Cecile Poignant

  • Nano-technology

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  • Idea of “post-food”; growing meat in a petri dish


Last Word

Page_5“From the beginning of humanity, we have always been trying to do things with our food: trying to find new species, create new varieties. This is not new. We love to invent things – we love tools and we love invention. The future can be very bright… it’s our responsibility to bring as much variety and possibility as possible.” – Cecile Poignant

ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION

UntitledThe second half of the evening was taken up by a round-table discussion with four guests:

The topics I found most intriguing were: food waste, millenials’ habits, mainstream adoption and China.

Food Waste

Cecile Poignant (CP): Do you think people are ready to find value in waste food, and invest money to produce goods with waste?

Dr. Carol Lin (DR): I think the current trend is to utilise waste… we have so much food waste in Hong Kong – 3,600 tonnes per day – so that’s a lot. We could utilise it more to produce high-value [PLA fibre] textiles. Especially expired food from supermarkets and left-over food from restaurants.

CP: Larry, how do you react to the idea of zero-waste restaurants? Do you think it’s a good idea as an entrepreneur?

LT: In terms of food wastage, restaurants actually don’t waste a lot… because the food cost is managed very tightly… For us it was never a problem, we were quite creative in trying to use kitchen leftovers: we adopt homeless dogs, so we use it to feed the dogs. We are just starting now to try and be more sustainable; the leaders in Hong Kong, I think, are Mana and Grassroots Pantry. We’ve formed a group called “Hong Kong Zero-Waste Restaurant Alliance”. If you want more restaurants to embrace that movement, they need to see the benefit of it…as a revenue-generating initiative.

DR: The trend for utilising food waste to produce high-value PLA products has been a popular research topic in Europe for over ten years. In Hong Kong, we don’t have a lot of crops – but we do have a lot of food waste. So, I do think this idea could be implemented [well] in Hong Kong.

CP: What is the next step?

DR: I feel that apart from making textiles, this process could be used to make other products like plates, or chairs. We need input from various sectors: industry, entrepreneurs, business and policy makers to try to collaborate. Most importantly, we need the scientists and engineers to try and make this possible.

Millenials

CP: We know that millenials are very interested in food. Veronica, do you notice anything specific about this generation in their relationship with food? Are they more interested in where the food comes from and how it was done?

Veronica Yu (VY): I think locally, and for younger people in cities, food is more of a social activity. It’s about the look or textures that look good on Instagram, or are facebook-worthy. People who are looking more for organic food are people that are starting a family, or where there’s illness in the family and they want to rethink their diet.

Mainstream Adoption

Audience Question: I have a feeling the [consumers] that are represented in the points [that have been made so far] come from a very specific group of people at a high-income level. I wonder, what’s your stance on trends and changes in the mainstream area, such as dining chains?          

CP: The big companies are moving a lot. They’re not doing business as usual [anymore]. For instance, if you go into a Starbucks here, it’s absolutely not the same as in Paris, London or New York. Larry, what do you think?

LT: We want to raise awareness with our restaurants. We don’t want to serve the 1% of people who are already healthy. We want to convert more people who don’t [eat healthy]… we want to get them to change. We will always try to find ways to do it – we’ve spoken with different groups and chains and [have learned that] if the margin is there, they’re willing to do it.

China

Audience Question: I think the next decade will belong to China in exporting new ideas and traditions. In your view… how will China affect how the rest of the world will eat?

LT: I honestly don’t see China leading food innovation in the near future. A lot of [what China is doing] is more on the cosmetic / gimmicky side. For us, presenting a good meal comes from the source… I don’t see a lot of independent farmers being successful [in China] because there’s a lot of pollution, and farming practice is all over the place. Also, we’ve found that not all mainland visitors to [our Chinese restaurant, Sohofama], understand contemporary organic Chinese – they would prefer to try Western food.

UntitledCP: Yes, it maybe needs more time. There’s a problem of sourcing, and of maturity [of the market]. I think that the negative connotation of ‘Made in China’ will disappear – with time. We must remember that we are talking about long-term trends…

***

There you have it, friends and readers, the future of food – and the end of my journey with Bakker’s Bites.

Thank you for biting along with me all of these years. If you’re wondering what creative project I’m diving into next, check out this link: surprise!

For the last time,

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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Welcome to the Circus!

1
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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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.

***

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

BBITES Mini-Post #8 x Cheese Ramen Review

1I’ve heard about cheese ramen before. Today I encountered it for the first time in my neighbourhood convenience store. HAD TO TRY.

Why?

#1 – I LOVE cheese. So much.

#2 – I often put cheese on my instant noodles / ramen anyway, so I wondered how a cheese-flavoured version would compare to my D.I.Y. cheesy noodles

3The packaging looked promising… (they always do).5Four minutes boiling time…
6Really recommend the above tip!
7So far, this is very standard for instant noodles: soup powder, dried vegetables. The soup powder tasted a bit peppery, not cheesy at all.
8This was the crucial step: the cheese powder. I expected it to melt on top of the ramen and stay there. Instead most of it dissolved completely, making the soup taste milky and buttery. There was a tiny bit of “melted” cheese left on the top after stirring.
9Not as pretty as the packaging image, but never judge a book by its cover. Now, it’s time for the verdict… *drum roll*
10APPEARANCE: Not very appealing. The soup had a white, milky appearance.
TEXTURE: Enjoyed the ramen noodles texture. Satisfying, and had a nice ‘bounce’ to them.
TASTE: The overall the cheesiness I was hoping for was missing. Renaming this ‘milky butter ramen’ would make more sense. There was also a hint of pepper and generic noodle stock taste.

CONCLUSION: OK, this is fine for a ‘comfort’ snack, but I don’t really think it lives up to its cheese promise. In the end of the day, I still prefer adding real cheese to my noodles because the effect is more powerful. If this instant noodles wants to be more epic, it needs to really BLAST a cheese flavour onto your palette…

Thanks for reading!

x Bakker

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SOHOFAMA – The Bakker’s Bites Preview

1If you haven’t heard of PMQ yet, you’ve been living under a rock! Located on Aberdeen Street (a.k.a. the steep hill between Hollywood Road and Soho), the former Police Married Quarters has been transformed into a creative hub for Hong Kong entrepreneurs. And this includes an exciting new restaurant concept from local lifestyle brand G.O.D. and LocofamaSOHOFAMA. Bakker’s Bites was there last week for a preview, and interview with founder Larry Tang –  so get ready for a sneak preview of Hong Kong’s most exciting new Chinese restaurant, which will be officially opening its doors soon…2SOHOFAMA is next door (and connected inside) to the G.O.D. store in PMQ. Warmly-lit and decorated with Hong Kong design accents, as well as fresh modern touches, there’s nowhere you can turn in SOHOFAMA without seeing green: there are plants everywhere.Page_04The greenery is an important part of the restaurant’s concept: farming. But more on that later… Page_02 copy 2After sitting down in the cha chaan teng-style booth seats, it’s time to get tasting. Like LOCOFAMA in Sai Ying Pun, SOHOFAMA serves organic food – but here it’s Chinese cuisine. With no MSG, chicken powder or other nasties, it was particularly nice knowing I wasn’t going to be thirsty to the point of no return after eating…Page_06 copyAmong the starters were several “drunken” appetisers. There’s 24-hour drunken chicken as well, but we stuck to egg and prawn. You can tell the prawns are local-caught, because they were damn fresh – and the heady Chinese wine marinade made both of these dishes a real treat. Page_06The plateware is so cute, too! Next on the seafood appetiser front was one of my favourite local dishes: fried egg-yolk prawns. Page_07 copyCreamy with that signature crisp sand texture on the outside, and tender on the inside, SOHOFAMA’s take on this classic was spot-on.Page_10 copyNext, some classy xiao long baos. These were more refined than what I’m used to: with a thin yet flexible skin (i.e. doesn’t break when you lift it up, even if you don’t eat it straight away), the soup filling and meat aren’t overly oily or heavy.Page_08 copyThis is something a lot of the dishes at SOHOFAMA have in common: achieving the same recipes but in a leaner, cleaner way – and with premium ingredients.Page_10Such was the case with the D.I.Y. duck buns, as well. The skin was crispy and meat succulent, but it wasn’t dripping in oil as you’d expect from a Peking Duck, for example.Page_08The last main dish of my evening was a fantastic mud crab, served with sticky fried-rice. As good as it looks! Get ready to get your hands dirty, though – you won’t be able to leave anything behind…Page_09 copyWhat’s a sneak peek without a peek into the kitchen? Well, take a step inside with me 🙂 !Page_13 copySOHOFAMA’s kitchen has all the standard equipment you’d find in a commercial Chinese kitchen: super hot fires for wok-frying, dim sum baskets, all manner of sauces, giant chopping knives of different sizes and more…Page_12 copyPage_13We even managed a snap of SOHOFAMA’s three musketeers: Larry Tang (founder), Head Chef Shing, and mixologist Kit.Page_12And now, time for my interview with Larry Tang, founder of Locofama Group… Page_15 copy Bakker’s Bites (BBITES): Tell us about how you approached the concept and design, especially considering PMQ is a heritage building?

Larry Tang (LT): Well, PMQ in Chinese is Yuen Chong Fong (元創方)

Yuen Chong (元創) means ‘original creation’, and Fong (方) means ‘place’. So for everything we do, we want it to be original: from the interior; to the food and drinks…

PMQ is the first space where we have Hong Kong entrepreneurs doing something; it’s the first of its kind. We want to create something that hasn’t been done anywhere, including Hong Kong.

That’s where our farming concept comes into the picture. A lot of people talk about “farm to table,” but we will have our own farm at the restaurant. So it will be more like, “table to farm,” instead.

It being a heritage site, we have a lot of design restrictions.

BBITES: Can you give us an example?

LT: Everything that you do to the exterior has to be pre-approved. And there a lot of walls inside that we can’t break down, or even drill holes. We just have to work around it.

BBITES: How involved was G.O.D. (Goods of Desire) in the development phase?

LT: It was a pretty close collaboration [with G.O.D.], they were involved in every stage of the project from the beginning. From the interior and overall concept; the food concept. We also went back and forth with the name.

BBITES: Could you give us an insider scoop on one of the name choices before you decided on ‘SOHOFAMA’?

LT: We were playing around with G.O.D.’s slogan in English, “Delay No More.” At the end we are using the Chinese version of that for Sohofama’s Chinese name, which you can see on our logo.

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BBITES: What do the Chinese characters mean?

LT: The first character means ‘ingredient’, and the second means ‘preparation’. The third and the fourth mean ‘farming’. But pronounced in Cantonese, it’s a play on words… a bit cheeky, actually.

BBITES: Did your Chef and Mixologist work together in creating the dishes and original cocktails?

LT: They both followed the philosophy of the overall concept with the restaurant, but they worked quite independently.

BBITES: How would you sum up that philosophy?

LT: First of all, everything we do needs to be delicious and healthy. It needs to be food and drinks that are suitable for Hong Kong people, as well as expats and tourists.Page_15 copy 3BBITES: Please tell us more about the two murals in SOHOFAMA?

LT: The first one in the small dining room is basically a timeline of the PMQ site. It used to be the Central College here in the late 1800s, but it was destroyed by the Japanese in WWII. They quickly rebuilt a police married quarter. It’s thanks to the heritage status that this building wasn’t turned into a typical commercial space, but something more for the community, by the community.

For the second mural, we wanted to do something that was related to the police history of PMQ. My dad was a policeman, so we found a photo of him and we put a warning sign next to it with a message saying, “no pesticides, no junk food”.

The artist behind both murals is a graffiti artist. She’s someone who’s from Hong Kong – born and raised – but she lives in Germany at the moment. We flew her back to HK just for this project.

BBITES: What was the biggest challenge on the SOHOFAMA journey?

LT: Definitely to successfully create healthy Chinese cuisine – without MSG, or chicken powder. I don’t think it’s ever been done. In the beginning none of our chefs thought it was possible; coming from a commercial kitchen background in Chinese cooking, the idea of not using MSG and chicken powder was like not letting the chefs use their left and right hands.

It’s hard to deliver on what you claim, but we’re very proud with what we’ve achieved.

BBITES: You also sourced local and imported ingredients to deliver on your promise of healthy, organic food. Did that change any elements of the food you serve?

LT: It was very challenging to find all the ingredients that we needed: grass-fed beef, organic pork, organic vegetables, and even sauces. For the sauces you use in Chinese cooking, we managed to find a local supplier for that. I don’t think any commercial kitchen used that supplier before.

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Once you have the freshest premium ingredients, you don’t need to use the MSG and other bad stuff anymore.

In the past, when Hong Kongers fell on hard times, chefs didn’t have access to good, fresh ingredients so they had to deep-fry and come up with all kinds of sauces to mask the bad ingredients.

At SOHOFAMA, we could use the best organic pork to do a Sweet & Sour Pork, but we want to show people how pork really tastes instead of deep-frying and pouring sauce all over it. With the organic pork, we decided to strip it down, with a ‘less is more’ approach.

BBITES: What plans do you have for the outdoor farm concept?

LT: We have very ambitious plans for the outdoor farm. There’s already a lot of planters and [soil] bedding in our outdoor space. We have a landscape plan, but we need to get the approval before we can convert it into a farm.Page_15 copy 2We already have an in-house farmer working for us who’s ready to do it, but before we get approval we came up with the solution to build “trolley farms”. We can push them around if they need more sunlight, or when it’s raining we can move them as well.Page_02At the bar we have two hydroponic systems which are growing herbs for our bartenders, who use them for our cocktails. Hydroponic means you don’t use soil but just water – infused with minerals and nutrients – to grow vegetables and herbs.

BBITES: It seems like you’re keen on showing your guests the possibilities of healthy living and sustainability…

LT: Yeah, definitely. That’s why farming was such a big component to our concept. We want to educate, as well. We’ll have a lot of workshops, and teach people how to make their own farms at home if they like.

It’ll be impossible for us to supply all the vegetables we need for the restaurant with our outdoor farm – the main reason it’s there is to teach people when they visit us. I will also learn more, too.

BBITES: Last and not least, are there any more surprises on the menu I haven’t seen yet?

LT: We’ll be introducing some very special soups. Our chef worked with a Chinese doctor to come up with the herbal soup recipes. We’ll have things like The Hangover Cure, The Detoxifier, so stay tuned!

-END OF INTERVIEW-Page_11 copy

On my way out, I couldn’t help noticing the wacky chandelier of water guns. Definitely appropriate for a zombie apocalypse – wouldn’t expect anything less from quirky G.O.D. design…

I look forward to going back for an interview with Kit, to learn more about the original cocktails at SOHOFAMA. He’s waiting on the final glassware, so I resisted posting on the cocktails I already tried out of respect 🙂 After all, details are everything!

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re as excited as I am for this awesome new organic oasis…

Bakker x

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That Dutch Place: The Orange Tree

1Last month I went on a homecoming to Holland. It’s been many years since I was last in my birthplace and it was a blast!

Back in Hong Kong, it inspired me to finally visit The Orange Tree restaurant in mid-levels, and you’ll the review a bit further down.UntitledAmsterdam and the Hague are lined with beautiful classical buildings. Most are hundreds of years old, yet they are still lived and worked in, and have been for generations. It’s incredibly beautiful, and history is pouring out from every corner!
Untitled 2Here are some of the Dutch foods I had on my hit list for the week…

Stroopwafel: This was a fresh stroopwafel I ate at the market in Hilversum. This delicious Dutch snack is filled with a distinctive tasting caramel, and you can get them fresh (like mine in the photo) or prepackaged at a store. Recipes for the sauce vary from bakery to bakery, but cinnamon and brown sugar are commonly used.

Bitterballen: The quintessential Dutch bar snack. These are deep-fried croquettes with shredded beef and butter/flour filling. Added to that are spices and vegetables – depending on the recipe. Always served with mustard.

Herring: Raw herring with chopped onion. Warning: lots of very thin, short bones. Without less bones, I would have enjoyed it more; the flavour was quite good!

Fries: In my opinion, “Belgian” Fries (thin, long and crispy) are the only way to eat fries. Served in Amsterdam to us with delicious Dutch mayonnaise (sweeter, eggier and richer than US or UK mayonnaises). Mayo is always served with fries in Holland. To say, “patatjes met” (potatoes with) means you want it with mayonnaise. Except you don’t have to finish the sentence because it’s expected.

Poffertjes: Tiny, cute pancakes are basically what these little sweet pieces of heaven are. The place I went to below has been in business since 1837, and they had a beautiful antique oven to prepare with, too. These were incredibly soft, spongy and melty at the same time. Topped with obscene amounts of melting butter and mountains of powdered sugar – I ate the whole plate like there was no tomorrow.3

*THE ORANGE TREE REVIEW*

4Orange Tree has been around forever, it seems, I’ve walked past it many times but never felt motivated to try. After all, Dutch food isn’t what jumps to mind when you think of dinner out – right?5To begin, we ordered the two most Dutch starters we could find. The menu is mostly Continental with a sprinkling of Dutchness around…

The first starter, garnaaltjes, is cocktail sauce baby shrimp. There wasn’t enough crisp and life in the shrimp, perhaps they were frozen before (?!), and it really let this dish down.

The second, bitterballenwere quite nice and enjoyable. However, having tasted phenomenal bitterballen in Holland less than three weeks ago, my standards have been raised and Orange Tree’s weren’t as good. The best ones I tried, had a sumptuous creamy filling speckled with small tears of salty beef.

The main courses, though were great – a perfect lamb shank, and an original beef tartare…7The lamb shank was excellent! Nothing innovative here, it’s all about tradition. Classic reduced wine and thyme sauce with a traditional Dutch hutspot (mashed potato+carrot+onion). Each bite of the ultra-tender, flavourful lamb was a treat!8After asking what exactly “Orange Tree Style” meant on the menu for its beef tartare, I was intrigued. Instead of the regular fries combo, this tartare was served with salad, pickles, diced onion to add to taste – as well as crispy toasties.

For flavouring, the tartare had tabasco, capers, salt/pepper, and sambal. Sambal is a spicy sauce commonly used in South East Asia, including Indonesia. Holland formerly colonised Indonesia, and the country’s delicious spices and foods eventually made their way back to the Netherlands. The resulting flavour was exciting: spicy,and with a hint of dried seafood (thanks to the sambal). This played into the capers quite nicely.9Then, couldn’t resist the poffertjes for dessert, served here with a raspberry sorbet and chocolate mousse. These were a bit “healthier” than the ones I ate in Holland (think less butter / less sugar) – but there’s always butter you add on the side, am I right???!! 😀10And now for some gratuitous close-ups.11Just above the entrance to the kitchen are some Dutch products for sale…

The overall atmosphere at The Orange Tree is like a neighbourhood restaurant in Europe: cosy and conservative. On our visit, it was fully-booked – and I’m sure the other main dishes on the menu (beef, chicken, duck, pork) are worth trying too. 6

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THE END!

Bakker x
Sig bbites