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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…

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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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SUPAFOOD – Soft Opening!

1Remember when I got a sneak peek into organic Chinese oasis, Sohofama? Well, the team behind Sohofama is back with something new – but this time it’s fast food. Organic fast food – a.k.a. SUPAFOOD2Yesterday I dragged along Molly, a foodie friend who’s been on a BBITES adventure with me before, to check out the first day of their soft-opening. Although the décor inside is still taking shape, the food was in full form – and we had lots of fun eating our way through their lunch menu.4Basically, there are salad box options – including pork, chicken and more – as well as rice box options, where you can substitute the rice with quinoa if you’re feeling extra healthy. Molly and I said “stuff that,” quite literally, and went for the rice instead.

The service was friendly and fast, leaving us ample time over Molly’s one-hour lunch break from the office to dig into the pretty huge serving sizes. Everything tasted fresh and refined. YUM!3Although we knew that we’d get pretty full from the two boxes (yes, we split them 50-50), we couldn’t resist trying one of the desserts on option: organic POWER BALLS (love that name!)supafood1They’re made out of coconut powder, flaxseed, oats and peanut butter. Texture: rich and sable-like; flavour: explosive! Haha!!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my preview of Supafood! BBITE you later 🙂

Bakker x

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The Naked Finn

1For today’s post, I’m going to take you a three and a half hour flight away from Hong Kong… to Singapore!

There are times when one stumbles across a wonderful restaurant unexpectedly. That was the case when I was visiting art galleries at Singapore’s Gillman Barracks recently.

I was supposed to meet my brother for lunch, since he lives nearby, so I asked one of the gallery managers to recommend a restaurant in the Barracks. That restaurant was The Naked Finn.

2We shared everything – since we’re both foodies and always like to try more things. It was halfway through our DELICIOUS Lobster Roll that I borrowed his phone to take last-minute snaps for a blog post.

Please forgive the lack of photos for this dish; you’ll just have to trust me that:
(1) The brioche bread = PERFECT, fluffy and sweet
(2) Succulent lobster cooked with rich creamy butter
(3) Homemade mayonnaise slather in the roll…..soooo divine

I’ve always maintained that mayonnaise goes great with seafood (check out my post on mayonnaise here: For the Love of Mayo!), so just a perfect combination…

3Next, we dove into a kind of ramen-inspired noodle. I say ramen-inspired because it comes with a slice of pork. You can also choose between vermicelli (aka bee hoon) or Japanese sōmen noodles. We went with the latter. Those scrumptious looking prawns are giant prawns.

On a blurb on the menu, Naked Finn will tell you that their prawn-based soup stock is cooked for hours, and made without MSG or added sugar. Instead, they offer seasoning on the side (top right pic) – although the broth was so potent and fragrant that it wasn’t really necessary. In fact, we only used the dips out of curiosity. A perfect bowl of noodles.

4To finish: a dessert so heavenly we spent the whole time talking about how good it was in between bites. It’s called the Naked Chendol, and is an updated take on a classic Singaporean dessert: chendol. The original, which has its origins in Indonesia, normally uses coconut milk + green rice jelly + red beans + gula melaka (palm sugar syrup) over shaved ice.

Naked Finn’s version was sublime – a simplified and refined interpretation. Instead of using ice, they served their own incredibly smooth and fragrant homemade coconut sorbet. The gula melaka was clearly handcrafted as well, since the texture and flavour was much richer than we were used to. Each bite was pure ecstasy.

This restaurant alone is worth making a visit to Gillman Barracks, but don’t stop there! Make a day out of it, since it’s great fun to check out all the latest art exhibitions on display to build up an appetite.

ENJOY, see you in the next post, and Happy Holidays in the meantime.

Bakker x

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BBITES Mini-Post #11 x Rijsttafel

1Greetings from the Netherlands!

For today’s mini-post, I want to share a special Dutch tradition with you. A Dutch-Indonesian tradition, to be more precise: rijsttafel.

Rijsttafel is pronounced, “rice tafel” and means “rice table” in English. It’s a type of dinner presentation that developed in Indonesia during the time of the Dutch colony. A rijsttafel meal consists of lots of small dishes served in a buffet style, which you choose from to go with a plate of rice.

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After World War II, when Indonesia proclaimed its independence, many Dutch, Indonesian and mixed Dutch-Indonesian families “returned” to Holland and brought the style with them.

As a result, many Dutch people from my father’s generation onwards developed a taste for this incredibly tasty, spicy and delicious type of cuisine. There are many restaurants in Holland serving rijsttafel, and to celebrate mine and my father’s visit, our friends got takeaway from one of the Hague’s very best – and oldest – rijsttafel restaurants: Toko Toet.

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Hope you enjoyed the pics, 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 #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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