Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Borough Market Bliss

Ahhh London. I absolutely looooovvve going home and London when it’s warm, dry and sunny is the absolute BEE’S KNEES. Two words: Borough Market. One of the most blissful places to roam around, especially on an empty stomach. A glutton’s dream. The first time I went, which was maybe 6 years ago, the market wasn’t quite the commercialised hub that it is today. There were more rough edges and a less polished charm which I adored. Today Borough Market has been discovered by shedloads of people and anyone who has sniffed out its delicious, wafting aromas and has, somewhat sadly, developed into a tourist attraction in itself but it’s still fantastic. I’m just dismayed that the amazeballs raclette stall that was my all time favourite seems to have disappeared. Boo.

Borough Market

Borough Market

IMG_7553 IMG_7558I went with my parents last Friday and by some miracle were blessed with dry weather and a positively balmy 16 degrees. We wasted no time trawling through the market in search for lunch and first stop was at Portena for a heavenly beef empanada. Juicy, packed with flavour, ugh..I wanted more, more, more. You can pour their homemade Chimichurri sauce on your empanada too, which gives it a punch.Portena Empanadas IMG_7492 IMG_7491

Beef Empanada

Beef Empanada

Chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri sauce

Brindisa, a Spanish gastronomy company, has a glorious shop selling Serrano and Iberico hams, cheeses, olives and of course chorizo. But the best part is that Brindisa has a little stall selling the most kick-ass chorizo sandwiches. Get in my belleh. Bit pricey though, damn inflation. £3.75 for a ‘single’ i.e. 1 chorizo piece, and £4.75 for 2 chorizo pieces. Luckily they are fat chunks.

Brindisa chorizo sandwich

Brindisa chorizo sandwich

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YUM

YUM

Brindisa

Brindisa

More meat next- the German deli stall is extremely popular, and for good reason too as their Bratwurst roll is ridonkulously good and large. Difficult to cram in my mouth but somehow one manages. Packed with sauerkraut and with lashings of ketchup and mustard, this £4.50 roll is sensational.

Bratwurst

Bratwurst

German Deli

German Deli

Bratwurst

Bratwurst

Bratwurst roll- doesn't look that attractive but it was stupendous.

Bratwurst roll- doesn’t look that attractive but it was stupendous.

The carb feast almost over, I spotted a gorgeous cake stall called The Free From Bakehouse with a display of beautiful baked goods, some with interesting combinations of flavours. I spied this drool-worthy Parsnip, Pear and Sea-Salt Caramel cake which was wheat and gluten free as well. The caramel icing was hypnotic to look at. My stomach was pretty much bursting at the seams but I sunk my teeth into a rather large slice and was rewarded with cake nirvana. Ooohhh.

The Free From Bakehouse

The Free From Bakehouse

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My Parsnip, Pear and Sea-Salt Caramel slice

My Parsnip, Pear and Sea-Salt Caramel slice

Parsnip, Pear and Sea-Salt Caramel cake

Parsnip, Pear and Sea-Salt Caramel cake

We couldn’t manage anymore food, but wove our way through the markets and finally ended up at one of the best coffee shops- Monmouth. A coffee institution that serves smooth, rich coffees and a must for coffee-lovers. The coffee of the day was a Kenyan coffee bean- Gichathaini, which was quite intense and had hints of fruitiness. Perfection in a cup.

Waiting for the coffee to be filtered

Waiting for the coffee to be filtered

Monmouth

Monmouth

The rest of the photos below are just a few stalls I passed by that interested me, and may catch your eye too if you ever go. If only our stomachs were as big as our eyes.IMG_7511 IMG_7509 IMG_7516 IMG_7517

Chutneys by Temptings

Chutneys by Temptings

Artisan chocolates

Artisan chocolates

Owl cookies!

Owl cookies!

Lamingtons and eclairs and cakes galore

Lamingtons and eclairs and cakes galore

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Bread delights

Bread delights

TRUFFLES

TRUFFLES

An invitation to smell a bowl of truffles

An invitation to smell a bowl of truffle

Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, London. SE1 ITL. Tel: +44 (0) 207407 1002  Email: info@boroughmarket.org.uk

Opening Times: Full Market: Wed-Thurs 10am- 5pm, Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 8am- 5pm. Open for lunch Mon- Tues 10am-5pm


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Cheesey times

Still updating! 😛 Here’s my cheese tasting account for Sassy:

When an opportunity to go for a tasting with a cheese expert at Classified arose, I was pretty much jumping for joy and just drooling from the anticipation, as, yes you’ve guessed it- I’m also a cheese fiend. I adore cheese, all kinds, blue stinky Stilton, creamy Brie, Boursin (Du pain, Du Vin, Du Boursin? Loved that advert!), Edam, and even the humble Cheddar.

When I met with Wendy, Classified’s Cheese Specialist, at the new branch in Tai Hang, I was immediately struck by how tiny she was- how can she eat cheese everyday and still be so small? Jealous!She started the tasting by leading me to their impressive cheese cabinet and telling me about their range of cheeses. Classified generally houses between 40- 60 cheeses at each branch and the flagship on Hollywood Road has the greatest range to choose from. All of their cheeses come from the UK and Europe, with the majority coming from UK and France. Wendy and her colleagues are careful to select only local farm produce and signature and classic cheeses from each country, ensuring the highest quality for Hong Kong consumers.You can buy 100-200g of cheese for immediate consumption, or if you’re sitting down to eat at one of their branches, you can have a 3, 5 or 7 cheese platter. I was particularly impressed to discover that if you’re throwing a party, you can supply Wendy with your wine list, and she will pair the appropriate cheeses that would go with your tipple of choice, and Hey Presto! You have a whole wheel of cheese!

Wendy had already selected five cheeses for me to try, but I asked for a sixth to be added- the Stinking Bishop, as I hadn’t had that in ages.I was drooling again as we sat down, and when the cheese platter arrived, I was in fromage heaven. As a cheese lover, I always thought it was remiss of me not to have learnt more about the production and the different types. All I know is cheese is yummy, and one should have an emergency wedge in the fridge. But my scant knowledge was changed as I was given a lesson on the selections in front of me.

I know now that cheeses are classified according to milk type, texture and production methods. Milk type being either goat, sheep, cow or buffalo; texture- soft, semi- hard, hard and production methods being washed rind, blue or natural maturation like Brie. But more on that later!

We had six cheeses, starting with the Wigmore. A cheese made from ewe milk and hailing from Berkshire, UK, it’s suitable for vegetarians as it’s made using vegetable rennet. The Wigmore had a fantastic flavour, light and salty with that distinctive sheep aroma, but once paired with quince paste, (a type of marmalade or jam made from a Spanish apple, that cleanses the palate), it left a lovely milky flavour with little saltiness and sweet aftertaste.The Mimolette is an orange coloured, cow’s milk signature cheese from the north of France, with a greyish crust. I was told the Mimolette is the French version of Edam and the colour comes from an African plant called annatto. The sample I had was aged to 24 months, but you can consume it at different ages, the longer it’s aged, the harder it is with crystals inside. This cheese has what experts call a complex taste, firm with a nutty flavour and slightly sour finish.Cheese three was the Comté , a French cheese made from cow’s milk in the Comté region of Eastern France. A pale yellow in colour with a light brown rind, the texture was firm, the flavor delicate and nutty and you could taste the grain in the cheese. If eaten young at 12-16 months, there is no grain but from 24 months onwards till 4 years, it becomes harder, with more crystals, and crumblier and saltier.Next up was the Ardrahan, a washed rind, Irish cheese from Cork, made from cow’s milk and vegetable rennet. Washed rind cheeses are cheeses that are washed typically with a salt, water or alcohol based liquid after solidification and during maturity to retain the moisture, keep the texture pliant and add a certain flavor to the cheese. In this case, the Ardrahan was washed with a salty liquid. I really enjoyed it. It had a strong smokey, lactic acid flavor, with an earthy undertone and a dry aftertaste. The epitome of a complex cheese, wonderful.Cheese five was my requested Stinking Bishop. My lesson on this cheese was a revelation for me. Another type of washed cheese, I never realized the name is so called because the cheese is washed with a perry (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented pears) made from the Stinking Bishop pear, a local variety grown near Dymock, UK. And there I thought that it was called that because a Bishop made it and it stank. How wrong can a girl be?! This is a simple cheese, with only one distinct fruity flavor to it, which made so much more sense to me after hearing its origins!Last, but certainly not least, was the Cashel Blue cheese from Cashel in Tipperary, Ireland. It’s Ireland’s first farmhouse blue cheese and again suitable for vegetarians. It has a lovely milky, salty taste with a semi-soft texture, perfect to smother on bread.On reflection, my favourite was the Wigmore, and I recommend you try it, even if you’re not a fan of sheep’s milk. It was honestly a beautiful cheese.

So there you go, an education in cheese in an afternoon. The cheese is stored at 9-12 degrees in their cheese cabinets, but, Wendy told me, cheese should be eaten at room temperature. If you want to increase the shelf life of your cheese, you can store it at 4-5 degrees in your fridge.

I hope the next time you bite into your wedge of cheese or sprinkle Parmesan on your pasta you have a little think about where it’s from and how it’s made. I know I will be!

Classified Locations
Sheung Wan: 108 Hollywood Road, 2525 3455 (currently under renovations – will open again soon!)
Wanchai: 31 Wing Fung Street, 2528 3454
Central: 3rd Floor, Exchange Square Podium, 8 Connaught Place, 2147 3454
Sai Kung: 5 Sha Tsui Path, 2529 3454
Tai Hang: 1-9 Lin Fa Kung Street West, 2857 3454
Happy Valley: 13 Yuk Sau Street, 2891 3454