Whole lotta food love

No idea where the name comes from
No idea where the name comes from!

Lucky to be working in the food industry, I was able to visit Asia’s largest Food & drink, hotel, restaurant & food service exhibition HOFEX, held in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition center this week. During the first 3 days, the expo had 38,297 buyers – not quite the same caliber as any expo in Finland!
If Natural Expo West/East in the States (or any other natural/organic expo for that matter) would be my Heaven, HOFEX probably is something right outside Heaven’s gates. Exhibitors in 3 floors, from so many different cultures, presenting what they perceive as the best from their country. (Scandinavia was not represented at all, though at least I saw one oven door manufactured in Sweden!) Unfortunately for me, European Fine Meats were well presented. On the other hand, the only producer of quinoa products was from Holland – Go Europe!

Scottish lard
Premium Scottish lard

Besides the culinary presentations, panels and other cookings, there was barista championships and the more visually intriguing flairtending competition as well as some rather fancy culinary competitions. And of course some the cool kitchen equipment was tested on-site – I saw some pretty cool sushi making machines as well as veggie spiralers, among others.

Food is art and I was definitely taking picture of the cupcakes
Food is art and I was definitely taking picture of the cupcakes

The thing I like most about this kind of events (besides all the nibbles), is to talk to interesting people who possibly share same interests and have passion about their work (hopefully). In general, I was maybe a bit surprised how many pig legs there was, and so much ice cream! It seemed like pretty much all of the European countries were focusing on meat, alcohol and possibly some cheese. Food traditions rather than trends…

Not your regular cuppa joe
Not your regular cuppa joe

Speaking of trends, the extensive coffee and tea sections were rather seducing. I got to try my first ice drip coffee, which was surprisingly soft – I tried the same Vietnamese beans as hot dripper coffee, and the flavor was much more intense. The coffee had been dripping for 2 days until ready to drink. In Hong Kong, single origin beans and more love-requiring brewing methods are definitely a hit – when Hong Kongers don’t drink bubble tea or milk tea, they at least value their coffee! About beans…the only single origin bean is not coffee, anymore.

Pure, single origin chocolates from Vietnam, from 72% to 82% cacao
Pure, single origin chocolates from Vietnam, from 72% to 82% cacao

I admit being a “bit” of a snob when it comes to certain things. Chocolate just happens to be one of those things that I will rather not put in my body, if it’s low quality. Some chocolove-talk in HOFEX got me an invitation to taste these amazing single-origin chocolates from different villages in Vietnam. Though I do prefer raw chocolate to processed ones, these sweeties were pretty impressive: the only ingredients used are the specific cacao beans and sugar.

Simplicity at its' best
Simplicity at its’ best

When it comes to processed chocolate, these ones were top notch. From cool packaging design to the origins of the bean, Marou has got it figured out. Lucky me, I still have their event invitation which was a chocolate bar. Plus I got a goodie bag with their special golden chocolate, which cannot be bought anywhere. What a dilemma – I don’t want to eat it, but how can one resist the temptation?

Oh, expos, how I love you. If I ever get to go to Fancy Food Show or Expo West, I’ll be happy for months in advance! I hope the next time won’t be too far away from now.

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What the duck?

I am not sure how big news this is abroad, but here it has been all over the (few) magazines and newspapers (I read).

Apparently God lost his bath toy, and it floated all the way to Hong Kong.

Just chillin' like it's no one's business
Just chillin’ like it’s no one’s business

The duck has been ashore in Victoria Harbor in TST for a while now, but until today I have only seen the tip of it’s bald head from my yoga studio in Causeway Bay. That tells something about the awesome views I have in the studio – no wonder the balance postures can sometimes be a bit shaky!

Where there's one...there's more
Where there’s one…there’s more

I was not the only one to see the duck (and I most definitely did not go to the other side just for this), which is somewhat a celebrity and an icon now. Someone’s making money!

Sometimes the duck in the tub just isn't enough - specially when most of the Hong Kong houses don't even have bathtubs
Sometimes the duck in the tub just isn’t enough – specially when most of the Hong Kong houses don’t even have bathtubs

Oh someone else has noticed it, too! Here’s what CNN has to say about it. Lucky me, it’ll be here as long as I will!

Satur-trail and Dragon Boats

I am definitely not an athlete, nor a trail runner, but I do prefer to spend my weekends with some activities rather than lying half dead in a dark room, cursing the world and trying to remember what happened the previous night. Having the chance to take a nice hike and then trying out dragon boat racing, of course I said yes. Well, I have to admit that half way through the 10km hike, and halfway up the over 1000 stair, I definitely questioned myself.

Up and down these mountains, no biggie
Up and down these mountains, no biggie

Our trail started from Wan Chai gap, sweet and easy 1km uphill, followed by a nice 4km run to the end of the first leg. That’s when the fun part started – first  up was the Violet Hill mountain, followed by the “Twins”, pictured. The mountain part of the hike included some stunning views of Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay (with some clear blue water), but I was mostly concentrating on putting my feet in front of another and not to trip.

Hong Kong nature, Wong Nai Chung reservoir
Hong Kong nature, Wong Nai Chung reservoir

It made a big difference to be on the trail with a couple of hard core athletes, one of which just did a sweet 86km run in mt. Fuji last week. By myself, I would have had much harder time to keep on going and not stop in the steps – although when you start going, there is no escape.

 

Warm up before the Dragon Boat
Dragon Boaters warming up

After the trail, we made it to Stanley just in time for some coconut water and Dragon Boat training! Some balance for the leg workout, this 2 hr session was great exercise for the arms and upper body (though the legs weren’t lazy, either). The boats fit 20 paddlers (our team had only 10; more work for each person!), plus one person who is steering, and another that pounds a drum to give tact. Key words in this sport are “rotate”, meaning you have to twist your upper body when thrusting the paddle to the water, and “reach”, meaning that you mush reach the paddle far in front of you. I bet I’ll be hearing the coach screaming these two words when I go to sleep.

Ready to roll
Ready to roll

 

On June 12th there is a big Dragon Boat race, where different companies, societies etc. that have formed teams race against each other and have a huge party afterwards. Too bad I’m not going to be able to attend, although maybe this kind of adventuring on a weekly basis would be a bit too much for me. I really liked being in the water, I can’t remember when is the last time I’ve had salt water on my lips and skin! Unfortunately there was no sun anywhere to be seen the whole day (except in the far distance in the mountain), but somehow I still managed to burn my cheeks.

Happy and not knowing what lies ahead
Happy and not knowing what lies ahead

 

These little Saturday morning and afternoon activities made me appreciate the trail/ultra runners even more; the more athletes I meet, the better I understand them and their motives. However, I still prefer intervals to 50km, and pilates to running. To balance out the “hard work” of the day, I rewarded myself with yoga and sauna.

If you are interested in hiking/trekking in Hong Kong, hkwalkers.net is the go-to source. It still amazes me, how much nature and outdoor sports possibilities this place has to offer!

Hong Kong Vappu

I have never been a big fan of Vappu, as Labor Day or May Day is known in Finland, so it was not a big deal for me to to be abroad and “miss” the holiday and all the drunkness that annually invades Finland for few days. Here in Hong Kong Labor Day is a public holiday as well, and our Finnish team did the best we could to have some vappu feeling.

 

Munkki, just like at home
Munkki, just like at home

Last Saturday me and my dear roommates cramped into our tiny kitchen to prepare the traditional munkki pastries (donuts, basically deep-fried pulla dough), which apparently turned out just right! Team work at its’ best, one might say.

 

Sugar and syrup, yeast, lemon and raisins make the other staple Vappu treat
Sugar and syrup, yeast, lemon and raisins make the other staple Vappu treat

Last Friday I prepared sima (mead with raisins) to be ready for Vappu. On Tuesday we had few other Finns outside of our office gang to join us for a lovely evening -at the office- of listening to a myriad of 90’s songs and memorize our dear Motherland. The actual Labor Day, vappupäivä, was rather different than the usual picnic in the park – I got to cross another thing on my to-do list: junk boat!

 

Junk Boat with a nice sunny filter
Junk Boat with a nice sunny filter

 

Even though the weather was rather homey (cold, windy and almost rainy), the day on a boat was really nice!
Junk boat trips are usually organized in the warm months; basically you gather about 20-30 people to spend the day on a boat, chilling and doing some water activities. Not bad, unless you burn yourself or jump off the boat in a weird angle.

 

Sunny filter for brave swimmers
Sunny filter for brave swimmers

 

I hope I get to go on a junk boat trip again, and the next time the weather would be warm enough for me to actually get in the water and try wakeboarding! (Okay, I was about the only one not swimming, but it was damn cold.)

Did I miss the Finnish version of Vappu? Not a bit. We shall see where I’ll be next year!