21 Jan2007

hk1

Marketman & Family just got back from a short trip to Hong Kong. Manila is our home, and we love it most of the time, but gosh is it nice to go to a city that just gets it! Where things work! Where efficiency is normal! Where Filipinos appear to be 3x more productive, despite originating from the same gene pool! From the plane, we cleared customs in no time (single line opening up to several officers, the most efficient queuing method, according to experts) – instead of the pick your line in Manila and get screwed with a long wait time when you have a drug smuggler up front – and I might add, Mrs. Marketman says the same works in women’s bathrooms in Manila where you pick your stall too!), by the time we got to the baggage carousel, our bags were out, we bought our train tickets in less than 45 seconds despite using a foreign charge card, and got a 30% discount to boot because 3 of us were traveling together. We went towards the train and as we got there, a new train pulled up and we got on, no wait. It took 28 minutes to the Central depot (exactly as stated, 28 minutes), then as we got off the train we immediately found the free shuttle bus that left just 30 seconds later for our hotel. The bus announced our hotel not five minutes later over the PA system and we were checked into a fabulous 44th storey hotel room with a terrific view of Hong Kong harbor (thank you to an old Hotel Gold Card from my working days YEARS ago when I spent over 100 room nights in the said hotel, or we would have been facing the mountains)…

The bellhop who brought our bags up to the room within 3 minutes of our getting there, was Pinoy, and he was pleasantly surprised to find out we were too, then the hk2housekeeper that arrived a few minutes later with the extra bed for the Kid was also Pinay, and surprised again that we were too. She brought us a nice pot of Chinese tea and three cups and we were unpacked and enjoying the tea within 75 minutes of landing at the airport which was over 40 kilometers away! Soon after the tea, we decided to hit the upscale grocery in the mall below our hotel and this post is about our heavy merienda/dinner fare that first evening. First “oh my gosh” find was a half loaf of rye bread from the venerated Parisian baker, Poilane; I know, you are thinking, how good can the bread be if it was flown in, but for a heavy dense loaf that was more than a day old, it was superb. Add to that find two cheeses, a ripe brie, which was 45% fat, and made from unpasteurized milk (so much better than the sanitized stuff), and a delicious Reblochon plus a nice thick wedge of Pate de Campagne and we were in business. All of this sliced and wrapped for us by incredibly knowledgeable and efficient Filipinas behind the deli counters… Next I hit the fruit section and could simply not resist getting three ripe apricots from Australia and some cherries from the island of Tasmania, also in Australia.

The golden cherries were a whopping HK$240 a kilo or roughly PHP1,600 a kilo, but I really wanted to see what the fuss was all about so I bought just 200 grams of this hk3literally, “golden” fruit. Back at the room, I popped a cherry into my mouth and it was sublime, superb and definitely worth the extravagant cost. These were definitely amongst the finest cherries I have ever tasted, sweet, juicy and delicious. Not as dense as some of the deep red cherries I have had in the past, these were described by the Kid as more like a peach hiding in a cherry. Really very, very good. We looked at and tried other golden cherries in the markets from New Zealand and elsewhere but nothing compared to the first batch of air-flown Tasmanian golden cherries on that first evening. We also got some bottled water and some softdrinks and we feasted back in our hotel room as we watched the junks in the harbor zip here and there…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. kb says:

    Hello, will be in HK this Thurs. and would like to know where you got the Poilane bread. Will be happy to take a bite :–) Thanks!

    Jan 21, 2007 | 11:00 pm

     
  2. Kieran says:

    I get excited about the same things as well, especially when “scheduled” things actually occur on schedule. It’s amazing how much we, as a society, can accomplish if everyone just conduct themselves in the same efficient manner.

    And now, something close and dear to my heart: Poilane. A trip to Paris ALWAYS begins with a mad dash to Poilane for their sourdough & rye loaves and luscious punitons (butter cookies). Then we rush to Laduree for their sinful macaroons. It doesn’t get any better than that!

    On a recent trip to the UK, my wife discovered a Poilane bakery in the heart of London. We were both excited to learn that Poilane will ship (via next-day air) any of their products worldwide! Overnight! Now, we can enjoy our loaves and punitons as if we just ran through the streets of Paris to get them.

    Thank you for bringing back some great memories! It’s nice to know another man, or any other person for that matter, that gets excited about a crusty loaf of bread just as much as I do.

    Jan 21, 2007 | 11:00 pm

     
  3. trishlovesbread says:

    Waaah, there’s Poilane in Hong Kong!!! MM, those famous sourdough miches are supposedly at their best the next day; Kieran, they do ship overnight but it’s super expensive. MM/Sister, are there places in NY where you can get the loaves? For those in London, there’s an outlet near the old Twinings store and at the Borough Market too.

    Jan 22, 2007 | 4:01 am

     
  4. Chinachix says:

    Havent tried Poilane bread yet but now its moved up my checklist to try when I go downtown next time. For those in Toronto, Poilane bread is flown 3x a week and is available at Holt Renfrew cafe along Bloor St.

    Jan 22, 2007 | 6:13 am

     
  5. Frayed says:

    I always try to start a one line queue in both banks and ladies’ rooms (doesn’t work because people like to get ahead). Pinoys just don’t get that. They think, “longer line,longer wait”. I try to explain to bank managers (esp. BPI with their 3 different queues for goldcard members; for regular memebers, and for representatives) and they just look at me with a blank face then say they’ll suggest it to management.

    Jan 22, 2007 | 8:36 am

     
  6. Mila says:

    Yes, I was so happy just to be a visitor in HK over the holidays, the city works, the transportation system works, and even when I was insane enough to go into City Super to buy groceries on Xmas eve, I didn’t spend more than 10 minutes waiting in line for a cashier. They had signs pointing to where to stand in line and they moved us faster than the immigration lines at the airport. And I never complained about paying taxes for the years I worked in HK because I knew it was going to be used properly. Not like here!!!! Argh.

    Jan 22, 2007 | 9:07 am

     
  7. Mila says:

    I forgot to add that those yellow/red cherries look like the Queen Anne cherries variety. My uncle grows both bing and queen anne in Washington, I love the QA type, they’re tarter, and more aromatic than the bings.

    Jan 22, 2007 | 9:26 am

     
  8. i'lltaketwoplease says:

    Isn’t it great when things/people run efficiently? Even better when the people you deal with actually KNOW something about what they do.

    Anyhow, the cherries you describe look similar to the Rainier Cherries here in the states. I believe they orgininated in Washington state. They are different than the usual bing cherries, as like the Kid described, are similar to a peach. To me, they are similar to a plum/cherry mix. Have you tried the hybrids PLUOTS (plum-apricots) or APRIUMS (apricot-plums)?

    Jan 22, 2007 | 12:52 pm

     
  9. Doddie from Korea says:

    MM, Your post brings back wonderful memories of my many trips to Hong Kong (both leisure and business). I actually lived there (well, in Shenzhen really but HK was just a train-ride away). Where did you stay? Did you get to eat peking duck?

    Doddie

    Jan 22, 2007 | 3:29 pm

     
  10. Carlo says:

    The only place in HK that I know of that has Poilane bread is at Great supermarket located at the basement of Pacific Place.

    Jan 22, 2007 | 7:17 pm

     
  11. Marketman says:

    Carlo, excellent deductive material for an application to Scotland Yard. Yup, we stayed at a hotel in Pacific Place and that’s where we got the Poilane… Doddie, oddly, we never got to Peking Duck though we had a great Shanghainese meal with friends and the rest of the time we were eating with old friends or eating on the run! Yes, these cherries look like rainier and queen anne but I am not sure if they are the same…all I can say is, they were spectacular! They weren’t tart at all, which I like in some cherries, but not cloyingly sweet either… Frayed, yup multiple line mentality should be a patented Pinoy phrase. trish, I am not sure if you can get poilane yet in New York…though I would guess someone has figured out how to bring them in by now… Kieran, good bread is tough to find in Manila…it must be the humidity… kb, GREAT supermarket at the basement of the Pacific Place Mall…

    Jan 22, 2007 | 8:13 pm

     
  12. Maria Clara says:

    You got that right classic Parisian picnic spread! The only missing is a bottle of Bordeaux wine. Everywhere you go its typical scene to see our very own hardworking fellow citizens working in the hotel industry – from our neighboring Asian countries, European continents and Middle East. Yet, the administration brags about Overseas Filipino Workers – the money they transmit – but look at the type of work they do! Most of them are exploited, yet they tolerate that working condition rather than go home and unemployed. My heart goes to them.

    Jan 23, 2007 | 4:37 am

     
  13. ragamuffin girl says:

    My favorite place – GREAT. Hubby gets scared whenever I go in there. The prices are high, but the variety and quality attest to the superiority of its products. I also go to Oliver’s Deli at Prince’s Building in Central and City Super at the IFC Mall because even GREAT runs out of stuff, but it’s still the best gourmet grocer HK has. A newly-opened organic superstore called Three Sixty at the 4th Floor of the Landmark has interesting items as well. I have lived in a 1st world country (they say HK has first world infrastructure but not quality of life due to pollution, educational system deficiencies etc…) where the air is clean and the roads are smooth and paved but HK for me is more efficient and disciplined by far. Never mind the so-called “rudeness” of the locals. What you see is what you get. Isn’t it obvious how much I love my adopted country? Now if only I could see beyond the smog…:)

    Jan 23, 2007 | 9:58 am

     
  14. sister says:

    trislovesbread: Yes, there is Poilane bread available in NYC at Butterfield Market, Lexington Avenue and 77th Street.

    Jan 23, 2007 | 8:58 pm

     
  15. blair_mitch says:

    Sigh. I love Hongkong. And I love what you said because I can so relate: Hongkong just “gets it” the way we never seem to back here in good ol Manila. Hongkong is great little respite. A year isn’t complete without a visit!

    Jan 25, 2007 | 9:22 pm

     
 

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