Tuesday, March 4, 2014

For Hong Kong Coffee Lovers...

I recently received an email from Michael Vincent Mislos, the lead content writer of www.moneyhero.com.hk, which bills itself as Hong Kong's #1 Price Comparison Site. I have checked out the site, (though not in depth,) and found it to be informative. It compares pricing for banking, insurance, broadband, and credit cards--among other things. As my readers know, I do not advocate credit cards if you have a spending problem, so please do not think I have changed my mind on that as you read this guest post from Michael, and do not take this as blanket recommendation of all that is advertised on the site...do your research first!

Regardless, this should be a treat for any of my Hong Kong coffee loving friends. Let me know if you check out any of these shops...I plan to make at least one of them a Saturday date! Thanks for the post, Michael!

Best Places to Drink Coffee in Hong Kong 

Calling all coffee (and tea) aficionados in Hong Kong! If you've made it a goal to taste the best freshly brewed coffee in the city, consider this post a checklist of your cafes to visit. 

The Classified Café
Located in Sheung Wan, Classified Café was named as one of the Top 5 Restaurants for Cheese Lovers by Time Magazine. Of course, the artisan cheeses aren’t the only must-have in this place. This French café is famous also for their gourmet coffee, boutique wine, and if you visit their website—you’ll see the superb interiors for the perfect coffee drinking experience. Wine bottles on shelves, charming wood furniture, and artistic chandeliers—this is the perfect place to unwind with a date after a long tiring week. Other branches are found in Central, Tai Hang, Stanley, Sai Kung, Wan Chai, New World Tower, Horizon Plaza, and Happy Valley.


My My Café
Also found in Sheung Wan, this is the probably the smallest café in Hong Kong. It’s more of a “coffee shed” because of its extremely tiny space. Simply said, you visit this place for the awesome coffee and excellent 2-staff service, the bragging rights to say you’ve been to MMC, and get on your way. It’s a treat in itself to squeeze in the small but wonderful coffee shop because it’s heavily decorated on the inside. It’ll cost you only less than $40 in this café. They’re open from Mon-Wed (10:00-22:00), and Fri-Sun (11:30), and closed during Thursdays. To be sure, check their Facebook page first before you bop over for a visit.

Mana! Fast Slow Food
Searching for organic, glutten-free, and vegan food? Head over to Central for Mana! Start your order by getting some hummus and flatbread. Try their Mana Bliss or get a tofu burger. Finish your meal with a cup of tea for $35, or their organic coffee which is made from non-GMO soya milk and premium blended beans. Coffee price ranges are $20-$45. If you’re a vegetarian living in Hong Kong, this is the perfect place for you. They are open from 10am-10pm every day. Visit their site for more info.

The Coffee Academics
Found in either Causeway Bay or Wan Chai, this coffee shop is innovative in its ways to provide customers with the best coffee there is. If you consider yourself a coffee connoisseur, all the more reason to visit this place. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for café-addict pals, you even have the choice to create your own blend. Their “Notable Coffees” coffee could either be made via ice drip or hand brewed. Both of these are above the normal coffee price range, because each cup costs about $58-$98. Their espresso price range is from $24-$42. They also serve Infused Loose Leaf Tea, which you can order by the Pot (hot) for $48, or by the Glass (cold) $38. They also roast their coffee beans on the spot, so you know that every single gulp is fresh and made with extra care and passion!


What are you waiting for? If you’re on a mission to taste the best coffee there is, you better start now. There are so many coffee experts in the city, and you’ll have all the fun—whether you spend your time with friends and family, and even when you’re alone. Have happy coffee drinking spree in Hong Kong!

Do you know of any other coffee shops that make excellent brewed coffee? What’s your favorite coffee shop? Tell us all about it in the comments! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Travelling Tuesday: Lamma Island Adventure




Photo: Lamma Island
One of the biggest perks of living in a new country is that nearly every day off can become an adventure, and we truly feel this living in HK. Because the city is relatively small in land mass size, it is easy to jump on public transport and get to where ever it is that you want to go quickly and inexpensivley. There are many outlying islands, most are uninhabited, and we have yet to explore the majority of them, but last spring, we jumped on the metro and then a ferry and ended up on Lamma Island, a little gem of a place. For me, there is something about striking out on a boat that just smacks of adventure--I absolutely love to be on the water! You can take the ferry to either end of the island and stay put, or hike the path in between the two ports, (about 60-70 minutes), which is exactly what we did, landing in Sok Kwu Wan and ending up in Yung Shue Wan:

The boat ride from the Central Ferry Station took about 30 minutes or so, but it was lovely and gave me a view of HK Island that I had never seen before:

The island is home to a major power plant; this is really an eyesore, but, you know, I do like my electricity and they have to build those buggers somewhere.

The Village at Sok Kwu Wan is a bit more rustic than the other side, and we loved checking out the goods at the market there, seafood in any shape and size, fresh or dried:



This "lobster ornatus" was HUGE:

We walked through a true country village (makes me feel like I am back in Maine, well, sort of):




And I loved that they had these labeled "doggy latrines" all along the way:

One of the photo ops is the "kamakazi cave," proportedly built by the Japanese during the war to hide who-knows-what, but it was never used. A bit spooky in there. This was as far as we went.


The trail is well marked and mostly cement or rock. There are several side trails and beaches along the way:


As always, flowers peak out at you from every corner:



At Yung Shue Wan there is more of a restaurant "strip." It is a strange phenomena that when you are living in any given country, you crave foods of where ever it is that you are not. We ate at the B&B, an Italian Cafe (you can see the sign if you look closely):

We were given a table for two right on the water:


and while the food was tasty, (I was starving), it had that Asian-Italian flavor that I can't quite explain. It makes me wonder: if I ever visit Italy, will the Chinese Restaurants there have an Italian-Asian flavor?

I did, however, get a very proper pot of "English" tea!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

CROCKPOT GRANOLA, (again:)

This was posted earlier, but I want to share it again as I had a couple requests after I posted the crockpot oatmeal recipe. I make this at least once a week. Love the stuff.

Crockpot Granola (recipe from my bff Kelly:)

5 cups oats
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey (or 1/4 to 1/2 half cup of sugar)
tsp cinnamon (or other spice if you like...I like a pinch of nutmeg)


Mix well and cook on low in a crockpot for 5 hours with the lid cracked (I leave my wooden spoon in mine), stirring occasionally (at least every 30 minutes)

You can also bake at 375 for 10-20 minutes, or until brown. 

After cooking add any (or none) of the following: coconut or other nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins or other dried fruit, chocolate or carob chips, M&Ms, or use your imagination. I double this for my big crockpot.

Cool and store in airtight container.

You can make bars by mixing 2 cups of granola with 2 eggs and baking in a lightly greased 8X8 pan.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Easiest, most nutritious hot breakfast ever!

 Let's call this recipe Wednesday!

I know I should like oatmeal, but truth be told, I don't. This is sad, because I like pretty much anything that doesn't crawl off my plate; I've never been a picky eater,  and oatmeal is probably the cheapest breakfast food you can buy--and we all know that I like cheap. My husband even harasses me occasionally. "Make oatmeal," he says, "I like oatmeal! Oatmeal is good for you!" So out of some weird sort of guilty obligation, I would make oatmeal sometimes. The kids tolerated it, but didn't like it. (Gruel was their preferred term.)

To be completely honest, I have to admit that I like the oatmeal that is served at Living Waters Camp in Maine. Go figure. I have tried to replicate it's creaminess, but mine ends up in more of a glue-like consistency.

Now, however, all things have changed. I found a crock pot oatmeal recipe last week, and I've already made the stuff two times! Yesterday after serving it, my oldest son (who likes oatmeal the least), said, "Good oatmeal, mom."

Whoa.

So, here's the recipe, easy-peasy:

2 apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups milk
2 cups of water

Core and slice the applies thinly (peeled or not) and layer them on the bottom of the crockpot. Cover evenly with brown sugar and then oatmeal. Slowly pour in water and milk. DO NOT MIX IT UP. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. It doesn't look very nice, but it tastes wonderful. Pure yumminess. I thought the sweetness was perfect, my men added a little more sugar. This makes the right amount for the five of us. I'm sure halfing the recipe is doable, but may take less time to cook.
Here's the uncooked dry stuff.
And here it is cooked (told you it didn't look so great:)

I will most likely experiment with different fruit, maybe pears or apricots? Softer fruits like peaches or berries would probably do better if added after cooking. I think you could use white sugar or Splenda or even honey if you are adventurous. I'm hooked!

Let me know if you try it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Learning Lessons....Summer Recap

This summer we were blessed to be able to go back to the US for 6 weeks. I love being in Hong Kong, but there is such comfort in going "home." And this begs the question, where, exactly, is home? I know many folks who live in the same area their whole lives. There is such a sense of community and family in that, and I miss it. Sometimes, I am jealous of it. For me, that area is Maine. My extended family is there. I grew up in the same house in the same town; I go back to the same haunts every year. It is home.

BUT.

I married a Michigander. 18 or so hours away from Maine. And when we visit there, I think, "I could live here."

AND.

We lived in North Carolina for 16 years. It is home to our children, who were all raised there. I love the South, in many ways more than the North, and  I am very much at home drinking sweet tea and eating BBQ (Lexington style!).

SO.

When we visit, where do we go? We go "home." Here are the highlights:

We flew from Hong Kong to Taipei, Taiwan on EVA Air; we saw the airport:


We landed in LA. And stayed at the airport for 14 hours. You do what you can to be comfortable:
We flew to Atlanta on Southwest and visited Mike's sister Marcia, and all her family:

Then we drove to North Carolina and visited friends and family there. We didn't want to leave...the time was too short. And yes, we drank sweet tea and had Carter Brother's BBQ:



Then came the familiar, if not tedious, drive to Maine. We did stop for a few hours to visit Liberty University, Will's number one pick for next year:

And then there was Maine. Family and camp and whoopie pies and lobster and loons and lakes and sailboats. For a little over a month, I drank in every day. If a picture speaks a thousand words, here's 13K for you:












 Then we were up for a 19 hour drive to Michigan, stopping on the way in Chester, Vermont for a scrumptious lunch with our wonderful friends the Nunnikhovens:


We ended our summer with more family time in Michigan...with campfires and walks along the Black River and frosty mugs at the A&W:






And then we flew, from Detroit to LA to Taiwan back to Hong Kong and here we are again, back to this city of amazing contrasts:
Photo: Another day in Hong Kong...

Photo: Morning breaks on a beautiful Sunday. "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills..."

What did I learn? I learned that hellos are almost always happy and goodbyes are almost always sad. That there are so many advantages to growing up and staying put in the same place, where ever that may be.

AND YET.

If I had been unwilling to move, to say "YES" to this somewhat nomadic life, I would be so much the poorer, lesser person for it. I would not have known the pleasures of southern sweet tea or Michigan frosty mugs or Hong Kong dim sum and waffle cones. I would never have met many of the people who are dear friends and I might never have realized that family is where the heart is, no matter where God puts you!