Farmers; real artisan of tasteApril 27th, 2012 | Posted by in Daily life...
We can’t avoid it; we can’t deny it, Hong Kong, absolute food Mecca, supplies itself mostly on imported foods.
The amount of provision needed to feed the 7 million hungry stomachs living in Hong Kong, plus its 36 million visitors per year is just insane! In 2010, Hong Kong imported 1.75 billion fresh chicken eggs! And when it comes to vegetables, 92% were imported from the Mainland (that’s 635 557 tones!)1; while the rest of the imports were from different countries, leaving a peanut-size percentage of homegrown vegetables.
Just by knowing the above numbers makes me respect the hard work of local farmers who are evolving in a market completely atrophied by imports. But more than for their bravery, I put my hat down to the farmers who are trying to cultivate authentic, heirloom or of superb quality vegetables and fruits in Hong Kong. If you’ve ever had the chance (yes, I think it’s a chance in today’s world) to work in a farm to cultivate fruits or vegetables, you would understand what it takes to make it to that level. Today’s supermarket vegetables taste good in your plate because of the MSG or other flavors added to it. Tomatoes have no flavor and carrots are of shiny bright orange color without any sweetness or aromas, like they should.
On April 24th, IHM, who runs the successful Homegrown Foods farmer’s cooperative, held a “Thank You” dinner to recognize the farmers hard work during the past year. And to celebrate their work, several great Hong Kong chefs were invited to cook a vegetarian dinner for more than 100 selected lucky guests. The chef’s line-up was:
– Jeremy Biasol: Mirror Restaurant
– Gregoire Michaud: Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong (hello :-) )
– Jason Licker: JW Marriot Hong Kong
– Margaret Xu: Yin Yang & Cantopop
– Matt Abergel: Yardbird
– Rene Michelena: Lily & Bloom
We’ve all received the same list of fresh fruit and vegetable available at this period a few months prior the event. The first list had a nice selection of fruits until the rainy and cold weather showed up, ending swiftly all our hopes of using local fruits. Jason and I had to work on the dessert and the bread. Originally, we had plan a nice dessert featuring passion fruit, mango and banana, but on the updated list, all we could find was cabbage, beetroot, carrots and other vegetables… So be it! We’ve came up with a beetroot and pistachio layered brioche for the bread basket and the dessert was an oozing lemon and yogurt pie, with caramelized carrots (yes!), roasted pine nuts, dulce de lecche and basil oil. Carrot cake is good, but caramelized carrots are awesome, especially dusted with chopped pine nuts. We’ve peeled the carrots and poached them in light sugar syrup made of carrot juice and fresh lemon juice, sliced them in halves, caramelized them – and deglazed in Limoncello.
The dinner has been a great success with all the courses done by the chefs using the farmer’s vegetables. More than a great thank you and a tribute to the farmer’s hard work, the dinner has shown once more that cooking with locally grown goods is possible and for once we can say with pride that the dinner was a real taste of Hong Kong!