Tuesday, January 08, 2008

homeward bound

am now sitting in the hong kong international airport waiting for my cattle class ride back to london and savoring my last hour of freedom. i’m dreading the flight, but it’s good to be headed home, to george, my bed, my kitchen. ironically, I must admit part of me even misses slavedrivers inc. apart from having spent two thirds of it convinced that I was suffering from some near fatal strain of tuberculosis as evidenced by a horrid cough which prompted people around me to step back, an endlessly streaming nose, a pounding head, generally feeling sorry for myself and being an absolute grump. the worst thing was that I had even lost my appetite. I didn’t want to eat – conclusive evidence that I was VERY sick. despite my efforts to convince dad that I might have tuberculosis, he wisely ignored my hypochondriac self diagnosis and gave me a cocktail of drugs, antibiotics and painkillers to shut me up. which i’m glad to say worked because despite the last hints of the cough which hasn’t yet completely gone away, I’m very well now – I’ve got my appetite back.

and just as well I got my appetite back as me and mom ate our way around hong kong. perhaps I’ve been overcompensating for the lost days in singapore, but the indigestion’s been well worth it.

fresh off the plane from singapore, it was time for champagne brunch at SPOON. it was definitely a case of my eyes being much bigger than my belly as I walked up to the kitchen counter and helped myself to the starters. mom was visibly shocked at my fully laden plate. but what a plate. scallop carparccio, spoons of lobster on coleslaw, tuna tataki with croutons, pine nuts and raisins, parcels of pan fried foie gras, shotglasses of cucumber jelly with prawn cocktail, sea urchin custard. the list goes on. mom loved the sticks of mozzeralla and cherry tomatoes with an exceedingly good pesto. there was a salad of some sort which looked rather delicious. but why would one eat salad when there was foie gras and scallops on offer. and tuna tataki. I had four plates of the tuna. we had a great view from our table – boats chugged across the hong kong harbour in front of us, while behind was a table laden with a gorgeous ham which was shaved in wafer thin slices and brought to us with offerings of cheese, figs, bread and a yummy glass of cote du rhone which came just as our main course was being served. mom chose the lamb, cooked medium rare with ratte potatoes stuffed with bacon. I had beef Wellington. which came with a (gratuitous) salad which mom kindly ate. it was all very good. I hardly had space for pudding, which was yet another smorgasbord offering. we walked into the pastry kitchen where the pastry chef chatted to us and explained each dessert offering available. I was having trouble concentrating on what she was saying as I was much too keen to start on the plates of chocolate mousse, tiramisu shots, irish cream flavoured marshmallows. my eyes again being much larger than my belly.

mom wisely refused to have dinner with me and my mate. she couldn’t believe I could eat anything after lunch. but I could. especially as it was at tung po seafood at northpoint – a place I had read about and begged mom to help me speak to them in Cantonese and try reserve a table. she thought I was mad. no one books at a “zicha” restaurant – she said. tung po seafood is a ‘zicha’ place (literally, cooking and frying) – which is a genre of local restaurants in asia where the chef proprietor cooks up a range of dishes. this is differentiated from specialized street food vendors which usually concentrate on a certain dish. one of tung po’s signature dishes is its squid ink noodles, not entirely different from spaghetti nero di sepia. another of its signature dishes we ordered was the shrimp cooked in salted egg yolk – which was probably one of the better versions I’ve had. my mate also ordered a dish of wintermelon cooked with pork mince and three eggs – century egg, salted egg and regular chicken egg cooked in a light broth. I could hardly move after dinner and barely stumbled back to the hotel.

the last two days have been a blur of countless meals of dim sum, roast duck, chinese barbequed meats, dumplings and french toast. I love hong kong french toast – they call it 西部多士 or “west toast” – two slices of bread with peanut butter, dipped in egg, deep fried and served with maple syrup. absolutely bad for you. and absolutely yummy.

so it’s with a very bloated stomach that I’m boarding this flight back home. and just as well. I hate airplane food.