Author Archives: dearindira2013

Hong Kong – Upper House Hotel

 
‘Your mission – should you accept – is to live like James Bond for a day.’
 
‘Live like James Bond for a day, you say?’ Doesn’t sound too difficult.
You said live ‘like’ James Bond – not ‘with’ James Bond. After watching ‘Skyfall’ I rather fancy Daniel Craig. That back of his….hmmmm…’
 
‘Please try to focus on the mission at hand 008. I said live ‘like’ 007. Not ‘with’ him.You’ll be his decoy while he is in Hong Kong.’
 
‘Decoy you say? Just for one day? OK. I accept.’
 
‘Good. Let me take you through the accommodation we’ve selected for you.
 We’ve got you a suite at the Upper House. It’s where all the well-heeled hipsters stay and dine. So try to blend in and don’t wear those cowboy boots of yours.’
 
‘Hey! What’s wrong with these boots? They’re hand-made you know… from real rhino hide. I had to drag that rhino through the Botswana jungle.’
 
‘Look. Just try to be inconspicuous – is that too much to ask 008? You are a spy afterall.’
 

‘OK.. come this way. We’ve already checked you in as Ms Indira Naidoo. She’s an Australian journalist and broadcaster who’s meant to be reviewing this hotel so it won’t raise any suspicions if you’re seen taking photos and asking pesky questions.’

‘Do I have to be an Australian? You know I can’t tolerate that accent. Everything is ‘gday this’ and ‘ow ya going mate that’. It’s so grating. Can I be that Swiss gymnast again? Please?’

‘Not after all the weight you’ve stacked on. Have you seen yourself in the mirror lately.’

‘It’s just a couple of kilos….

‘008 can we just get on with it?

‘This is your room. As you can see it’s extremely spacious with views across Hong Kong harbour.’

‘Geez……007 really does get the royal treatment doesn’t he? You usually put me up in a Mecure. Look at these fabrics and furnishings, and potted orchids. No expense has been spared.’

…. I love phaelanopsises….

‘OK, 008 that’s enough horticultural observations… let me take you through to the bedroom..

‘Wow…. that bed looks dreamy….. what’s the thread count on these sheets? Looks like Egyptian cotton..

‘Don’t get any ideas 008. You know the rules. No sleepovers while on duty.’

‘ But 007 always …

‘ I don’t care what 007 does. No visitors. Period.’

‘Here are your suitcases…

 
‘… and the closet…’
 
‘… and the bathroom..’
 
 
‘That’s some tub. Nice a deep. Looking forward to a long soak. And there’s a TV as well… want to
  see the finale of American Idol. Love Keith Urban.’
 
 
‘There won’t be time for that 008. After you unpack I want to take you to the outside deck where you’ll receive further instructions from your contact.. ‘
 

‘Oh. He doesn’t seem to be out here. Let’s wait for him in the hotel’s award-winning restaurant Cafe Gray.’

 
“Nice views.’
 
 
‘I took the liberty of pe-ordering for us both.
I’m having the gnocchi…’
 
 
‘…And how’s the organic heirloom beetroot salad?’
‘Not bad. I’ll be able to squeeze back into that leotard in no time.’
 
 
‘I could get use to pretending to be 007.’
‘Don’t get any ideas 008.’
 
Saucy Onion stayed as a guest of the Upper House.

Recipe: Quick Chicken Hot Pot

QUICK CHICKEN HOT POT – takes 1 1/2 hours to prepare and cook

Method

Set the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Make a herb, lemon rind and garlic butter and gently stuff under  breast skin of whole organic chicken. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Cover breast meat with prosciutto and place lemon halves inside cavity. Place in a Dutch oven, add 3 halved potatoes, 3 carrots and 2 cups of white wine and bake for one hour. Add a handful of green beans at the end and let them steam for a five minutes. Finish with lid off under the grill to crisp up the prosciutto.

Hong Kong – Developers eye organic farms

Hong Kong produces just 7% of its own food.

 

The rest needs to be trucked or flown in –  mostly from China.

But after a spate of food contamination scandals on the mainland, shoppers are growing wary of food marked ‘Product of China’.
The scandals have boosted demand for produce grown chemically-free in Hong Kong, and organic farms are thriving in the New Territories area along the Chinese border.
 
But with space at a premium in Hong Kong, these fledgling enterprises are being eyed off by developers.

The Mapopo village farm in the New Territories is in the firing line.

 
Developers want to bulldoze a third of this rich fertile farmland and put up more of these high-rise apartments.

Becky Au from the ‘Save Mapopo Community Farm Action Group’ says “If the government goes ahead and approves this project it will be devastating for the local community.
 
”We need to save this farm so we can save our food in Hong Kong.’’

Becky says everything grown on the farm is organic.

 
The villagers of Ma Shi Po make their own chemical-free compost and fertilisers and sell their produce at a weekly farmers market.

“We grow lettuces, tomatoes, and pumpkins … and in summer there are melons and cucumbers,’ says Becky. ‘Village life is good.’

The villagers are fighting to save their farm andtheir livelihood but it seems the development plan is almost certain to be approved by the Hong Kong government.

It’s a story repeated often wherever developers meet farmers.

Joey Ng who runs the Zen Organic Farm in the ​​Ta Kwu Ling area in the northern New Territories says she has no intention to sell to developers.

‘Once we started this farm, many people asked us to sell but we love this farm and this life,’ says Joey

Joey’s 250,000 square feet farm of greenhouses supplies Hong Kong’s top restaurants with organic produce.

‘We grow heirloom tomatoes, figs, strawberries, eggplants,  papayas to order so chefs have exactly what they need,’ says Joey.
I think they are more conscious about what is in food because they want to have another choice and I think they like organic farm food’.
In a country with development fever, becoming an organic farmer has been an unexpected spiritual journey for Joey.
 
 

I love the lifestyle because you get close to nature, you get a rhythm from nature.. it makes you more humble.
 
The Mapopo Farm will know next year whether they can continue their unique sustainable village life or whether more farmers will be forced off their land.
 Saucy Onion travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
 


 
 
 

Hong Kong – Roof Top Farms

Hong Kong.

In just over one hundred years it’s transformed itself from a sleepy fishing village….

….to one of the world’s greatest metropolises.

7million people …..  8,000 skyscrapers… one of the planet’s most densely populated cities …crammed onto a few tiny islands.
It’s homage to consumerism has made Hong Kong a shoppers’ paradise.
But during my recent trip to the island nation I was surprised to discover that there’s one product residents are having difficulty buying – and that’s locally-grown FRESH FOOD.

Space-starved Hong Kong produces only 7% of its own food.

The rest needs to be flown in from Asia and Europe or trucked in from Mainland China.

But a band of innovative farmers has been looking skyward to find a solution….

They’ve started growing food on the rooftops of the city’s skyscrapers.

50year-old Osbert Lam is one of these urban farmers turning concrete into crops.

Osbert started the Eco-mama rooftop farm 2 years ago. It’s on top of a 12 storey office tower and covers 10,000 square feet. (929 square metres)

Local residents rent garden boxes for 15 dollars a month, and Osbert and his team of expert volunteers help them grow more than 20 varieties of fruit and vegetables organically.

“They are definitely so impressed by the whole set up that we can grow such good harvests on rooftops. Big melons, 4 ½ kilo pumpkins,’ says Osbert about his gardeners.

Running costs are kept low with free rain water and sunshine all year round.

Bugs are controlled with sticky paper strips and harvests protected from birds and pests with recycled netting and scarecrows.
 
 

Osbert says rooftop gardeners come from every walk of life – businessmen, young couples, families .. all wanting to enjoy fresh, local, pesticide-free produce.

Osbert says,‘We’re growing community .. they become friends.. such a nice feeling.They eat more healthier. They never think that organic food is expensive anymore because they contribute themselves to the labour into gardening and farming. They know it is not an easy task so they tend to appreciate more organic produce and fair trade.’

 

Osbert is constructing his third rooftop farm and says while there are dozens of similar ventures popping up all over Hong Kong, there is still little official support for rooftop farming.

‘I hope the government can open up the rooftops for everybody to enjoy the growing garden habit.

Food activist Chu Pui-Kwan,  helped set up her roof top vegetable garden on a building near the old airport site.


Pui Kwan says in the future cities like Hong Kong will be embracing roof top farming.

That’s  the whole idea behind it…. food security and food safety….

…the only person responsible for your well-being is you… why not grow your own food, ‘she says.

Local celebrity chef Margaret Yu grows produce for her award-winning restaurant YinYang the old-fashioned way – on her farm in the ground.

She’s impressed with the productivity of these small spaces.

‘There are people doing magic work on their little balconies and stuff… complete gardens…it’s very impressive.
Margaret wants the Hong Kong government to get behind these urban farming trailblazers.
“I hope everyone will look to Hong Kong as one of those examples, she says.
Osbert Lam agrees that Hong Kong could be a world-leader in roof top farming

‘This is nothing I could have imagined’ says Osbert, ‘… we started growing our vegetables.. we attracted more people to come. It’s been beyond my dreams.’

Saucy Onion travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
 

Worms get a feed

I’ve had my Tumbleweed worm farm for about 2 months now and all seems to be going well. My husband loves to say to our friends – ‘ Indira has worms’.

The worms have settled in and are now usefully converting our kitchen scraps and garden cuttings into highly nutritious worm juice and castings.

They’re fussy eaters though. Mine prefer potato and pumpkin peels, tea bags and egg shells. We can’t dispose of all our kitchen waste through the farm but since we’re only a two-person household we don’t generate that much either.

Keeping them cool on a sunny balcony has been a challenge . Since the sun hits the farm most mornings I’ve erected an umbrella to provide added shade. I also give them a good wetting down with the hose every week to keep them damp. Worms enjoy a very moist environment.

Most importantly my balcony edibles have never looked so lush. The worm juice is boosting their resistance to pests and diseases and encouraging faster growth.

A happy little ecosystem.