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Weekly Chow

6.23.2014


The tables have turned as Mario Batali interviews Bon Appetit's Adam Rapoport. (medium.com)

12 handy summer cooking tips, from how to grill to building stone beach grills... (saver.com)

New research suggests that artistically presented food tastes better! (guardian.co.uk)

When the French try to reinvent American fast food, they create Classic Chewy Chips... (eater.com)

Wine Intelligence CEO comments that modern consumers are looking for retro and feel-good products, plus "blended experiences". (thedrinksbusiness.com)

It's time to stop vilifying butter! (time.com)

PS How to cut a cake properly. Trust me, you'll only do it this way from now on! 

Behind the Collaboration: Common Room x Lola's Ice Pops

6.20.2014


In today's highly competitive food and beverage scene, restaurants and food businesses must constantly conceptualise and deliver new ideas and creations - not only to keep the interest of their customers, but also to attract further interest towards their operation. Brand collaborations are an ever more popular way for food businesses to innovate, and even the largest companies have reaped the benefits of joining forces with a complementary brand. Food and fashion, for example, are two spheres that have regularly come together, from Coca Cola's collaboration with PLAY Commes des Garconnes to create fashionably artistic cans, to the co-branded éclairs by Fauchon to celebrate Lacoste's 80th anniversary and Evian's designer bottles by fashion powerhouses Diane von Furstenburg and Elie Saab.

On a more local scale, Common Room's recent collaboration with Lola's Ice Pops (this post) is reaching for the same goal: to jointly create an innovative new product that will surprise and delight their existing clientele whilst jointly raising the profile of both. I sat down with Janice Jann, Director of Communications at Privé Group, to get the chowdown on how the boozesicles collaboration came about; read on for how a brand collaboration idea becomes a reality.


The Idea

"Hong Kong is known for being a cutthroat market for F&B businesses", comments Jann. She adds, "To remain relevant and competitive, we have to always look out for creative ways to market our restaurants." Jann gets her inspiration in various forms, from regular visits to local food markets (she's a regular at Island East Markets) and new bars and restaurants, to keeping track of what's trending in English and local Chinese media ("Hong Kong Tatler Dining and Eat and Travel Weekly are two of my go-tos") as well as following local social media influencers ("Do you follow Little Meg Siu Meg on Instagram?"). It was through reading a food magazine that she first saw an image of a Pimms Cup popsicle, which she thought would be perfect for the fun and relaxed vibe of Common Room. Although boozy ice pops were not a new idea, they were relatively unheard of in Hong Kong, and Jann could not wait to explore the idea further.
 

The Partner

Jann saw the Pimms Cup popsicle in August of 2013, which meant they had to shelve the idea of boozy popsicles for a couple of months. In the interim, she began to notice Lola's Ice Pops popping up (excuse the pun!) around Hong Kong's food markets and gaining momentum on Instagram. When May 2014 came around, it was felt that Lola's were a good match for an alcoholic popsicle collaboration at Common Room. Not only were Lola's a local independent business, but their ethos is to create healthy ice pops using all natural ingredients. Finding a partner that had similar values to Common Room and Privé Group at large was incredibly important; however, after Privé approached and met with Lola's founders Julie Tuan and Sandra Wong, they felt convinced the chemistry was right and went straight to work devising exclusive flavours that would be sold on-site at Common Room.


The Collaboration

Once the partnership was formed, the process from concept to reality took only 2-3 weeks, recounts Jann. First, they discussed turning a few of Common Room's popular drinks into boozy popsicles; then, Sandra suggested dunking the ice pops into the drinks. Thus, the drunken boozesicle was born! The Bramble and Espresso Martini were given their own special boozy popsicles, and Common Room devised a new cocktail, the Strawberry Frangelico, to pair with a hazelnut-strawberry ice pop. Standalone alcoholic ice pops were also introduced to cater for those who wanted a light snack or dessert without a drink - the Saketini (green) and Strawberry Liski (pink) were both incredibly refreshing and barely tasted of alcohol, but definitely added some merriment to my evening.

"We are extremely happy with the collaboration, as we did not have the expertise to create top-notch popsicles. This is Lola's niche, and pairing their product with our drinks and restaurant has been a success for us so far," muses Jann. So there you have it - the story of how Common Room and Lola's Ice Pops came together to bring us devilishly delicious popsicle cocktails. Be sure to try one out if you are in Hong Kong this summer!


Common Room 1/F Wo On Building, 8-13 Wo On Lane / 2525 3599common-room.hk
Lola's Ice Pops lolasicepops.com

Image 4 courtesy of Janice Jann. All other images courtesy of Privé Group.

Weekly Chow

6.16.2014


It's World Cup season again! Here are some of the best "foodball" stories... (finedininglovers.com)

But it's not all good news; World Cup tourists are facing sky-high food prices in Brazil. (reuters.com)

Snacking is no longer just something you do when you're hungry; it's a way of living! (mintel.com)
Food and pharmaceutical packaging just got artsier courtesy of artist Ben Frost. (boingboing.net)

What happens to leftovers in restaurants? Chefs create daily specials, donate what they can, and throw away the rest... (huffingtonpost.com)

What's 250 calories in junk food? 6 scoops of ice cream or a portion of chips... (telegraph.co.uk)

Homemade Chow: Drunken Bramble Boozesicles

6.13.2014


Summer is almost upon us in Hong Kong, and anyone who has lived here will empathise with the fact that the heat and humidity get pretty unbearable as the summer months go on. My coping mechanisms mainly consist of consuming cold food and drink (and hiding indoors where the air-con keeps me happy!), so when I discovered that Common Room recently launched spiked ice lollies in cocktails for the coming months, I was almost too excited for words. 

After trying a "Drunken Boozesicle" and falling in love with the concept, I convinced the powers be at Privé Group (the mastermind behind Common Room) to part with a recipe; behold the Drunken Bramble Boozesicle! There are two components to this glorious gin and blackberry concoction, but I guarantee you that the end result is well worth the extra effort...


Drunken Bramble Boozesicles

Part I. Common Room's Bramble Cocktail
Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:
2oz Gin (reduce to 1.5oz if too strong)
6 Blackberries
3/4oz Lemon juice
3/4oz Simple syrup
Drizzle of Crème de Mûre

Steps:
1.  First, create a basic Bramble by mixing the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup.

2. In a lowball glass, muddle 5 blackberries and add in some crushed ice and the Bramble mixture.

3. Drizzle with Crème de Mûre and garnish with the remaining blackberry.


Part II. Lola's Ice Pops' Bramble Ice Pops
Makes 8-10 ice pops

Ingredients:
2 small boxes of Blackberries (must be fresh)
100ml Water (distilled)
20ml Gin
20ml Crème de Mûre
Juice from 1/4 Lemon 
1/2tbsp Caster sugar

Steps:
1. Thoroughly soak and wash the blackberries. 

2. Place all the ingredients (blackberries. water, gin, crème de mûre, lemon juice and sugar) into a blender and blend well for c.20 seconds. Taste the mixture, adding more sugar and re-blending if necessary

3. Pour the mixture into popsicle moulds and place wooden sticks in each mould. Freeze for at least 6 hours before consuming. 

4. To unmould the ice pops, dip the frozen part of the moulds into room temperature water for 5-10 seconds before pulling them out.   


To create the Drunken Bramble Boozesicle, simply dunk the ice pop into the drink. These are best served at the start of a hot summers' night, as they are the perfect drinks to nurse over a long chat. 
 

Weekly Chow

6.09.2014


Apparently hungry men appreciate a fuller figure, so plan your dates before dinner! (thetimes.co.uk)

Worryingly, burgers and baby wipes share a common ingredient. (cnbc.com)

What does getting "tea drunk" mean? Take 10 minutes and find out... (foodcurated.com)

Are you supposed to pronounce the Ts in Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon? (guardian.com) 

14 tips for how to impress a foodie. #6 slays me! (tatler.com)

If you're stuck for a Fathers' Day gift for the weekend, try the Scotch flowchart to see which is the best fit for your pops. (wsj.com)

How To Coat a Ganache Like a Master Chocolatier

6.05.2014


Last week, I finally fulfilled a childhood dream and attended my first chocolate making workshop. It wasn't just any workshop either, mind - it was hosted by award-winning French chocolatier and La Maison du Chocolat Master Chef Nicolas Cloiseau! During an event at their Lee Gardens store, Chef Nicolas very graciously walked us through how to coat one of La Maison du Chocolat's timeless ganaches, the Quito. 


First, you create your interior ganache; we cheated a little and used the Quito interior, a blend of cocoa beans from Venezuela, Trinidad, Ecuador and Madagascar. Once the ganache is shaped and at room temperature, dip it into a fine, dark couverture (a chocolate that consists of over 32% cocoa and can be melted to a workable fluid state) using a two-pronged dipping fork. Immerse the interior ganache with a thin coating of couverture chocolate, using the fork to assist with coating the top of the ganache, and gently scrape off the excess at the base of the ganache.


Then, angle the dipping fork at 45° over a non-stick surface, and allow the coated ganache to slide off courtesy of Newton's law of gravitation. To finish off, Chef Nicolas applied an edible transfer sticker of the La Maison "M" on top of the ganache, and sent the chocolate off to the fridge for 15 minutes. Et voila! 


My attempt was not quite as perfect as those of Chef Nicolas', but I was reassured that it wasn't bad for a first timer! Frankly, I thought it was pretty delicious and scoffed my finished ganache whole; I only realised later that my greediness was being watched (and giggled at) by the MD of the company! Embarrassment aside, at least he knows his chocolates have a true fan in me.


The workshop was part of a promotional event for a choco-cocktail partnership between Chef Nicolas and Head Barman Maxime Hoerth of the famed Parisian hotel Le Bristol, who came together to launch a series of chocolate and cocktail/mocktail pairings. Find out more about the Summer Cocktail Collection here


Images 1, 4, 8 and 12 are courtesy of La Maison du Chocolat. Valerie was a guest of Lee Wolter.

Weekly Chow

6.02.2014


We Did Eat That is the only appropriate response towards You Did Not Eat That! (bonappetit.com)

Research suggests that food in the US is now too cheap for their own good... (pewresearch.org)

Can we really trust food bloggers and online reviewers? (independent.co.uk)

The global reach of Starbucks, visualised. (qz.com)

Go behind the scenes and check out the chefs and restaurants at Taste of London! (youtube.com)

Summer party season is fast approaching. Time to try out some new hangover cures... (elle.com)

P.S. Spreadable beer is a thing now, apparently. Intrigued? So am I!