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Friday 24 July 2015

This Week The Mice Have Mostly Been...

We're delighted to say that we've all made it through another week, and now it's pretty much time to pour ourselves a glass of something frosty and alcoholic before swiftly seeing it off...

If you still have a couple of hours until it's socially acceptable to be downing cups of wine, here's a little whip through the things that have been keeping us occupied over the last seven days, this week the Mice have mostly been...

Pigging out at new(ish) Hong Kong nosh spot, Neighborhood. As anyone who's ever read this blog can attest, us Mice love food. So generally whenever a new restaurant pops up, we're there trying everything on the menu faster than you can say 'soft opening'.

This year though, we've all been on healthy eating, clean living, new body quests (did someone say wedding?!), so we've been spending much more time lifting weights than clearing our plates. All of which has meant that a few new openings have somehow shimmied onto the dining scene without us even noticing. Given that Bikinifit is on a two week break over here in Hong Kong, we thought we'd take a peek at one of those missed restaurant openings that everyone's raving about and fall off the lean & clean wagon in spectacular style, so on a very rainy Monday evening we headed on down to Neighborhood.

Tucked away in an impossible to find spot on a square just off Hollywood Road, Neighborhood keeps it simple with the lowlit, minimalist decor and a short, neatly typed menu that changes on a weekly basis. The wine list is good (if a little on the pricey side) with plenty of interesting options sold by the glass - all the better for giving you an excuse for a sneaky Monday night tipple or two.

The menu employs that slightly irritating habit of listing out dishes by their components rather than giving them descriptions so that you have to work out whether you like the sound of girolle sauté/duck ham/egg or if quail eggs/sea urchin/trout roe will be up your street. Luckily, it turns out that most things are are pretty tasty (even if their menu descriptions don't sound the most appealing).

We started with hunks of bread and salty butter served alongside truffle poached artichoke with truffle hollandaise for dunking.

This was followed swiftly by yellowfin tuna belly confit which wasn't outstanding but was still gobbled rather quickly.

Next up was an heirloom tomato and tabouleh salad (which sounded rather dull on paper but was spectacular in the execution) which arrived with a truffle-bathed warm salad of clams and slivers of pork belly - a total triumph.

A rather strange slab of duck sausage followed - a recommendation from the waitress that I wouldn't order again.

But where the meal really came into its own was when the main dishes were cleared away and the dessert menu was wheeled out. Because it was Monday and it had rained all day, we felt we deserved two huge glasses of red wine to round off the evening. And what's a huge glass of red wine if you don't accompany it with a massive slab of black truffle stuffed brie...?

But we didn't stop there. We'd heard crazed odes to the chocolate palette, so thought it would be ridiculous not to finish the night on a gluttonous high note. Thank goodness we did. We're talking an intensely rich, warm chocolate mousse sitting atop a disk of slightly salty, crumbly cocoa base. Just heavenly.

Brie and chocolate goodness hoovered up and we just about had room for a couple of complimentary caneles which were tiny bites of sugary deliciousness. The perfect end to a pretty decent Monday night meal. 

As the menu changes weekly, there's going to be plenty of reason to head back to Neighborhood but let's face it just that truffled brie and a few spoonfuls of the chocolate palette are reason enough...

Beating a hasty retreat from the city and venturing off for a little downtime in Macau armed only with our passports and the brand new Luxe App

Hong Kong summers are hot, humid and horrifically hectic. So, when we were asked if we wanted to hop over to neighbouring Macau, the Vegas of the East, for an evening at the Banyan Tree, we'd packed our weekenders and hopped on the Macau ferry in double quick time. More on the Banyan Tree very soon, but in the meantime I'll just say it involved a thee hour spa treatment and a few too many of these bad boys...

Sadly we only had one evening of R&R booked at the Banyan Tree, and when check-out time rolled around on Saturday afternoon, we weren't quite ready to head back to the city. We ummed and ahhed and did some frantic Googling trying to work out where to head next, and then I remembered I'd downloaded the brand new Luxe Guides app earlier in the week - bingo! Problem solved!

Just a couple of clicks later and not only had we identified a new hotel to head to, but we'd also found a restaurant for dinner, given them a quick call and booked a table for dinner.

Ever since I moved to Hong Kong (almost seven years ago now!) I've never hopped off on a city break without first snapping up one of Luxe's awesome pocket-sized concertinaed guides. Witty and pithy with a carefully curated selection of cocktail pitstops and boutique hotel boltholes, Luxe has guided me stylishly around everywhere from Tokyo to New York with Beijing, Bali and Bangkok (to name just the Bs) in between. 

As everything I need for my travels moves onto my iPhone (camera - check; currency convertor - check; boarding pass - check...) I was pretty pleased to discover that my trusty Luxe Guide had headed the same way. And thank goodness it did.

Thanks to the genius new app, I could stand at the Galaxy Macau and pull up a map showing how far away the nearest Luxe recommended hotel was. Which is how just forty minutes later, I came to be gazing out at these views from a Aromatherapy Associates-laced bathtub...

This Mandarin Oriental Macau bath tub to be precise...

After a long sunset soak, I spruced myself up and we headed off for a slap-up Portuguese supper at what Luxe promised was a Macau institution - Antonio's.

As always, Luxe was bang on the money and a couple of hours later we were rolling ourselves back to the Mandarin too stuffed full of chorizo, codfish cakes and Portuguese chicken to even think about hitting the blackjack tables.

The Luxe app is genuinely an essential tool in your travel artillery. Download it pronto and spend the rest of the summer smugly swanning around cities from Amsterdam to Sydney uncovering hidden gems like a local.

Getting a little grizzly at the testing but uber awesome Dr Urso Bear Camp. As we mentioned, Bikinifit is taking a little summer break at the moment which has left us with a kettle bell shaped hole in our lives and a strange craving for burpees (yeah - we may have been lying about the burpees...). 

Because we've been stuffing ourselves with truffled brie, lying supine for two weeks clearly wasn't an option, so over the last few days we've sandwiched our very first crack at wakesurfing between hikes and swimming and have discovered a Wednesday evening bootcamp that we like so much that we might just continue with it even when the next cycle of Bikinifit starts back up again next week.

For starters you work-out against this stunning backdrop...

... but it gets even better. Forget dull treadmills and boring rowing machines, Doctor Urso's Bear Camp involves flipping tyres and swinging hammers, tossing beer kegs over your head and pushing a sledge along the harbour-front.

Work-outs are tough but scaleable which means that you can work out alongside your cross-fit nut boyfriend and still compete on who can complete a set fastest. Best of all, you're so busy doing crazy things with heavy stuff, that an hour breezes by and before you know it, it's time for a long shower and a hearty post-exercise feed.

Want to get involved? Doctor Urso has a location over on Lamma where you can head for your weekend bear camp fix on Sundays at 10am or 11:15. During the week, mosey on down to the waterfront at Cyberport where sessions are held on Wednesday evenings at 6:15pm and 7:30pm. For further details check out the Facebook Page.

And that's your lot for another week! Which just leaves us to issue a little end of the week command before merrily heading off to top up our cups of wine...

Make them good ones!

Lots of love
The Mice

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