Hong Kong and AmEx throw culinary extravaganza
Updated: 2013-10-16 05:03
By CAROLINE BERG in New York (China Daily USA)
Hong Kong may be small, but its appetite is not.
Within 426 largely undeveloped square miles, the region boasts more than 11,000 restaurants with cuisine from all over the world.
To celebrate this foodie mecca, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) teamed up with American Express International Inc in 2009 to throw a four-day epicurean feast, which subsequently landed onto the Forbes Traveler top international food and wine festivals list.
Now in its fifth year, the American Express Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival will run Oct 31-Nov 3.
This year's festival in Hong Kong will test a different location at the New Central Harbourfront, where jazz bands and pop singers will perform, while visitors can roam through 89 booths featuring cuisine from around the world and 210 booths offering wines from 16 countries and regions.
"Visitors can now be encircled by the sparkly architecture of Hong Kong's downtown and overlooking Victoria Harbour," an HKTB spokesperson wrote to China Daily in reply to an e-mail inquiry.
The festival received 188,000 visitors in 2012, 15.3 percent more than in 2011. Tourists accounted for about 11 percent of the 2012 attendees, HKTB said. Wine consumption in 2012 increased by 28 percent — 32,000 bottles —from 2011.
"Hong Kong is the first free wine port among major economies," the HKTB spokesperson said. "With the removal of all wine duties [in] February 2008, Hong Kong is an ideal place for wine-related business."
One addition to this year's festival will be the "Tasting Room," which will host wine-appreciation classes, such as wine pairing with cheese and desserts, and wine talks, including a wine expert from Bordeaux who will lead a tasting of wines from the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
On Nov 2, visitors to the Tasting Room can participate in a dinner of wine-paired dishes prepared by the Hong Kong Chefs Association from the menu for an international culinary competition, or a lunch on Nov 3 served by an award-winning chef. Both meals will limit attendance to 100.
Wine booths will be organized into six theme zones — the "Riedel Grand Tasting Pavilion," "Country Pavilion," "A-Lister Zone," "Discover Zone," "Party Wine Zone" and "Everyday Wine Zone." HKTB has invited a crew of seven sommeliers to select the wines showcased in each zone to ensure the wines' quality and variety.
Another special feature of this year's festival will be a sunset tasting with wine collectors. The first 120 participants who book the Grand Tasting Wine Passes for Nov 1-2 and the first 100 participants who book places for the Wine Pairing Lunch for Nov 3 will have access to this tasting.
The entrance fee this year is HK$30 ($3.87). Wine passes and wine tokens for wine-tasting need to be purchased separately. Those booking wine passes or tickets for the Tasting Room in advance will not have to pay the entrance fee.
Throughout November, major dining districts and the local catering sector will unveil a series of themed activities, such as the Wan Chai Queen's Road East Festival, the Lei Yue Mun Seafood Festival and Market, the Lan Kwai Fong Carnival, the Stanley Plaza World of Food and Music, and the Great American BBQ.
As part of the American Express Hong Kong Wine and Dine Month, select hotels and restaurants will provide diners with special offers, and the catering and travel sectors will organize culinary tours and classes.
The Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair, organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.