During this holiday season many restaurants and clubs in Hong Kong are hosting Easter fairs. Looking at the special menu served at these eateries during Easter weekend it seems both the kids and grown-ups are spoilt for a choice.
Some of the Easter egg specimens and bunnies crafted from chocolate look like masterpieces of ingenuity. Just looking at these yields sheer delight.
The source of chocolate is in the beans extracted from cacao trees which are native to the Americas. The trees were originally grown in tropical South America, central America and parts of Mexico, however nearly 70 percent of the world's total produce of cacao beans today is grown in West Africa.
In the beginning, cacao beans were also used as currency and were essential to marriage ceremonies. The Mayans of South America began ingesting chocolate in the liquid form, mixed with chili pepper, other spices and wine. In those early days, when no sugar was added, the cacao drink tasted quite bitter.
The process of making chocolate wasn't that much different from the way it is today. Harvested beans are fermented, dried and roasted. After roasting the shells are removed and the kernel ground to a paste, which would be mixed with hot water and spices such as chili, vanilla, annatto, allspice, honey and flowers. The chocolate drink was created by pouring the mixture back and forth between two containers. The frothy top layer was considered the best part.
In 19th-century France and Germany, the Easter eggs exchanged between friends were solid, coarse and dark. The dyed eggs arrived much later. As technology improved and cocoa became more widely available, chocolate was being used more widely to make Easter eggs.
A mouth-watering Easter-themed dessert on display at Cafe on M in Tsim Sha Tsui. (provided to China Daily)
In the 1850s, Joseph Fry tried replacing hot water with cocoa butter and sugar and came up with a solid piece of chocolate. Nestle then added condensed milk to solid chocolate to make milk chocolate. Rudolphe Lindt from Switzerland invented the conch, a machine that rotated and mixed chocolate to a smooth consistency, making the whole process that much easier and quicker. Chocolate products just grew and grew. By the beginning of the 1900s Hershey's was producing 33 million chocolate kisses per day.
This weekend, as Hong Kong celebrates Easter, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club is offering an Easter lunch buffet. Several fun family events have been created to add to the spirit of the celebration. These include an egg hunt, painting on eggs and a visit from the Easter Bunny.
Thirty thousand Easter eggs and other goodies have been hidden under the sands at Tai Pak Beach in Discovery Bay, for children to dig these out. The Peak Lookout high up on the hill is also hosting an Easter egg hunt, plus balloon twisting and other crafts with eggs.
At InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong kids are being encouraged to roll up their sleeves to make their own Easter bunnies! Or they can enjoy a variety of educational toys and entertainment, and complimentary candies and chocolate eggs handed out in an Easter basket. There are more gastronomic delights to win as prizes.
At Disneyland too, over a hundred eggs hidden across the area are waiting to be discovered.
At the Sai Kung Jockey Club Golf Course the Easter holiday lunch buffet includes both Western and Chinese dishes. They also have a pasta cooking counter and are serving a variety of luscious desserts.
In other words, there's something for chocolate boys (and girls) of all ages across Hong Kong!