Alright, dieting is certainly off the chart this month and with the coming of the Mid-Autumn Festival (or popularly called Mooncake Festival), it's time to shop for mooncakes for friends, families and clients. And for me, that only mean one choice, the Kee Wah Mooncakes from Hong Kong.
So, you may think, well, I'm American, what has that got to do with me? A Chinese festival? Good news, you can now enjoy Kee Wah Mooncakes in the U.S. too! Damn, I think I'm beginning to sound like an advertiser! and I'm not one! If I'm, I better get paid for it too!
Here's the deal, perhaps you've a Chinese girlfriend? ;-) I know some people do. So, this is what you must do if you're in courtship. This year's (2009) mooncake festival is on Oct. 3 and before that, a few days or a week or two is fine too, make sure you get a box of mooncakes for her parents or whoever she's close to in the family. A box will usually cost less than $20 and that's cheaper than buying a lunch or dinner for the family! Good deal? Hurray! Then read up on the origin of mooncakes, there's an interesting (real) story behind it and it's one every Chinese knows. There's also another fairy tale related to the Mid-Autumn Festival and if you are truly interested in the girl, you know what to do!
In Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia or anywhere there are Chinese living, mooncakes will be abundantly available about a month before the actual celebration. That means NOW! I just bought my fair share of mooncakes from Hong Kong last week from the Kee Wah Mooncakes which I can attest is my cup of tea. I think you will like it too and I highly recommend them to you. There are many types and flavors & my favorites are the mini mooncakes with an egg yolk in it. A mini box comes in 4 pieces or 8 pieces (my suggestion to you is buy the 8 pieces for gifts as 8 is an auspicious number with the Chinese, not 4!) Don't try to save, unless it's for own consumption. But if you are buying the regular size, 4 pieces per box is common and no one think about being auspicious or not in this case.
The 4 piece miniature set costs about HK$75 (about US$9.50) per box and the 8 piece set costs about HK$138 (US$18, I checked its website, selling for US$22.50 in U.S.). It's not cheap but since it's only eaten once a year, it's what most Chinese will be willing to pay for. This is a huge market in Asia and many hotels have known to make their own branded mooncakes once a year and one actually has to preorder them. Most of the time, ask for discounts that comes with paying by credit cards. I know for Kee Wah in Hong Kong, you get 20% discounts if you pay with Standard Chartered visa cards, which luckily for me, my friend does have it. I don't deal with this bank (Bad experience!).
Mooncakes also come in different colors and taste for those who are adventurous. I've eaten mooncakes made of durian, red bean, pineapple, mixed nuts, etc, etc... You've to go around and shop for them if you are feeling adventurous. Most of these are offered at hotels and you can buy them by mix and match and have them all in a box. Very cool!
P.S. Mooncakes can be very sweet and high caloried. It's best eaten by seeping Chinese Tea along with it to cut down the oiliness of the sweet pastries. Also, if you are into diet, Chinese Tea is said to be a good way of getting rid the oil content of any food. If you prefer, you can also try it with Japanese green tea.
Sweet Chinese pastries given as gifts to friends & families during or before the Mid-Autumn Festival (Chinese Calendar mid of 8th lunar month) & eaten with loved ones over a cup of Chinese tea in celebration of the Mooncake Festival (as popularly called).
Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular in shape, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4-5 cm thick. The filling is usually made from lotus seed paste & is surrounded by a relatively thin crust and may contain salted egg yolks. Mooncakes are rich & heavy when compared with most Western cakes and pastries.