Reviews of fruit & veg farms & delivery services - The Fresh Grower
The Fresh Grower, July 2014
The Fresh Grower imports vegetables from New Zealand, which are not organically farmed but grow in volcanic soils with access to natural water sources. The farm claims to use "compound fertilizers which in comparison to organic fertilizers such as animal manures, eliminates the chances of bacterial contaminations (e.g. Salmonella from poultry manure)." You can order online or visit their store at G/F, No.41A Belcher’s Street, H.K from 9:30 a.m – 8:00 p.m, 7 7 days a week.
The product range is large, including 3 (oh yes) types of kale as well as some fruits including apples, mandarins, pears and kiwis. It’s winter in New Zealand right now with seasonal veggies including slender stem, cauliflower, green curly kale, red curly kale, beetroot and silverbeet. All the vegetables appeared to be extremely fresh when they arrived as well as perfectly formed. There were no holes or bugs living in the leaves, possibly due to the fact that they are not organically farmed.
There are 2 shipments to HK each week, on Tuesdays and Fridays and delivery is usually that day too. This is free for orders over $300 and Mango Menus' readers enjoy 10% off orders >$400 through July with the discount code mangomenus. It's very hard to compare apples with pears (no pun intended) but in general I found the prices similar to other delivery services in HK. They might not be organic, but you are paying for them to be flown in from NZ.
Above you can see the bag of vegetables that Mango Menus was sent to review. The retail price would have been $755 excluding delivery for this selection, and I'll admit that I was terrified it would all go off before I had the chance to cook it, and I cook A LOT. However I was pleasantly surprised by its shelf-life which may or may not be due to the fact these are not organically farmed crops.
I have had an poor history of buying baby spinach and rocket leaves in HK supermarkets, with bags often rotting within hours of purchase. I had pretty much given up on them. Not these babies. As well as being tasty, most of the greens lasted up to 5 days in my fridge after arrival and I enjoyed them in salads and wilted on toast with a poached egg and Hollandaise.
In true HK mom style, I felt like the cat that caught the cream when I was in receipt of THREE different kinds of kale - green salad, red salad, and curly green kale. Suddenly I was faced with the rather first class problem of a kale glut, every iota of which I was determined to ingest. So, while drinking a green juice (kale, pear & celery), I frantically messaged my friend Jacqueline at Lantau Mama for her kale muffin recipe, which involves blending the leaves in the magimix to produce a purée which you can freeze in silicone muffin cups for future use (juices, smoothies etc.). With the magmix still dirty and looking irreversibly green, I blended another few handfuls of kale with raw almonds, olive oil, garlic and parmesan to produce a kale pesto, also frozen in silicone muffin cases (does anyone actually use these to bake with?), ideal for quick and easy kids' dinners.
A few more leaves went into oven to make hard & fast kale chips, with others being ceremoniously layed out in the dehydrator for some slightly more smug kale chips, retaining more of their nutrients than their oven baked brothers. I have not been too adventurous with kale chips flavourings yet, my favourite being the heady olive oil from OlivetreeHK (closed for summer) and a sprinkling of fleur de sel with grilled spices from Les Halles Bordeaux.
Having therefore preserved a large part of my kale lake for future use, I could then relax a little and enjoy some of the fresh leaves in a salad, which, if you didn't know, benefit from being massaged first (who doesn't?), this removing a little of their bitterness. My hurry to use it all up actually turned out to be unnecessary as even the salad kales lasted up to 5 days in the fridge.
Onto the rest of the greens, I enjoyed the fancy lettuces with a classic vinaigrette from David Lebowitz, which introduces a minced shallot to the mix and insists on sherry 0r red wine vinegar rather than the overexposed balsamic. The slender stemmed broccoli was a world apart from the local stuff I have tried, which I sauteéd in coconut oil with Thai herbs. The kailan and silverbeet (Swiss chard) were subjected to a similar treatment on another evening.
The beetroots were the bomb in a salad with aforementioned lettuces, Danish blue cheese, walnuts and a French dressing. This is an ideal summery starter for a dinner party and super easy to prep. We also made some highly fashionable beetroot brownies, a great rainy day activity to do with the kids in this stifling heat, and lastly, a zingy beetroot juice with ginger, apple and carrot.
I would certainly buy from them again, indeed I did this weekend, making the most of the 10% discount through July with the code mangomenus. I would therefore highly recommend The Fresh Grower for those looking for more perfectly formed and longer lasting vegetables grown in less polluted areas, but who are less bothered about organic farming and carbon footprint.