Charting sea courses
The therapeutic value of a lazy, hazy day aboard a junk boat is second to none. But after a week with the nose to the grindstone, the last thing a would-be pleasure tripper wants to handle is organising finger food for 42.
'So don't bother,' cry Hong Kong's board of outside catering experts as, with the panache that only professionals have, they race to the task of assembling a medley of nautical taste sensations, suitable for budgets across the board. 'At the Continental, [tel: 2563-2209] our emphasis is heavily on tailor-made menus to suit each client. The requirements of a rugby club outing are going to be very different to those of a group of corporate clients so we are completely flexible,' says Clare Miles of the Quarry Bay-based restaurant.
Budgeting at $150 per person, your hamper will come packed with the likes of grilled vegetable parmesan tart, assorted open-faced sandwiches and apricot salmon fillets with snow peas and vegetable salad, marinated chicken fillets and chocolate fudge.
If really pushing the boat out is on the agenda, why not take advantage of the skills of the Furama Kempinski's (tel: 2525 5111) banqueting team who will conjure up an exotic ensemble of hot and cold dishes perfect for a day at sea.
The price tag depends on the client but for a party of about 20 people paying $350 a head, lunch will include dishes such as couscous and roasted vegetable salad, assorted Italian meat platter, pot roasted lamb chops and tiramisu. And how about enlisting the services of a few Furama-trained waiting staff who, for a fee, will see to your every need.
At the Peninsula hotel's Boutique (tel: 2366 6351), the Peninsula Chocolate Shop in the Landmark (tel: 2526 1918) or the soon-to-be-opened Peninsula Chocolate Shop at the Peak, a host of takeaway goodies awaits a junk-load of gourmands. Choose from a selection of regular, superior or deluxe canapes ranging between $160 (roast beef, smoked duck breast) and $240 (marinated scallops, fois gras and truffle) per dozen.
Slightly more down-to-earth are savouries such as sausage rolls, quiche, spring rolls and mini pizzas ranging between $55 and $65 per dozen. Salads are also available by the kilogram as are a selection of luxury cheeses.
The Peninsula Chocolate Shop in the Landmark can also operate a fax-ahead service for items such as salads, pizza, sandwiches and desserts ordered individually (either call in or telephone for a fax form).
'Basically we are very flexible and can provide whatever the guest needs, either food or otherwise,' says Sian Griffiths, the Peninsula's director of public relations, recalling that on one occasion, they were asked to provide a helicopter and full range of garden furniture for an elaborate but intimate picnic.
Another hotel with an exotic line in takeaway food is the Mandarin Oriental (tel: 2522 0111). Rather than having an in-house specialist put together a hamper for you though, the Mandarin's operation is run through its Cake Shop. Shelves are filled with everything from huge chocolate croissants to delicate canapes.
These include a mouth-watering mini rosemary foccacia with antipasti ($250/doz) and truffled gooseliver mille feuille ($280/doz). Or, for something more substantial, order a Thai beef salad or a helping of cold spring chicken.
Alternatively, pick up a few of the Mandarin's lunch boxes, which include sandwiches, salads, quiche, cheese, fruit and cake and cost $240 per person.
Catering company Mega Bites (tel: 2543 6555; mobile: 90465507) provides a full buffet service to water-faring folk. Greek salad, waldorf salad, chicken wings and sandwiches feature on the menu.
Plates, cups and cutlery can also be requested and, to make life easy, they will deliver the feast directly - and free of charge - to the departure point of your choice.
Dickson, the brains behind Mega Bites, comments: 'A week's notice would be really helpful but if you let us know 24 hours before, we can do it.' Couldn't be easier, could it? Often on a junk trip people are too busy lazing in the sun to cope with descending the stairway to pile high a paper plate. As every seasoned junker knows, however, after a few hours at sea the hunger pangs set in. So for a minimal-effort lunchtime feast, why not collect a selection of sandwiches from Eat in Pacific Place (tel: 2868 3235).
They offer a good selection of breads including ciabatta, foccacia, and panini, and fillings range from smoked salmon and cream cheese to roast beef and horseradish mayonnaise. As sandwiches are assembled ahead of the crowds, last-minute junkers can dash in, pick up a pile of pre-packaged creations and a selection of drinks and rush for the pier.
For a junk trip with a difference, why not conjure up the spirit of Louisiana while sailing the seas. Bayou Catering (tel: 2574 5046), a company dishing out authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine will devise the perfect menu, so bring along your favourite tunes and lap up the atmosphere.
Lori Granito, a native of New Orleans, explains, 'We don't have a set menu price, we have a list of items and we give a price based on what the customer chooses. Or they give us a budget and we work out a menu. It really depends on the situation.' For $250 a head (20-25 people), though, it's a veritable feast of cajun barbecue ribs, jambalaya, Mardi Gras pasta salad and the likes.
And do not be put off by the indecipherable names - Hush Puppies are not comfortable shoes, they are fried cornmeal fritters - because a mini Cajun dictionary is part of the service too.