On the shelf
I visit Marks & Spencer (China Underwriters Centre, 88 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2922 8061) occasionally because I can't resist its cheese tasters, and rarely do I leave the store without buying at least one product I've never tried before. Most recently it was its Soft Caramels (HK$30 for 155 grams). They were soft, as described, and didn't stick to my teeth, but would have been better with a touch of sea salt.
I've long been a fan of the Isigny Ste Mere brand of butter, which I used for all my cooking and baking. But it's become so expensive that I found myself looking around for an alternative. I found it in Le Gall. I like Le Moul?Tradition (HK$31 for 250 grams) for cooking and baking: it comes in salted and sweet (doux). But for spreading on bread, I buy au lait cru - raw milk butter (HK$38), which can be purchased salted, half-salted or sweet. The brand is sold at City'super (Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2375 8222).
Whenever my friends travel to Vietnam and ask if I want them to bring back anything, I request rice papers. Yes, you can buy them here - but I prefer the Vietnamese brands to the Thai ones. The Thai brands are thicker and need to be soaked in water to soften them enough to use as wrappers. The ones made in Vietnam are much thinner and can be folded in half without breaking. They can be used for fried spring rolls (where the wrapper is beautifully delicate) and for the fresh type. So I was thrilled to find them in an unexpected place: City'super. The Huong Nam brand of extra-thin banh trang (spring-roll wrappers) sells for HK$12 for a 200-gram pack.