Amber, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong is one of the few cities in the world where hotels play a pivotal role in developing the local dining scene. And that has not changed, despite the waves of independent, standalone restaurants that have swept the city over the past 20 years. To prove that point are two exciting hotel-based culinary events that should attract the dining set in droves. The Landmark Mandarin Oriental's Amber (7/F The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen's Road Central, 2132 0188) is hosting a 'Tastes of Great Britain' food festival. The event is a joint presentation by the restaurant, the British Consulate and Food From Britain, a market development consultancy for British food and beverages. Once upon a time, British food and drink was universally branded as bland and stodgy, with the country's European neighbours being the most unkind among critics. But British fare has come a long way since, and its popularity is spreading, as suggested by the healthy number of Michelin-star restaurants across the country, especially in London. British food producers have been making fine foods for generations. Household names include century-old H Forman and Sons, famous for its smoked salmon, Daylesford Organic Farms with its fine meats, and Lye Cross Farm with its organic vegetables. All are featured in a menu prepared by Amber chef Richard Ekkebus. Those who have booked a table at Amber tonight and tomorrow will get to meet Michelin star chef Chris Staines, from award-winning restaurant Foliage, at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London. We were at Amber the other day to enjoy some of the two master chefs' dishes, all comprising prime ingredients from Britain. The amuse-bouches were sensational. We started with the foie gras wrapped in English beetroot with raspberry juice. The hammer-shaped morsel of liver wrapped in beetroot has a 'handle' containing the juice; you close your lips over the foie gras and squeeze the handle to release the juice. The acidic raspberry flavour goes exquisitely with the liver. The pan-seared scallops with cider reduction are served in a tiny teacup. That, too, was exquisite, the cider accentuating the shellfish flavours. Even better was the egg custard with veal juice and truffle. That was followed by Chef Ekkebus' duck foie gras pressed terrine with smoked Gloucester eel plum sauce, Worcester pear and turnip salad. The layered flavours of the cured fish lingered, dancing beautifully with the richness of the foie gras. Next on was Chef Staines' line-caught sea bass, toasted almond puree with butternut squash and chorizo, and sweet and sour ruby chard. The fish was harvested off the coast of Britain and tasted like it was plucked out of the water that morning. Unlike farmed bass, this fish had firm flesh and a distinct flavour. Also, we felt good about eating it: although more expensive, line-caught fish represent eco-sensitive efforts; trawling for fish is detrimental to the marine environment. Another triumph in taste and texture was Chef Staines' Vale of Glamorgan Welsh mountain lamb rump - slow-roasted with liquorice, turnip gratin, confit cherry tomatoes and roast garlic. The tender meat was complex in flavour, the gamey taste offset by the liquorice and the side vegetables. You felt you were tasting the essence of the very land on which the lamb was raised. Wrapping up the dining experience was the Kent Cox and Bramley apple pie with apple and blackberry jell-O, Devon cream ice cream and blackberry sorbet. The crust cracked open at the touch of a spoon. An outing to sample the best of Chef Staines' dishes costs between HK$1,000 and HK$1,100. Chef Ekkebus will be dishing out his delectable creations based on the best of British ingredients until December 16. Some of the dishes are also served at MO Bar on the ground floor. Meanwhile, the Peninsula Hong Kong (Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2920 2888) is offering a cookbook packed with recipes for healthy, satisfying eating. The book comes as part of the hotel group's 'Peninsula Wellness' programme and the launch of the chain of Peninsula Spas by ESPA. The wellness programme is offered in the hotel lobby, Verandah and Poolside, and through room service. The package contains bath and body-care products and a CD collection. An expert on nutrition is on hand to advise on good eating habits and lifestyle. The book, Naturally Peninsula - Flavours, is filled with recipes from chefs at Peninsula hotels worldwide. Paul Tchen, general manager, Peninsula Merchandising, said healthy eating did not mean having to put up with bland food. He cited the vegetable filo with saffron turmeric sauce, which looked like a fried spring roll but was baked and crispy as a deep-fried dish. The confit salmon with couscous and tomato vierge sauce is one of the outstanding recipes in the book. Salmon is not an easy fish to cook because it can easily become dry and coarse. We enjoyed it as a smooth, soft-textured treat. If you want a very satisfying meat dish, try the roast loin of lamb with apricot stuffing and grilled capsicums. The cookbook costs HK$390 and can be obtained at the Peninsula Boutique (peninsulaboutique.com), and through amazon.com and marshallavendish.com.