28 August 2015

Vegetables from the Cameron Highlands

My father is visiting us at the moment and while my husband is back at work the children are still on holidays so in between visits to the vet (the younger pets were spayed last week) we are taking trips to see the local sites.

The children acted as tour guides
Last week we had a hot morning with beautiful sunshine and we decided to drive up to our nearest Boh tea plantation Sungei Palas.  On the way back we stopped off at one of the many commercial garden and vegetable centres to pick up some strawberries which are grown in the Highlands.  While they are still a treat food for us they are much more affordable than many other places as they are locally grown.

It is fun to get out and about with them
Just as we arrived the heavens opened and as I did not fancy driving the steep, winding roads back to Ipoh in the torrential rain we decided to wait it out and take a walk around the centre instead of just picking up stuff from the shop.

Beautiful Gerberas are a treat buy
Touring the garden centre was, it turned out, every bit as fascinating as the Tea Plantation.  The strawberries are grown hydroponically and are elevated so that more plants can be fitted in to a smaller area.  This hydroponic system has the advantage of meaning the fruit is safer than when grown in local soil and while I still need to wash them (of course) before eating, I don’t need to disinfect them which does impact a little on the taste of soft fruits.  

Tending the plants is a full time job and each section
has a dedicated manager and picker.
While many growing centres offer a pick your own option on strawberries (or self plucking as it is called here), the one we usually visit did not.  This means that the plants and fruit are managed by experts and the quality is very high even if we do not have the fun of collecting them ourselves.

Strawberries are grown hydroponically

The  fruit are luscious, they are picked as soon as they are fresh and brought straight to the shop for sale.  The plants are for sale as well but I can’t see them lasting a long time in the heat of Ipoh.

Every spare bit of space is utilised
In addition to strawberries the centre grows beautiful lettuce, grapes and a whole range of other vegetables.  They also grow gerberas which really cheer up the home and I always pick up a bunch as a small treat.

The lettuce is tasty and clean
There is a small café attached to the shop which sells (mostly strawberry based) treats.  We settled down to a chocolate ‘steamboat’ or fondue.  It came with the usual strawberries, marshmallows and biscuits but also with tiny cherry tomatoes.  We were a little perplexed at this choice and almost did not give it a try but the combination was surprisingly tasty and one I would have again.  The tomatoes were perfectly ripe and very sweet and the chocolate quite dark so they complemented each other very well.

An unusual chocolate fondue.

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Ersatz Expat

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