Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bali Booked

Now that some of you have booked your flights, I guess its high time we prove that we actually do intend to get married. 

Hong Kong to Denpensar
April 18th
10:20 am
Back to HK
April 27th
10:50 pm
Racking up the points this year............

My shampoo selection.  I was advised to go with ginger
In other news I went to Airplay, the blow dry bar.  It was just lovely!  They served a sparkling rose (which was surprisingly delicious and surprisingly not Prosecco) with some chocolate.  Then shampooed my hair and blew it out, all while showing Project Runway and some stupid SJP movie.  Well done, I will definitely go back net time I'm going to a fancy dress party. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Asia Killed My Run

But I am determined to get it back.  Today I finished my first 10k in definitely way over a year and it took me one hour and one minute.  10k in 1:01!!!  What is this nonsense?  In my running hay day, now 4 years ago, I could kill a 10k in 46 minutes. 
Post run breakfast
Asia has also aged me.  Since when am I almost 30!?  And it's also added this ring of little squigginess around my middle.  This is no way has anything to do with the wine I drink every night, and the cake I often have for breakfast dessert.  I think it's just being in Asia. 
Paul and his colleague who got the axe
In order to finally combat this ring round the middle, and perhaps shave a few years off my age (if I increase my likelihood of living longer, really I'm younger, % wise, in my life) I'm going to run a half marathon.  And I'm going to do it in less than 2 hours.  13 miles in 104 minutes.  Boom.

I've been meaning to run the Standard Chartered race since I've been in Hong Kong, but somehow keep missing the deadline.  This year it's mine. With my new 10am start I have plenty of time to squeeze in 8-10 k before work, and I just got some fly new Mizunos (don't even get me started on my sneaker saga), so it's on.  168 days of training to go....
Happy birthday, David!
Last Saturday we had the lovliest day with Nina and Kenny.  I went over to their apartment early to drop off my wedding dress.  I decided that it would probably not be the wisest idea to leave it at home where I would have direct access.   Thank you guys for holding it!! xox
Then Paul came and met, Nina, Kenny, David (English friend), and Linda for an American breakfast at the Green Waffle.  Twas delish and then we decided it was imperative that we get Ms. B's cakes to celebrate David's birthday.  In fact, there is never an occasion that doesn't warrant Ms. B's crack cake.  Seriously the best cake I have ever had (more on cake later.  We schlepped back up to Kina's for cake, bacon donut beer, and best of all Sharknado.  I wasn't expecting much, and yet somehow it managed to under deliver.  A perfect afternoon followed by a little run and then more eating.  We met Nina, Kenny, Will, Michael, Lisa and Jeff for some Korean BBQ.  I had never been to this one and it's definitely top 2 for Korean places in HK.  Amaze. 
Caroline, Tom, Kenny, Nina, Lauren, Paul, Captain
Last Sunday found Paul and I on yet another junk, the difference this time was that the weather finally worked with us.  It was absolutely gorgeous out!  Our English friend David organized this awesome little boat for 20 of us.  The boat was different than a normal junk in that it was a little smaller, but nicer and definitely more intimate.  Also different about this junk was that we had 2 masseuses on board.  Paul and I both utilized this.   We cruised down to Po Toi which was a stunning ride, and then we parked, swam, and ate ourselves silly. 
My local and favorite wine guy Kevin hooked up an impromptu Friday evening tasting.
Monday I met with the ladies, Simone and Csilla, to discuss our upcoming project!  We're making some headway and will have our first official meeting next week, and then we should be set to go live.  More on that later....
Tuesday Simone and I met for a pre-wine auction tasting.  We kept looking around trying to figure out what the catch was, but decided it was just a reception to get people excited about the auction which is tomorrow.  This free tasting offer up quite a few lovely wines, cheese and ham, and Simone and I were definitely the only guillos (non-Chinese) there, and two of very very few women.  We tasted a reallly nice Vouvray, a really really nice Chablis, 3 Burgundy Pinots, 2 reds from the Langedoc, a Chateauneuf du Pape and finally a Brunello.  My favorite of the night was one of the reds from the South of France.  So full of strange flavors, and if I remember correctly it was Carignan heavy.  Very interesting indeed.
Soave, pork rinds, and Champer notes
Wednesday I met Allison and Julia at Stone Nullah Tavern.  I love Stone Nullah Tavern and the whole IHM group (Linguini Fini!).  Everything they do, they do with passion and love and it just makes you want to keep going back.  As I was studying and waiting for the ladies to show up, Chef Vinnie came over introduced himself and started telling me more about the new menu and what's been going on.  Then he send over some amazing pork rinds, which aren't my thing but these were addictive.  It was great to have a ladies night to catch up and swap stories with Julia about wedding planning.  She has less than a month to go!
China's smallest wine expo
deliciously old rum
Thursday found me back in China.  Man that's three trips within the past 6 months.  My colleague Joe and I MTRed up to the Convention Centre to check out the Beverage Expo.  A bit of a misnomer because it was more of a medium sized tasting.  This place was tiny (by expo standards) and there were probably equal amounts tea/non-booze beverages as there were wine.  We tried a few Champagnes, some Muscadet from the Loire, a really delicious 10 and 20 year rum, and then pretty much decided we'd seen it.  We wrapped up the day with a pretty horrible lunch (chicken feet, seriously!?) and then a really wonderful head/shoulder/foot massage.  That's what I call a Thursday. 
Icky lunch.  Check on the chicken feet (bottom right in the big dish)  Joe, my colleague on the right.
Yesterday was wine day at work!  Yey.  We opened up a 2009 Saint Emilion Grand Cru.  Not my favourite wine, but certainly drinkable.  Especially at 3pm at work.  Then Paul and I had a nice night in.  I (lightly) cooked up some tuna steaks, put em over a rocket salad for me and pasta for Paul, opened a bottle of German fizz (meh) and watched a pretty horrible movie.  Bad Marriage or something.  It was pretty absurd.  And by absurd, I mean the ex-wife slept with her ex-husband who's been with her best friend for 20 years, and all is forgiven immediatley.  What!?  Lesson learned- go ahead and sleep with married men (or whoever) as long as there are no feelings involved.  No one gets hurt.
** out of *****

And then run today!  I will leave soon for a blow out at the Blow Dry Bar.  Apparently this is all the rage in the US, and now HK has finally caught on. Laura got a free one and passed it to me.  I have a pretty horrid hair cut, so I don't think any amount of blow out will help.  There is Prosecco from what I hear....then I NEED NEED NEED to get my paper started.  I meant to have it finished by the end of July.  Here is is September and I haven't started...hmm..
<3 Friday
Paul's at school.  hahahah poor Paul.  xo









Friday, August 23, 2013

Two Work Week

Another week finished.  Time in Hong Kong surely goes faster than anywhere else in the world.  I'm telling ya. 

Very hazy/polluted this week

Last weekend we went on a lovely Sunday junk.  Despite the grey skies, we still managed to get a little tan, meet some new friends, and catch up with some old.  HK knows how to summer.

Yum, pork.
Monday I went and saw a fantastic new movie, Red Obsession.  The overall message may be a little narrow/short sighted, but it was beautifully shot and really conveys why people love wine.  It's history, tradition, social, agricultural, spiritual, and just damn tasty.  You should watch it just for the scenery!
Tuesday Paul and I had a sushi date followed by suit making date.  A woman I interviewed with a few weeks back suggested this guy as she had used him recently for his wedding.  He's been fantastic.  He's on top of emails, will serve as the liason with Scott and Steve, taking Paul and I out of it, and when I went in with a dress and a couple of Paul's old shirts to get tailored, they said no problem.  Paul has all of these shirts from several years back that are made for someone three times his size.  He's since become European and likes a tighter fit, which is great for me because the shirts are in great condition and will make excellent new skirts.
Wednesday I met with two of my girl friends, Csilla and Simone.  We are working on a new project together which we're all really excited about.  We have our second meeting on Monday, and will hopefully go live with the new project with in the next few weeks...more on that later.
Thursday I met my other girlfriends Sarah, Nina, and Zara for some pampering.  We got our nails did.  I've decided that with my new job, and my new super well dressed co-workers, that I need to step it up.  From now on my nails will be did.  Have you tried gel nails?  They last for weeks and don't chip or break.  I'm onto that next round.
Friday afternoon wine
Yesterday at work we opened up a lovely 2006 Brunello di Montalcino from Fanti.  I hadn't had a Brunello in a while, and forgot how much I loved them.  They're so full of oxidized aging with flavours and aromas of leather and meat.  In a good way.
Post work, Paul and I had a cheese and wine party.  Blue cheese with a 2008 Cote Rotie.  This was my first Cote Rotie!!  I've been dying to try one for a long time, but hadn't due to their exorbitant price tags.  This we found less than $400, which is maybe the only one I have ever seen less than $400.  It was divine. 
For those unaware, Cote Rotie literally translates to 'roasted slopes.'  It's a region in the Northern Rhome where they only grow Syrah and Viognier.  Interestingly, Cote Rotie's co-ferment Syrah and Viognier (that's a red and white grape) because the white grape helps extract more color from the red.  Science. 
Yum yum
But yes, divine, and this wine probably deserved a steak more than blue cheese, but it was amazing either way.  Pepper, pepper, pepper.  And also some sour cherry, cranberry, black strawberries if they existed.  It still blows my mind how excited I can get over a drink.  And I saved a glass for today.  This is definitely the type of wine that will be better after a day or so.  I've also realized recently that I need a decanter.  For the time being I pour the wine between wine glasses a few times and that seems to do the trick.
We also watched the movie Mud.  It was pretty good, so I would recommend it.  And finally after years of watching TV and movies on the computer, we (Paul) figured out all we need to do is to put our downloads on a USB stick and put it in the TV.  So easy, and so much easier to watch movies!
And poor Paul's summer has finally come to an end.  He worked 9-4 Thursday and Friday and today he's in until noon.  The kids don't start until September, but he has prep work to do I suppose.  Paul also starts his other school next Tuesday.  Every Tuesday 6-9 and Saturday 9-12, Paul has teacher school!  The hours wouldn't be bad if the school wasn't 1.5 hours away.  It's only two years :)
I'm heading over to Nina's in a bit for some closet shopping and lunch, then tis time to write this wine paper I've been putting off for months.  I suspect I won't get a whole lot done today....and then we're off to Mike and Jule's place for some rugby and probably an early night as we have another junk tomorrow.  Yey junks!
EMILY'S GETTING MARRIED!!  I'm so bummed not to be there, but so excited for Emily and Shannon to get hitched!  Congrats! xo
Sarah Lily (married earlier this month) and Stac





Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The (newest) results are in

2 more passes, which brings me up to a grand total of 3 out of 3!!!

Closed Book Case Study-   PASS with distinction (the highest)
Fortified Wines- PASS with merit (2nd highest)

Whew, I was nervous about that fortified test, but I suppose for no reason.   Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Now I need to get back into gear.  It's difficult finding much literature about Champagne, and I have a book for the liquor section, but my god is it a lot to remember.  Base sugar and how to extract it, regions, aging requirements, distilling processes, etc.  Meh. 

Good thing I have til November.....................


Friday, August 16, 2013

One Work Week

When I left you the pumpking chocolate chip oatmeal cookies were still cooking in the 'oven', and as you can see below, they finished!  And they were delicious, all 1.5 days they lasted.  Paul spent the better half of the afternoon making gnocchi and then tomato sauce.  He was quite pleased with his efforts, and I'm pretty sure the entire 5lbs of his gnocchi were wolfed down long before the cookies.  By Paul.  I stuck with the cookies.  
Is anyone else obsessed with frozen bananas?  Way better than luke warm!  We buy in bulk
Thursday Mandy and Jay, my bosses, took the team out to a really delcious Chinese meal as they were off for Canada the next day for the next two weeks.  What lunch is complete without a few bottles of wine?   Have I mentioned how cool my new company is???  We had a really delicious Zind Humbrecht Riesling from 1994 that went pretty well with most of the food- spicy chicken, cheung fan, turnip cakes, shumai, mushroomy noodles, meatballs, fungus (delish!), cucumbers, and sponge cake, and also a 1988 Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Burgundy.  It was fine, but probably a bit past its hey day.  
I can't explain how nice it is to work in a proper office again.  Everyone is so nice.  Sooo nice, and polite and professional, and really well dressed.  Like really well dressed.  I need to step this wardrobe up.  When they say the hours are 10-6, the hours are 10-6 exactly.  We have subscriptions to all trade publications, all of the software is sinced up with the other software, and it's just nice
I've been working on a project to re-write our producer profiles so we can use them for a catalogue later on.  Tis a bit monotonous, but I've learned more about Bordeaux in the past 2 days than in the past 2 years.  Monday I'll start in on Burgundy which I know very little about.  Oh and my colleagues:
Janet, Jerry, Joe, Jay... and Mandy and Lauren.
Jerry between Burgundy and Alsace
After work Thursday, and after an entirely too long bus ride, I met Simone over at Wine Beast in Wan Chai for a little tasting.  They had asked her to come on in to try some grower Champagnes and she was kind enough to invite me along.  Wine Beast is a brand new wine shop where they want to build relationships, not just peddle off a bottle here and there.  And damn, are they doing it the right way! 

They hired Vincent, seen decanting below, a former Four Seasons Paris Sommelier to be the shop Somm.  And damn, kid knows his stuff, and his passion is just crystal clear with every suggestion he makes.  They are still in the beginning phases of figuring out what people want here, etc, but rumor is that a shipment of more grower Champers, Loire and Southern French wines are en route. 

Vincent taught us that even some Champagnes benefit from being decanted.  We tasted the Pierre Gimonnet before and after decanting, and we all agreed it was much more approachable and expressive after.
It's not everyday you're invited into a new wine shop just to taste some wines, and it just goes to speak to the kind of wine shop they want to be.  When Vincent walked us around he pointed out some of his favorites, and let me tell you, they weren't the most expensive.  They have Cote Rotie for $400!  Beat that Watsons. 
We started with Jacques Lassaigne Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) which is my new favorite Champagne.  Not that I had an old favorite...This is a grower Champagne which means the people who grow the grapes make the wine.   Moet, Veuve, Krug, etc., don't do that.  <-They purchase grapes from lots of different farmers and vinify the wines themselves. 
Anyway this wine was awesome.  So full of flavor and had more body that I would have expected from a Blanc de Blancs.  Perhaps this is because it underwent malolactic fermentation.  Another thing to note is that there is no sulpher dioxide added.  No hangover!  And one final cool thing was that the producer stamped, every so lightly, the disgorgement date on the front of the label.  You would only know it was there if you were looking for it, but it provides a great clue to the consumer about the freshness of the wine.  The closer to disgorgement date the better.  But alas, Champagne companies think that the consumer will think it's a 'best by' date, so many leave it off.  Fair enough I suppose.
Complex and divine
I could drink this everyday with breakfast
The second wine we tried was another grower wine Pierre Gimonnet & Fils.  This was a blend of mostly Chardonnay with some Pinot Noir.  This was the more complex of the two and was really tasty too.  I wish I took notes because I'm at a loss for words now...let's just go with apple and brioche.   I've been reading recently about a push to bring Champagne into the everday.  With it's bright acidity, it's perfect for matching with food, so perhaps we should open our minds (and wallets) and bring more Champ to the dinner table.  Especially with Asian food.

Friday at work and the bosses are gone.  It was another rainy day, but it was Friday, and Friday is WINE day!  Jerry asked if there was anything I wanted to try (we have an inventory of 10,000+ bottles- I want to try everything!), but I declined to see what he would pick.  Well, well, Jerry.  Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru 2004 by Gerard Raphet.  That's a Burgundy Grand Cru, my friends.  It was absolutely delicious and stuck in my mouth for hours.  It was still very very young and filled with primary fruit flavors, but also a strong presence of oak and the beginning of some tertiary aromas like mushroomy forest floor.  Well have to check back in with this in a few years...
Waiter, clearly not a photographer

Following work I met Paul at Posto Pubblico which is part of IHM (also Linguini Fini and Stone Nullah Tavern).  Paul and I have been in for drinks, and I came for brunch with the girls once, but this was our first dinner.  

Yum yum.  Everything IHM does, they do well.  There's no bullshitting with fancy garnish or senseless embellishment.  Meatballs, caprese salad, eggplant rollatini, and some lovely Parm and ham apps with homemade bread.  This is New York Italian at its Hong Kong best.  Thank you, Nina, for the thoughtful/awesome/totaly delicious birthday gift certificate!!

We rounded out the night with some Cali wine at California Vinatge.  I love that place, and the wines are all really tasty.  I've yet to find one I don't like.

It's another rainy Saturday,which is a beautiful thing.  Went for a long run/quick (ie my typical 15 min stint) gym sesh, followed by blogging, a pedi, and hopefully some wine paper writing.  Please, anyone send me your thoughts on the convergence of supply and demand of wine (European bulk wine) in 2012. 

Paul's up in the middle of no-where border of China for his school orientation.  Hopefully he'll get his fall schedule and it won't be up at that campus.  It's a solid 1.5 hours from home.  Tomorrow we're off on a Jaspas junk.  I haven't been on one of these since I first came here 3 years ago with's basically the reason we moved here.  Boat with full staff, quesadillas, pizza, and Mai Tais.  Get better.
I need a pug.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Hong Kong!

It's been exactly two years since Paul and I stepped off that red-eye from Nepal and into the lives that we know now.  Well, kind of.  Since that time we've been pretty busy...

Tutor Time
San Po Kong
Failed wine tastings and new friends
Fireworks n chocolate
Horse races/ladies night
Rooftop Halloween
Running everyday
Thanksgiving at the Bacows and Archies
House of Fine Wines
Christmas at home for the first time in 3 years!  And we meet our new families!
Superbowl in Po Lam
Brian visits!
Season of winning; 7s anyone?
Junks. Junks. Junks.
Nicole visits!
Quarry Bay and living alone
Good bye twin bed
7th grade- Logos Academy
WSET level 3
Work. Work. Work.
First friend leaves
Pig roast by the sea
Thanksgiving at the Bacows and Archies
Bali- we have a wedding venue
Chetta and Ryan come to Asia!
Malaysia for a best friend reunion!
It rained.  A lot.
I bought a dress!
Missed weddings at home :(
Funemployment parte dos
Seoul reunion <3
and most currently of all.....a t8 on our 2y anniversay.
....yeah, it's been a good run.  I think we've got another 2 in us....

Remember these guys??

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Oh yeah, Paul's Birthday....

surprise movie followed by drinks at Sugar.  Justin, Jackie, Courtney, Patrick, Derek, Laura, Kevin, Paul, me
Happy Birthday lunch at Madam Sixty Ate


Birthday at Cheung Chau
The Warwick; perhaps 30 years past its prime, but still gots the view
<3 beach at sunset

Birthday seafood dinner; tofu and scallops (guess who picked that), steamed squid, and calamari

Champers, Dinners, Ukrainian Sweets, and Typhoons

Last week I got together with some of my diploma mates for an afternoon of sparkling wines.  I believe this is how every sunny summer afternoon should be spent.  Bubbles.  Bubbles.  Bubbles. 

Kat and Thomas
Simone was generous enough to offer up her amazing American-style flat for the tasting.  We were joined by Massimo who briefly introduced his Lambruscos, then by Kat, Thomas, Angel and Andy. 
Lambrusco 1, 2, and Shiraz
We began with a flight of sparkling reds; 2 Lambruscos and a sparkling Shiraz from Oz.  One of the Lambruscos was really interesting.  When I think Lambrusco, I think semi-chilled, red, fizzy, fruity and easy.  This, however, was a salmony pink color.  This was a "Premium" Sorbara, which means it is made from Sorbara which is a very high quality Lambrusco grape, but super difficult to grow which means there is a constant shortage.  The other Lambrusco grapes are: Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Montericco, and Lambrusco Salamino.
Angel, Andy, and Simone

Did you know?

In the 1960s and 70s Lambrusco was the #1 selling imported wine in the US.  Who'd a thought?
For our next flight we moved into wines that we suspected were made in the 'tank' method; same way Prosecco is made.  1. Sparkling Pinot Grigio from Italy.  2. Trapick Extra Brut which was an interesting blend of Chardonnay, Semillon, and Malbec. 
Flight 3- 2 Cavas
Flight 4- Cremant and Champagnes! 

The Cremant was made from a blend of Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, and 1% Chardonnay
Champagne #1- Mailly Brut Reserve Grand Cru- 100% Pinot Noir.  Very Good
Champagne #2- Gaston Chiquet- Grower Champagne, 45% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir
Champagne #3- RC Lemaire (HOFWs!)- Grower Champagne, 100% Pinot Meunier

and finally a LOVELY vintage Champer
12 bottles, 6 people
Victory Henri Mandois 1996 which was full of burnt toast, guava, golden delicious apples, hints of cinnamon, baked apple core, walnut, marzipan.  It was a lovely finish to a really wonderful tasting. 

Post bubbles I had to run out and over to TST for more bubbles at the Pacific Club (members only nbd).  'The Wine Guy,' my friend Dean, had invited us along on what turned out to be a really spectacular night of food, friends, and of course, wine. 

Duck breast risotto
Blue cheese tart, salmon, crayfish, and salad starter, saffron seafood soup, duck breast risotto which is one of the best things I've eaten in a long time first course, followed by a snapper main for me and lamb for paul, with a cheese course, and all wrapped up with a lovely fruit parfait.  And wines to match each course.  Well done, Dean, well done indeed. 


We also decided after hanging out with Dean's Aussie friends that we need to build a boat.  HK people without kids who don't want to spend ridiculous amounts of money for a tiny island space, build boats.  No joke!  After said boat is built, you dock it up in DB, and despite the 'baby and dog' location, the boat people just hang out on their decks, grill, drink wine, and hang.  Sounds good to us!

Hat party for Daria
Saturday we went to baby Daria's 1 year birthday party where Prosecco and Pimm's cups were served, and Sunday we grilled at Kina's under the blazing hot, finally sunny sun.  Ribs, salads, burgers, sausages, SUN, pool, friends.  Perfect. 
New BBQ patio at Casa Bella.  Nina, Josh's back, Kenny, Jeff
Last night Paul and I met Julia and Simone and Ali at a tasting of all Ukrainian wines from Modern Wine Cellar.  I didn't have many expectations, specifically because I didn't realize the Ukraine made wine, but I guess who doesn't make wines these day?  New Jersey does.  Hell, Hong Kong does.  I digress.  The wines were all very interesting and palatable.  We started with a dry red made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Saperavi & Morastel.
Ukrainian wines
Then a sweet pink muscat and a white muscat, both of which were fortified, followed by a 13%abv muscat that wasn't fortified.  This was clearly the best of the bunch as it was the most balanced between sugar and acidity.  We finished off with a sweet blend of Magaratch Bastardo and Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was alright, but a bit too sweet for the amount of acidity present. 

Modern Wine Cellar did a stellar job presenting the wines and had a cheese and meat plate, which I think is always a nice touch.  It was a nice way to end a rainy Tuesday. 

Rain turned into typhoon, and Wednesday morning a T8 was declared.  Typhoon day!  I've only been working 2 days at Ginsberg + Chan, which have been wonderful, and I already have a day off.  Strange/I could get used to this schedule.  Paul and I have spent the day catching up on Skype, emails, blog (finally), and baking pumpkin cookies in our bathroom.  True story.

Bathroom baking at its finest













Sunday, August 11, 2013

Seoul, craft beer capital of Asia?

Tofu and dongdongju with Ms. Han
WTF was my knee jerk reaction too.  But alas, Koreans (ex-pats?) have finally put some care and thought into the one alcoholic beverage that dominates everyone's lives.  Gone are the days of Cass and Hite (probably not true at all), and in with the craft brew.  Craft. Brew.  Seoul has become a beer mecca in a continent so vastly deprived and behind on the (beer) times.  And where was this when we lived there??

Dave and Paul and pumpkin and 'Champagne' magkeolli!
After a minor three hour delay, thank you typhoon Jodi, we arrived in hot humid and moonlit Seoul eager to be reunited with old friends and check out what's been going on since we left, which we naturally assumed was nada.  But o contraire.  We met Jo, Rene, and Melodi at Phillies, our old stompin ground.  Not only were there local micro brews on tap from Craftworks and Magpie, but also lovely brews from the states; Anderson Valley!  Jo, Rene, and Melodi quickly caught us up on what's been going down in the 'cheon. 
Coffee and cats
Craftworks was the new place in town right before we left.  They have a range of craft brews, rotating seasonal ales, and a full menu of Western food to boot. 
The Booth

Newer to the hood is The Booth.  Run by an Irish (I think) man, the Booth offers up pizzas and local craft brews from local brewers as well as Craftworks.  Right next door is Magpie.  Although it was closed, as it is every Monday, the day we went, Dave managed to sneak us in to their staff meeting for a quick top off for the road.  A) I was super impressed with the staff and owners who are so passionate and knowledgeable not only about their beers, but about the beers of the world.  They had 10 or so beers lined up for tasting during their meeting, and B) their beers were amazing.  Like aaa-ay-zing.  Apparently they can't currently keep up with the demand in Seoul, but I predict within the next few years you'll be seeing these beers outside of Korea.
Our amazing and longtime friends, Jo and Luke
More about Magpie.  It started as a hobby between beer enthusiasts.  They eventually began brewing in a Kyungridan basement where people would pop in and query them for a taste.  People began offering money for said taste.  A brewery cum bar was born. 
Jo! and sake
In the 7 minutes we stood chatting with the staff, no less than 3 different groups of people tried to come in for a beer.  I smell great success for these birds.
Canadian beer flight
Next up we hit up the Canadian bar (I totally forget the name!) for a flight of Canadian craft brews, which they exclusively import.   The beers were all very tasty, the boozy Belgian style ale stuck out for me along with the Weizen. 

We rounded up our beer crawl through HBC/Kyungridan/Itaewon with stop at Bull and Barrel for 5,000 won burgers and import beers.  I should also note Itaewon newbie, Rielly's Taphouse, also makes some pretty great beers themselves.  This is not the Korea I left.

Dave also took us to our favorite Haebongcheon magkeolli bar, H, for some really interesting and delicious magkeollis.  Magkeolli is a Korean rice wine with a strange almost chalky texture that tends to offend most Western palates.  After a few weeks and some willfull drinking, you'll be hooked.  And it's only ~$1-2 usd at any convenience store.  Anyway, Dave introduced us to hobak (pumpkin) and Champagne magkeolli.  The latter is made using the same yeast used for making Champagne.  This was a bit strange and strong, but seemed perfectly suited for our 2am pajeon pairing.  H seriously has the BEST haemul pajeon I have ever had. 

From what I understand, pretty immediately after we left the import tariffs for beer and wine were dramatically lowered.  But, of course. 
Ms. Han and I <3
Other than the new beer craze and influx of Western restaurants, good old Seoul seems pretty much the same.  We enjoyed our share of galbi, catching up with Chee, Namsan climbing, sake with Joe AC, grilled octopus, cat cafes, staying out til 4am, Ms. Han, and of course, beers. 
Suzi B. 2-C
On our final evening Suzi, friend since 1st grade, and her husband Brian came up to Seoul for the night.  It had been 3 years since the last time I'd seen them, and it felt like just yesterday.  As it did with everyone in Seoul, actually.  Strange how life can pull and push us so far, but in the end, we have a shared history and story which never really stops.  It's like War and Peace;you may be introduced to a character and not see him for 400 pages, but it doesn't mean he's out of the book.  PS don't waste your time with War and Peace unless you're really familiar with Russian names and nicknames.  My god. 

Of all of our old friends still kicking it Gagnam style, the resounding message conveyed was that Seoul is much more livable than even just 2 years ago.  We're not running back to Seoul, but it's always a comfort knowing she's still there. 



Kinyip (sesame leaves) with peanutbutter and fish roe for wrapping octopus
Spicy octopus grill

One of my absolute favorites; mook aka acorn jelly aka diet food
Where Paul proposed all of those years ago <3