Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Marathon dos

A couple of weeks ago (oops) I went to Armit's annual tasting.  It was fantastic!

So many wines to try.
There was sparkling from England, reds and whites from around Europe, and even a few New World reds.  Lovely, just lovely.
This end of the table is where things got really delicious; Sassicaia, and my memory is fading....
And then I signed up for another marathon.  Well, not a marathon as it was full, again, but a 10k.  This will keep me running through Feb and I'm contemplating a 1/2 in January.  It comes highly recommended by Matt.  Of anyone I know, Matt knows running...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

MIA update

I am way behind on this and as such I'm doing a quick photo tour of what's been going on the past few weeks.  My excuse (valid or not) is that my sparkling wine and spirits tests are coming up, as is the impending due date for my wine paper.  Of which I am alllmoooost finished...
Wednesday a while ago was Wine Luxe magazine's Italian wine tasting.  I was impressed with the wines (sparkling Gavi, Lambrusco, Prosecco, Barolo, Barbera, etc) and it was fun to catch up with Jon, Caroline, and Faye!
Debra Meiburg MW
The following day Joe and I presented Ginsberg + Chan at a press release for the Wine & Spirits Expo.  Again, impressed by the breadth of vendors, and it's always nice to see Debra Meiburg (who I spoke with on the phone about my wine paper- how cool!!) talk about the Hong Kong/Asia wine scene.
Joe and I setting up the table.
My office is nice. 
A lovely afternoon cider from Cytise.
And then I went to one of the most fantastic wine events I've been to.  I had finally talked myself into going (it was a pricey wine dinner!) to a Hong Kong Wine Society dinner.  Previously I went to a luncheon that was just spectacular; and this was no different.  Incidentally my bosses, Jay and Mandy, happened to be going too.  They are honestly the coolest people there are.  Just...cool.  I recently spoke with this guy at a tasting who knows them, and he coined it; "You can't help but like them."
Anyway, it was a Burgundy dinner with a focus on Gevery Chambertin, and oh my god, the wines were amazing.  It's always amazing to try 15 wines next to each other, but even more amazing when they're from similar regions, different producers, and among people who have visited/live/breathe/eat these wines.  I'm learning that Pinot is the coolest f)()#* grape there is.  It's tea.  It's berries.  It's red fruit.  It's mushroomy.  It's foresty. It's animal.  It's amazing.
Scallops with polenta. Snail and truffle risotto (MADE FOR BURGUNDY!). Duck breast with beets and veg.  Strawberry tart.  Amaze. And amazing to be surrounded by such passionate pinot fans.  Can't wait til the next one!
Saturday afternoon I went to a Champagne tasting at the Flying Wine Maker.  Volleraux is a lovely medium sized wine company based in Ay.  Above is my new best friend, Kay, whom I ran into several days later.  Great Champagne at a great price.
The night before we went out for a Groupon sushi which obviously led to escalator dancing.  Obviously.
Wooo.  Laura, Derek and Sylvia.  Not sure how Paul hid from this.
Sunday was spirits tasting with Eddie Nara of Barrel Concepts.  Eddie's fantastic.  We have taken some wine classed together with JC, and when I expressed my frustration/lack of knowledge with spirits, he offered to hold a class for me and some of my diploma mates.  And it was awesome. 
Eddie led us blindly through 6 whiskies (Laphroaig, Maker's Mark, Canadian Club, Famous Grous, Aechentosen, and one other I can't remember at the moment) which was uber helpful, and then opened up his shelf of booze for us to try.  I'm feeling slightly more confident for spirits.
Did you know?  WhiskEy is from Ireland/US and WhiskY is Scottish/Japanese?
Monday (yeah, it never stops) Simone and I went to Berry Brother's Burgundy tasting led by Jasper Morris MW---see above.  Jasper lives in Burgundy and is just a wealth of knowledge.  My amazing friend Gerrie immediately introduced me which was really cool because not too long after he was swamped with people.  The tasting was great and Benjamin Leroux stood out as my overall producer (of the 30+ wines on offer). 
All of the wines were arranged by village working from the Cote de Beaune to Cote de Nuits.  I love Volnay.
Tuesday was Sip or Skip at mine.  Simone and Csilla came over for Riesling night, and hopefully one day soon we'll actually get our website going.  Spoiler- we had 2 sips and one skip this night.
My bosses are in Bordeaux.
Thursday was  Medoc reception that was just lovely.  The wines were all young (2010), but it was a good mix of people I hadn't met before, and some I had (Ian and Kay), which proved to be good networking. 
And it was a great venue; ToTT's in the Excelsior in Causeway Bay.  Fantas.
Thursday night we went to the most fun wine dinner organized by my friend Ali aka WineTimesHK.  It was Crimean wines with Chinese seafood, and it was so much fun.
We had some sparkling, rose, red, and sweet...
And dear friends Julia and Mike joined who just got married!!!!  So great to catch up and hear all about their spectacular wedding!
Mike, Jules, Lauren.  Paul's on the left...
And after the wine we moved to Tsing Tao, which proved to be a brilliant idea Friday AM.
Friday I went out with Joe, Janet, and Jerry (it's a wonder I got hired) to a fantastic dim sum lunch in Happy Valley.  AND it was the first time (of many) that I had chicken feet and actually enjoyed it and understood it a bit.  And I learned a new Cantonese phrase "gay tien?"  How much?
And we had a wonderful 2006 Chambolle Musigny from Sylvain Cathiard. 
Saturday I had a really wonderful tasting at work.  We opened 2 Charles Heidsieck champers (1995 Blanc de Milenaires was by far the best champ I have ever had. Rich and creamy and divineeeeeeeee).  and then 3 Comtes Georges de Vogue.  Chambolle Musigy Village- 1er Cru, and Bonnes Mares Grand Cru.  Wonderful wines that I would never be able to afford otherwise :)
And then Oktoberfest happened.
Beer.  Pretzels.  Music.  Best friends
Dancing on benches and stages....
Drinking out of steins.
friends for life.
And then this happened.
Kenny's taken.
And Sarah and I ended up on stage.  Prost!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Camping, Canadian Thanksgiving Style

We had yet another "fall" three day weekend, which incidentally corresponded with Canadian Thanksgiving, not that we're into that kind of thing.  We teamed up with our favorite Canucks for a weekend of camping and merriment.
The Canadians, Courtney, Kass, and Todd, decided that we should go to Lantau because we would have a dog with us that wasn't up to any extreme hiking.  Lantau is filled with extreme hiking, but no no, we were assured camping would be right off the bus.  That's the kind of camping I'm talking about.

Until we actually got there.  MTR to Central.  1 hour ferry from Central to Mui Wo.  Stock up on ridiculous amounts of water, beer, ice, snacks, etc. then bus 45 minutes into the wilderness.  We get out and apparently it's still a cab ride away.  We cab down to this tiny village (I should mention there are like 4 cabs on all of Lantau) and walk to what we think is camping beach.  Not so, not so. This beach gets wet, cannot.  We obviously ask the creepy old Chinese man wandering through the farm land where the camping is.  He points, with his blood soaked knuckles, toward an alcove seemingly quite far away.  The beach is rocky, we have to traverse with mountain with rugged terrain.  Did I mention we had really stocked up on beer and water??
We see a guillo and ask him how long it would take us, "Uhh, probably 45 minutes."  Into the jungle.  And then the next AM it would be a 45 min hike out, to a village where there's probably no cab, to a 45 minute bus..you get it.   I have a mini melt down, and we all decide this is a poor poor poor plan.  So we start hiking back out to the main road where the bus dropped us.  Hitch a ride part of the way.  Walk across the damn. Into a park right off the road, and finally, finally, finally to a camping spot.  There's no beach but there's a reservoir, and it this point that's just fine. 
Paul and I have the coolest Groupon tent.  Open it out of the bag, throw it in the air, and POP you have a tent.  Throw your backpack in so it doesn't fly away and it's good to go.  [Confession, we have to watch a YouTube video-3 times- to figure out how to get it back into the bag]. 
The girls take a walk to the reservoir.  The boys talk about boy things, and then it's time to feast.

Kass and Court are both vegetarians.  I'm a 95% veg, although not this week, but we'll get to that much much later.  And then Kass's colleague with dog is also veg.  I made black bean burgers with hummus centres, Kass's colleague made hummus, Court made some amazing potatoes and veg, and Kass brought tons of veg as well.  A Canadian cornucopia of vegetable goodness!
We had a BBQ pit, so we grilled, and grilled, and drank and drank.  Then played card games.  Saw ghosts (seriously), drank, snacked, grilled.  But not necessarily in that order.  Come probably midnight and we all passed out.

Courtney and Patrick are the coolest.  Kass and Todd are the coolest.  I think there were some other people there, but we all had a ball.  Camping rules.  Once a year. 

Woke up at the ripe old hour of 9 (pretty good, eh?), had a nice quick break, and taxi-ed back to the boat.  To another taxi. And back home to make a pumpkin pie sans oven.

Happy C-Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Champ, cider, park dates

Pictures from the past couple of weeks
Sparkling tasting with some of my diploma mates.  Kat pictured
Delicious NV grower Champagne
Sen Hot Pot in Jordan is a great place to organize a tasting.  Zero corkage, bright lighting, glasses provided, and tasty hot dishes.  I definitely recommend it, even if it's allll the way on the dark side.
One of G+C's tasty and budget friendly selections
And then I got trapped running in Chai Wan and had to MTR it home

Wine lunch with HKWine Society at Carnevino (Mario Batalli's steakhouse).  3 course lunch menu + zero corkage = amazing place to bring your wine on a Saturday afternoon.

This was so so so so tasty- pork crepe with 2000 Chateau Lascombes, one of 12 or so wines passed around during lunch.  Bordeaux at noon with 20 other wine enthusiasts at Mario Batalli's.  It didn't suck.

And this was amazing. Cherry and apple turnover with bourbon ice cream.  Bour.bon. Ice.cream.

So many delicious Bordeaux wines.  Truly a testament to the ageablilty and character of these French classics
Nina and Kenny's 2nd annual pig roast.  This year at Shek O's back beach catered by the great Dennis of Delicious HK.  Three courses at Carnevino definitely made this a marathon meat day.
Post pig roast coffee shooters.. Prithya, ?, Josh, Matt and Will
Prithya Matt and Paul at Ben's Back Beach Bar.
Asia is so weird.  Point #232009: Spend $200 at Manning's (drug store) and get a free bag of rice.  Winning.
And then we went to Stanley for an ill-publicised awesome beer event.  Craft beers are taking off in HK.  Finally...
Beijing style street food from Mr. Bing.  Amaze duck crepe. 
Tuesday I went to a wonderful tasting with Armit Wines for Mount Horrock's of Clare Valley, Australia.  The winemaker Stephanie was here for her first time to share her amazing Riesling, Semillon, Shiraz and dessert wine.  Absolutely pure, vibrant, and precise.  Australia has definitely been impressing me recently.
Winner Winner, Kevin's chicken dinner
And I finally made it to the races for the first time since working in Happy Valley.  BYO wine, horses, in the middle of the city with friends.  Get better Wednesday.
Oktoberfest in the Valley.  Me, Kevin, Laura, Alicia, and Tom
Friday we had a photographer come in to work to shoot some of our products and us.  Updated website with bios coming soon.  www.winemerchantsasia.com
Paul's cousin Vanessa came to stay with us a few weeks back and got sick.  We suspect it may be our sketch AirCon.  I requested to our landlord that someone come in and clean it out since we've been in our apartment over a year, and shockingly they did.  Immediately.  Efficiently.  Totally free.  And now we can all breathe a little easier. 
 Saturday we had a wonderful tasting in the office.  And check out these stunning decanters we got from the UK.  They all date back from the 1770's-1880s and are absolutely gorgeous.  If only I had a parlour...
Italians were the name of the game; Gaja Barolo (4th in) and Barbaresco (1st), Orma Super Tuscan (3rd), Sassicaia (2nd, inventor of Super Tuscans), and a totally traditional Antonio Vallana (last). 
Post tasting Paul and I head over to School Food, which is a Korean chain that just opened its first outlet in Causeway Bay.  Above was a very tasty squid ink roll, and we also had tteokbokki which is a Korean street food.  It was amazing, and I don't know if my spice tolerance is down, or if it was just that spicy, but it had me crying.   Hopefully they'll consider arranging take away soon.
We followed dinner with some drinks in the park.  The weather is finally tolerable, and Victoria Park is the perfect setting for some fancy French beers and leftover tteokbokki.
And chips.  Paul loves chips.