Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Paul and I are off to Ho Chi Minh in a matter of hours to ring in the year of the horse.  Apparently everything will be shut down for just this reason, but it'll be hot and there will be pools.

Here's what happened last week:
 Sunday Paul and I took a lovely, warm, lazy hike to the peak, through Admiralty, and home.  Did you know that we love living in Sheung Wan?
Monday Jean and Simone came over to do a Beaujolais tasting.  We tried a nouveau, two village levels, and 4 grand crus. 
The Fleurie was definitely the tastiest.
 Ms. Han got the cutest dog ever.  I need one.
 Paul and his teachers love taking awkward pictures. "Happy CNY!"
I met my girl Sherry at Schmidt Vinothek on Tuesday for a tasting of Sauv Blanc and Riesling booze.  Surprisingly delicious.
Yuba "tacos" at Beautifood in Wan Chai.  Mushroom, eggplant, and pumpkin filled tofu skins.  Yum.
 Then a lovely tasting of some Old old World wines with Xania and Kevin.  This was an Amber wine from Georgia.  Awesome.
 All paired with CNY fried snacks.
Followed by a beer at the Globe with the gang- Court, Laura, Derek, Pat and Paul
And today we had a fantastic French/Japanese fusion lunch at Serge et la Phoque in Wan Chat with the G+C team.  Amazing food, great wine, and a really amazing team.  Doesn't get much better.

Oh wait it does.  Did I mention we're going to Vietnam??

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What's Up January

Here is my quick attempt to update this blog about where Paul and I have been hiding over these past few weeks.

We got back and immediately had to move.  I popped into my local wine shop, Schmidt Vinotek, to break the news that we were leaving the hood. 
Turns out there was a wine tasting that night!  Awesome.  My man Kevin and Sammy walked us through 5 wines from German speaking countries. 
This Dornfelder was delicious!  And the best news is that Schmidt Vinotek just opened an outpost in Happy Valley 2 seconds from where I work which means lunch wine tastings with my girl Sherry.
Then we moved.  Which sucked.  Trips down 5 flights of stairs (really 6, we're on the English system of counting flights here), trips up.  Trips down, up, down, up, down, up...for about 2 hours.
The greatest thing about living above two bars is moving out at 7pm on a Friday.  "Ha, ha are you moving."  Yes and it wouldn't hurt to help a lady out!
We looked like sweaty bums while the happy hour revelers cheered us on. And then Janet came in her van and drove us across town to Sheung Wan.  Total moving costs $100.  (That's $12.25 in USD).
We dropped our bags, said screw it, and went to Joey's to see Joey's Christmas present.  Alicia clearly wins the best girlfriend award for this huge awesome grill.  Patrick approves.
New French girl, Todd, Brad, and Derek chattering about their respective holidays.
And Paul reunited with Patrick. <3
Hey, Joey.
And this is why I now live in Sheung Wan...
 Slowly but surely everything found its place.
 When you live in Sheung Wan people text all the time saying "I'm in the neighborhood, would you like to grab a bite?"  Amazing.  We met Julia for lunch one day and hit local hot spot Itchi for some Japanese pizza- crab stick and bonito- tasting but weird, fried risotto balls, and fish and chips.  Not totally sure what their concept is, but it very much reminded me of Korean "Western" food.  In a good way.  I miss that KimchiTown.
Then we were off to a pre-auction wine tasting from AAA where we ran into Syvia, Jon, and Herve.
 It's hard to drink Burgundy now.  I am so spoiled with good Burgundy at work, that entry level just doesn't hack it.  The white (was it Meursault??) was really good, as were the Italians.
 This was my favorite of the Burgundies offered.  Simple, elegant, ready to drink now. 
 Then back to Central for Will's birthday dinner at the Globe.  I clocked the walk home from the Globe, 1 kilometer and 6 minutes- and I stopped to buy a water.
 What birthday would be complete without a Ms. B's cake?  Yum
 I was reading a local wine magazine and came across my WSET 3 teacher, Ian, endorsing Vinotek wine fridges.  Cool! 
 First meal in the new apartment.  Floor sushi from one of the many take away sushi places near by.
 Simone, Jean, Kat and I have started a WSET revision course.  We meet every other Monday to discuss one unit of our curriculum, exchange notes, and then taste wines.  Week one was South West France so we tried a white (seen above), some from Madiran, Cahors, and a sweet wine.  Tomorrow we're meeting for Beaujolais.

 On Thursday I went to the WIA (Wine Industry Association) dinner in Causeway Bay with my colleague Joe.  This association has been going about a year and works to promote the wine industry in Hong Kong without making a profit.  G+C has been a supporter since the beginning.  I was one of 3 foreigners there, and as luck would have it they were at the other table.  The food was alright, too greasy for my taste, but I'm always fascinated by the different dishes.  For example the stack of fried pigs skins above.
 This was probably the tastiest thing of the night.  A prawn battered and fried and then put on a fried bread.  The wines were less than memorable.  I think there was a Chilean red, a Bordeaux red, and Pouilly Fuisse that was quite nice.  Joe and I brought a Charles Heidsieck rose Champagne that was awesome.  They're my go-to Champagne.
 Another interesting dish.  Beef nuggets spilling out of a fried basket of sorts. 
 I went over to the new Flying Winemaker on Friday afternoon where Simon and Eddie told me I needed to participate in their weekly blind tasting.  Wow- a new favorite wine.  It's like Sherry, but not fortified.  I'd been hearing about the wines of Jura for a year, and had always wanted to try them as they are made in such a unique style (oxidative).  Well Simon found one at Wine Beast down the road and it was absolutely stunning.  I highly recommend it!
 Friday night I went to the coolest event put on by an Italian cultural society.  The theme of this series of events revolves around Sardinian writer Grazia Deledda.  The event took place at the Ferrari dealership in Deep Water Bay, awesome, started with snacks and wine, and then went on to a super fascinating talk from a local writer, Xi Xu.
 Ugo of Bellisimo provided a super tasty Sardinian wine.  The food was from someone else, but was great too- cheese, ham, anchovies, and breadsticks. 
 Xi Xu is a Hong Kong native who fled in school to the US.  She went through many jobs, but always wrote and knew it was her calling if you will.  She's now back in Hong Kong heading the City U MFA for creative writing.  I've already told Paul that he needs to enroll in this after Teacher School.  If he doesn't maybe I will.
 Sardinian wine.  It was just a really really cool event, with great Italian (and some non) people, food, and information.  I sat down around New Years and mapped out some goals for the next 1,5, 10 years, and my 5 year goal is to at least begin to conceptualize my first book.  And this little chat also got me excited about my blog again.  I feel like it's a burden sometimes, another task on the to do list.  I'm trying to change my approach and think of it more as practice.  Once I catch up...
 I met Paul and the gang at Icon for Derek's birthday.  We weren't feeling the short pours and big price tags of the wine selection, so Pat and Court joined us for some vino at home.
 Another Italian that very same day, gave me a sample of his top Lambrusco.  He wanted my opinion about whether or not it would work in the HK wine market and how to position it.  It was definitely the fanciest Lambrusco I'd ever seen, and it was cool to share it with Court and Pat who had never had sparkling red wine before.  Did you know that Lambrusco used to be the #1 imported wine in America?  I believe Chianti was for a time too.
 Instead of the Mount Parker trail in Quarry Bay, I now have the Morning Trail to the Peak.
With a view of the entire city.
 Then a work wine tasting of Henri Boillot and JJ Confuron.
 Work wine tasting was followed by an  American versus NZ BBQ at Kina's.
 Kenny was on the pulled pork while Mike worked his magic on the ribs.
 Ribs.  Ribs, ribs, ribs. The result of many an hour of prep.  Well done Mike.
 Nina's famous 5 cheese mac.  This rendition was particularly delicious. I think it was the breadcrumbs and lemon zest topping.  Wow.
 America!  According to all of the magazines, Southern BBQ is so in for 2014 (Round House, 85 South, and now Kina's)
 And nothing goes better with American BBQ than American craft beers.  Thanks, Hop Leaf!
 Round 1.
 We had heard rumors that our building had a pool, but everyone told us not to get our hope up.  The pool looks awesome.  Sure it's small, but it's outside and a pool!  Security told us they only allow 11 people at the pool at a time.  If  I know Hong Kong, that's probably not an issue.
 Paul making fried chicken in our new fully oven equiped kitchen.
 The mini orange trees have inundated HK for Chinese New Year. These were especially beautiful at a big cemetery near my work.  Before Christmas this was filled with Poinsettias and Christmas trees and it smelled amazing.
 I'm learning all of these new places via my morning run.  This is a secret University right above Sheung Wan. Who knew?
 Thursday Jerry and I presented a selection of our wines for an annual tasting at a law firm.  The idea  was that 4 different wine companies come with 5 red, 5 white, and 2sparkling wines, the partners get to taste them and then vote on which wines to stock for their client lunches/events.  This was very nice in theory especially because there are 50 partners, but in actuality was a total bust.
 No one showed up for the first hour (it was scheduled from 5-7) then a couple people came around 6.  By 7pm the crowd had grown to about 12, and by 8 Jerry and I had enough and packed it up. 
 It was a good chance for me to taste some of our wines though and i got to pick Jerry's brain about wine...he is an incredible wealth of knowledge on all things wine.  He knows all the producers, regions, vintages...amazing!
After the event I picked up Alicia on my walk home, and we came back to Casa Rich View for some wine, snacks and chatter.
 Friday we opened these in the office.  The MSD was quite nice, full of fruit and tannin, and Jay suspects will be absolutely delicious after it has ~5 more years to soften.  The Bordeaux was nice as well, and totally 2009.  Big, rich, full.

 Friday night the girl's came over for a night in.  Have I mentioned I love living in Sheung Wan?  Hailey, Sarah, Nina, Allison, and Laura came over for wine and chit chat.

 Saturday I forced myself out of bed early, after a few too many bottles of wine (see below), for a beautiful hike up to the Peak.  The weather has finally warmed up back in to the 70s.  Thank god!

And there were 2 half bottles in the fridge....
 Hit Po's Atelier on my run home for a baguette, and look what they have, scoughnuts.  They had some samples out and it was pretty ridiculously delicious.

 Then another work wine tasting, this time of Ramonet (oh my god!  2002!) and JF Mugnier.  The whites were absolutely stunning.  The Chasagne Montrachet 2002 is perhaps one of the top 5 white wines I have ever had, and at $1,800 it's a bargain!
 A customer came in to collect his 6 litre Tignanello.  I've decided I need this in my life.  He says he has a collection at home of large format bottles, the largest being an 18 litre bottle.  He can't figure out how to open it, so thinks he'll probably just sell it back to the auction house.  I want these kinds of problems. 
The usual suspects came out for a really fun and informative tasting.  We did a vertical of JF Mugnier Chambolle Musigny 2004-2006.  It's really amazing to see the effect weather and time has on a wine.  The 2004 and 2007 were light, very perfumed, and ready to drink now.  The 2006 was gorgeous!  Elegant and yummy, and the 2005 was really complex once it opened up.  We rounded the tasting off with a 2006 Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru from David Durband that was also really nice.  

And that catches us up!  It's now Sunday am, Paul's sleeping (it's almost noon!), I've made cornbread and am about to make Paul hike the Peak with me.  Another gorgeous day in the hood.