Sunday, March 16, 2014

36 Days and Counting

So apparently this wedding thing is really going to happen.  I am feeling very confident in La Joya (not the wedding planner, but that's only 20 minutes of the whole thing) and their ability on putting on a beautiful, elegant, delicious wedding.  Woot.  All that's left is getting my ring adjusted and getting my dress back.  Oh and finding some shoes.  Has anyone seen any cute sandals this season?

Here's me and Edwardo Chadwick at the gala dinner for the 10th Anniversary of the Berlin tasting.  He created some of (the?) best wines coming out of Chile (the world?)

This week I totally took it easy, and come Thursday started feeling like a real person again.  In retrospect, I don't think it was food poisoning.  I think it was a lack of sleep last week, Bikini Fit (everything is BF's fault), and the disgusting filthhole that is Hong Kong. I have never ever lived in a city where the entire population is all sick with the same gross cold at the same time.  Mind you, the weather has been super shitty; grey, spitting, wet, and chilly, but my god, does that mean everyone has to cough and hack up crap everywhere?  I find this has split people into two camps; gross hacking cough sick and stomach virus puking sick.  Hong Kong, sometimes you disgust me. 
Finally a view.

Today the sun is out and Paul and I had a lovely Sunday together.  I went for a nice 10k hike up to the Peak before Paul got up and actually had a view for once!  Then Paul (finally) got up and we went for a nice brunch at Nosh down the street.  I've been meaning to go for sometime as it has nice indoor/outdoor seating, but the bloody place is always filled with hipsters and their lenseless leather booted friends.  We barely squeezed in and had a pleasant although not very exciting brunch.  Does anyone else hate eating breakfast out?  What a waste.  I can make eggs and toast at home...and buy smoked salmon...

So many fresh veg for $20
Anyway, then we went on a quest for a coffee shop which posed to be quite the problem.  Hong Kong just isn't into cozy coffee shops.  Too full Starbucks, shitty Pacific Coffee, and other chains with 20 minute internet usage, sure.  Cozy spot to perch down for a couple hours, not so much.  Ended up hitting the Gap (25% off!) and a new veggie market before settling into Saffron, my favorite coffee shop cum bakery in town.  I met the owner, Sean, yesterday at Beertopia and chatted with him more over an awesome latte and chocolate loaf while Paul marked away.  This is a seriously cool cafe and will start bringing live music to Sheung Wan soon. 

As mentioned, this week was super quiet.  I spent Wednesday working on some notes about Chile for my diploma study group. 
 Thursday I had wine class with JC.  This class' topic was blind tasting techniques.  We tasted 6 waters, each with a different additive, to gauge acidity, sugar, tannin, and alcohol levels.  Then we tasted 3 white and 3 red wine blind and deduced together what they could be.  Greg, my old boss, and Florian, my old colleague, were both there, as were a bunch of other new faces.  These classes are awesome and it's about time word got out.

Chilean Sauv Blanc and a Sancerre (Loire Valley Sauv Blanc- much better!)
 Friday AM I skipped Bikini Fit in favor of an HK Social Media event.  Jay Oatway gave an update about what's what in Social Media this month (email is out, WhatApp is in!), and then interviewed two women who used crowd sourcing to fund their new business.  I love these events and am happy to see them making a return. 

 Friday afternoon and I needed a quick break from work so I went over for a quick visit to my girl Sherry at Schmidt Vinotek.  She has me taste some really exceptional wines including a Gruner Vetliner, which I bought, a Dornfelder, a Hungarian Cab Franc, Riesling Kabinett (sweet), a 1983 Riesling (off dry), and another sweet wine I can't quite remember.  Yum.

After finishing my last Bikini Fit boxing day, which was awesome, it was time for BEERTOPIA.  This year was even bigger and better than last with thousands of beers, lots of friends, and some horribly typical Hong Kong weather.  Thanks for that.  

 I met Sarah and Will, and then Nina and Kenny, and then Zara and Sam, and then Adam and Dave, and then Lisa, and other David, Toby, Betsy, Josh, Julia and Mike, Laura and Derek, Kevin, eventually Paul (he had class) and all sorts of new friends for 5 hours of worldwide beer fun.
 I started with a strong (9%) Italian beer which turned out to be the best idea of the entire day.  Marcus and his new wife just started importing craft Italian beers, she also imports all sorts of organic things, and they just so happen to have an amazing apartment in Umbria, Italy that they very kindly offered to us should we ever want it.  We do. 

 WIll and Sarah got there first to man prime real estate right on the water.  Close enough to hear the angry lesbian music, but not too close to be overwhelmed by it.  The next band was much much better and covered Wagon Wheel and Hey Ho.  Get better.
 Jules and Mike were on the clock helping their friend who just began importing Oregon craft beers to Hong Kong.  I loved the Stout and am very much impressed by the breadth of craft beers now available in Hong Kong.  This is most definitely coming off the success of places like the Globe and from importers Hop Leaf and Americraft.  Yey beer. 

 Post Beerfest we head back to Nina and Kenny's for some food and belated birthday celebration.  Paul is so touched.  Happy 64th birthday Nina and Kenny!
Josh, Hailey, Paul, Sarah, Will, Kenny, Sam, Zara and Nina
 The gang and pizza, mac and cheese (well done Classified), ribs and pulled pork (well done Roundhouse).
Sarah, Josh, me, Paul

Another Beertopia success and I was home and asleep by 10.  Paul decided to stay a bit later and managed to have a run in with the drying laundry on the way in.  But that's another story...

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Poison Continues

In an effort to forget about my food poisoning, which is still continuing to turn my stomach in knots, here are some photos of some of the incredible meals and terrific wines I've had this past week.

 Two Sundays ago my friend Kim came over and we enjoyed an amazing Arbois (Savignin from Jura) with English Cheddar and Italian Comte. 
 Monday night we met Paul's friend from childhood, Dan, and his new wife Chelsey on a leg of their honeymoon trip in HK!  We met for a Cantonese dinner at Peking Garden.  Paul chose a fish off the menu.  The server decided to run it by him to make sure chosen fish was up to par.  It was. 
 Paul also chose the Peking duck, as one does at the Peking Garden.  Both were tasty, well done Paul.
Tuesday night G+C had a wine dinner with winemaker Nav Singh of Matchbox wines.  Paul has the ladybug filled with crab (so manly) and pork tenderloin.  I had the scallops and duck, a recurring theme for the week, and we both finished with a lovely cheese platter.  The Matchbox Malbec was the resounding favorite of the night. 
 Wednesday we opened a 1969 Barolo from Fontanafredda.  It was a bit past its heyday, but not terrible.
 Wednesday evening Mandy and I went to the Aberdeen Marina Club for a WSET diploma dinner hosted by Jancis Robinson.  For those of you not in the wine biz, she's as big as it gets in terms of wine authorities.  She's literally written the encyclopedia and atlas on wine.

We started with a pretty horrid tasting of wines from new entry countries in the atlas.  These included Turkey, Georgia (dirty socks!), among others, but then we were treated to Donnhoff Riesling and Quintarelli Valpolicella during dinner.  Thank god. 
 And guess what dinner consisted of?  Duck! More duck.
 And we finished with the two best things I'd had all week; Mas Amiel 10 year old fortified wine from Maury, YUM, and a chocolate molten cake, double YUM YUM.
 I could eat this forever. 
 Thursday I met the Hanster for some din and drinks.  We had a lovely Barbera over in Knutsford Terrace.  It's always so good to see Ms. Han and all of her friends.  It always makes me miss Korea and all of the traditions and peculiarities specific to Kimchiville. 
 Ms Han's friend Louis even brought me some a juice box!
 This isn't food or drink, but it's how I got my hair did for a black tie dinner with Steven Spurrier  (the English guy in the movie Bottle Shock if you will) and Jeanie Cho Lee (first Korean American MW).
 What an event, what an event.  This was a gala dinner for the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Tasting.  If you have seen the movie Bottle Shock, this is the sequel.  In 2004 Steven Spurrier hosted a blind tasting of 20 or so wines, French and Chilean, and guess who turned up on top?  Chile!  They recreated this tasting 20 times in various countries around the world with the world's leading wine authorities, and guess who kept coming up on top?  That's right, Chile!
 We had some Chilean Sauv Blanc in the reception hall.  I'm not generally a fan, but this was in the vain of Loire Sauv Blanc, not NZ, and it was great.  Then we had a Syrah (La Cumbre 2001) and a Carmenere (Kai 2006).  Both were absolutely stunning with their purity of fruit and depth of flavors.  I could drink that Kai all day every day.  Mmmm mmm.
 Foie Gras and Suckling pig. 
 Lobster two ways; spicy and with truffle.  With this course we enjoyed, very much I may add, a 1989 Don Maximo (100% Cab Sauv and a bit past its prime, but hey), and 2011 Dom Maximo (80% Cab Sauv, with some Carmenere and Petite Verdot).  This was still very young, but you could taste the potential to outlive it's predecessor. 
 Sena 2011 and 1996.  The 1996 was definitely top two of the night for me.  Natural aromas of green olive, graphite and mineral, this was filled with black and red fruit, violets with a floral and savoury finish.  Yum, yum, yum.   This was one of the wines to continually place top top at the Berlin tastings.
 They were paired with you guessed it, DUCK, and tofu and taro.  I love me some taro. 
 The final main was some wagyu beef with fried rice with diced chicken in abalone sauce. That abalone sauce was to die for as was the the signature Errazuriz wine, Vinedo Chadwick 2000.  This was only the second vintage for this wine from young vines, but my god was it unbelievably silky.  It was filled with forest, leafy, blueberry, huckleberry, cassis, dark chocolate...I could go on.  It was undeniably masculine, concentrated, and just heavenly.  This is indeed one of the finest (THE?) wines in the entire voted by the top wine critics.  And now me. 
 And almost as good as the wine was the dessert.  Strawberry sorbet with a vanilla cake with raspberry filling in a chocolate shell.  Oh and gold flakes, because that's necessary.  Woowee.
 These are truly world class wines and it was absolutely a privilege to take part in the dinner.  Everyone in attendance also go to take home a book commemorating the journey of Chilean wines.  As Jeannie said, it took Cali wines 15-20 years after the Paris tasting to really garner the support of the wine world, and we're only 10 years past the Berlin tasting for Chile.  It'll be interesting to see what the future holds in store...
 And then this.  The precursor to death.  We only drank the left two; a sparkling Pinot d'Aunia (aka Chennin Noir) from the Loire and Charles Du Roy Champagne.  This was accompanied by death salmon eggs florentine.  You know what I didn't have this meal?  Duck..I'm beginning to think this was the problem....

So funny story about Macau.  It was supposed to be Nina and Kenny, Jeff and Lisa, and Paul and myself.  Nina ended up having to fly out of town and got back from the US that morning so opted out.  Lisa remembered the day before that her new job had taken her passport for visa reasons so she couldn't go.  I got food poisoning but managed to tough it out.  Tough being the operative word here. 
I managed to make it to Macau, barely.  After a nap on the boat and a nap at the hotel I was even able to make it out for a bite, my first real meal of the day.  Turns out Jeff ordered some Portuguese wine.  Check out the name.  ha.
 Paul, Kenny and Luke at Antonio, Macau.  We had a meat platter, duck rice, cheesy baccalau (codfish), lamb, codfish cakes, and clams.  We also had mystery "shots" (actually digestives) a la Jeff.  It was like an orange creamsicle with mint. and it was heavenly.  Everything was delicious, but also regrettable on my part.  My poor tum was in knots all night.
Demolished.  The cheesy cod was definitely my fav.  The boys all loved the lamb, which I opted not to try. 
 Then the boys all decided to go for some RBVs (red bull vodka) as we were all about to go to see the Rolling Stones.  The Rolling Stones!!!  Again, I wisely chose not to get involved, although I did have a small Port.  It's a digestive.  Digestives=good for digestion.  The booze has got to kill the poison, no?
 I was a lucky gal to get a sneak peak into what goes on when the girls are away and the boys play...
 Rolling Stones.  Rolling Stones.  This was one of the few concerts I've ever been to where I actually sat during a couple of songs.  But only a couple.  I managed to rally during most of it. And they were f*&*( awesome.
 Start me UP.
 Woooh.  Somehow I don't have any pictures of Jeff throughout this whole series.  He was there, and he was super fun...Pictured: Kenny, Paul and David.
 Luke, Kenny, Paul, and Jeff somewhere, catching up with their pool buddies.  They got beat ealrier that day...while I took a nap. 
 The boys continued on well past the concert.  I opted for bed and as such was up by 9am.  I used my free drink coupon for a coffee (who have I become?) which came with a chocolate pop.  Probably not necessary at 9 am, but I'll take it. 
Giant Hand!  Despite angry stomach, I had a really amazing time.  It was spec-freaking-tacular to watch the Stones in all of their glory.  They're all just going as I imagine they were 40 years ago, just with more wrinkles and floppier skin.  They put the young bands out there today to shame. 
 After lazing around all morning, thank you late check out, we head into the old part of town for some shopping and breakfast/lunch/dinner. 
 Yum, Durian ice cream, my favorite. Sarcasm doesn't really translate well on the internet, does it?  Gross. 
 We found one of very few places open for lunch, Taverna Luis, and ordered some octopus salad.  It was delicious, although very much regrettable later on.
The baccalau Taverna style was also quite tasty, if not greasy, and also posed a problem for later on.  Pretty much immediately after lunch we hit the ferry back to HK.  Bumpy ferry + Portuguese greasy food + less than perfect tum worked itself into a really nightmarey hour long ride.  I managed to hold it together, but spent no less than 1/2 the time in the bathroom just in case.  Once back on dry land my stomach seemed to settle down a bit.  Sitting on the couch catching up on emails and blog has seemed to help.  God help me for bikini fit tomorrow.

May your stomachs all be made of steel.  And may mine regain its steeliness.  Godspeed.