Monday, February 27, 2012

Winner Winner

Chicken dinner!  Well not quite, but winner of 2 tickets for the Wines in the Valley!  Wooot.  Wines in the Valley is this new promotion going on Wednesday nights at the horse races in Happy Valley.  See full details here.

As I have mentioned before, I usually host tastings on Wednesday, but here's hoping none next week!  Tomorrow the theme for the wine pairing is California, and next week is French.  I much prefer Cali over France any day, but sometimes this choice is just not up to me!  Tomorrow we're doing a tasting down in Central for Randstad, which I believe is a recruiting company.  Paul and Brian will be whooping it up at the track, while I pouring wines and smearing crackers.  Tough times. 

Anyone experience Wines in the Valley yet?  Is it any good???

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Serious Eats

Apparently I'm not the only one that LOVES DTF.  It's much cheaper in HK than Japan though!!  3 of us went out and spent less than $50 usd.  And that's with the man folk drinking beer.  <3 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Din Tai Fung!

DTF crazy busy Friday night

So I've been to Din Tai Fung in Korea with Chee, Emily and my parents and it was good.  Then I had Din Tai Fung in TST with Ms. Han and it was really good.  And then I had Din Tai Fung in TST with P and new friend Jared,and it was amazing!!  Visitors, whenever you come we are going to Din Tai Fung.  Not because I want to share this magical experience, but because I want an excuse to wait in the hour + line for some of THE best dumplings!

Let's back up, shall we? Yesterday P and I met up and went to the China Wine Awards in the Mira Hotel, TST.  Greg said it was pretty cool and "my cup of tea' because it was lots of wine sampling and food.  Food, not so much.  There were these super buttery (read delicious) croissants filled with hot dogs (so Asian), and a couple little chocolate mousse things, but that was the extent of it.  Alas, it was not food we were after.  We were on a quest of thirst and knowledge.  As you walk into this huge dining room, you immediately notice this huge table filled with, I'm guessing, 200 different wines.  They each have a sticker and were all opened.  From what I gather earlier in the day they were all covered and the judges (read anyone who signed up) blind tasted them.  This was an award event, so there must be winners!  And losers!   Despite the name, the wines were from around the world, and actually included some spirits.  Since we didn't know anything about how this worked, Paul and I just walked by to the vendors.  

One of the tables filled with wines to be judged
There was a small section with 10 or so wine reps.  We started with Russia.  Russia makes wines, you say.  Well, yes they do!  In fact, my first wine tasting at HOFWs we tasted a Russian wine, and I actually quite liked it.  No one else did, but I think they were being label snobs, which just left more for me!  So I started chatting with the Russian rep and gave him my card.  It's like a golden ticket!  People see I work for an importer and all of the sudden the pours get heavy and the conversation begins!  Paul thought the wine dudes were hitting on me, but I know the truth.  They're looking to sell!  We drank a sparkling white, which was totally flat because it had been opened for 3 hours, but was still enjoyable, two ice wines which I always love, and a red, cab sauv maybe??  I don't remember, but both Paul and I were pleasantly surprised by the tastiness.  And come on, if you see a Russian wine on the shelf you're going to go look at it.  Perhaps not buy it though....

Old friend, G7.   This was the ONLY drinkable wine in Korea under $10
Then we moved onto the next tables where we tried a bunch of disappointing Italian wines.  Then moved to a different Italian rep and he had equally disappointing wines.  Even his $400HKD Barolo was pretty lackluster.  But we saw our good friends Jackie and Steve from Portrait Winery and they informed us that there was a California table.  Oohhh you know how I've been loving my Cali wines recently.  Jackie and Steve run this amazing winery (I wrote about last weekend) and are always so helpful, cheerful, and lovely.  They have quite the operation going on, and I'm happy to have tried their wines!

Everyone else was setting up shop at this point (7pm) but Jared was still hanging in there, pouring out some of Cali's finest.  He and his business partner recently decided to import wines in HK (the gateway to China), and he had just moved to Hong Kong semi-permanently this week!  We started with a sparking white made in the Prosecco fashion, and man it just tasted like small vineyard!  I don't know the word for it yet, but after WSET I will be sure to let you know what I'm talking about.  But yummmm, love that taste!  Then we had the best of the evening (and is sitting in my kitchen now), a Zinfandel.  Big, bold, fruity, and balanced, this wine popped!  Paul preferred the 100% Cabernet (also on the counter), but really all the ones we tested were delicious.

My favorite from the judging tables

At this point the crowd had gotten very thin and Paul and I discover another table of yet another 100 or so wines.  Jackie said they were there for tasting, so I scoured through the labels to fine regions and grapes I liked, while Paul looked for cool labels.  We all have our own methods.  We probably tasted 10+ and were told take what we like home. Luckily for us, Paul had his backpack because he'd come right from school.  We picked 5 and were on our way when we stopped to chat with Jared again.  Turns out he was hungry too, so we all walked 5 minutes over to Din Tai Fung.

The queue

Jared and I <3 DTF

AMAZING shumai.  Look at those bulbs of juice!
For those of you who don't know, Din Tai Fung is a Michelin rated dumpling place with outposts all over Asia.  And it's wonderful.  And everyone knows it.  We get in the queue (I like to pretend I'm English sometimes) and wait.  And wait. And drink some Portrait wine.  And wait.  Sip.  Wait.  Sip.  You get it.  A little over an hour later and we're starving, but we get a round table, something the hostess seemed quite pleased about, and put in our preselected order.  Man this place does not disappoint.  We had wonton soup, spicy pork dumplings, shrimp and pork shumai, some glutinous rice thing, and a pork bun, which oddly came as a single.  Everything was wonderful, and Paul and I agreed the shrimp shumai was to die for, with the spicy dumpling coming in a close second<--Jared's favorite.  The dumplings are all about careful precision.  You cannot break the bottom, or the heavenly juice will escape and the magic dissipates.  But since we're all pros by now, we didn't have that problem.   And we made a new friend on top of it, who will hopefully join us tomorrow for a Jumbo floating restaurant bottomless Champagne brunch.   Brian, get ready because HK drinking and dining is on!

Til next time!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sugar High

I've been making a failing effort to cut down on the sugar and wine in my life.   Let's start with the wine.  We have to go back, say, two 1/2 years to when I first entered Korea.  You step foot into that country and suddenly before you even realize it, you got booze in the blood.  Soju?  It's practically a law.  Mandatory two year boozefest and we flash forward to India/Nepal.  To be fair there wasn't a whole lot of drinking going on as Paul and I suspected the local booze were causing us harm, but we didn't like staying out past dark, so what else are we supposed to do in our questionable hotel rooms?  Kingfisher it was!  And then of course begins the four months of funemployment.  It's not that I was boozing because I didn't have a job, I was boozing because I was trying to get a job.  Everyone knows jobs happen over cocktails and wine.  Tis the first rule of business.  So I finally get a job, and where is it!?  A wine company!  I actually thought the job would entail a lot more drinking than it actually does, but it does keep my rack full, so it's no wonder I can come home and polish off a bottle in a day or two.  And it doesn't help my better half is a boozeinmeshoeser too.  Now that the holidays have passed, and before Brian comes next week, Paul and I have taken a week (well a few days) of abstaining from the monkey juice.

Now onto my sugar gorge today.   This morning, after our first cancelled walk due to rain (I still hit the gym! woo) , I grabbed a bag full of Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal to munch on for breakfast at work.  I haven't had it in a while and didn't realize how sweet the stuff was.  Hm.  Next I had a banana.  Again particularly sweet today.  Then for lunch mashed sweet potato.  It had been marinating overnight after being mashed with milk, and man the sugar sweet levels spiked!  I know these may not sound like the sugariest foods, but three in a row was just too much.  TOO MUCH SUGAR! I vowed 'no more sugar today' and as soon as the thought left my head Sean throws a handful of hard candies at me!  Ok, just this point I'm just craving some lettuce.  4 o'clock rolls around and all I can think about is having a nice salad for dinner, and who comes back from immigration with good news....and cake!!  Greg brought a tart for himself and mousse cake for me, how could I say no!?  I never thought I would have a day (well since kindy where cake and candy was a staple) where I would be so turned off by sugar.  But here it is.  Luckily, in dinner I prevailed.  Paul and I met down in Causeway Bay for a light bite and Groupon foot massages (Groupon is good for something!).  I picked up a delicious tofu salad, and let me tell you, I felt better immediately.  Nothing like some tofu to cure a sugar high.

Paul loves his foot soak
The foot massages were awesome!  We had bought them months ago and hadn't really had an opportunity to use them.  I had no tutoring and it was too rainy for the races, so we cashed em in.  We started with a foot soak, much to the masseuse's advantage; my feet were stinky today!  Then we got into another room where there are birds chirping and soothing Asian temple music playing lightly in the background.  We proceeded with a 15 minutes neck and shoulder massage, heavenly,  then reclined in the most pillowy cloud like chairs while the lady went nuts on my feet for an hour.  It was a reflexology massage, so there was lots of pushing and poking, sometimes a little too intense, but mostly just amazing. It was hard to get up and walk at the end because I had melted into the chair. Ahhh good job groupon.

Now we're back home and I am enjoying a chamomile tea in bed.  Goodnight.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Soup Something

So soup week sort of turned into soup day. I guess two if you count ramen on Saturday.  Not for lack of deliciousness.  Sunday night's white chicken chili was delicious!  But come Monday and Tuesday we both tutor/have other things to do, so quick throw it in a skillet dinners won.  I also have these amazing fluorescent purple sweet potatoes that I mashed last night which will be lunch today.  I've never seen potatoes this color!

Today has been the first morning that rain has stopped Paul and I from our morning run/walk.  Not to be deterred, I head to the gym and read my Kindle on the treadmill with weights in hand.  I feel like one of those old ladies you always make fun of in the mall.  You know the one.  She's in a full on track suit, 3lb weights in each hand, taking laps around level 3.  That was me this morning.  I know I've said this in the past, but I can't explain how truly UNintimidating Asian gyms are.  There are never more than 3 people in there, 2 of which are 70+, and the other is half walking, half comatose on the treadmill.  I win the gym!

So yeah another grey day here. At least it's warm!  Wednesday night is race night in Hong Kong.  There are two horse tracks; one in the New Territories and one on the island in Happy Valley.  The one in NT races on Sunday and is for sad old people who gambling their life savings.  The one in Happy Valley races on Wednesday nights and is for young professionals to gamble peanuts and get drunk.  It's good networking, people watching, and can occasionally be lucrative.  But, as luck would have it, I usually have wine tastings on Wednesdays, or it's today.  Humph.

Beer Brewing 101

My eyes went aglow Christmas morning, 2011, when I opened my final present from my endearing fiancé to find a brand-new brew-your-own-beer kit.  I have certainly tasted myriads of beers (regrettably more Natty and Beast than I’d like to admit) over my 26 years but this was my first opportunity to sample a brew of my own manufacture.  Thus, after returning to Hong Kong I set to work.

The kit’s accompanying guidebook is pretty lengthy considering beer was first brewed by illiterates thousands of years ago.  But as I only had an hour or two to master the ancient art I set aside a significant portion of my Saturday to peruse each page.  Among the chief concerns of the fermentation process are water quality, temperature control, and equipment sterilization. 

The guidebook recommends bottled mountain water (distilled water actually inhibits fermentation) but since this was my first (potentially unsuccessful) brewing attempt I decided to use boiled HK tap water.  Temperature control was my biggest concern, as the weather fluctuates a lot in HK and I don’t live in a centrally-heated/cooled apartment, so I compensated as best as I could by storing the keg in a dark cabinet.  Sterilization is pretty foolproof as the kit comes with a solution that does not need to be washed out of the equipment; I followed the cleaning instructions exactly as any rogue bacteria could ruin the whole batch.  With only 1½ out of 3 of these factors adequately addressed I was somewhat concerned, for it would take 6 whole weeks of fermentation before I knew whether the batch turned out okay.

With my prep work behind me I set about the straightforward brewing process.  Basically, beer contains a lot of sugar, and making wort (the first stage of beer) involves boiling lots of different sugar mixtures down.  I added extra brown sugar and a dash of chai spice because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Finally I added my chai-spiced wort to the keg with 8 more quarts of water and a tablespoon of yeast and locked the mixture away for 5 weeks. 

Over this time we had a lovely vacation in the Philippines and I pretty much forgot about my mixture.  At the culmination of the fermentation process the batch was not looking good.  It poured very flat into the bottles and tasted a little off (Lauren thought it resembled soap but I tasted beer notes).  I wasn’t sure what carbonization would add to the flavor but went through with it.  After adding a little sugar to each bottle and filling it with the wort mixture I set the bottles back in the dark for two more weeks and Wow, really hoppy, fizzy beer rose from each opened bottle!

The head died-down while arranging the photo but it was excellent

Chai was undetectable in the finished product and thankfully so.  This wanton addition aside I'd like to think I'd pass beer brewing 101.  Can't wait to make another batch and I'll have to host a kegger because it's worth sharing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thanks, Cathy!

Cathy passed this awesome article along to me as a source of inspiration.  Me in 10 years????  Let's hope!

Falling Behind Again

I know I said I would get better.  I sat down to write last night, but Pinterest won again.  Are you guys on that?  It's seriously addicting. 

Anyway, once again the lack of posts can be attributed to working and general evening laziness.  But, on the bright side, my weekend was somewhat covered in yesterday's post from HOFWs' blog.  See above link.

I will try to blow your minds tonight with an over the topp witty blog post. Probably not, but I'll try to write something more than how I haven't been writing....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Walk Through Central

Top of Peak 2

So let me start off by telling you about the really cool hike I did yesterday with Cathy.  I met Cathy and her 3 co-workers in Wan Chai where we caught a bus down to Stanley.  From Stanley we hiked the Twin Peaks in Tai Tam park backwards. Usually you start in Happy Valley, Quarry Bay, or somewhere in that general vicinity and hike down to Stanley where there's a lovely little waterfront plaza to enjoy lunch.  We however took the wrong bus and didn't have a really set plan, so Stanley beginning it was.  You walk up a ton of stairs, although I must say considerably less than Nepal (never again!), to the top of the first peak where you have amazing views of Stanley (duh) and Repulse Bay.  Then you walk down a bunch of stairs, pass all the people who look like they want to end it, walking up the correct way, go up a smaller set of stairs and you're at the top of the other peak.  It also has breathtaking views despite the grey that is winter here.  It was nice as we walked I got to chat with each of the girls whom I had never met before; one from CT the other two from the UK.  After the peaks we decided to go the longer way around the Tai Tam reservoir.  It was beautiful!  Despite the millions of people living in HK who claim to love hiking, the trail was deserted.  All in all we hiked about 2 hours, and I'm guessing because my Runtraker lies to me, about 7 kilometers.  Pretty good for a Saturday am.
The trail down through the peaks

Tai Tam Reservoir

Came home and Paul had just gotten home from school.  We cooked hot noodles and dumplings together and spent the afternoon catching up on the end of the Real Housewives reunion.  I mean hockey, football, and rugby....

Prosecco Cocktail
Feeling unmotivated yet liable to go out, we finally pushed ourselves out the door to Central.  As we got off the bus with no real plan we passed by Linguini Fini.  It's the newest Cafe Deco restaurant bar in town, gets lots of press for that reason and because they don't take reservations, so we thought we'd give it a try.  We sat at the bar because place was packed to the rafters and had a look over the cocktail menu.  All of them sounded amazing.  And reasonable.  When does that happen??  I ordered the Prosecco Cockatil and Paul got the Negroni.  They were both good, but I liked mine better; Prosecco, bitters, and vermouth.  Yum yum yum!!!  They were so good we decided to stay for another round, although my second was not as good.  In fact, I don't recall the name of even what it was other than light green and ok....Paul had a good whiskey drink though.

Selection from Portrait
Moving on we head up the hill to Portrait Winery.  We had been once before right before I started working for HOFWs.  I had bugged the owner Steve to meet with me and discuss career options, then bailed because I had to start working.  Turns out he remembered me.  Hmmm, and didn't seem to pleased.  Regardless we had their premium wine flight, and wines be yummy!  They also have a new guys working there who like me was working in Finance (banking), then decided he loved wine and got his WSET certification.  He recommended I started with level 2.  So level 2 it is this spring!! Anyway, the wines were all really nice and we finished with an amazing pear brandy.  Didn't taste like brandy at all, but exploded pear.  They are show casing their spirits this Friday in TST at the China Wine and Spirits Awards, so I'm going to try to bail on work early and go!

But as everything, the flight came to an end, so we hopped a few doors down to our favorite place; the Globe!  Love love love love the Globe.  It was packed per usual on a Saturday night, but we managed to find a couple of seats at the bar and enjoyed one Belgian tipple each; Delirium Tremons for me and Chimay Blue for Paul.   Got to love the boozey Belgian beers!
Belgium's finest

Post Globe we were pretty well hammered so we caught the 11:30 bus home.  Remember the days when you could stay out past 12?  Seems like a distant memory.

It's 10 now, Paul's still sleeping.  I'm going to wake him up soon because we're heading to Aura in Central for a Champagne (probably Prosecco) brunch.  Then soup week continues with chili!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Soup Week

I pronounce this week, Soup Week!  Starting with a tom yum ramen with added seafood dumplings for lunch. It was the perfect hot, noodley meal post chilly hike over Twin Peaks.  More on that later.  Then Paul bought ingredients to make white bean chili tonight; isn't he sweet?  Plans for the rest of the week:

meatball tagine
tomato soup with a twist
French onion soup (Paul's project)
curried lentil soup

Yup, it's soup week alright.  And hopefully the last week of winter.  Fingers crossed.


I still coudn't afford it.


I finally win.  2 weeks and many headaches later, I have beat you PayPal.  I am free to buy whatever I want...on Ebay....and for Social Media Week.  Oh wait, it's over today.  Bahh. 

I know I've been totally lame with posting recently and I blame it on HOFWs blog.  It's tough times maintaining TWO blogs!!  I promise to learn to balance both better than I have.

So what's on.  Last night I tutored two in a row, then enjoyed some Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Reunion with Paul on the couch.  He's going to be mad I outed him on this so...We watched rugby and hockey and football all night...and Paul drank his home brewed beer, which he LOVES!  I'll have to have him tell you about it though.

Today was our intern's last day, so Greg, Lionel, Kale and myself went out for a nice lunch down the street at Corner 90.  Greg has been raving about this place, yet I had never been before, and I'm glad we went.  It's run by a huge team of Indians and they serve great Indian curries (I tried Greg's) and Western food as well.  I had already had a PB sam earlier, so I stuck with a Greek salad which was quite nice and huge!  And we all, sans the 16 year old intern, shared a bucket of Stellas.  This was after we all unloaded yet another palate of wines into our warehouse.  They are boxes everywhere!  Please someone order wine so I can put my legs under my desk again. Kidding it's not that bad, but close.

Tonight Paul and I are going to a meetup in Central to watch Real Steel with strangers.  ha meetup is actually here, and not creepy like it kind of seems in America.  There are so many new and transient people here, you connect however you can.  So yeah, snacks, wine and Real Steel tonight.  Tomorrow am I'm meeting up with Cathy and her co-workers to hike around Tai Tam which is a huge park on the island. 

Back to work!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yesterday was a super crazy Tuesday, never mind the fact that it was also Valentine's Day!  Started off showing the intern how to do stuff around the office and come 1 I had to pop over to Central for my Social Media Week event.  I ended up getting there 5 minutes late, but that didn't matter because it started 30 minutes late.  Some of us have to get back to work people. I think they wanted to allow people a chance to network, but that's not why I'm here, I'm here to learn how to build a brand through social media!  There was a panel of 3 people; one representative from weibo (twitter for China), the Social Media Brand Managers for Intel and Cathay.  It was interesting to listen to what they do for their companies, but it's just on a whole other scale than what I'm working with, so I didn't really take too much away that I can use.  That said, it was fun and a good break from work, and I got to see a lot of people from my monthly social media meeting.

Then came the really interesting part of the day.  I rushed back to the office to meet Sean, Greg and two guys from ITS Partners.  These guys are from Spain and serve as our liaison for our seafood products.  They're here for a week full of meetings where they're pitching everything from wine to seafood to olive oils.  It was really cool to watch how Greg and Sean interacted and reacted to these two guys.  And since we're a wine company, of course there was a tasting during the meeting....which lasted 3 hours.  We parted on good terms and we're going to see about what new products we will introduce to Hong Kong.

It was 7:30 so Greg ushered me out the door "so my husband won't get mad."  Got home and Paul and I enjoyed a lovely dinner of various cheeses, oysters, and Prosecco.  We finished the night with Troublemaker from California Vintage, his homemade beer, which actually turned out pretty good, and Brad Pitt (Seven Years in Tibet).   Nice little Vday if I do say so myself.  How was yours?

Monday, February 13, 2012

California, No Doubt About It

Ohh Sunday glorious Sunday.  After hanging in bed and doing our weekly shop, Paul and I mosed our way down to Central to hit up 'Sunday At the Bar' at California Vintage.  I'd been wanting to check this place out for quite some time, and their special Valentine's Day tasting seemed just the time.  CV serves Cali wines from 22 producers, gets their cheese from Cowgirl Creamery which is based in Cali, and has a resident Cali wine expert who leads the Sunday tastings.  We didn't really know what to expect except that we got a few tastes of wine and some light apps.  Man turns out this is the best wine/bar in HK!  Loved it.

Very small and intimate on the inside, and the walls are all covered in wine fridges and each wine has it's own little spout.  We begin and the host Susan comes over and introduces herself, and then explains how it works.  We go down a list of 6 wines, all with Valentine-ish names, and they serve little apps to accompany each wine.  We began with 2 Sauvignon Blancs.  These weren't mind blowing, but reasonably prices and fine enough.  The first was paired with a fried lemon and green bean over their homemade green sauce.  Fried lemon, yes please!  Paul thought it was a bit too sour, but I dug it with the sauce.  And the bean! Then they brought a fried fish nugget that was also tasty.  Then onto the reds.  We had a 'Nymph,' 'Ms Behavin,' 'Trouble Maker,' and S3x.   They were all quite good but Paul and I definitely loved the Ms Behavin.  It had 20% or so Petite Syrah and it just gave it a yummy punch.  It was so refreshing to tastes these wines that don't come from super vineyards.  A few of them had grapes I had never heard of and it brought me back to sipping wine in the sun with Maria, Chetta, Liz and Sherine on some random small vineyard in middle of no where VA.  Paul said he tasted tastes he had never tasted before!  Big success on the wines.  Ohh and the food, I can't forget.  One course was a BLAT which has inspired me to eat avocado sandwiches every day for lunch for here on out, and probably my favorite was duck with plum sauce over toast.  Basically Paul and I loved everything about it and have decided to come back every Sunday.  Or hell, every night for dinner.  As we were sipping our wines, Susan came over with an iPad.  They have all of their wines and food in a database where you can look up the technical details, food pairings, price, tasting notes, etc.  Pretty impressive I must say.  And after we finish our tasting flight Susan told us we could buy a card and go around the restaurant sampling all their other wines.  A taste for wines ranged from $12-$40, 1/2 glasses a bit more, and full glasses obviously more than that.  We loaded up $200 and got to taste another 9 or so wines I think.  I'm learning that I love Barberas, Petite Syrah, and they had a really nice Cabernet Sauv that was my favorite.

Being in situations like this where both Paul and I were excited, we had someone knowledgeable to help up through the tastings, and their were delicious food pairings, just fueled my want of more.  I want to be a wine expert.  It makes people happy.  It makes ME happy.  WSET summer course here I come!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cheung Chau

Squid in front; seafood hotpot in back
After I picked Paul up at school we MTRed it down to the Central Piers to decide what we would do with the rest of our afternoon.  We wanted to go somewhere new, but hadn't really done much research into what's out there, so the decision was up to the ferry schedule.  Whichever leaves next, we're on! Turns out it was the ferry to Cheung Chau from pier 5.  There was a decent crowd so we were feeling pretty confident that it wouldn't be a total disaster.  And it wasn't!  CC is totally charming and I can't believe we'd never even heard of it before!  Immediately off the 45 minute ferry is a bustling street with restaurants, hotel hawkers, little shops and street food.  And bikes.  Lot of people on bikes.  We walked a bit and settled on a cute little restaurant right on the water overlooking the fishermen coming in with their daily catch.  After being served tea we ordered garlic squid and a mixed seafood hot pot.  Both were yummmy!  Chinese food is kind of growing on me.  Especially when it involves seafood and it's not over the top greasy.  Then we wandered onward.  Every 2 feet I would Paul and drag him into yet another jewelry, clothing, or home goods store.  Everything was so cute and so different than stuff you can find on the island.

Walked a little further, which turned out the be the other side of the island, and we found the beach!  Being a grey and misty kind of day, it wasn't ideal for beach, but you could tell this would be chock full of people had the sun been out.  The beach was definitely one of the prettier ones I've seen here, although because it was kind of an alcove it sort of collected a bunch of trash.  Maybe by summer it'll be cleaned up.  Hm.  As we walked down the beach we saw one of the tourist attractions- Ancient Stone.  It's a big rock with a circle carved in it behind glass, so high off the sidewalk you can't really see it.  Oh and it's at the base of a hotel.  Very odd.  Walk a little further though and you find the real gem of the beach- the Wind Surfing Club.  You can rent kayaks and wind surfing boats AND there's an attached restaurant and bar.  Paul and I sat seaside at this deserted bar sipping cocktails (Paul a beer) at sunset (even though you couldn't see the sun).  Twas quite lovely.  But was getting late and we had a party to attend.

I can't wait to come back here once the weather's nice.  It would be a great place to explore more, eat yummy seafood, and get your tan and swim on.  Hopefully it won't be a zoo all summer!

View from the restaurant
Paul and I got on our sauciest best, as per the theme, and went over to Catherine's for a rooftop party.  Are you guys having rooftop parties in Feb?  I love HK.  It proved to get a little too cold for all us girls in skirts/dresses, so we eventually moved it inside, but man, Catherine has a gorgeous view!!  It's in the heart of Wan Chai and over looks basically the whole city.  Pretty spectacular at night to see all the lights going off.  But being the old people we are, 1 am rolled around and we decided to trek home.  A short cab and we were back sound asleep after a very exciting day.

So yeah, add it to the list for visitors; Cheung Chau.  Happy Monday and beginning of Social Media Week.  Guess who has a press pass.  That's right; this kid!
Big Open Beach.  Asa!

Eggs First

So I guess I'll finish this story first.  Two weeks ago I got my hair trimmed and deep conditioned and I bought a hair mask so I could deep condition my hair at home.  Last Sunday I put the mask in and hung out in the shower for 10 minutes.  Since it was Sunday didn't blow dry my hair, but just tossed it up.  Same thing Monday morning, because really who cares at HOFWs?  Tuesday I had an event after work so I spent 20 minutes blowing my hair out then went to the mirror to style it.  Well let me tell you.  Grease ball central!  The top center of my hair was a grease slick!  Wednesday I shampooed the crap out of my hair.  Twice.  Blow it out and same old grease slick.  Thursday same story.  Friday, Saturday, and 8 shampoos later and it's still a greasebally mess.   Paul does some research and finds out that peanut butter, eggs or glycerin soap all get vaseline (or super concentrated hair mask) out of hair.  Sunday and Paul pours egg while I rub it into my hair.  Wash, shampoo, and although it's still not totally normal, it's a lot less greaser than before.  Perhaps tomorrow I'll try PB....

Cheung Chau tomorrow.  Baileys and It's Always Sunny now.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Egg Head

Have you ever had your boyfriend, or anyone for that matter, pour an egg over your head?  I have.

More on that and Cheung Chau tomorrow, for now P and I are off to taste some lovely California wines, see our friend play violin in her awesome indie band at Coast, and mdinner with the Kinster.

Til tomorrow.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tales of Tutoring

So you know how I mentioned I had two hours in a row on a Friday night of teaching, well turns out it was only an hour and a half.  Kind of.  I go down to Agnes' and she's on the couch watching TV and her JeJe (helper) is in the kitchen and Grandma is no where to be seen.  Agnes continues to watch TV and ignore me, the JeJe stays in the kitchen, and so I sit next to Agnes and start reading her a book.  This goes on a good 15 minutes and I'm feeling pretty guilty and then Agnes gets up, runs into her mom's room and won't come out.  JeJe tries to get her.  I try to get her.  Mom's on the phone trying to get her out of bed, but she's not having it.  After I man handle her out of bed and she runs right back, I decide I've had enough and leave.  The problem is no one seems to speak English too well and they owe me now 3 (2.5??) class's worth of pay.

Anyway, I go upstairs to my apartment and Paul's in the kitchen making vodka sauce!!  We chat, he sautés onions, then I go back to the 7th floor to teach Nim Nim.  She is just the cutest little thing I have ever seen!  When I get there it's just her and her JeJe, but Nim is always very professional and sits down at her mini table and we begin.  We start with a list of 'Things I like' and 'Things I don't Like.'  I ask if she likes riding her bike (she does), and she replies in her smallest little 3 year old voice, "it's very dangerous."  Ahhh she is too cute. Then mom and dad come home and mom sits down with us and we all have a nice educational lesson.  I get paid and go back upstairs where there is creamy, delicious saucey pasta waiting for me.  Paul, I think you may have something here.  Yum yummmm.

After polishing the rest of that off for breakfast, I am now off to the gym to read on the treadmill, then go to KTong to meet Paul after work and go for a hike.  Too bad it's always sooooo grey and cold here.  Man the past two days have been freeeezing!!  I'm talking sweater AND a vest weather.  Guess those mountains will get our blood pumping.  Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


If you haven't looked yet, please check out HOFWs new blog and read all about what it is I do all day.  Well not really, but you can hear about our events, and if I get the time I will start posting some wine news.

Yesterday was another busy/fun day at work.  I spent most of the day preparing a marketing strategy for our Spanish seafood provider.  The owners are coming in next Tuesday (Valentine's Day), and as timing would have it, I'll be at my Social Media Week event.  Greg bought the ticket! Woo.

Post work yesterday I went down to the WorldWide Center in Central to meet Liza for the Institute of Director's Spring Social.  This was put on by the same organization as my first networking event 6 months ago- Swiss Wine.  This time there was a smaller crowd, but I still walked out of there with no less than 30 cards.  And this has been my first real networking event since I've started working, and guess what.  Everyone loves the wine guy.  People look at my card and immediately say, 'cool,' or 'how fun,' or something along those lines. I spent the better half of the morning sending out 'nice to meet you' emails.  Hopefully I can get some business from it and get in good with the bossmen.

After the event I went over to the Globe and met Paul for a beer.  If I had to name my favorite bar in Hong Kong it would definitely be the Globe.  It's an English pub with approximately 3 million beers to choose from, all the meat pies you can imagine, and cheese boards!  Lovely Lovely cheese boards.  It's where I spent chilly unemployed afternoons catching up on my HK magazines.  Paul had an equally interesting night, but I would like for him to tell you about it. So perhaps tonight while I'm off tutoring two classes in a row (why do I do this to myself on Friday night?), Paul will write a little diddy for ya.

No work tomorrow!!!!  Paul and I are going to venture out to either Lamma Island or Lan Tau for some hiking.  Finger's crossed the weather holds out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Just Another Tuesday

Not too much going on over here.  Walk, run, work, tutor.  Although last night tutoring was cancelled so Paul and I came home and cooked dinner together and then hit the gym!  This is our new initiative to watch less TV, drink less wine, and be more active.  I had never been to the gym in the evening before, and let me tell you, it's packed!  I'm talking there were probably 4 to 5 other people there.  I have never seen such crowds!  Post gym we took a little walking tour of the mall downstairs.  It seems every few weeks they somehow cram another store or restaurant in.  Last we discovered a new toy store and to Paul's delight they have a large legos selection.

Today I am meeting with these two women who I met at my first HOFWs wine tasting.  They're really sweet and have taken me out to lunch before, but they basically just want me to sell their "energy" drink.  It's some kind of powder you add to water for "energy."  Hmmmm....but they're coming to meet me at Starbuck's in my building so I'll see what all they have to say; it's been a few months since we last met.  Then tonight we're holding our wine tasting down in SoHo at Sakesan.  Sakesan is a Japanese restaurant with a slick private room that we are renting out.  HOFW is trying to present a cool, fun, educational experience, and this is just one of our first moves to achieve that.  But basically it just means I'll be working til 11. Meh...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I successfully avoided facebook all morning.  Well almost all morning until an unsolicited  NY Times alert pops up on my phone announcing, "NY Giants defeat NE Patriots."  Thanks iPhone for that gem.  Well at least I was free to go back on FB again...

Paul and I went to the best Super Bowl party sans Super Bowl.  Perhaps the length, or maybe the popularity, but SB was hard to download. Try as Patrick and the boys did, we never got it to stream past kickoff.  But that's ok!  There were a solid 15 people there, pulled pork, (veg) chili, guac, cheese dip, Beth's amazing 7 layer dip, sushi which oddly no one touched but me, beers and good friends.  After ceding that we wouldn't get the game to work, we diligently filled out our squares and pulled numbers out of a hat.  Then we got on our iphones and checked the scores for each quarter.  Guess who won 3 out of 4 quarters!?  That's right, this guy!!!  Paul and I ended up walking out with $100!  Oh and the funniest thing, of the 15 or so people there, 4 of us were rocking Steelers jerseys.

Steeler's Nation!!!!!!!

Go Ravens!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Monday!!

Seeing as I'm in the future (as compared with EST), the Super bowl didn't start until Monday at 7am.  I was super pumped to go down to a bar in Central and cheer for the Giants until the realization that I am the only person I know who doesn't start work until 10.  What's with you people? Cheering for Giants alone at the bar?  I suppose I should stick with my morning run anyway :(  BUT luckily our friends Patrick and Courtney didn't want to miss the action either so they're throwing a party tonight out in Po Lam (even more out in the boonies than here!).  I made corn cakes.  Since I don't have an oven I couldn't make traditional (read JIffy) cornbread, so I made the batter and fried em up on the skillet.  Tots delish and I must go out and find more Jiffy ASAP!  I also made sangria.  Greg gave me some white sangria in a bottle someone had given him, and not to let it go to waste, I'm hoping it won't be half bad if we just covered up the prepackage sangria taste with some Brandy.  The apples and oranges have been soaking since last night, so finger's crossed the sangria isn't totally undrinkable, for I would not want it to ruin my sweet boozy fruit.  I will let you know how it turns out tomorrow.

This is going to be hard, but no Facebook today.  All you Americans at home now watching the game are going to have a field day posting all about the exciting match up.  Well I'm going to be surprised.  No cheating for me.  Just wait until tonight.  FB I already miss you.  Over under on me cracking?    

Saturday, February 4, 2012

PayPal Saga continues

This is the most ridiculously over complicated system in the world.  After I wait 2 days for the minute deposits into my unused bank account, I go to lift the "limit" and go on to purchase my Social Media Week tickets.  After confirming the deposits it asks me to confirm my location.  Well the location of my billing address happens to be different than my real address, and they need to call a local land line, which who even has anymore?  I go ahead and type in my mom and dad's land line and it instantly calls.  I have no chance to call mom and prepare her with the confirmation # she has to type in.  Seriously.  She sees a call from Nebraska, doesn't answer, and my shot at PayPal is gone for another 5-7 days while they send a letter to my billing address and wait for me to confirm it there.  I have to wait over a week to buy a ticket with my working credit card!? What the hell kind of system are you running here, PayPal?  What the hell!?

End of story.  For now...
Our Table at Cyberport.  Back left is the jumbo screen

sweet sparkle tattoo
Despite all that, Paul and I have had a lovely weekend!  As I mentioned, Korean dinner Friday was awesome.  Saturday I was told to be at the office at 9:30.  Sean finally showed up 10ish.  I need to learn to add 30 minutes to everything he says...Anyway we get down to Cyberport 11ish and it's amazing!!!!  It's this huge complex of apartments, shops and conference rooms, all right on the sea.  They run a monthly outdoor market which HOFWs never misses.  It's slow, but there's usually good foot traffic, and in the evenings they screen an outdoor movie so people stock up on their booze with us.  (Funny story; Greg was going on a first date after this event a few months ago and had the girl meet him at Cyberport to watch the outdoor movie.  Turns out it was Chinese opera.  haha that's four hours of your life you can't get back!)  What impressed me most about this event, which is now my favorite we do, was the variety of vendors.  To our right we have Brooke who is an absolute riot.  She goes way back with Sean and Greg and always buys a bottle of Champagne and boozes it along side us.  She sells jewelry.  There are also bag vendors, clothing, lots of stuff for kids, plants, drinks, honey, pottery, air purifiers, tattoo painters (check my sweet one), Hong Kong puzzles, and all sorts of other random stuff.  In the down time it's fun to walk around and get to know the other sellers; it's definitely a community feel.  Brooke tells me most of these people have kind of retired from their corporate lives and are now following their passion.  And you know what?!  Everyone loves the wine guy!

chair on the ceiling
Paul comes and meets me, we have some wine with our neighbors, then head out to Sheung Wan in search of dinner.  We stopped in this cute little place we had never even seen before, Cheri Cheri.  Very eclectic decor (read chair hanging from the ceiling), low lighting, and a small thoughtful menu.  We don't go out to dinner often, and when we do it's usually Asian.  This was Italian!  They started with bread fresh out of the oven which was amazing, and we used all of our willpower not to finish it off before our mains came.  Paul got lobster ravioli and I got the tuna tartare.  The tuna was good, although a bit heavy on the lemon, but the lobster, oh my god the lobster.  I guess I should clarify, the lobster was good, but the SAUCE.  Ohhh creamy tomatoey vodka (?)y sauce.  Brought me back to my veg days when I would get vodka penne from Venezias.  ohhhh vodka penne, which incidentally, I just learned is like 400 grams of butter and 2000 liters of heavy cream.  Suppose that's why it's so good.  If it weren't totally inappropriate (well had there been no one around) I would have stuck my face in the bowl and never come out.  We're definitely going to be making this very soon.

Tuna Tartare

Lobster Cream Sauce Heaven

Mauled it

Post stuffing our faces we grabbed some drinks in Central, ran into a friend and his friend who just moved here, and bused it home where I promptly fell asleep.  Paul on the other hand not so much.  I wake up this morning and he's on the couch, beer is splattered all over the floor covering the computer which is face down next to the couch.  I wish I could say this was the first time this has happened...haha one day he will learn.  It's ok to fall asleep at 11 like me :)  Much cleaner at least.

Paul's new hair cut


Friday, February 3, 2012

PayPal is Ruining My Life

As it turns out I did have to go to work yesterday.  Although I missed lunch with Liza, it all worked out for the best as I had a lot to do.  And the best part is I still got to go to my Social Media morning event.  Man, I can't say enough about these.  The presentation yesterday was from Jay Oatway, the social media king in HK.  He talked about what's in the news (McTwitter fail), new apps (Pinterest is the new Facebook), and about the upcoming Social Media Week.  SMW is a worldwide event where different presentations, debates, seminars, etc. go on to get you excited and informed about what's what in social media.  This is HK's second year and the other cities include:

New York
San Francisco
Sao Paulo

So if you're near one of these cities you should check it out.

So I get pumped about it, get permission from Greg to miss half day on Tuesday to check out "Building a Brand" and I go to sign up for it.  It's $150 (<$20) and you have to pay via PayPal.  I haven't used PayPal since I lived in the US, and since then I have lost my debit card that it's tied to, so I just let it expire.  Well, PayPal doesn't let you do shit with an expired account.  I can't even delete it.  I tried to sign up for this event no less than 30000 times with or without PayPal, and every time "Your account is limited."  Yeah, no shit PayPal, let's just use my credit card that I use all the time!??  No, no,  PP has to make 2 deposits in this unused account, wait 3 days (by which time this event will be sold out), and then confirm the .002 cents they put in.  Here's a better idea.  Why can't  I just use my credit card that I use everywhere else in the world with no problem!!!?? Ohhhhh because stupid PayPal says it's already tied to an account.  So what?!!!! Just let me pay!!!  Ahhhhhhhhhhh. I suppose this is all the more frustrating because I was doing it at 11pm with a glass of Prosecco.  Solution.  Hopefully I can get Greg to put it on his card.

from bottom left; bibimbap, japchae, meat, Hite, soju
So yeah, here it is Saturday AM and still no ticket, BUT Paul and I used our groupon last night and discovered the most authentic amazing Korean place.  Groupon success for once!  Han Ga Ram is in Causeway Bay, super clean (for lack of better words) and upscale looking, and the whole time Paul and I are looking at each other wondering why this place even does Groupon.  We get legit banchan (side dishes) including kimchi, spicy lettuce with seasame oil (yum!), celery stuff, tofu that upon tasting brought me right back to Haebongcheon, eggy thing, sprouts, seaweed, potatoes, and on and on.  Then marinated beef and chicken which Paul grilled and devoured, bibimbap which I stirred and devoured, japchae which we couldn't finish because we had so much other food.  So good!  On top of that of course we ordered soju. We shared one small bottle and we were both kind of drunk off it.  Don't miss that so much.  But yeah, super excited to have a real (our waiter was from Korea!) Korean place again! For the proximatey, HK really is lacking in the galbigim arena.

Alright off to Cyberport to sell wines and foie gras.  Come stop by and I'll give you an extra heavy pour :)
Look at all those banchan!?  Seoul, I miss you.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Phil, are you there?

Post holiday season is all about reconnecting.  It's so easy during all the travel, parties, shopping, to lose touch with, well, everyone.  Christmas has passed.  CNY has passed (I got 2 more red envelopes yesterday!) and now it's time to settle into the funk that is February.

Last night I met up with Kameron for dinner in Mong Kok.   We had a lovely time catching up over noodles and dumplings.  Tonight I'm hitting sassyhk (blog) happy hour for drinks with Cathy and Katie who were both also just in the Philippines.  Same country different island.  Tomorrow AM is my monthly social media group meeting.  It's my favorite networking event.  It's worth the trek at 8:30 am to Central.  There's always a monthly theme where someone puts on a presentation about how they use social media, or some new facet of social media, or just a review of what's going on.  It's super interesting, really relevant to my job now, and the people are fantastic.  Then I'm off to meet Liza, who has kind of become a mentor/mother type person for me here.  She's invited me to her church, to hiking, and always has kind words of advice and encouragement.  Paul and I are going to hit a Korean BBQ place for dinner.  It's a groupon so I don't have high expectations.  Why do we keep buying them!?  ha one day we'll learn.  Then it's work Saturday AND Sunday.  What!?

Happy Hump Day America!  Happy Groundhog Day Hong Kong!