Friday, June 29, 2012


Wine class is amazing, but after yesterday's class, I learned its also going to be a lot of work.  Similar to the CFA in the respect they expect you put in 85 hours, and that's assuming you did level 2.   It'll be more like 100 for me.  There's so much to know between regions, varietals, varietal characteristics per region, viticulture, vinification, and of course, tasting.

There are 20 of us, most of which surprisingly are NOT in the industry.  The class is designed for industry people who want to be trained and certified to manage wine sales and selection.  But, the Asians got to one up you.  There's a whole bunch of doctors in my class who are just doing this really difficult program just for  fun!  Not sure what everyone else's stories are yet...

The teacher, Ian Symonds, is great.  He's been teaching WSET for 12 years and he knows his shit.  He's actually the reason I selected this program.  Back months ago I met a guy who had just gotten his certificate and had studied with Ian, and he strongly recommended him to me.  So here I am.

I walk into class early last night and Ian says, 'You must be Lauren.'  At first I was blown away by my popularity and reputation, but then he informs me I'm one of two guillos (foreigners) in the class.  The other dude is 50.  haha.  

First hour and a half we talk about the course and then get into viticulture versus vinification.

Viticulture is growing of grapes; the vines, the vineyard, and cultivation.

Vinification is wine making; the pressing, fermentation, acid additions and detractions, fining, etc.

All quite interesting.  Then the second half is the tasting portion!!  You have the option to spit or swallow, but come on, it's Friday night and it's only 5 wines.  Last night we tried these 5:

Muscadet from Loire Valley
Chardonnay from Western Australia
Beaujolais Village from France
Rioja Gran Reserva from Spain
Royal Tokaji from France.  This was like drinking little drops of heaven, and I learned about the different varietals that are susceptible to noble rot.  Yum Yum.

We luckily made it all the way through class without a T8 being issued (typhoon/black rain where everything shuts down) and I made it home just before 11 where  Paul with all of our Cali wines were waiting for me!!  We tried the Six Sigma Tempranillo from Lake County.  It was ok, but lacked some body.  

Anyway, wine class rules.  Paul rules.  And this Saturday AM rain is ruining my mountain hike.  So I shall sit inside with my coffee and WSET text book and start putting in my hours!!  

Our New Wines

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I start wine class!!! I'm so excited to see what it's all about and meet all of my new wine snob friends.  Full update tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why I Love Hong Kong (part 3000)

A) people actually come to visit!

Yesterday my friend Rick and I met up for a drink.  Rick lives in China.  We met in Korea.  He's American.  Cool, no?

B) There are always cool (free) events on!

Rick and I met at happy hour on Star Street and proceeded to head to Via which is a furniture gallery next . The Italian Chamber of Commerce was holding a series of  Italian design mixers, and this just happened to be one.  I suppose Italy is trying to bolster their image in Hong Kong, and these events are their way of getting it out there.  Cool for us.  

We got to see some really cool furniture, snack on spicy sausage sandwiches, and wash it all down with bubbles or a Pinot.  
I need this sleeping bag chair.

Tonight Paul and I are going another ItaCham event, a SME cocktail mixer.  I was promised that if I come early there will be buffalo mozzarella.  See you at 6!

C)  There is a forest in the middle of the city!

This is my morning run/hike and it's right in my backyard.  Asa.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dragon Boat

Well we did it.  And now we are officially 100% retired from dragon boat.  It was quite an experience, I wouldn't necessarily say a good experience, but we did it.  We raced, we dressed like idiots and danced on stage, and then we went home.

We head down to the beach at 7 am and got dressed and pumped with out team of 40 or so people.  We got really sweet butt padded shorts that neither Paul or I (or most of the team) could button up, and cool team shirts, and come 10:30 it was race time.  We were in the first race for our team, the B squad, and we paddled out and raced against 12 other boats.  Our team messed up the start a bit and we were never able to recover. 10 out of 13 ain't bad.....  But Paul and I felt we both did our best and were able to keep in sync.

The weather turned out to be beautiful!!!!  Perfect blue skies, and hot hot hot sun.

Post our race we all went back to the 'house' we rented to change into our InterNations costumes for the  craziest outfit parade.  Some of these teams go nuts.  There were Gladiators and Avengers, and then us in our blue wigs and flags.  It was fun, but not totally my cup of tea.

Finally we were able to get back to the house at 2 to each lunch, the first meal of the day.  We were with a German team, so the food was German, and quite good, but we had to rush it as another race was coming up.

There were 60 races with 13 teams in each.  That's a lot of teams.  Our second race InterNations kicked ass.  This was the A squad.  The people that dedicated every weekend (and more) to practice and fundraising.  And they did themselves reallllll proud; First Place!!!  They smoked all of the other teams by at least 1/2 a boat length which is huge in a 1:20 race. I was especially proud of Nicole, our coach.  She worked so hard and I'm so glad she pulled out a win.

Stanley early AM.  Come noon it was packed!
We head back to the house where those of us who were finished racing enjoyed a beer.  Then the team head back to the beach for the third and final race for the Gold Cup.  Paul and I decided that if we wanted to get home in less than 4 hours (there were probably three million people in STanley and only one road in and out) we should leave now before the crowd.  So we have no idea how our team did in the end, yet we learned a valuable lesson.  Dragon boating ain't for everyone.

Friday, June 22, 2012


The big D Boat festival is tomorrow!!!  As much as we don't like paddling, we're really into beach front parties.  Bring it on.

We're meeting our teammate Kristina, who we just found out is a neighbor, at 7 am to head down to Stanley for some dboat fun!  We were nervous we wouldn't be allowed to race as we haven't been to practice in 4+ weeks, but turns out our team has 3 or 4 boats.  Woohoo, we'll definitely race, be on the B (or realistically C) team so no one will care when we suck.  AND there's an all day party at the boat house.  Fingers crossed the weather holds....

My new obsession is Bina, our house keeper.  She comes in every other Friday to clean Steve's apartment, and now up to clean ours, and man she is amazing.  I love what this woman has done!!  All of my lotions are in line, my pot found a home, and even our shoes without a shoe rack seem more in order.  And I feel guilty admitting this, but she only charges $100.  That's $12.5 usd.   <3

Ok off to bed.  Yesterday's lunch at Factory 99 turned into another all day wine festival, so tonight we're taking it easy.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mountains Before Breakfast

With a sense of relief that dboat was cancelled, Paul and I emerged from our den out into the depths of Quarry Bay.  Well not really.  We went across the street to an artist reception for the 'Dancing Bears.'  We can see if from our window, and I just so happened to receive an invite to the opening, so we figured why not.  Snacks, Champagne, artists, and bears.  What's not to like?

The apt building in the middle, 5 floors up with the open balcony is 5F.  It's nicer on the inside :)

Later that day we head down to Stanley. Wow it's only 20 minutes by taxi from Qbay.  Life is so much better on the island :)  We enter's Brad's parent's penthouse and are immediately greeted with smoke, smoke and more smoke.  Grilling on the deck with the door open = smoke.  It was great to catch up with the whole Brad crew!  And the food was great too, particularly Sean's almost homemade lasagna.  Ha- Chicken on the Run rocks.  Brad's parents are such good sports having us over.  And you should see their penthoouse.  OH MY.  Right on the cliffs overlooking the sea, decorated in Chinese/Western fusion; it's gorgeous!
Impromptu wine and truffle cheese tasting.  Work is tough sometimes. 

But as with most Saturdays, drinking wine for several hours makes this kid tired.  One of these days Paul and I will stay out past 11 pm.  Probably not....

Sunday Funday was spent with the Kinster and Sarah and Will (the Brits) at California Vintage followed by some neighborhood exploration.  We had planned to hit the beach, but by the time we got on the MTR back to Quarry Bay we had decided we'd rather check out our new hood.  There are so many parks!!!  Perfect for running parks!  And then we discovered this little courtyard of cute restaurants all right on the water.  <3 QBay.
We live so close to the water!
Oh and then I discovered that Quarry Bay has access to Tai Tam National Park!  It's amazing, a 5 minute walk and you're at the foot of a mountain.  Seeing as I'm out of running shape, hiking mountains before work seems more suited!
Don't Mind if I Do

Yesterday was the most ridiculous day of work.  Julia and I were up in Sai Kung on Wednesday delivering wine, meeting with gourmet shops and restaurants, and then had an amazing lunch at a Michelin rated Thai place; May's Sawadee.  Life is nice (albeit quiet) up in the Sai Kung.

Then we come back to the office work for a couple of hours before Rex and the Find Wine crew to film a little diddy about HOFWs for their newsletter.  Well turns out it's like a 5 minute piece hosted by none other than yours truly.  Wow did I do a horrible job!  Ha I am not an in front of the camera person, but after a glass of wine and Greg leaving I did a little better.  A littttttttle.  Hopefully that will be up and I can share the embarrassment with you....
Here's Julia and I 'hard at work'

Filming was followed by yet another amazing night at Linguini fini.  Love that place!Read all about it here:

Yep and now it's Thursday and time for lunch at Factory 99.  Hopefully this ends before midnight...


I have lots to write about but a severe lack of time.  But for now, here is my new address:

5F Sea View Building
37 Tong Chong Road, Quarry Bay
Hong Kong, HK

Don't be shy to test it out!

Just don't use DHL......

Saturday, June 16, 2012


As you may have noticed Paul and I aren't the biggest fans of dragon boating anymore.  It's been a big hassle and we've been busy.  With the distance, and packing, and sheer laziness, Paul and I have not been in over a month.  

There are two practices this weekend, we planned to go today, but as luck would have it it's totally raining.  Hard.  Score one for rain.  Tomorrow's practice is at 8:45 am.  Ha see ya there, followed by brunch in TST.  Dark side on my day off?  Again, I don't think so.

See ya at the race, dboat!

Off to BBQ at Brad's.  Asa.

Friday, June 15, 2012


...kind of.  Altruistic Wines decided to shut it's doors in pursuits of the technological sorts.  Rai, the owner, and his partners are working on a new app to create wine clubs that will also serve as a platform to sell wine.  Thisw means that his import business in Hong Kong will fall by the wayside, which is great for me.  Cheap wines, get em while they're hot!

Inside the big room in the cellar
So the auction was supposed to be for Rai's high end wines; the prize being an imperial (I'm talking 6 litres) of Lynch Bage. Reserve price $14,500 HKD.  Hmm, perhaps next time.  BUT, seeing as there were only 7 of us, including Rai, the auctioneer and his assistant, the auction turned more into a wine sale.  After drinking a lovely Grenache Blanc from Santa Barbara, we all went back to the cellar (that Rai also owns) to see what he has left.  Whatever he doesn't sell by Tuesday goes to auction by Acker.

We all stood around in the 15 degree dark cellar drinking lovely California wines; a Cab Franc that Paul loved, and a Bordeaux blend that was really really lovely.  Then Rai asked what he could do us for.  I made a few suggestions of what I like; Grenache, Zins, and anything interesting, and he went to work pulling out bottles left and right.  In the end we got 12:

Sauv Blanc from Lake County- 6 Sigma
Rose from 6 Sigma
Tempranillo 6 Sigma
Grenache from Santa Barbara- which we drank last night and was awesome!
2 Pinot Noirs from Oregon
Bordeaux blend that one of Rai's customers claims to be excellent
And a couple more I can't remember off the top of my head.

We took the Sauv Blanc, Rose, and Grenache home and the remaining bottles will remain stored in the cellar until August free of charge.  I feel so grown up buying nice wines and cellaring them :)
Paul loves his Cabernet Franc

THEN today after I hit Sai Kung for some sales, I met Paul in Quarry Bay for some lunch.  We also popped into the local wine shop.  Turns out it's only 2 months old, has predominately German wines (although there are Canadian, Austrian, and Australian too), and the guy who runs it is a WSET approved tutor.  I think I will be spending a lot of time and money there.  I found my new Jimmy.

Cellar Fun

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quarry Bay

Paul and I love love love love love love love our new apartment!!!  And we're finally at the stage where everything has a home, except shoes and garbage.  Can you believe Ikea didn't have little under the sink garbages!?  Or shoe racks!?
View from the 5th floor 

Every night we come home, walk past amazing restaurants, through happy hour, and make our way up to what still feels like a hotel room.  Everything's so new and nice!  And the bed is soooo big!  We got our first shipment from that I have to pick up this morning.  I think it's the duvet.  We also have sheets and a memory foam on the way.  The absurd thing is that you can't find nice quality here without paying out the nose.  So even though our shipping was more expensive (no joke!) than what we ordered, it was still cheaper than buying it here.  Made in China, not so much.

So this week has been full of sales!!!  Since Julia arrived, I have been sent out to hit restaurants, wine shops, and gourmet shops for sales sales sales.  Julia usually comes with me as training, which makes for a nice little afternoon out.

Tuesday we went up to Sai Kung and hit almost every restaurant there, opening one account!  I will follow up tomorrow with a couple more restaurants, hopefully wooing them with my charm and fine wines :)  Yesterday we went to lunch in Causeway Bay at a restaurant we sold to last week, La Bon, which was very nice, then hit Wan Chai for another new account just opened; Head Table-----they called me, asa!  We finally made it to Central where I have a very viable lead, and it all wrapped up with a call from another account asking for more wine.  Woo.  Yesterday was a good day.
 Lobster Sauce with Clams at La Bon

Then we had the second event at the Fringe Club.  It was pretty slow like the first one, but it was outside and overlooking LKF, and come 8 Paul and Lionel made their way over.  We're always the last to leave, and this was no exception, but post event Greg took us all out to the Whiskey Priest for some hard earned beers.  The boys can't hack wine all night.  Then Paul and I took, get this!, a 10 minute cab ride home!! 10 minutes!!! No more of the 30-60 minute nonsense!!!!

Sai Kung Fish Market
Tonight Paul and I are going to a Cali wine auction for a company that has decided to shut down.  Greg and I met Rai, the owner, a couple weeks ago and he's very impressive.  Probably 30, educated at Stanford, well spoken, and good looking.  He decided only idiots sell wine (ha true story) so he's auctioning off his stock and working on a new facebook-esq wine project.  We'll see.....

Tomorrow is Sai Kung, Dragon Boating, then BBQ at Brad's.  Should be a nice little weekend.
Roof Top Table at Fringe

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Friday Ridiculousness

Last week my friend Patrick introduced me to John, the owner of Factory 99 in Kwun Tong.  Factory 99 is a great restaurant with quick service, family style tables, and deliciously reasonably priced food (although I wouldn't know as I have never paid for a meal yet).  I told Greg about the new spot, he went in for lunch and dinner, and then we were all invited back on Friday for lunch.  Lunch started at 2.  I got home at midnight.

Julia, John's friend, John, Greg
We started with a nice lunch, then we opened a white, and a red, and another red, and then like 10 more reds.  Food came periodically throughout the day, Greg and Sean left, and then came back, and we switched seating venues quite a few times.  Paul even joined us toward the end of the night.

Wow did Saturday hurt.  I didn't leave the apartment once.  Not even in the hallway.  The most productive thing I did was pack some suit cases in the afternoon and then it was immediately back to the couch to catch up on some TV.  Here is is Sunday and I've already been way more productive in the few hours I've been awake then alllll day yesterday.

The house is a total disaster and we're kind of realizing what a pain in the ass it's going to be to move.  Laura has graciously offered to help us move, thank god!  It's raining with thunderstorm warnings and we're not sure if d boating will be cancelled or not.  Fingers crossed it will be!!!!!  Only 2 more weeks....

Catherine Brooke Ryan

Paul and I just found out yesterday that a dear friend from Korea has passed away from cancer.  Brooke was such a force that's it's insane to think someone that full of energy and spirit could die 30 years old.

Brooke was a part of the Sunday Funday crew and would always liven up brunch with rounds of Jameson and ridiculous disappearing acts.  She was a true friend who would have given anything to make sure everyone was having a good time.  And I am just so heartbroken to think that she's been fighting for her life since the last time I saw her last over a year ago, and that she has lost.  And now we have all lost someone so special.  Praying for you and your family, Brooke.  xoxoxo.

In completely opposite really exciting news, I have just found out that another dear friend is pregnant with her first baby!  Susan and Martin (also friends from Korea) are expecting a little baby boy or girl November 23rd!!!!  So excited to be an auntie for little Tiger Baby (my name) and am soooo happy for them!!  They're going to be the cool parents who take their kid hiking in the Alps for winter, and to the beaches of Ibiza for summer break.  Congrats!!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

WSET 3 is On!

Today I enrolled in Wine Studies II at HKU SPACE to prepare for my WSET level 3 exam.  Class starts June 29th and finished October 5th.  I can't wait!!

After an exhausting week at VinExpo, I had an equally exhausting and fun weekend not at VinExpo.  Friday night Paul and I met Steve in our new hood and realized that we really love our new hood!  Our apartment is no joke over happy hour.  Ohhh this is going to get dangerous.  We also discovered in the new neighborhood a few sushi places, a thai restaurant, a taco place (what!?), five Western fine (well more fine than Subway) dining, Subway, McDonald's Cafe (which is surprisingly nice), frozen yogurt place, and Western grocery store.
Close tacos!

This is seriously going to be dangerous.

See?  In. the. jungle. 
Saturday and I had to work.  In the jungle.  I'm not even joking.  Sean and I ferried it out to Lamma Island early in the AM.  Lamma is a place where all the hippies live together in peace and harmony and non hippies go to chill and find some sweet vegan food.  And man did I find some sweet vegetarian food.  Despite the 'market' in the jungle, I did get a really amazing goat cheese/avocado/spinach/sunflower seed salad out of the deal, so I was a pretty happy camper.

Seriously the single best salad I have had in Asia
Come 3 I couldn't take the bugs so I ferried it back to the island, MTRed it to a bus, and hit Shek O for the most ridiculous party I have ever seen in Hong Kong.  Thousands of people were there.  Thousands!  You wait in line, buy a wrist band then walk into this makeshift sectioned off bar area for your favorite dangerous imbibement.  Remember jungle juice?  It was kind of like that with the option of Coors Light (which was odd but welcomed).  Then you take your drink back out to the beach where there was plenty of room for your own space among the thousand other people there.  There were people dancing in the rocks, in the water, with body paint, or just sitting and picnicing.  We all would stop periodically to look around and say 'Is this really happening?"

Before the crowds and the rain came
And everyone was there!  It was really nice and beautiful, then started getting dark, then started raining, but at that point everyone had kind of drank their raincoat, so the party continued.  Well until 10 when these old folks decided we'd had enough and head on the trek home.  For there are no taxis at Shek O, so you get on the bus back to society then hail a cab to take us back to the mainland.  Can't wait for Quarry Bay.

Sunday AM was quite funny to watch the Shek O Facebook Event page.  Every post went like this,

"Missing black Blackberry n a pair of sunglasses.  Please contact me if you find it"

"Lost my pants, keys and wallet.  Please contact me"

My Whatsapp had similar messages.  I haven't met one person yet who didn't lose something that that party.  But totally worth it in the end.  The party was thrown by Detroyed HK (pretty lame, I know), and I'm guessing this won't be the last....

Anyway, post reading the boards, Paul and I made it down to our new friends (through Kina) David and Katie for a Mexican brunch!  It was amazing to have huevos rancheros homecooked and in Asia!  When does that ever happen!?

Missed dragon boating again....oops....