Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why You Need a Househusband

Because you can come home to homemade pesto pizza like this!! (It tasted better than it looks....)

Bonus points for using whole wheat flour for the crust, P!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Phone Dependancy

I don't know about you, but my whole life revolves around my phone.  I live by this little guy.

I wake up to him every morning.

I listen to his sweet Songza tunes as I climb a mountain and he records my distance and time on Runkeeper.

I check into said mountain so all of my other FourSquare friends know that I am up and exercising at 7 am.

On my morning commute I study by practicing my wine region knowledge on my WSET app.

And what would I do without Whatsapp?  I get orders, check in with clients, send househusband errand updates (I love summer vacation!), chat with friends back at home, and even get random messages from  people I don't remember meeting.

Calculator, currency converter, email, HK Weather Observatory, NY Times, Skype, Kindle, calendar (thank god I have recently moved everything into my Moleskin), all of these things are an every day necessity.

Oh, and the phone function too.

Last Friday approximately 5:10 pm, tragedy struck.  Poor little guy decided this life was worth living and he took a fatal dive out of my pocket into the HOFWs toilet.  Although rescue came quickly (and not happily, ew), it wasn't enough.  The damage was done, and he wouldn't survive.

So for those of you wondering why I have been out of commission, and probably the vast majority of you whom haven't even noticed, I am sans phone.   And it's looking like I will be until at least next week.

God speed little guy.

In the meantime, you can reach me the old fashion way via gmail or Paul. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

One Last Note on America

Unfortunately the Chenin Blanc Viognier blend I mentioned from my USA liquor store post was never tasted by yours truly.  I brought it as a hostess gift and it somehow never seemed to make an appearance into my glass.  Oh well.  Can anyone tell me what I'm missing out on?

On my way out of Gettysburg I made one last stop at Reid's Orchard & Winery.  Since I was in downtown Gettysburg, I wasn't actually in the orchard, but instead in their tasting room at Jennie's House.  Apparently this year has been super busy with tourists, so selection of wines to taste was low.  Not to be deterred, I still had my go with threedifferent, very American,  wines. 

1.  Sharpshooter North-
  This is made with a grape I am none to familiar with; Cayuga.  Apparently it has trouble growing virtually anywhere but in PA, and here it does alright.  This was a rich, oily, off dry, white, that I think would pair nicely with a creamy alredo pasta.  Definitely different. 

2.  Richmond's Rebel- 

               Despite the fact that this was labeled a Bordeaux blend, I was assured that the varietals in this blend included all of the following:  Zinfandel, Syrah, Carmine, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv....I don't think Bordeaux would approve.  The woman leading the tasting (sorry didn't catch her name!) told us that when Mr. Reid informed his workers to go pick the grapes, they did.  And put them all in one big old basket.  Instead of chucking it, he figured why not see what comes out....

Very light and lacked fruit for my taste.  2011 wasn't the best year in PA apparently....

The tasting room
3.  Seminary Ridge Red-

                  50% Sangiovese  50% Pinot Noir.  This was definitley the star.  Nice fruit flavors with black currant notes.  Who would have thought to blend a big wine like Sangiovese with a lighter style Pinot Noir?  I suppose it's because Pinot Noir isn't at its best in PA....just a thought. 

homemade butters and jams
All in all it was an enjoyable experience.  We learned that Mr. Reid tries to keep everything organic as possible, grows all of his own fruit and vegetables, makes to die for pumpkin butter (brought this home), and apparently is doing quite well for himself.  

Well done PA.  Next time I'll have to revisit some of my old favorite Virginia wineries.  Til then.

Happy National Day HK!

Paul and I are celebrating by getting the hell out of dodge!  October 1-2nd is Chinese and Hong Kong National Days (I think) and I requested the time off months ago in anticipation of a McPhate family reunion in China.  Unfortunately my dad's knees had other ideas, and that reunion will have to wait til spring. Instead, it's time to boogie Taiwanese style.

Paul booked our flights this morning to beautiful Taipei.  I went for Chuseok September 2 years ago, so it will be really cool to get back and see what's the same and what's different.  Perhaps we can even fit in another round of snake blood shots.  

We're only in town a few days, so we'll probably see Taipei quickly and then head to the beach.  October 5th is my big WSET level 3 exam, so I really should be studying the entire weekend before, but somehow I don't see that happening.  I guess that just means I'll have to put in the hours now....

Check it:


Back at it

Back to Hong Kong and back to work!!  A quick sleep and it was immediately back to the grind that is wine.

Korean flounder!
Wednesday I rolled into the office, then quickly rolled right out to the Wan Chai Convention Centre to set up for the Food Expo.  Greg and I lifted, sorted, glued, and then just as fast as we hurried in, we hurried out for we had another event on the very same afternoon.  We sponsored the launch of QQ in Hong Kong.  QQ is an online messenger service from China, and we were there to pour some vino at the press conference.  We served a couple glasses of wine and then the event started.  In Chinese.  I sat and read my wine notes for an hour until it was over, served a couple more glasses of wine, and head home at the stroke of 7.

Oh did I mention Paul and I did a detox when we got back?  I figured between the weeks leading up to going home, being home, and the wedding, it was probably time to give this body a break.  No booze, meat, or dairy for as long as I deem necessary.  Well turns out that lasted all of three days, for one in the wine industry, one must drink wine!  One thing I decided during the process is that I am done with meat.  After the disgusting amount of ham, steak, and turkey I ate in the states, I think I'm over it.  No mas carne.  With that said, I will certainly never give up my fish.

The wine side

I should also mention Paul's brave try at going without meat.  I think he made it all of 4 hours before McD started calling his name.  It's in his genes, what can I say. 
After hours crowd at the Food Expo

Thursday through Friday it was nonstop at the Food Expo.  Friday evening I had an amazing wine class (this was the straw that broke the sober camels back) covering Spain, and then Saturday was 10-8 expo.  Toward the end of the event my friend Victor came by looking for the Mexican booth, my neighbor.  Unfortunately they packed up hours earlier, so they sat in the empty space consuming HOFWs finest wines.  8pm we packed up and Paul joined me, and we joined Victor.  All of the other wine vendors (there weren't many) soon followed and we got their leftovers.  We drank some lovely wines from Macedonia and other areas of Greece and come 10 when the whole place was desserted we decided it was probably best to leave.

Sunday!  My first glorious day off in 4 whole days!  I hit the beach with my WSET book.  Crazy Sunday Funday for this kid.  Welcome home!

Watson Wines Sunday Tasting, asa
Sunday dinner: Homemade tacos!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Concetta and Ryan Sitting in a Tree

What an AMAZING wedding!!  I can definitely say that it was the most beautiful wedding I've been to!  With the back drop of a river, giant trees, and dusk, Concetta and Ryan (finally) said I do.

We spent the day before the wedding at the Lancaster Brewery enjoying locally made fantastic beers, followed by a wonderful dinner at the Leola Inn, followed by some poolside beer time.   I decided to get a tasting flight at the brewery.  Little did I know I got a sample of one of each of the 15 beers.  I looked like quite the lush.  Luckily I'm dating someone who can put a few back, and put a few back he did!   Saturday those not in the bridal party were lucky enough to chill in the pool and catch up!  Peenalope was there!  Kate and Spencer were there! Giorgio was there!  JMU love.

someone's handsome 
Then it was time to get ready and see the most beautiful bride and bridal party on their way to the wedding.  And what a wedding.  So much fun to see my best friend on such a special day.  I'm mad I didn't bring my camera, but you can look  here and see for yourself.  PS Chett, fantastic photographer!!!  The college reunion and reception party were just an added bonus.  Late night of course got silly.  I believe there was some fully clothed bathing going on Greg's room, some random making out, some switching of making out partners, and who knows what else I didn't see!  Love you Chetta, and I'm  so so so happy for you and Ryan!

Justibuns and Ryan the morning after
Sadly all fun things must come to an end and Paul and I hitched a ride to NJ with Maria and Dave.  Love you Maria and wish that we had drives/book clubs/wine nights more often!!

One last night in NJ with my parents and then time to head out.  :(  I miss home already!!

I'm not going to exaggerate when I say we had the worst circumstances for a flight home ever.  EVER. It turned out alright in the end, but I had my doubts for a while there.

2 children behind.  ----->endless seat kicking- Paul was a much better sport than I would have been if I had that kid behind me.

2 children in front. ----> surprisingly little angels

1 baby to our left. ---->evil death cry for approximately 11 of the 15 hours.

No open bar.   ----->seriously, United?  WTF?

Ambien. ----->  Thank god for this because I don't think we would have made it otherwise.

Back in Hong Kong!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Paul loves American sandwiches

Paul and I have been spending a wonderful week back in the good old USA.  Saturday the Fiehlers met the McPhates (and a Macchiaverna and Nestler) for an perfect evening of dining, chatting, and catching up!

Sunday was party day!!!  I feel like now a year later, we are officially engaged.  The families have met.  We have (kind of) set a date.  And we're taking steps to get down that alter.  The best part of the day was seeing so so many special people I haven't seen in years!!  Family, childhood friends, neighbors, new family, new friends. So so so so much fun!  THANK YOU so much for everyone who came.  It was so special for me to share Paul with people so close to me!
PA vineyards on the way to Gettysburg

Monday we said goodbye to everyone and head down to Gettysburg where we met Paul's dad.  We had a great night, and then my mom and Stacy joined in the afternoon for some Gettysburg sightseeing.  I was actually pretty impressed with Gettysburg.  I haven't been since 8th grade when I wasn't too impressed at all.  I suppose my 8th grade self was more concerned with getting to Hershey Park than the history of our country.  Go figure.

Sister Love

Then twas time for some DC action.  We went out for an amazing dinner at Liz and Joe's house out in Fairfax.  It's crazy to me that a) they've been married two years now and b) they have a house, dog, yard, etc.  When did we grow up!? Love you guys!

Wednesday was Paul's birthday.   I took him on a surprise zoo visit after a sweet sub from Taylors (amazed and so happy for Dave and Casey's success!).  We went for the baby cheetahs, but were disappointed that they aren't so much babies anymore.  Medium cheetahs = meh.  Sloth bears = awesome.

So handsomey on his birthday! xo
We managed to fit in a little Bed Bath & Beyond before heading up to Kalorama to catch up with my best friend from middle school!!  Again, so amazed by what a wonderful adult person my friend has become.  And Paul was equally impressed by the tray of cupcakes we inhaled as a tasting birthday surprise from Kate. Kate, see you in HK soon!!

Jen and Lauren.  Typical :)
Thursday we caught up with Jen over Mexican and wine.  Love Jen! The more catching up over dinner with Steve and Stoga.  I love my DC people and miss you all so much! Awesome to get back into the scene, even if only for the day.

Friday, weddddddddddddding stuff begins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More coming later.  Olympics are coming to a close and I still haven't packed. 

Friday, August 3, 2012


Random filming in the office
So we're heading out in the early AM for USA USA USA!!!  Yey!  We did our best this week to get in as much as we could.  Korean dinner Monday, goodbye Jordan dinner on Tuesday , awesome home cooked meal at Nina and Kenny's Wednesday, rose tasting Thursday, and now class and drinks with James on Friday. Whew.
More about dinner with Kina.  We made plans to get together before we left, and since they had lots of veggies in the fridge, Nina invited us over for some home cooking.  Got to love that!  We enjoyed catching up and cold beers in the kitchen, and then sat down for our first steak dinne in Hong Kong.  Kenny cooked up giant steaks just the way I like them, rare, and Nina made string beans, cauliflower, and amazing mac and cheese (ohh my favorite).

What night is complete without a little SNL and Top Chef Masters?  I love hanging at Kina's.  That was the hightlight of the week, now I'm just finishing up last minute things at work because I am 4 minutes away from vacation!!! Woohoo!!

See you on the other side!

Paul's enjoying his time off

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Last Week Continued

So far behind, so very far behind.

Basically last week was filled with more wine tastings for work, school, and just for fun!  Wednesday I hit up Bower's & Wilkins for an exceptional tasting.  Mostly exceptional not because of the wines, but the fantastic food and friends! I went alone, saw some pop stars and wine friends, and was joined by Paul toward the end of the evening.  Read all about it HERE.
Ahi Tuna with Chili!
Then Thursday I hit the Flying Winemaker for the first time for an Australian tasting. The FWM is Eddie McDougall, a young winemaker born in HK but raised and educated in Australia.  He brought his love of wines (along with his own label) back with him to HK where he worked at the 8th Estate (I know, I know) and then just this year opened his own wine shop cum wine bar.  It's a great space in the heart of LKF with a variety of wines and rumors of a second location in the next few months.  Impressive for such a young dude.
The tasting was nice with some Sauv Blancs and Pinot Noirs, but the rain was coming down and I had a date!  Paul and I decided to grab a drink at our favourite haunt, Linguini Fini, and turns out there was a Me Girl fashion party!!  We had been to the same party a month prior, so we figured why not join this one.  Too bad I had eaten because they had a spread of all the things that make me love LF; bruschetta, pizza, meat, cheese, oh and free beer.  But not to be outdone, my man Wahid was there, and as always hooked up nothing but world class treatment.  'Lauren, I know you can't do beer.  Let me get you a glass of Prosecco.'  Yes, sir!!  Wahid is just nothing but smiles and positive energy, I hope he has a nice girlfriend.
Brooklyn Band!
Friday in class we discussed (and drank) the Loire Valley and the Rhone Valley.  All of the wines were superb!  Post class I meet up with Paul, who had been at a Sassyhk shopping event (our friend Alicia was playing and he didn't realize it would be ALL girls- ha), and our friend from Find Wine, Rex.  Rex's friend was having his birthday party at the Central Wine Bar, so we all partook in the fun!  There was an amazing live band from Brooklyn, bottles of Rhones wines (at my insistence), and plenty of people rocking out.  Good times.
Paul and Rex at Central Wine Bar
But rest is for the weary.  Paul went to his LAST DAY AT TUTOR TIME and I hit up the Pet Fair for a couple hours before meeting with Paul for our first solo wine tasting.  The pet fair is exactly how you picture it.  Loud.  Ridiculous.  And totally hilarious.  There were stalls for doggie hair dye ($2k), doggie life insurance, doggie outfits, doggie backpacks, doggie prams, doggie everything.  Thank god I only had to go for 2 hours.
Paul manning the food table

Paul and I had an awesome time pouring wines for the Find Wine clients.  This is a month tasting that we do in TST with Find Wine and 8 or so other vendors, and it's always a nice afternoon.  It's only 3 hours, a bunch of the people know about wine, and for this event, we were allowed to keep 10% of what we sold.  Paul's commission.  We did OK depsite the lowest turnout I've seen to date, and the afternoon hit a high when James Beatty, my collegue from Pepco showed up for a glass!  He's in town for a week as part of his graduate school.  I haven't seen James since I left PES three years ago!

Duck Tongue!

James came back with us to drop everything off in Kwun Tong.  Kwun Tong is not exactly the centre of the culinary world, and after we got shot down from a reliably good dim sum restaurant we tried the new Spicy Crab restaurant.  Despite the fact that it has a 'celebrity' chef (HK famous perhaps), the food was awful!  Oily, flavorless, and just outright not good.  We did however agree that it was a worthwhile dining experience because we got to try duck tongue.  Not something I ever need to eat again, but I'm glad I can add it to this list of bizarre.

Post crap we hit up another reliable favorite in Central.  Good old Globe, where we enjoyed excellent beers and Jenga.  But you know how I roll, 11 pm and I turn into a pumpkin.

Somewhere in the woods
Sunday Paul, James, Derek and I meet up at Dim Sum Master for some really excellent dim sum.  All the classics with the standout being xio long bao.  Always is.  Then we hiked 8 or so kilometers from Quarry Bay to the Tai Tam Resevoir (my morning hike but longer) where we got stuck on a road with no shoulder.  Typical in the middle of the island.  We quickly grabbed a cab and hit the beach in Shek O where Laura joined us.  The water was less than refreshing, warm and filled with garbage (typhoon reminants), so we grabbed a table and some Thai and beers and called it a day....