Monday, September 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Booked; HKG----> Hanoi, Vietnam. December 23rd.
HAN----> HK January 1.  (Love traveling on New Year's day!)

Paul and I will spend our Christmas and New Year holiday backpacking from Hanoi through Laos, and if we have the time, Northern Thailand.  Woohhhhhh!!!

Here's what we were up to last week.  

Wednesday I had the most fun/informative dinner with some of my wine class elite.  I joined Faye, Sherwin, Di, and Paul along with our teacher Ian and class organizer Christine for a dinner with the focus around Burgundian and Italian wines (a bunch of us had missed the Italian class). Dinner was at a tiny little European restaurant, Rossa Gourmet,  near my old hood in Kowloon City. 

We all wrapped our wines and sat in these amazing overstuffed leather cigar chairs (because you should totally have a cigar while sitting in this chair), and dove right in.  While not stuffing our faces with a selection of cheeses (truffle cheese!), cured meats, lightly grilled eel, the most amazing rye bread I have had in Asia (only rye bread while in Asia??), we blind tasted wines while Ian walked us through identifying the wines.

Big body?  Could this be North Italy?  What grapes are in North Italy....must be.....Nebbiolo.....from Barolo.  And like that for the rest of the eight wines.  They were all totally delicious, and some new to me!  Valpolicella! Which, incidentally, is made in Veneto, Italy, from mostly Corvina with some help from Rondinella and Molinara. 

We worked our way through a number of wines, and toward the end of the evening were served truffle cream pasta (to die for), scallop pasta, and roast duck breast.  This place is amazing and since we were sharing some of our wines with the sommelier, didn't charge corkage.

I think we all walked out of there, well a little tispy, but more importantly, a little more confident in our tasting skills and knowledge of both Burgundy and Italy.  Thank you so much for Di and Paul for organizing, and especially for Ian for all of his words of wisdom!  I'm going to miss wine class!!

My table; Barolo DOCG and truffles, Peimonte's best!
Thursday was another sort of tasting.  One led by me.  And my co-workers.  We hosted a wine tasting for Greg's friend and his colleagues over at Morgan Stanley.  We held it in a private room in Bourbon Street in the heart of Soho.  Full report here.  Despite the fact that I worked 9-11:30, the tasting was super fun, met some cool people, and enjoyed spreading my wine knowledge :)

Sean learns Gangnam Style

Friday was wine class; spirits!  Shots class! We had no less than 11 liquors to taste:

2 Gins
Grappa (if you love the black jelly beans, you're in for a treat)
Cognac (my first!)
2 dark Rhums (the one with the H is my favorite- made from molasses not cane sugar)
2 whiskeys
Absinthe (woooweee strong)

After tasting (and gagging on quite a few) we did some revision, during which Ian told us we were one of the most serious classes he's had to date.  Go us.

After class I went and met Ms. Han and her gem buddies at their hotel which happens to be less than a 10 min walk from my apartment.  Oh my god.  They are SOOOOO Korean!  I walk into the room and there are 10 or so adults sitting in a cirlce on the floor (duh), with a cardboard laid down in the middle.  On the cardboard was a smorgasbord of all things Korean food; spicy Korean chicken (picked up on Korea Street in TST), sliced fruit, canned fruit, cookies, chips, dry Ramen (that's how people eat it, I swear), and of course the essential; SOJU and BEER.

As soon as I walk in I am told to sit in the circle, handed a pair of chopsticks and a beer, and am instantly so nostalgic for my old home!  I miss Korea.  And I miss Ms. Han!

Saturday I had to work the Cyberport Weekend Market.  This is always slow, and Saturday was especially hot.  I sweat.  I sat.  I read my wine book.  Wasn't so bad. Paul came and met me at 4 and we went over to Central Piers to sit on the water and have a drink.  And then home.  We're two wild and crazy kids, I tell ya!

Sunday, beautiful Sunday!!  The sun was shining so we hopped on a ferry over to Cheung Chau where we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves.  We rented tubes and floated the afternoon away.  Bliss.   Rounded out the day with episode 1 of Boardwalk Empire.  Yey, new shows!!  We just finished Homeland and LOVED it!  And I just heard they picked up quite a few Emmys.

Work, tutoring, Austrian wine tasting at our local wine shop, bed.  Tomorrow's my mock exam, Wednesday an Australian tasting, Thursday a Bordeaux Masterclass, and Friday TAIWAN!!!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ms. Han Is Coming!!

Ms. Han is coming!!!  Yey!!!  September 19th-23rd for the annual Jewellry and Gem expo.  Woohoo!!!

Crab Soup

Ah I am so far behind on posts and am off to work in a minute, but just thought I would share what I am enjoying right now.  Homemade crab bisque!

I met this guy at Restaurant & Bar last week who was flying back to Oregon and had some leftover frozen crabs, so I gladly took them off him!  Paul and I had a crab feast on Sunday (after an awesome day at Big Wave Bay! Autumn is here!) and used the leftover stock to make bisque.

Paul Loves Crab Soup
Crab Stock:

Boiled crabs, onion, garlic, salt & pepper for 20 minutes

Removed crabs and proceed to eat for the next 2 hours

To the stock we added a can of diced tomatoes

tomato paste


onion salt

garlic salt

lump crab meat

the end.

Heavenly buttery soup....
I've been taking the ferry to work.  Soooo much more pleasant than the MTR

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rest and Bar

Today is the first day of the 3 day Restaurant & Bar expo, which means the first day of craziness!  8+hours a day standing asking, 'Would you like to try some foie gras?'   Should be good fun though, full report coming later this week.

Random not so good Korean soondubu.  Why can't Chinese make good Korean food??
Saturday Paul and I went to a nice Burgundy wine tasting and ran into my friend Karen from class.  The wines were not my favorites, but nails in what I've been learning about Burgundy.  After class we went to the third installment of the Ernest So concert.  Despite that we were there working, we still had a blast.  The music was nice, kept to less than 45 minutes, and the people were all really great.  We went out for a post concert drink but had to head in early for....

Recital in Red Square Gallery

Sunday was JUNK DAY!!  Junks are really the best thing about Hong Kong.  All day on a boat!  Secluded beaches.  Surprise buffets.  Jumping of boats.  Swimming.  Afternoon Prosecco.  Lovely.

Perfect Sunday
This junk was through our friend Will's co-worker and some of his friends.  Turns out most of the people (including 3 babies!) were from Lamma Island.  I don't know if I've mentioned Lamma, but it's a certain kind of person that lives there.  A hippie kind of person.  So these people were awesome, so laid back, and there were even a few vegans which meant more for us!  :)

Nina and Kenny were also there, so it was great to spend another Sunday together.  I think this is becoming a trend!  What will we do next Sunday!??

Good times.  
Smoothie of the week; carrot, ginger, soy, and banana.  Asa.

Chadonnay Off!

This weekend I was lucky enough to attend not one, not two, but three tastings with Chardonnay at the forefront.  This worldly grape can be manipulated into a range of different styles and flavor profiles, so let me share some with you!

Friday evening I joined new friend Henry for an Italian festa.  Henry just recently finished his WSET 3course and exam, and is a passionate wine enthusiast!  We dropped into Enoteca to taste their selection of Italian Biancos.  As with most tastings, we started light (Pinot Grigio) and went heavier (oaked Chardonnay). 

The first Chardonnay, and third wine, we tried was Jermann IGP Venezia Giulia Bianco 2011. 
Dry with medium body, apple, pear, and light melon flavors.  This had a toasty after taste which suggests there may have been some light oaking.  You could tell it was a more cool climate Chard because it lacked some of the tropical flavors that it can sometimes pick up in Australia or Cali.
Then we moved onto a much different Chard- Capannelle IGT Toscana 2009.
Deep lemon, with a buttery, nutty nose, this baby was rich in body and flavor!  Flavors of almond and buttery yogurt dominated, yet it still retained notes of minerality.  This is already 3 years old, but I would guess she's still got quite a few more years in her. This is my kind of Chardonnay.

The final wine for this tasting (but not of the evening ) was another Jermann- Were Dreams IGT Venezia Guilia Bianco 2010.  

This was much more restrained and subtle than the last, but still rich in body.  Perhaps because of its age, there were more fruit flavors; pear, apple, floral notes, with a refined toasty almond finish.  You could taste the winemaker's pride.  This is really a beautifully understated wine!

 Then it was time to leave for it was sparkling night in wine class!!  We tried a Cava, Prosecco, sparkling Chardonnay from Australia, sparkling from USA, and two Pol Roger Champagnes. 

The star of the evening was, of course, the vintage Champagne.   Our last sparkler was a 2000 vintage Pol Roger.  Although not 100% Chardonnay, it's still another example of the versatility of this grape.  Rich yet refreshing, this demonstrated clear oxidative characteristics through its Sherry, dried fruit flavors.  Delish!
It's a tough class, but someone's got to do it!

I took a brief rest before hitting yet another tasting featuring none other than yours truly, Chardonnay!! Grand Wine Cellar hosted a Lou Dumont tasting at FoFo.  Lou Dumont is a company based in Gevry-Chambertin in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Burgundy.  It was started in 2000 and is currently managed by Koji Nakada, a former Japanese sommelier.  These wines have gained some international promotion through the ever popular 'Drops of God' series.
Of the 8 Burgundian selections, only three were Chardonnay. Can anyone tell me what the other 4 must have been???

We started with a Cremant de Bourgogne.  This as you may have guessed, is a sparkling Chard.  Soft, supple with green apple flavors.  A nice little start to a Saturday afternoon!

 Next up was the Bourgogne Blanc Bio 2010.  This was fairly light with some hints of melon.  Easy drinking.

But the definite star of all of the Lou Dumont wines was the Meursault 2009.  Obviously oaked, medium bodied, my mouth popped with buttered popcorn and hay notes.  Again, this is my kind of Chardonnay.

I should also mention the amazing snacks that (quickly) came out.  Delicious scallops over guacamole, steak tartare crackers, fried cheese and ham, and a lovely Iberco ham cracker.  I'll definitely have to come back for dinner! 

Thanks to GSW, FoFo, Enoteca, and WSET wine class for a weekend of Chardonnay!!

Wonder what's on tap for this week!?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wine Class Night!

Woohoo. I love Fridays!  Today is particularly busy though!  The big bosses are out of town on potentially great business in Japan.  As such Julia and i have been left to fend for ourselves.  And of course, so as to keep things interesting, we've had events all week!
Rain finally passed; my morning hike

Tuesday Julia and I did an impromptu tasting for our friend Angel.  He is new to wine and lives in Spain, so he wanted me to try some of his wines and make food pairing recommendations for the upcoming China Wine Awards.  No problem!  We had such a blast, were very methodical and studious in our efforts, and then Paul came at the end to help us with the clean up (ie finish the bottles).  

Far left was the best one!

Wednesday we trudged a trolley and ourselves over to Discovery Bay for a 'back to school' night.  The school was AMAZING!! It was state of the art and, you could just tell, expensive!!  The event was a total bust, and then we had to get the trolley to Greg's friend's house (there are no taxis in DB, you have to wait for like the only van they have up there), drop our stuff off, make our way to the ferry, wait, and then MTR home from Central.  It was definitley an 11 oclock night.  Psh.

Carting stuff around.  Awesome in the 35 degree heat
Last night we joined Red Square Gallery (read about it here) for a piano recital.  The event was super nice.  Great art.  Great music.  Great people.  Not so much on the great sales.  And again, another 11pm night.   Tonight I have wine class so Lionel and Julia are holding down the concert, but I'll be back at it again tomorrow night.  That's Saturday night kids.  Boo.

Next week is Restaurant and Bar expo.  Tues-Wed we'll be in Wan Chai handing out samples, explaining our various wines, and basically exhausting ourselves.  There should be fun tasting areas though!!

But today is crazy run around day.  First go to North Point (East Island) to pick up badges for Rest & Bar, then MTR to Wan Chai (middle island) to pick our booth for Wine and Dine, then MTR to Central to look at a venue for an upcoming tasting, then meet Paul's co-worker for an Italian white wine tasting, then deliver some food, then hit class by 7.  Wooh.  I'm sweating just thinking about it.

Tomorrow I can sleep in!!!!  And Paul can too for he finished his first week of work.  I'll have him write about you'll probably see that in a week or two. Adios!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Anniversary to me and Asia!

Today I have officialy been an ex-pat for three years!  Crazy how time flies.

Miss you chingus!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor Day. Not in HK.

What's been going on this week?  Well, Paul and I had 2 bread fails.  Apparently there are some things that even the Le Creuset can't do.  Noted.  I chopped my hair.  And I love it.  Ali Larter was my inspiration, and the hair guy (always a guy in Asia strangely) totally got that.  Thanks Yunghi!

Paul and I hosted the best wine club ever Thursday night!!  We held an Australia (with a minor in NZ, France, and Italy) wine club in which there were friends, cheese, Paul's homemade pizza bianco, and of course copious amounts of wine!  13 bottles per 12 people ain't nothing to sneeze at!

I think we all agreed the Penfolds Riesling was lovely, and indeed one of my favorites of the night.  The Pinot Noir was a bit light and jammy per most guests tastes, but the Cabernet, Cab blends, and the GSMs were all lovely!  There's a reason Australian wines have blown up in the past few decades.  Easy to open.  Easy to drink.  Easy to understand.  But still some sophistication and complexity.  Well done Australia.

Alicia kindly brought a couple wines from Platinum, and both were smashing.  Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, who arguably makes the best (or second to the Loire) Sauv Blancs in the world.  For a country that only produces 1% of the world's wine (and amazingly is the 10th largest exporter in terms of volume in the world) it was pretty exciting to try.  She also brought a lovely Rhone, which I tend to favor over the fuller bodies Aussies.

Patrick n Paul

Basically wine club was a smashing success, and will definitely continue on!  Thanks to


for coming!!!  Who's free next month?

Courtney, Jackie, Julia, Alicia, and Me
Friday after the party I had an uber productive time in the office, until I had to go down to Wan Chai to choose a booth for our Wine and Spirits Expo in November.  My choices included shitty back booth #1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.  I went with 3.  Why do they even have us come choose???  Anyway, finished that and met up with my buddy Patrick for a Champagne wine tasting.  HOFWs blog post coming on this...

Followed by wine class.  I can't say enough how much I love wine class.  It's so much fun, and I am finally getting my tasting down.  We blind tasted five reds, and I got 4 of them right.  Wooh.

Saturday study in the AM at my new favorite coffee haunt Espresso Alchemy.  They definitely have THE best coffee I have tasted in Hong Kong.  I met the owners Peter and Jackie a week ago, and have been reading about them in the papers, and it seems they know coffee.  Proof is in the...mug.

Then twas time for my chopcut, quick dinner with P at the most annoying place in the whole world, Hysan.  I'm telling you approximately 1 billion people squeeze into this new 12 floor mega mall in Causeway Bay.  We grabbed a bite on the 11/f, then express escalator down to the 1st where we had to wait in a ridiculously long line to get on the ONLY escalator down to the ground.  Seriously, what do we all do when there's a fire!?  That's right, DIE.

We met Courtney and Patrick for a WONDERFUL evening of HK ballet.  Cinderella was really well done, and it was really funny to hear people hoot and holler at every applause break.  This was Paul's first ballet and he's totally hooked, so he's promised to take me again!  We finished the night in TST with some Irish beers and called it an early one for....

Men folk grubbing
Sunday Funday at Kina's!!  We had an Americans (and English and Australian) brunch in commemoration of Labor Day.  Nina put together a beautiful spread complete with nicoise salad, guac and salsa, mac and cheese (ahhhh the best with goat!!!),  and delicious veg/ham fritatta.  Kenny finished the meal up with an amazing apple pie complete with apple logo on top!  Well done my friends!!  As always, it's great to see Kina and great to meet new friends and old.   Helen and Dave brought the little baby!!!  Daria is the sweetest smallest thing I have ever seen.  Intense black hair and big wide eyes, I can't get enough of her!  Thanks Nina and Kenny for a fantastic afternoon!!

Nina in the kitchen

Tomorrow is Paul's first day, so it's Real Housewives and bed for these crazy kids.  Nighty Night!