Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Results Are In

And luckily these scores fare a lot better than my CFA 2 exam score....

THEORY(multiple choice and 5 essays):  Pass with distinction, which means > 85%.  I like to think I'm more in the 95% range :)


OVERALL:  Pass with merit

Wooot.  Lauren McPhate WSET level 3 Certificate holder.  I can put it on my business card and I get a cute little green pin.

Next stop diploma level.  2 years.  6 sections.  12 blind tastings.  And then it's on to the MW.  Why did no on tell me in high school that this is a viable career path???

To celebrate the bosses let me leave the Conrad fair early and Paul came home with a lovely Austrian red.  Any of you ever tried Zweigelt or Blaufrankisch?  Totally delicious, spicy, and different than your normal fruity red.   Then today we all went out as a team for an awesome lunch at the only place in Kwun Tong that offers and awesome lunch; L'hotel Elan.  All I have to say is pumpking, arugala, brie antipasto bar.

Also, I have been asked to write the January column for South Side, Sai Kung, and HK Island Magazine about wine trends in 2013!  Ahhh so excited!!! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Massage Monday

After our dinner plans got cancelled, Paul and I decided to take some times to pamper.  First we hit a book signing, but that was too crowded so we left.  We travelled across the island to our new gym where we cashed in our free massage for joining.  Well, I joined and Paul signed up for 2 months (Groupon).

The gym wouldn't honor our 2 month gym memberships from Groupon because we are not permanent residents.  Small print BS.  But, we could turn our Groupons in for a super deal on joining.  The gym near our apartment isn't super convenient and isn't open until 8 which is too late for me; I work out at 7.  [Side note: nothing in HK is open before 9, and usually 11.  It's pretty annoying]  BUT there's a brand new gym opening in Kwun Tong just a block from my work.  And it DOES open at 7.  So I took the deal and as a result the gym honored the 2 month Groupon.  Deal.

And as a bonus to all of this, we each got a free massage!! Yesterday was the first truly cold, grey, miserable day, and it was amazing to just relax for an hour.  Warm and toasty we made our way home to lay in bed and catch up on some reading.  Lovely little Monday!

Woke up at 7 to run today and it's raining.  And cold.  And dark.  Boo.  I think I'll run some stairs and call Chetta, then it's off to the Conrad for 10 hours of Tai Tais (rich ladys who shop) going nuts for Prosecco and truffles.  Weee!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Final Apologies

So this is my last apology for my lack of timeliness with this blog, for from this day on, even if it's just a short 'hey,' I will be more prolific in my blog entries.  I promise.

Big week in America and big week in Hong Kong. I last left you with manicures.  Post mani Paul came and met me after his finished tutoring (he currently has 3 hours a week and I have cancelled mine until after Christmas, but forever in reality.  I'm over it) at Habibi Cafe in Central.  Habibi is a restaurant client of mine so I like to go in and show my face. This was actually Paul and I's 2nd Tuesday in a row.  We're thinking of making it a Tuesual.  They have awesome Egyptian wine (and HOFWs wine of course) and excellent Egyptian food, and every time I go in I seem to either get a new order or invited in.  This week I'll go in and train the staff on the wine; ie lead a wine tasting.  Sometimes my job sucks :)
Rioja Reserva and Bordeaux reds at Lanson

Wednesday we held a lovely tasting for the Lanson Place four star residence hotel in Causeway Bay.  My first day on the job last year was a more formal sit down tasting with Lanson, and this year we were asked to come back and host a wine tasting all of the GMs and MDs from all of the Asian properties.  There were guys there from Shanghai, Bejing, Malaysia, Singapore, and of course HK.  It was a super nice event and really showed me how far we've come as a company.
Tuna on radish.  yum

THANKSGIVING Thursday.  We had a totally amazing evening with Nina, Kenny, and 7 other friends.  Nina and Kenny know how to throw a party.  If I have not conveyed this point before I fail.  They're both excellent cooks, always have their table looking beautiful yet approachable, and make everyone feel comfortable in their home, and this dinner was so amazing and heartfelt.  Nina's sister Kira is in town again (1 year later!) as well as a host of other friends we know through Kina.  After a few bottles of wine and beer (sparkling Shiraz, do it!) we all sat down to a perfect dinner:

Kira, Kenny, Nina, amazeballs turkey
Super moist turkey!
Brusselsprouts with bacon
mashed potatoes
2 stuffings- one in (always better), 1 out
long grain rice with veg
amazing homemade cranberry sauce

And then if that wasn't enough....

Chocolate cake
pumpkin pie
pecan pie
Kira's homemade apple pie

It was spectacular and since Kina and Kira were heading out to Vietnam the next day we got to take some leftovers.  Love leftovers!

Friday woke up in surprisingly good spirits, ran, worked, worked at the American School Christmas fair, slept.  Friday USA was my 10 year high school reunion.  I really wish I could have gone.  Next time...

Saturday worked at the Clearwater Bay school Christmas fair.  This began at 11 and ended 4ish.  Come 12 there were guys pushing around a cooler selling beer and wine by the glass.  A) this would sooo not be OK in the USA B) everyone there was drinking!!  All the parents were beer in hand.  True most of them were Westerners and I suspect Australians, but I sure don't remember by parents ever drinking at 12 in the afternoon at my middle school.  Strange.

Beer cart at school. 
Saturday evening we head over to Brad's house for Thanksgiving part 2.  Last year Brad had over no less than 40 people.  This time it was more intimate with only 20 or so of close friends.  We spent the night eating amazing food (mac and cheese!!!), catching up, playing Catch Phrase, and it was really awesome to think back that it's been over a year since I've met and became friends with all of these awesome people....who just so happen to be American ha.
Buffet- 3 stuffings, creamed corn and spinach, bread, stuffed mushrooms, 2 turkeys, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, wings (2 years running)....

Sunday OFF!!! Woohoo!!  Slept in, watched TV, joined a gym, grocery shopped, checked out Island East Market  (which is the best market in HK and at our doorstep), cooked lunch for the week (shrimp and clams brown rice), and am now catching up on the blog waiting for Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to upload.  Life is good.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving I miss my family so much.  I wish I could meet my sister's new boyfriend.  I wish I could wake up Friday morning and have pumpkin pie and Constant Comment with my mom and Aunt Connie in the kitchen.  I wish I could sit on the floor ignoring the game while my dad yells NOT to go for the 2 point conversion.  I know Scooter misses Thanksgiving too. Oh wait, not he didn't, he's in Hawaii!!!!

Paul and Brad.  Note Paul ate 2 plates that size. 
But if I can't be with my family, or my new Fiehler family, or my JMU family (xo Chetta, Maria, Sherine, Liz, Alex I'm counting you into this group), or my Korea family (miss you all chingus!), I am thankful for my Hong Kong friends who have become my Hong Kong family.  Sorry for the sap, but this is the one time of year you should put it all out there, no?

I am also thankful that I am not an American Gypsy.  Have you seen the TLC show?  Yeah.  Wow.  Sparkle.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Published. Almost

So here it is, another week later later.  Aye!  What's new in Hong Kong:

Anyone seen the new (here at least) Anthony Bordain show where he's only in a city for 24 hours? It's fantastic!  He's currently in Singapore....

Paul's been busy at school.  Lots of kids, lots of discipline, lots of grading....but fun from what I hear.

HOFWs never stops.  I had my first day off in 3 weeks (21 days!) last Sunday.  WOOOOHHH!  Slept in til 9:30 after Paul and I had worked alllllll day Saturday at a market together.  It's so much more fun working on a Saturday when I have P there!

Sunday was amazing though.  Kina threw an awesome pig roast party right on the water of Deepwater Bay.  It was the first 'cold' day we've had, and it was perfect to sit out on the water in our fall gear eating pig and getting to meet some new and old friends.  The general consensus was 'this is the most perfect Sunday.'  As always with Kina, there was great food, but above all a great mix of really fantastic people.  We're sooo sooo sooo excited for Thanksgiving parte dos at Kina's on Thursday!

In HOFWs news, my friend Jackie connected me with one of her colleagues at Fast Media.  Fast Media produces three monthly magazines, Sai Kung, South Side and HK Island, reaching 120,000 affluent readers around HK.  Guess who's their new wine columnist for December (and hopefully going forward)!!!?? Me!  I wrote an article about our organic wines and why they're sure fantastic to help hangovers.  I'm so excited to see it in print....with a byline!

Monday I had another epic dinner at Factory 99.  Old Chinese men, HOFWs, and some randos, pulled together in a back room sipping $5,000 HKD wines eating a smorgasbord of food; you know, Monday. We started with an amazing sample from a Spanish potential supplier- Tempranillo Crianza- with the typical fare; fried fish, fries, and wings with potato skins (I think my boss Greg lives off these).  Then fresh mozz and parma ham, dried fish thingers, chips and nuts (??), then onto sashimi salmon, beef tips, rack of lamb, and grilled salmon steaks.  We washed it all down with a mix of samples from us (mostly good) and some expensive Bordeauxs.  Good, but waaaaay over priced.  The Spanish Crianza (~$100) was way better than the $1000 Bordeaux.  But that's just me.

Today back at the office, manicure, Egyptian dinner with P, and TV.  Tomorrow I'm doing an event at Lanson Place (long stay upscale hotel) for all of the GMs and MDs from around Asia.  My first event with HOFWs was almost exactly one year ago at this very same venue.  Crazy to think it's only been a year/it's already been a year.  I have so many things to be thankful for this year, but I think number one is finding a career and a life path that I'm so ridiculously excited about.  I love wine.  After studying wine I am MORE excited about wine.  After working in wine I am MORE excited about wine.  This is it.  For better or worse, liver, you're stuck with it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Where was I?

Oh yes, Wine and Dine.  Wine and Dine is basically a 4 day drunk fest.  Looking back, the whole thing is a total blur.  There were 311 food and wine (mostly wine) vendors, and an estimated 150,000 guests during the 4 days.  We basically spent 2pm-midnight pouring, pouring, pouring.  It was so much fun and see to see all my wine friends in one place trying to survive the chaos and hangovers that ensued.  I had a few occasions to go around tasting, but the most fun was post day 4 (Sunday) with Julia running around sipping the leftovers with whatever vendors were there!

Spreading the bread love
This past weekend was the Wine and Spirits Expo which is my ideal way to spend 3 days, had I not been working.  Wine vendors from around the globe pouring wine and explaining why you should import it into Hong Kong.  Although I didn't have a chance to walk around at all, we did have several guys from Italy come by to bestow samples and cheese on us.

I should also mention my amazing lunch day 1.  I signed up for the facebook contest and won (because there was a lack of people paying $660 for the lunch price!) a wine pairing lunch with Debra Meiburg, Master of Wine.  We had a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (which was new for me), a white from the South of France, a rose from the Rhone, a red from the Rhone, a red from Bordeaux, and a sweet from the Loire.  Delish.

Debra explaining her favorite wine pairing for the course
Debra is an American, ex-accountant, ex-vegetarian, (with a loaded husband), Master of Wine.  She is basically who I want to be in 15 years.  Google her!  We had an amazing 3 course lunch with some really fantastic French wines.  On top of being delicious and fun, it was interesting to sit down to lunch in a methodical way and really analyze how the wine and food flavors work together.  This is something I am going to implement at HOFWs; monthly wine dinners!

Thursday evening South of France tasting
Paul came and helped out for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and we were lucky enough to pick up a few leftover bottles to do our own at home wine tasting.  There was definitely no going out this weekend!  All day wine tasting is exhausting :)  And I should mention that Saturday was opened to the public.  8 billion Chinese people pointing at bottles yelling 'Discount Discount.'  The disconnect between Eastern and Western manners is amazing.  I suppose the signs all over public transportation demanding 'no spitting' should be an indication of this...but that's a whole nother story.

Paul procured me some flowers
Sunday up and at it for what is definitely my favorite event that we do; Island East Market.  This is my first time working it, but the 3rd time HOFWs has done it.  Basically it's the largest farmer's market in Hong Kong....outside my front door.  Paul and Steve came out and helped Greg and I make samples and pour some wine.

And she was darn proud of her doggy bjorn
And now tis Sunday night, went for a nice run (thank god), cooked breakfast (Paul's on a Spanish omelet kick where he's obsessed with creating the most perfectly authentic version) and lunch for tomorrow, and now have retired to the couch.  Ahhhhh breath.

Tomorrow is another bazaar, but luckily Tuesday-Friday office.  Double wooh.  Is it Christmas yet?
And in the most important news of the week, Paul and I got matching American Apparel tees.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

No Sleep Til


Hi, blog.  Remember me?  It's me, Lauren.

So November is the most critical month of the year in the wine industry.  And for me working for a company that never turns down an event, this means no days off work for 3 straight weeks.  I suspect I may have Sunday the 18th off, but this has yet to be confirmed.

I should mention that this is not complaining.  One of my customers sent me an email saying, 'Remember with all of this work hard, you need to play hard.'  And indeed we do. Post Wine and Dine (which ended midnight Sunday) Julia and I stayed around and played with the French gourmet shop owners.  We ate baguettes and drank rose d'Anjou until we were about to crash.

Monday/Tuesday office, Wednesday I was at the American Club for a Christmas bazaar.  There was a surprising lack of election coverage, and no one seemed to care, except Laura or I who were watching our phones, when it was announced Obama won.  Tai Tais (wealthy women who have nothing to do but shop all day).

Yesterday was the first day of the International Wine and Spirits Expo. Time for the printer, the bank, and day 2....more to come