Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Deposit Down!

It's official, La Joya is ours April 20th-22nd!!  Now let the planning begin.  If anyone has any thoughts on an easy, engagement photo free, save the date, please comment below. 

Another official this week; wine class has begun!  I went to my induction class on Tuesday evening to meet my fellow wine dork/masochists.  The 'class' was totally pointless.  Basically the owner of AWSEC, Steve Mak, talked us through each section of the course and their tests.  For 2 hours!  I could have a) read it on my own or at least b) summed it up into a cute 20 minute spiel.  Hm.  The final hour we spend tasting although we didn't actually begin tasting until 9:30.  Class was supposed to finish at 10.  It finished at 10:40, waay past this kid's bedtime, and on top of that because we were so late that everyone rushed out.  My whole reason for going was to collect emails to form a tasting group. 

Looking around the room of the 50 or so people, guess how many guillos (which literally translates to white face)?  3.  3!!! There's also one guy from my level 3 course and then my level 3 facilitator, Katherine, is also taking it.  The guy sitting behind me flew in from Sri Lanka for the induction.  Nuts. 

I'm excited by slightly overwhelmed with what I've gotten myself into.  They say 60 hours of study for this first section.  That's 10 hours a week. That's an hour a day Monday-Friday and 5 hours on the weekend.  I took a look at my calendar, this Saturday Kina birthday booze brunch, next Saturday 5k beer to beer run, 2 weekends following Chetta and Ryan are here! much excitement that there isn't a whole lot of extra time for vinification and viticulture.

The next sections is when it gets a little more interesting with the Global Business of Wine and Fortifieds....tasting!

Anyway, yesterday I met up with my friend from Korea who is here looking for a job.  Jo Tang and I met 3 years ago at a hotel party and have seen eachother on and off ever since.  It's so crazy to not see someone for so long, but you have this huge bond because Korea just does that to you.  We both agree that we feel so much younger than we are because Seoul took us several years back.  So great to catch up, and she's here for the next month so I'll see a lot of her, and living in HK I'm sure the flow of ex-Seoulites will continue in and out. In and out. 

It's Thursday!  Greg's off at a Bordeaux tasting all day, so Julia and I are holding down the office.  Then Paul and I are off to a different Bordeaux tasting and then home to study.  Study, study, study..if anyone has something to contribute to vineyard practice and vine vigour management, please feel free to come over for a glass of wine tonight. 

Monday, February 25, 2013


I feel like it's been non-stop, but I think in reality it's because I'm building up a million things to do and not actually taking on any of them. Or at least not completing any of them.  Maybe tomorrow.

Por ejemplo, trying to lock down the wedding venue and A) the lady isn't available to come to the phone until my 4th phone call 6 hours after I started calling B) she hasn't responded in over a day to one simple email question.  Do they not want my money!?

At least I'm getting my blog written :)


Friday evening Paul met me at the office where I finished inputting 2011 expenses (after initially entering then in 2012 and having to go back and change them all..fml) and he (well, we)  finished off a bottle of organic Trebbiano from a potential Italian supplier.  We hit the ferry back to North Point, oh how I've missed the ferry!, and finally made it into this place I'd been eyeing for several months.

Big Bite.  Enough said, no?  This is, I assume, run by a Canadian because there are flags and hockey paraphernalia all over.   Burgers.  Hotdogs.  Craft beers.  Amazing.  Oh and the most fun part, they had HK Island Magazine where I saw my February article that I didn't know got published.  Asa!

Then we went out to Otto for 3 hours of open bar in celebration of Alicia's 27th birthday.  We saw a ton of people we haven't seen since before CNY, and probably most since before Christmas.  Clock struck 1 and we head home.

Saturday was the best day ever.  Lazy morning.  Cooked breakfast together.  Picked up a veg lunch and check from client in Central.  Then hit up an art show held in the Mandarin Oriental where each gallery got their own hotel room/suite.  It was really interesting to see both the art and the hotel and my customers.

It was such a gorgeous day too!  We walked down to the Pier for a glass of wine and beer, strolled a few K to Wan Chai to pick up our framed art from Vietnam, and then made our way homebound.  Cooked a lovely meal at home, drank some wine, finished Silver Lining Playbook (awesome!) and called it a night early.

Sunday I woke up early, called mom and dad, hit the gym for all of 20 minutes, hit my favorite market, Island East to chat it up with all my favorite vendors, started studying vinification and then had to go to work.  Lame.

Monday!!!!  BUSY BUSY BUSY at work.  Too much work and not enough people! Met one of my customers (and friend), got in a bunch of new amazing wines from Spain, and then Julia head out early for a Rhone Valley tasting.  I love Rhone wines.  They are definitely my favorites from France, and the whites, especially Viognier, are maybe my favorites anywhere.  Ha we'll see what I saw Thursday after the Grand Vins de Bordeaux tasting....

Tis time for some Top Chef and grading papers (P not me).  Ahh it's only Monday

Thursday, February 21, 2013

3 Weeks

Diet Coke free!!!  (soda in general)  Wooh!

New Years Resolution Status

Success on all fronts.  That's right kids, 2 months in, 2 New Years down, and I have been moving forward with all goals.

1.  I have been running every morning and hit the gym on average once a week.   My run now consists of interval training.  Each bench I pass I stop and do 1 minute plank, 30 second side planks, squats, dips, pushups, mountain climbers, etc.  Depending on the weather and how awake I'm feeling, some days are better than others.  Down 5lbs since Christmas though!

2. Ok maybe not success on all fronts....I still have a few months to file taxes.  For the past 3 years...

3.  More so because I have no time, but I do not read my food blogs anymore.  I do check my friend Ali's wine blog almost daily, and check the Decanter headlines every evening. 

4.  Drink more expensive wine.  I have recently purchased several wines for $180-$220, which is expensive for me.  And I also won a $300 bottle from French Moment- thanks! HOFWs is taking a field trip to a trade tasting on Monday where we will drink all things Rhone- one of my favorite wine regions!  Then Thursday we're going to a trade tasting for Bordeaux's fresh releases- 2010 vintage.  Yey quality wine!

Today I purchased 2 wines just because they were interesting- white Pinot Noir from Germany!  So excited to try them...

5.  On Friday when I have my wine dork friends over!  I have my induction ceremony for my diploma course next Tuesday, and so the following Friday I will have all of my wine serious friends over to discuss how to structure tastings for the next year or so.  I have my Hungarian wine friend, several people from class, and friends from tastings coming.  

We've also had Kina over for dinner and plan to have Paul's co-workers over in a couple weeks for a make your own baked potato bar.  We're thinking, homemade cheese sauce, broccoli, garlic spinach, bacon, sour cream, butter, any other suggestions?

6.  Apparently I am not too shitty a writer because I had an article in the South China Morning Post  (SCMP) the Monday I was in Bali!  I had sent some info to a writer there about some HOFWs wines, and I suppose it made it because Greg said one of his buddies saw it. Word.

7.  I have led two successful wine tastings for more than 10 people.  The first one I was pretty nervous for, but a few minutes in loosened up a bit and got into it.  Wine helps.  The second one, last night, I felt really comfortable and really felt like an expert.  I love wine.  I know wine.  I am sooo excited for wine dork school Tuesday!!!  Unfortunately we have a container of wine coming into our warehouse tomorrow so we won't be able to have any more small tastings.  In fact, I don't think we're even going to be able to get in the door.

So yeah, less the tax thing, resolutions have been going swimmingly well.  How bout you?

Sunday, February 17, 2013


So I was thinking the other day about how we chose Bali for our wedding all of those months (21 to be exact) ago, and realized we didn't really choose it as much as some random guy at a bar did.

When Paul and I first started dating we had decided that we both wanted to travel to Thailand and Bali together for our next trips.  The break we had to work with was March and we had fully planned on Bali then and Thailand over the summer.

But then some dude at a bar said, 'No, Bali is wet in the winter and dry in the summer and Thailand is wet in the summer and dry in the winter; switch.'  And switch we did.  We hit up Bangkok and Koh Phagnon, and upon coming back to Korea decided that we would leave for good in June.

We got engaged in May and since we didn't make it to Bali yet, we wanted to ensure we would actually definitely get there.  And so it became our wedding venue.

And lucky YOU because Bali is the most incredibly f(#*(* amazing place in the whole entire world!!!  Paul and I sat kicking ourselves the whole time we were there saying 'why did we wait this long!'  We are so excited and happy to have our closest people in the whole world experience this truly spectacular place with us, and fully plan on returning every year for our anniversary.  Or,  you know, Tuesday.  We.  love.  Bali.

Komune lobby
After a fun filled hard bench try and sleep for 3 hours outside the Jakarta airport break, we were allowed back into the airport at 3 am to try and sleep on a mildly more comfortable indoor bench until our 5 am flight.   We got in just before 9 and then were surprised not to find Wayan waiting for us.

This man Roger I know from work is dating a (beautiful) Indonesian woman who's family friend is a driver in Bali, so she put us in touch.  I had spoken with Wayan on Skype several times and was assured he would pick us up.

No worry, we found a taxi and negotiated a ride to Komune.  It was nice to know exactly how much it should cost (Komune was going to arrange a car for $300,0000) for once instead of haggling to some arbitrary dollar amount when we don't even know how far we're going.

Komune is absolutely beautiful!  It's new and still being built, so there's construction, but it's all behind this beautiful bamboo and ivy covered partition.  There is a Komune resort in the Gold Coast, Oz, which Emily had been to and said was very nice.  This is their first attempt outside of Oz.  It's spot on.  Modern, clean, yet still has an air of luxury.  And at $60us/night it's a super deal.

Rooms on the left and right
There are currently 35 rooms open and you have to walk through an ivy tunnel to get to your room.  Cool.  Walk past the lobby, veg garden, across a bridge and you're at the restaurant and pool area.  Everything is open and facing the ocean.  This is a surf resort, and everyone's gaze is permanently focused on the amazing surfers cruising the world class waves.   Black sand which is unfortunate because it is so hot and sunny that you can't walk across it....well without burning your soles off.  Which we did.

We loved Komune, loved the staff, the price, and the rooms, but didn't love that we couldn't swim in the ocean (too many surfers/too hard to walk on the sand!), and we wouldn't be able to rent out the entire place for the wedding.  Seeing that we were planning on a July wedding and all of the Aussies would be out of school, there would be a lot of others there.  With their kids.   I supposed it's not a big deal, but something to consider.

Wedding chapel in Sanur...clearly made for the Chinese....
Paul realized early on that his school doesn't finish until mid-July which would make taking a week or two off before the end nearly impossible.  Easter!  He gets of 2 weeks, HK gets 3 days off work, and USA people have to take a week off anyway (and would probably get at least one or 2 days off for Easter).

As we sat watching the ocean with a Bintang beer, a man appears.  'I am Wayan.'

We couldn't believe it!  He had actually come and found us!  Apparently his uncle had some emergency and had to go to the hospital or something.  I don't know, but I was impressed that he actually came and found us hours later at Komune!  We agreed to meet the next AM and he would take us to some hotels around Bali.

We met with the GM and a wedding planner the next morning who made us feel super comfortable with Komune and the whole process.  They were really helpful with all of my questions and basically said I could do everything via email.  I just pick choice a. b. or c.

Sanur beach
Then we were off with Wayan.  He took us to some beautiful places in Sanur (I highly suggest people to stay here while on vacation!).  Quite beaches, super nice resorts, but they all felt a little too resorty to us.  Too big and too impersonal.  The more places we saw the more we realized what we were looking for.  Something boutique.  Self-contained.  Unique.  Fun.  and Easy.
gifts at the Four Seasons

Then Wayan took us to somewhere near the airport for the most amazing beach front lunch ever.  We chose our red snapper and then sat under our beach umbrella sipping Bingtangs until it was ready.  They brought a fish soup to start, and then coconut chili grilled red snapper, rice, veg with peanuts.  Oh my it was wonderful.
ridiculous resort in Nusa Dua

Then off again for more resorts.  'I take you to Por Seshans.'  Sure sure....We pull up.  'Four Seasons.'  Ha, oh Wayan!  I don't think he had a clue what we're looking for or what budget we're working with, but regardless I'm glad he brought us.  It was sick!  Absolutely breathtaking and service like you couldn't believe.  We step out of the car and were handing water bottles and little flower and palm figurines.
view from our room of Nona's
We continued the rest of the afternoon in this fashion, looking at more big resorts in Nusa Dua.  Nice but not us.  We're not resort people.  Finally he took us to Nona's Villa that I had booked on  If you've never used you're missing out.  There are some fantastic places for super reasonable prices.

room at Nona's
I am so so so happy I was bored at work that Friday and just happened to decide to check our Airbnb for a room.  This place was in the middle of no where and we would have never ever ever ever found it without a prior booking.

Walk from La Joya to Balangan Beach
Nona's is an enclosed villa run by 2 Americans who I am guessing are my age.  Matt and Lauren are super tan, super jacked, and seem to live a super f(#&@) life!  And on top of that they were super helpful.  At Nona's there is a pool, open kitchen, and all of the 9 the rooms are amazing.  Each room had a big bed, private bath, and big outdoor area.  Turns out we had the place to ourselves, so we got an upgrade to the biggest nicest room. Although you really can't go wrong!
La Joya walkways

We told Matt a bit about our struggle with finding a perfect place and he suggested we look just down the street to La Joya.   (We would have loved to have it at Matt and Lauren's but it was just too small).
private bungalows at La Joya

Turns out La Joya is perfect and exactly what we were looking for.  There are 30 or so private bungalows, each with totally unique Bali character, 3 pools, an amazing restaurant, and quick access to an almost private beach.  Our only hesitation is that it's a bit rustic, but I think that's also what's drawing us to it.  And each private villa is only $100-$150 per night.  Perfect!

option 1 for wedding cermony

The next day we rented a motorbike and Paul drove me all over South Bali.  We saw some AMAZING places, but again, not 'us.'   And I know I've said this before, but I stand by it; motorbiking makes everything soooo much more fun!!

option for wedding ceremony

So we propose the La Joya hotel April 21st, 2014.  We will do a beach BBQ Sunday night, spa wedding prep Monday, Monday sunset wedding on the cliff, reception by the pool, and Tuesday brunch.  Then I vote we all head to Ubud for a few days in the mountain!

Ugh I just can't stress how beautiful and amazing this place is.  And everyone is so friendly and so smiley and so helpful!  We. love. Bali.

And you will too!!

crazy and wonk eyes

Friday, February 15, 2013


I should mention that Paul got to do the modeling job!  They ended up moving the time around for him.  He went at 9 am in his over sized suit (kid lost weight in Asia), went to hair and make-up, memorized a 3 minute spiel about password privacy, filmed and was out of there $750 richer.  I think I see a future in this....
Paul and the crew

Post Bali Valentine's Day

I will have a full recap about how f%£*& awesome Bali is this weekend, but in the mean time, here's what we did on Valentine's Day.

Arrive HK 5:45 am.  Arrive Qbay apartment 6:45 (HK airport is amazing!) am.  Alarm goes off 7:45.  Lauren wakes up 9.  Oops.  Lauren works catching up on nonsense at HOFWs all day while Paul sleeps and prepares.

Prepare for what, you ask?

For the sweetest Valentine's dinner ever!  When I walk in the door at 6:30, I immediately notice a flower with a bottle of Bailey's wrapped in the stem!  My favorite, and I don't think I've had any Bailey's this year on account of the summer-like weather.  No complaining there. 

Then turn to the table to see the following, all made from scratch a la Paul:

miso, chapati, hummus, olives, tomatoes, and crabs...rounded out with a white from S.France
  • miso soup with spinach, carrots, and tofu (this screams Lauren!)
  • hummus garnished with an olive, paprika, and pepper (Paul was quite pleased with his garnishing skills
  • chapati (Indian 'flat' bread- Paul could use some practice with a rolling pin)
  • steamed crabs 
I promised not to post this.  Oops.  Mrs. Field's cookies!

It was so sweet and such a surprise to come home to after a looooong day.  And I surprised Paul with a bag of Mrs. Field's cookies and brownie bites.  These things should be illegal!

How was your V-day!?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Guess Who's Dating a Model


Paul and I both went to a casting call yesterday after my friend Jon mentioned that an electronics company was looking for some guillos for their new commercial.  We walk in and it's a talent agency...filled with models.  6 foot tall size 00 girls, jacked men with chiseled jaws, and Paul and I who came straight from work. ha.

I meet with the woman first:

'You're a full time model?' with a raised eyebrow

Nope!  But she was kind enough and took my photos.  Then same with Paul....but Paul got the job!!  Unfortunatley it's for 4pm tomorrow which is exactly when our flight takes off for Bali!!!

Speaking of.  I'm going to Bali tomorrow!!  We are getting picked up by a driver from the airport on Sunday morning after a redeye flight. Then we'll drive around the East side of the island touring places before getting dropped off at Komune.  I've got to say Komune is definitely the top of my list now.  They're totally on the ball and have been over the top helpful with everything.  They've even arrange for us to meet with a local wedding planner Monday morning. 

Monday afternoon we'll probably rent motorbikes and go around and then move hotels to the West side of the island.  We'll see.  Then Tuesday we booked this amazing looking place via Air BnB.  Have any of you used it before?  We're staying at a boutique hotel owned my Matt and Lauren who are from Cali, and they have nothing but stellar reviews.  Cannot wait!!

Pictures and reviews coming soon!  I will also try to post a lot of pics on Facebook so you can help me pick which place to book.   It's going to be so hard to choose.....

Kwun Tong, where i work, is a total mess today.  I met up with my friend Roy for lunch and we spent the better part of an hour walking around tryign to find somewhere to eat.  Everywhere, EVERYWHERE, had a ridiculous line.  We finally went to Johnny Cafe for sandwiches.  ha. 

Happy year of the snake!

Wine Tasting Success

Monday evening Paul and I attended Startups HK's Chinese New Year party at California Vintage.  Our friend Allison and Anthony (guy who told us about Bali places) were there, loads of entrepreneurs, and amazing Cali wines.  It was a totally inspirational night.

Tuesday took it easy post tutoring, and then last night I hosted my first wine tasting!  Julia and I both led 9 random people who actually paid money to come all the way out to Kwun Tong the Wednesday before CNY to listen to us tell them about wine!  Greg and I kept saying this would have been unfathomable one year ago.  But here we are!  Woo.

It was so much fun.  I introduced the company and explained how to assess a wine during tasting (appearance, nose, palate) and then talked about our first wine, which was brand new to everyone, as we had just gotten it in.  It was ok, not my fav, but it was fun to show off my wine dork knowledge.  It was funny because one of our attendees, Eric, is an accountant studying his diploma level in WSET (the one I start in 2 weeks!!!).  He said it's way way way more difficult than he thought (and everyone knows its hard) and super ultra time consuming.  I'm still pumped and I totally have more opportunities since I'm in the industry.  Between meetings with negotiants, export managers, wine tastings, and blog writing, oh and the warehouse of wine I spend 50% of my day in, I have a bit of a leg up on the accountants.  

Then Julia led us through Burgundy, back to me for Tuscany, Julia for Bordeaux, and I wrapped it up in Rioja.  It was good practice and I feel I know where I need to focus in terms of public speaking.  

Today P ad I hit up a master class at the Flying Winemaker from Hayden of Tarras vineyards in Central Otago, New Zealand.  We had his lovely Sauv Blanc, followed by 4 Pinot Noirs.  They were all lovely and it was fun to go to a different kind of tasting, although Paul may disagree.  

ONE MORE DAY OF WORK.  And then it's BALI!!!!!!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Crazy Night Indeed

Yes the evening turned out exactly how I expected;

Hit the gym.  Which some how manages to piss me off every time I go.  This time I had a voucher for $1,000 in beauty treatment.  I inquired what exactly this meant and included.  The woman said the most popular choice was a facial and went ahead and began to sign me up. I don't want a facial, but she didn't seem to want to explain the other choices to me.  Uh.  Then she says I need to do said facial within the next month.  Well, I have a lot going on this month woman; CNY, working most weekends, and wine class begins, I'm not sure if I'll have time...then she looks again and informs me that my voucher is in fact void because it expired a month ago.
A particularly nice morning on the mountain

a) can someone please explain everything that is due to me UPON signing up for my membership? Maybe mention there are no towels.  No water cooler.  Vouchers expire ASAP.  I'm guessing there will be some sort of issue with classes too, but I have yet to try one...The classes are hilarious though.  You can see into them from the gym (which is weird), so I totally watch these little tiny Asia women with NO moves trying to get down to Jay Z...I digress.

b) could you not have wasted 30 minutes of my time on a treatment I didn't want for a voucher that is expired.  Learn your job woman.  Uh.

A lesson to those of you in HK, Physical sucks.  There's a reason it's cheap.

Isn't it pretty!?
Anyway, went home and made the best thing ever; cauliflower/spinach pesto.  1/2 head cauliflower + bunch of spinach, green onions, garlic, blend and you have the most beautiful sauce!  Simply lovely.

This is a lot of rambling about absolutley nothing, so I will spare you.  The following evening I was really excited to go to an event held by Heels and Deals.  HaD is a company founded by Clare, who is just this lovely Aussie, to help support women entrepreneurs in HK and the UAE.

Clare, the only good speaker of the evening!
This event was about telling your story in business; ie being able to clearly convey what your business is.  I thought this would be good practice for my goal of public speaking.  Turns out not so much because the two people who spoke sucked!! Not only were they boring, but they didn't say anything useful.  I'm talking  I walked out of there hungry (seriously it was 6:30-9 and they served a tiny tray of cheese and olives!), bored, and feeling ripped off.

I'll just have to practice on my own.

Thursday I had to drop off some wine with an art gallery in Central (Art Supermarket Asia is awesome!) then Paul met me for some asa Mediterranean food at Habibi Cafe, which is a customer of mine. I love going in there.  Everyone's so nice and the food is amazing.  Love the pumpking/sweetpotato/feta salad!

Today is FRIDAY!! But it doesn't matter because I'll be working ALL weekend.  Boo.  I do not kid when I say HOFWs is exhibiting at the annual Pet Expo.  That's right kids, get your wine here!  And what's ridiculous is that there's another wine company there!!!

Julia, Greg, and Sean are there today
Julia, Sean and I will man Pet World tomorrow
Paul Lionel and I will do Island East Market (my fav outside my door) Sunday
Sean will do DB Sunday
And Julia and Greg will do Pet Crazyville Sunday.

HOFWs doesn't believe in taking a day off.  Bali in 8 sleeps!
Bought a new case of wine, yey!