Friday, November 6, 2009


From an overdose of five shots of Johnny Walker Black as part of a cure for my cold the other night, I elevated my taste level last night to about six TASTING glasses (okay maybe 8-10 including champagne) of Chateau Margaux in various vintages from 2006-1985.
Margaux held their first wine dinner in Hong Kong at the Mandarin Oriental Grill. I estimated there were about a hundred people in the room. I expected the wines to be between good and great, which they were because the hotel ran through the vintages as the dinner's unique selling point. However, I had no expectations about the food. Food is hardly ever good at wine tastings.
But our menu last night did not disappoint. In fact, it seemed like the chef made a great effort to have the food truly complement the wines and not just have the wines stand out which everyone was expecting based on the vintages.
I never knew Margaux was in business since the 16th century and they owe their top quality to---wait for it---the British (followed by "of course" and uttered by a Frenchman) and to a lesser extent the Germans.
Who knew? I always thought with the Limeys and the Krauts, all you had to do was plunk down in front of them any plonk that could kill germs and they'd drink it.
On last night's menu:
RAW: salmon, hamachi,tuna, sake and cucumber with an ultra yummy jelly sauce and gourmet salt washed down with Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux 2006...I never knew they did whites. They had been doing it for 3 centuries and today they produce only 33,000 bottles a year, about 10% of their total production.
SOUP: Onion consomme with a floral tea bag while other unenlightened meat eaters had langoustine soup accompanied by Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux 2004 (what I think is their 'diffusion' or 'secondary' line, the Kors to Michael Kors but still at over 100 USD a bottle from the dealers)
Now for the main event--the sellers chose the series of wines that follow to show all the facets of Margaux vintages where every one should be a treat (or trick if you paid too much for a fake or if like the Philippine president, ysed 'government funds' but that was for gallons of Petrus which many Margaux aficionados say is 'overrated').
RISOTTO: mushroom, truffle, asiago (cheese) and egg yolk was divine with CM 2001 which is considered young but drinkable because is not yet 10 yrs old. As the French guy said, "Why refuse it now? But you could also save it for more depth in 10 years."
CHICKEN: breasts very nicely presented in a green nest accompanied by CM 1999. NOW you're talkin' ---what a difference two years makes!
SEABASS for me and STEAK for the unevolved. This time, I will have to admit that the CM 1995 didn't come out as well with the fish than it did with the steak. My husband said it was stellar. 1996 would also be a great choice. They served the food with edible clay and I got a kick out of that.
CHEESE: Comte, Beaufort, Mimolette with super yummy DRIED GRAPES (NOT raisins!!) and quince was served with the star of the evening, CM 1985. At 24 years, it was a great privilege but by this time you are so stuffed that you want to go home.
BUT NOT BEFORE the white cotton candy TREE the size of a huge bonsai plant with chocolate truffles!!!
I had to stay home all week nursing a cold just to get well for this dinner. It would have been a disgrace to miss it. One of the diners told us that she flew back from Korea just to make this dinner.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Many people find it strange that I have absolutely no interest in today's news stories on celebrities, movie stars and reality TV personalities. Plus some politicians. I am not alone in this attitude because if you get to know history (and I don't mean watching "The Tudors' and "Rome") you will find out that it is much more exciting than the present.

It's still real life but nothing any news on Victoria Beckham and her latest dresses come close to. (Now HER---Victoria Beckham---have have to admit, I read about!)

And these speak volumes on why I was quiet over the summer.........

Isabella de Medici--Catherine de Medici's distant niece--on the surface led a glorious and independent existence (for her time) in Rennaissance Florence. Until her brother wanted her dead with the help of husband. Can the Menendez brothers beat that? They only killed their parents.

A family of relentless social vaulters since they were the new rich of their day, Isabella's dad wanted to marry Mary Tudor and her brother (the one who killed her) wanted to marry Elizabeth I.

This book shows you a very delightful (to the point of childishness) and human Queen Victoria and the responsibility she had to bear before she turned 20. While many of us are doing drugs and deciding where to work, she was ruling an Empire, arguing with Prime Mininsters, looking for a husband, taking care of about half a dozen kids and marrying them off. Some of us who work part time at Burger King can't even find a decent man!
(On top of that, like Catherine de Medici and Empress Marie Therese before her, she managed very good political and financial matches for her children and grandchildren. Take that, Mrs Bennett and other social astronauts!)

Ah The Bolter!!! (As in she bolts from responsibility) Idina Sackville-West. Supposedly the shame of her family only for a great granddaughter (I think) Frances Osborne (Mrs George Osborne and for decorators out there, she married into the Osborne of Osborne and Little family) to be totally enamoured with her life like you will. Think the glamour and humor of Jeeves and Wooster but REALLY up to NO GOOD!

After three recommendations not including every bookseller and Oprah.....
Now THIS ONE was also a bolter but I didn't like her idea of leaving a husband and perfect home. I hate that. Couldn't get past page 6 (??) when she prayed to God for assistance (what for if you got something good??) Like Revolutionary Road, I call this, White Wimmin Problems.
How could you be unhappy if ya got everything??
I might not be spiritually evolved because I don't understand and see the romance in leaving everything to study cooking, yoga and languages. That's what Jamie's shows, your yoga teacher and Berlitz are for.
She got a best seller out of it, though!

For anyone who is getting swept off her feet, read this NOW!! Reads like an MTV series from the 60s.
At least today we have Google and Kroll security. It was harder to expose a fraud then.

Now these TWO--one hardly ever travels out of the UK (but they have lots of homes) and the other is in a different country almost every week. Great rapport between two people who are not married (that's probably why they had great rapport) and didn't have an affair (really??). Deborah Duchess of Devonshire is aka the grandmother of super model Stella Tennant (who originally wanted to be a coroner).
Got your attention now, did I? But this would too!! Great prose, fab one-liners that show you a quick mind goes everywhere.
(She agrees with me that Jackie Kennedy is an odd one. Read "Nemesis" for all out Jackie mudslinging)

NOW THIS! For all those impressed with Harvard and what it stands for. Unfortunately in my house, that was no one. Not even the dogs. But it's a great read, (McDonell is a great writer and storyteller but like Imelda Marcos, after you read the book you're like, "What?") will make a good film with Bradley Cooper and I want to read Twelve, his earlier work on Upper East Side life. If it's anything like this in tone, it would probably be a VERY dark version of Gossip Girl.


Even in the loo, I strive for enlightenment.
Not for the politically correct or bleeding heart liberal. But great to read amidst scented bubbles.
Be grateful you don't live in the English countryside.
When you are having a bad day, read this and weep....Turns misery into laugh out loud comedy.