Unique wine dinner

A gastronomic dinner

To enjoy my rather exceptional wine collection, I organize from time to time a unique wine dinner.
The recipe: tasting very old wines, supplied by me, accompanied by a gastronomic dinner feast organized and personally prepared by Chef Renaat Morel.
See the menu for the dishes and the wine list.

Participants are always carefully selected. This time, Ambassador Nicolas Chapuis (EU) and his wife, Ambassador Marc Vinck (Belgium) and his wife, along with Renaat, Susan, my wife and myself.
As it happens, I know H.E. Chapuis from the nineties when I was working in Shanghai for ALSTOM.
I was again asked for the “occasion”: did I become grandfather? I am since long, nope. It is simply to experiment unusually old wines along with exceptional food, and with nice company. It would be insane to open those bottles at home where I am the only one to drink.

The food and the wine

It was a unique wine dinner as I brought along two bottles of a very famous French wine, exactly one hundred years old. And a Rioja from 1963, plus a not so young Médoc.
See my tools; opening those bottles is pure surgery. Normally impossible to extract the cork without some mess. Then the wines were filtered and transferred to a decanter. See one successful “surgery”:

190626 winedinner

Only the Médoc cork came out nicely.

The verdict? The 1919 wines were just “drinkable” and as one said, tasted a bit like Chinese rice wine. The Spanish one was, as usual, pretty nice.
What counts is the unique experience to say, “I tasted a one-hundred-year old Chateau Lafite (Rothschild)”.

Now I am already thinking of the next wine experiment!

Luxembourg National Day

The mandatory sauna

Luxembourg National Day in Beijing is always celebrated in the sticky hot month of June. Real sauna weather. But I normally never miss it!
This year on 20 June 2019 I convinced Sun Bin to join me, with the excuse I needed help in my (still) sorry state, with my wrecked collarbone.
As usual the garden of the residence, hidden in a hutong (Nei Wu Bu Jie, close to Middle School Nr. 2), was full of guests.

Meeting friends

Good to stumble on some friends, including our Belgian Ambassador M. Vinck; Harvey, Sydney, Ignace (Mr. TRB!), Mark and others. Sydney did his rounds meeting the U.S. and Luxembourg ambassador, among others.

A sentimental visit

I do have a special connection with the residence, as I became close friends with the first Luxembourg Ambassador in Beijing, Carlo Ketter, his lovely wife and the first secretary to the Ambassador, Dory. We all stayed in the Beijing Hotel, different buildings, where we met many times for lunch or a drink. He often told me about his challenges getting the building ready to open the embassy. That time electric power supply in the area was erratic; mice had also made a home there. I understand the building was formerly used by the Pakistan embassy. In the first years the compound also housed the embassy. Later the embassy offices moved to the new office on Gongti Bei Lu.

See one of the pictures I managed to dig up: Mrs. Ketter, attending my small party in my home/office in the Beijing Hotel, on 27 June 1981.

I passed on my story to the current Ambassador Dr. Marc Hübsch who later invited me to his residence for a private talk. In his speech that day he mentioned the 40 years of history China-Luxembourg, and the first ambassador, without mentioning his name.

World’s biggest beer exporter

Belgium number one

The Federation of Belgian Brewers (104 members) has published the results for 2018: The world biggest beer exporter is Belgium.
Exports went up into the European Union. Exports declined a little outside of the EU (USA, Chine et Canada). The source is in French.

World’s biggest beer exporter

One of the famous beer shops in Brussels near Grand Place

It also mentions:

  • Exports went up into the European Union. Exports declined a little outside of the EU (USA, China and Canada).
  • Overall Belgium beats Germany in terms of exports. Top importers are France, followed by the USA, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and China.
  • Consumption of beer in Belgium declined a little.
  • There is a notable increase in low-alcohol beer and no-alcohol beer.
  • In Belgium we have about 300 beer production centers; there were 40 new breweries in Belgium in 2018.

The joy of trying out Belgian beers in Beijing

The updated list of beers is here: https://www.beijing1980.com/belgian-beer/

See some pictures of my investigation!

Yeah hard work!

Old China Hands lunch 7 June

Our monthly lunch at Morel’s Restaurant

Old China Hands lunch 7 June was plagued by a series of problems. Well, first of all I broke my collarbone, I had to be rushed into Chaoyang Hospital for an urgent operation – to insert a metal plate with six screws. Sounds horrible, is horrible. The same day before checking into the hospital I rushed home to pack a few things and decided to quickly send the OCH invitations. All done except I switched off my desktop too quickly, not noticing some 70 mails were still unsent. Oops.
Luckily a new WeChat group set up by Greg helped to spread the news so we ended up with a nice total of 26 despite all the mess.
I did post an update: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6690555/

And yes, I had just left the hospital the day before and dragged myself to the lunch, to say hi to the friends.
I say thanks to all who expressed concern. Yes, recovery is slow and will take time. No bicycle for many weeks…

We have many famous members

Our friend had his impressive exhibition of his paintings, the opening well attended by several of the OCH crew, including me. He is now also all over the news:
“Americans in China: Kent Niepert”
http://chinaplus.cri.cn/america/americans-in-china/1659/20190505/284740.html
Congrats Kent!

Our next lunch

Next one is Friday 5 July. That will be well within the “summer holiday months”. But as always, some stick it out in Beijing, like myself.

Old China Hands lunch 3 May

Our monthly lunch at Morel’s Restaurant

Old China Hands lunch 3 May was on a “normal” day except it was our sixth anniversary. We a total of over 30. We even had our historic group picture taken in front of the restaurant.
We even had our friend from Austria, where he relocated, visiting us. Great to see him again.
Thanks to those who sent more pictures, including of the food.

Our next lunch

Next one is Friday 7 June. Guess what, again a holiday! Dragon Boat Festival! So, again no excuse you have to be at the office or teaching.
My updated list is well over 100. Unfortunately we will lose some of our regulars as they are to move to another country. We will miss them. But we always have new members coming in, so we keep it all well alive!