Old China Hands lunch 3 January

Our monthly lunch at Morel’s Restaurant

The Old China Hands lunch 3 January 2020 was the first one of 2020, a year where we face the Year of the Rat (my year!). We were 32 while we were initially worried nobody would turn up…

Lively conversation as always with some hanging around till late afternoon…
This time also some pics of the (great) food. It is a special deal for us only for the business lunch, with a choice of several starters and several main dishes, plus desert and coffee or tea. Thanks to Renaat and Susan of Morel’s Restaurant! See also the wonderful Christmas decoration, design, execution and pictures by Susan. Many people stopped on the street to take pictures of it!

Our next lunch

Next round is on Friday 7 February 2020, well after Chinese New Year.
If you know anybody interested and fitting the requirements, let me know.

Home Christmas party

Party is back

We decided, a bit at the last moment, to have again our home Christmas Party, on Christmas Eve 24 December.
We went for a “reduced” crowd, in our vocabulary that means around close to 50 (including the kids).
We invited the foreign experts of BRITF and a UWEE representative, plus some more friends.

Yes, the usual turkey, the best you can find in this world, everybody gets a bit crazy about it. And many other dishes, all thanks to the chef Sun (she kicks out everybody from the kitchen when cooking).


Mark Levine and partner Fu Han kindly gave us a short performance, much appreciated. The other musicians present kept a low profile and only joined the chorus.
Our crowd is always a mix of Chinese friends and expats from around the world. All enjoyed the “organized chaos” as I call it.

Our team is highly efficient. Before midnight all was back to “normal” in our office, as the pictures show. For those who joined us, they must be a bit surprised by the (sudden) change.
Thanks also to all the helping hands to finish the preparations, wash all the dishes and clean it all up. And for filling up again my reserve of red wine.

Thanks also for the beautiful flowers, we first thought it was a cake!
And oh yes. Discover an engineer’s Christmas tree.

Swiss cheese fondue in Morel’s

Winter fare!

On 21 November a small group of friends (our typical Belgian-Dutch team) tasted the new Swiss cheese fondue in Morel’s. So what’s new? Instead of just pieces of bread to dip into the cheese, we got cubes of ham and carrots, and broccoli.
Both broccoli and carrots were cooked. Further possibilities are small young potatoes (with the skin) and cauliflower. Cauliflower might be a bit tricky as it breaks easily. Click to view the clip!


And yes, beware of losing your piece of bread or other in the pot… Remember the story of Asterix and Obelix in Switzerland…


Also served: Glühwein (mulled wine), much enjoyed by the ladies!

Governor of East Flanders

At another table was the governor of East Flanders (Didier Detollenaere). We chatted a little and Renaat was as usual the source of “real life in Beijing”. The capital of East Flanders is my hometown Ghent!
The restaurant has seen a long list of ministers and other “important people”, it is really “the” place to meet all kinds of people.

The story of the candle piece of art

You can’t miss in Morel’s Restaurant the big candle structure… Susan showed me the picture on how it all started, twelve years ago, with a simple wine bottle. Now, after hundreds of burning and dripping candles, it is massive.


Some Chinese even wanted to buy it! Don’t even think of touching it, you might get in trouble with Renaat!

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!

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!