Cold pink soup and mooncakes

Cold pink soup

While Morel’s Restaurant and Café has a pretty standard menu over the years, cold pink soup and mooncakes were very recent surprises.

The cold soup is simply delicious, called Šaltibarščiai, or cold borscht with kefir. Lithuanian Cuisine. It is not yet on the normal menu.

Kefir or kephir, is a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains, a specific type of mesophilic symbiotic culture. The drink originated in the North Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Russia, where it is prepared by inoculating cow, goat, or sheep milk with kefir grains. It’s made by pouring milk over kefir grains, which are a cluster of bacteria and yeast. After about 24 hours, the microorganisms inside the kefir grains multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk.

Šaltibarščiai – cold pink soup
Kefir is not available everywhere, buttermilk with a little bit more lemon juice is a good alternative, or any mix of yogurt, buttermilk, and sour cream. This soup is best made ahead, as it needs a few hours to develop more flavor.
Ingredients

  • 1 liter kefir
  • 2 medium red beets, cooked
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh dill
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 hard cooked eggs, peeled
  • 4 medium potatoes, cooked and peeled

It is one of the many recipes on the Internet. More, see:
https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/recipe/milk-kefir-recipes/cold-borscht-kefir/
and
https://myfoododyssey.com/2013/09/21/lithuanian-saltibarsciai-cold-beet-soup-recipe/

Special mooncakes

I was a bit surprised to learn that Morel’s is making mooncakes. I checked the packing, pretty ingenious and efficient, two per box. I tasted one of the different varieties and it was a pleasant experience. The outside is not so dry and hard as the normal Chinese ones, it is a bit like croissant, the filling is soft and moist.
A new type of mooncake, approved! For sale, two pieces for RMB 28.

NVP Garden Buffet

Netherlands Embassy

On Sunday 13 September 2020 we had the NVP Garden Buffet as a “welcome back” event, in the Dutch embassy. I am a member of the NVP, the “Nederlandse Vereniging Peking“, some other Flemish friends are also member.
The NVP has been very active and once again the buffet in the garden of the embassy was a success, with some 100 people participating, including many children who had a great time.

It was also the last event with our friend Willem as the president of the NVP. He has done a wonderful job and hopefully the new incoming team can continue the good work.
Catering was by Morel’s Restaurant, a guarantee for good and copious food to satisfy everybody. As our friend Renaat needed help, I happily volunteered to help Willem and Renaat.

It is always an interesting experience to see how much preparation and work is involved to set up a buffet and make the guests happy. Willem thought of everything for the setup, Renaat and his team was efficient as always. A great experience!

Belgian buffet

Thanks to the Dutch ambassador for letting the NVP organize the buffet in the embassy, that also has a nice big kitchen. In his speech, the ambassador thanked Willem for his work with the NVP.

We were lucky with the weather: not too hot, blue sky, a nice sun.
See the pictures of the preparation and of the buffet.

Back to Morel Restaurant

Making all Europeans (and others) jealous

Yesterday Sunday evening I headed again back to Morel Restaurant, to have dinner with friend and with the owners Renaat and Susan.
Was great to be “back to normal” a bit, after all those weeks.
As I had said: yes I went for the “steak tartare” (half portion) that is actually what we call in Belgium “filet américain”. It is indeed different because the mincemeat is chopped to perfection, the tartare has bigger pieces of meat.
Other dishes you see: veal sausage, gratinated mussels and the hearty soup.

And yes we had plenty of great French red wine. For lunch at home, another Keto diet friendly dish

Take away – home delivery

In Beijing there are a couple of websites where you can order any food you imagine. Swiftly delivered by the army of “kuaidis”, the delivery boys on their (mostly) electric bikes.
To help foreigners who cannot navigate the Chinese websites, the restaurant has now started a menu in English and clients can order by phone, best with WeChat that allows them to give the address and pay. You pay the delivery boy separately.

I tried the delivery service, The soup comes piping hot, all dishes at the right temperature and very well packed.
Prices are currently reduced, so,… Don’t wait!

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).

Performance

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.

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!