Salt marks fifth season: Five scenes from the anniversary party

I woke up this morning with a cheese ball in one pocket, a voucher for a one-night stay at Hotel G in another pocket, and a bunch of interesting memories floating through my slightly hungover brain, which is about par for the course after going to a Salt Anniversary Party.

Opened by Gaby Alves in Lido, Salt marked its fifth year in business last night, and while heavy traffic meant many people showed up a bit late, it was a good party for a good cause, with proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction — where I won that voucher — going to UNICEF.

The party included a flash mob event (see below), DJ Sophie doing a set — EMF! C+C! — that would make DJ PressPlay proud, a free flow of snack and drinks (including tasty chili pepper-garnished ones), Jamie Welton sharing touching Elton John concert stories (I’m pretty sure Welton hid that cheese ball in my jacket) and, at night’s end, a warm and fuzzy moment when the guys from Frank’s Place downstairs gave the guys from Salt a space heater to help keep the place warm and fuzzy. Also, Catherine of beauty shop Catherine de France said she was pretty certain she could improve my haircut.

Anyway, here are five photos from the party. Apologies for my camera skills and content choice: I hadn’t planned on taking photos and only pulled the camera out a few times during the night.

These people are doing something called “Gangnam Style”. Hmmm, first I’ve heard of it.

Rarely captured on film in the wild: The dancing guy with napkin stuck to his foot.

I’m told they smoke this brand of cigarettes in the Kremlin. That’s in Russia.

Welton uses his own special measuring method to see how that space heater will fit.

Salt: Five years of seasoning Beijing’s restaurant scene. (Salt, seasoning, get it?)

Two Guys and a Pie: Lamb now available, plus Pie Cam needed

Out with the bull, in with the lamb?

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Two Guys and a Pie have a fresh order of lamb pies ready to go. Just out of the oven. I heard about it a short time ago and it is painful news because a) I like pies and b) I am hungry but c) I cannot head over there right now. But next time, I am giving the beef brisket a pass and trying the lamb instead. With mashed potatoes and gravy on top. And a sausage roll on the side. (By the way, we’re still waiting for turkey pies. Christmas is coming, Two Guys and a Pie. We need sumfin’ sumfin’ for our stockings.)

Pies are only half the fun at this place. There is also usually a good deal of good-natured chatter due to both the ownersAndrew has a bone-dry wit at times: He is kidding, right? — and the customers. And late at night, this is a spot where rowdy types, who ten minutes earlier might have been downing nasty shots or rolling on a dirty bar floor, become nothing but happy-go-lucky. Because of pies.Warm tasty pies that make the world seem much better — for at least  15 minutes.

On nights when I can’t get to Two Guys, it would be nice to check in on the shenanigans via a Pie Cam. On customers like the couple who claimed it was their first visit even though the wall photos showed them previously eating pies on the spot. Or the young woman happily taking a break from a pub crawl — she had just lost her lacrosse stick because, um, that’s important equipment on a pub crawl? — to refuel. Or a particular White Collar Boxer, no longer in training and getting back into pre-fighting shape. Or even that brain surgeon from Canada who didn’t wear a jacket on the snowiest day of the year and figured eating more pies would keep him warm. (It seemed like a good idea at the time!) In any case, until that Pie Cam becomes a reality — and it might never happen because given the insane number of waivers involved — we’ll have to enjoy the show live.

Note: Beijing is relatively safe compared to many parts of the world, but there is always some risk when out and about late at night, including in the Sanlitun-Workers Stadium areas, so drink (and pie) safely.

Beer Mania mania: New kitchen, 2-for-1 happy hour & more

Just browsed the most recent Beer Mania e-newsletter: This place has a lot going on and, in especially good news, has opened a kitchen and offers an excellent happy hour. The highlights:

  • Beer Mania has half-price Belgian draft daily from 3 PM to 8 PM. (I have also seen ads for the happy hour at least a half-dozen times on Facebook.)
  • There is now a rmb88 weekend brunch, from 11 AM to 4 PM, with bread and jam, croissant, sausage, bacon, eggs, potatoes, ratatouille, a waffle, orange juice, and either coffee or tea. You can add a meat and cheese plate for rmb42.
  • Wednesday night is “student night”, with standard mixers, Stella and “Absinthe Mania” — that’s one way to deal with hump day — at rmb20.
  • There is also a new monthly quiz night (second Saturday of each month from 8 PM, maximum six people per team), plus a monthly foosball tournament (second Saturday of each month from 8 PM, maximum six people per team) and a pre-Christmas pool tournament on December 15 (two players per team, up to 16 teams, rmb40 entry fee).

Che Diego! Argentine restaurant to open in Sanlitun Soho

Diego Kuo is teaming up with chef Maria Olivera and “barbecue master” Luis García to open what is being billed as the city’s only Argentine-run restaurant — Che Diego! The restaurant will be on the B1 level of Sanlitun Soho and offer barbecue, empanadas and a stew known as locro, among other dishes, according to a press release. Here’s hoping this means more wines made with two of Argentina’s signature grapes — Malbec and the aromatic and fresh Torrontes — in our fair city.

More Malbec, please. (wikipedia.org)

50 wines, 50 kuai: Wine Republic portfolio tasting at Switch!

A previous portfolio tasting by TWR.

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I’m a fan of portfolio tastings by wine importers / distributors. (Technically, I guess they are partial portfolio tastings, as the most expensive bottles are not typically included, but whatever.) They give me a chance to try a wide range of wines before I plunk down my cash on a bottle.

The past few months have seen tastings by Torres and Aussino. Now The Wine Republic is planning to pull the corks on 50 kinds of wine from 3 PM to 6 PM on December 9 at Switch! Grill.

While Wine Republic started with a focus on cool climate wines primarily from Australia, it has expanded its portfolio to include nice stuff from France, Austria, New Zealand and elsewhere. The rmb50 entry fee gets you three hours of sampling, making for an inexpensive and fun afternoon. There will be discounts up to 50 percent for those who want to take a few bottles home.

By the way, The Wine Republic will also have a sale at its warehouse in Shunyi on December 8 from 2 PM 5 PM, with discounts of up to 50 percent.

Tasting at Switch! Grill: 3 PM to 6 PM, December 9. 1F, Regent Land, 66 Workers Stadium North Road (behind Swisshotel) / 工体北路66号瑞士公寓1楼. Phone: 6553-5691.

Warehouse sale: 2 PM to 5 PM, December 8, F2, building 2, Courtyard 12, Sunhe Xilu, Maquanying, Cuigezhuang, Chaoyang / 北京市朝阳区崔各庄马泉营顺白路12号院2号楼2层.

Get more info via hao@thewinerepublic.com / 5869 7050.