Sips & bites: ‘Lush Rush’, plus Schiller’s, Annie’s & Capital M

Would you direct me to the smoking area? (Pic: Capital M)
Head left to smoke / wash your hands / enjoy the crisp night air. (Pic: Capital M)

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Apologies for the light posting of late. Working into the wee hours of the morning and waking up a short time later to the gentle sounds of jackhammers courtesy of ongoing renovations by the upstairs neighbors have turned me into a zombie in recent days. Anyway, some items of note…

Lush Rush‘ starts in Wudaokou tomorrow as yet another wave of foreign youths enter the country to disguise nonstop partying as overseas study. Don’t know ‘Lush Rush’? Check this post, which has a history of the event by Rich Akers and an interview with bar manager Josh Lally from last time around, as well as the Lush website. And kids: play safe. You really don’t that to lose / throw up on / use as a frisbee that iPad mom and dad gave you as a going-away gift.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Jack ZhouThe Tree, Shooters and The Bar — planned a new spot north of his traditional bar-keeping grounds near the Tongli Studio area of Sanlitun. He’s since done the deal and is part of a team that took over Schiller’s, his biggest project to date. I’ll pop up soon to give it a try.

It’s not quite dinner theater but Shunyi residents can enjoy movie and pizza nights at the Riviera branch of Annie’s. There are plans to introduce the program at other branches as part of Annie’s ‘Culture Club’, which includes a library at the Guomao branch. The September movie lineup (starting at 6:30 PM each Friday) is Epic (September 13), We’re The Millers (September 20) and ParaNorman (September 27).

Finally, last Friday night I led a Chinese wine tasting at Capital M. Forget the historical views from this place, the fancy food and the stunning decor. What’s important is both the men’s and women’s toilets have a balcony that proves useful for a quick smoke, a quick phone call, a quick… well, use your imagination. To each his / her own. I’ll have a write-up on the wine tasting soon.

IMAG0706

Getting crusty : Hey, stop complaining about Gung Ho pizza…

IMAG0706I’m talking about people who find the crust too thin and, when it cools, too brittle. (People like me.)

Gung Ho will soon introduce a thicker crust. Like the original thin one? It’s sticking around. But if you want something heavier, whether made with whole wheat and white flour options, you should soon be able to get it. (Update: Gung Ho says it will announce the full details on September 23.]

I tasted one of the experimental crusts on Thursday with Josh Lally at the Lido branch. It was indeed thicker, it had a bigger spread of tangy pizza sauce and it remained pliant after cooling. Sign me up for one along with my usual Greek salad.

My pizza delivery lineup has been dominated this past year by three outfits: Pizza Plus (I generally order the Capricciosa, Four Seasons or Forest pies), Nasca Cafe (I like the crust, and if I plan to work late, I often add a sandwich as a snack) and Gung Ho, especially the combo deal that includes salad and cheese bread. If that new Gung Ho crust ends up tasting like what I tried in Lido, I expect to be ordering even more pies.

By the way, if you live in Wangjing, the Gung Ho outlet that just opened there has a buy one, get one free deal through September 24.

This Friday at Capital M: So, you want to taste some Chinese wines…

Note: To reserve a spot in the tasting, contact Capital M at 6702-2727 or reservations@capital-m-beijing.com.


gwoc-china-winery-visits~

I’m a writer, not a speaker; a wine consumer, not an expert. So I rarely lead public wine tastings. But I will do so this Friday at Capital M and I think we have an excellent lineup.

The focus is Chinese wines and we have picked from among the country’s best, including — from east to west — Great River Hill (Shandong), Grace Vineyard (Shanxi), Chateau Hansen (Inner Mongolia), Silver Heights (Ningxia), Helan Qing Xue (Ningxia), Domaine Helan Mountain (Ningxia) and 1421 (Xinjiang). And I’m hoping to add one more (TBC).

To buy these wines would cost over rmb2000. The fee for this tasting is rmb138. That makes it an inexpensive way to see what is available in the market. Plus, Capital M is a cool venue!

What I’ll do is give basic background on each wine — where it comes from, who made it, what the weather was like in a given year, and so on. I’ll also provide stories behind the wineries. Which winery has only three employees? Which has a link to Atlantis? And which has a donkey as a mascot? All shall be revealed.

(If you like to ask questions about baume levels, yeast strains and varietal clones, this event probably isn’t for you. I have a basic knowledge of the wines and wineries but I’m not well-versed on the technical side.)

The heart and soul of the event is the chance for attendees to try, side by side, what rank among nine of China’s better wines and to see which ones they like.

I’m told Capital M has 30 to 35 seats for the tasting and about half are already booked. If you’d like to join, RSVP at this Capital M page, and please let me know as well. Also, please account for traffic if you plan to attend as we will start around 6:30 PM. And if you have any questions, you can reach me at beijingboyce (at) yahoo.com.

Note: This is not a wine sale. It’s a tasting. For those who want to buy the wine, I will provide a list of suppliers or venues that stock them.

High-flying action tonight: Fifth Hilton Beijing pole-dancing contest

Hilton Beijing holds its fifth annual pole dancing competition tonight — September 7 — in Zeta Bar. I’ve attended two of these events and, if this one if anything similar, you can expect plenty of high-flying action. As I’ve written before, anyone who can hang from a pole at 90 degrees three meters above a stage while wearing heels and smiling — it ain’t easy.

The event starts at 9 PM. Entry is rmb99 and includes a Warsteiner beer. Given the impending departure of the Hilton’s Simon Amos, whose tenure has seen the establishment of this event and many others, I imagine the night will feature him doing a sentimental “last dance” on the pole.

For results and photos from last year, see here. For the same from 2011, see here.

zeta pole dancing party 2013

Sips & bites: Moka set to open, plus MASH rooftop, Cafe Modernista & more

moka sibling of mosto and modo in nali patio beijing china~

Look for Mosto and Modo sibling Moka Bros to open as early as Friday. Taking over about half of the former Ciro’s Pomodoro space in Nali Patio, Moka can seat 50 customers, with elevated areas at each end able to fit up to ten people and thus serve as good options for small groups. Expect an open and airy space with an arty-industrial feel, from walls sporting large white tiles to details like a stainless steel bucket that doubles as a sink in the loo. There is also outdoor seating in the Nali Patio courtyard to the north and facing Swire Sanlitun Village to the south.

The menu is based on Moka’s “eat well” theme and includes wraps, sandwiches, salads and noodles. A coffee / juice bar take up a good chunk of space, with kitchen and bakery visible in back — customers can take a peak to see how things are made.

The initial plan is to open at 10:30 AM, with the ultimate goal of propping the doors at 8 AM, says co-owner Alex Molina. For updates on the opening, check my feeds on Twitter, Weibo or Weixin (ID: beijingboyce).

The rooftop at MASH — formerly Big Live — recently opened and last night I made my second visit, this time for food, given the half-price appetizer deal between 5 PM and 10 PM on Tuesdays. The cool and clear night made relaxing on the rooftop a treat.

I tried the Buffalo chicken wings (you get six, with carrot and celery sticks and a big helping of blue cheese dressing), a pile of egg rolls and the kebab chicken salad. Was it the best pub grub I’ve had? No. The wings turned out to be more BBQ-ish than Buffalo while I found the spring roll sauce a bit too strong. But the food was reasonably good overall with a price that is hard to beat: rmb80 for three appetizers and a big Carlsberg draft.

MASH rushed to open and take advantage of this year’s remaining rooftop-worthy weather, and with consultant Stefan Schober (Taps, Luga’s) on board, things should steadily improve in the coming months. By the way, burgers are half-price on Wednesdays from 5 PM to 10 PM.

Gulou area favorite Cafe Modernista will relaunch a little later than planned due to unexpected construction delays, says Nuria Cimini. Look for the modern Modernista, with “box seats” on the second floor and a new cocktail list, to hopefully reopen in Baochao Hutong next Wednesday.

The Cuban sandwich at Modo is getting rave reviews. Let’s call it the sandwich of the century summer. The health-conscious can offset this tasty combo of ham, pork belly and melted gouda with a quinoa salad.

Nearby, Flamme and Union Bar & Grille continue to offer happy hour value. As usual, get half-price cocktails, beer and wine by the glass at Flamme from 3:30 PM to 7:30 PM, which means a Maker’s Mark Old-Fashioned is a mere rmb35. At Union, happy hour goes to 8 PM, with my usual tipple draft Guinness at rmb35.

Finally, late-night Sanlitun is kind of summed up by the threesome below on one of its corners. Beer, pizza and sex, and not necessarily in that order. Frankly, I’m usually out of that area by 8 PM and am more likely to be going for the trio of (Tavalin) bageIs, (Heaven Supermarket) beer and (Two Guys) pies

sanlitun 3 rock avanti pizza and sex shop beijing china