Thursday, January 7, 2010

CELEBRATIONS IN SHANGHAI

Our view of colonial buildings on the waterfront called the Bund.
A BIRTHDAY LUNCHEON AT THE EXCLUSIVE KEE CLUB
by Jeanne Lawrence


What a special treat to celebrate my birthday in this exotic city! My friends insisted on having a small ladies’ luncheon so we could really gab.

They suggested the exclusive members-only KEE Club, the local branch of the long-established Hong Kong club, situated in the historic 1920’s Twin Villas that is a luxury oasis. We loved the Club’s light, bright atmosphere (great for lunch) and its
central location.

We began our celebration in the cozy bar area overlooking the garden, and then headed to a private dining room for a three-course sit-down luncheon that lasted all afternoon — so unlike New York, where you eat and run.

A Chinese astrologer read our cards, and since all the women left with smiles on their faces, I assume everyone got good news. Certainly mine was off the charts — the nicest present I could have received.
A Birthday Luncheon held at the exclusive KEE Club in the restored historic 1920's Twin Villas.
The Villas house both Dunhill and Vacheron Constantin flagship stores.
The Villas are in a lovely garden off a busy main street.
KEE Club Maitre D' Romaine Gissot. Cecile Devillers.
Birthday Luncheon guests Lyle Hayden, Shelley Lim, Yue-Sai Kan, Elizabeth de Brand, and Jeanne Lawrence.
A three-course lunch with champagne and a birthday cake.
Yann Debelle de Montby, Dunhill’s image director at the time, stopped by afterwards. Plaques denote Shanghai's historical buildings.
COMMANDERIE DE BORDEAUX’S GOURMET DINNER

I was among the lucky guests when the Shanghai chapter of the Commanderie de Bordeaux — one of 66 such organizations around the world — enjoyed a gourmet wine dinner in a private dining room at Hyatt on the Bund.

This was the latest and largest wine event organized by businessman and wine-lover Andrew Bigbee, Le Maitre-Shanghai Commanderie de Bordeaux. Last year, the Shanghai chapter tasted over “80” Grand Cru Classe Chateaux.

I was the guest of Jennifer Yan, a Harvard-educated venture capitalist who is a native of Shanghai. She knows I love food and wine.
Maitre-Shanghai Commanderie de Bordeaux Andrew Bigbee and Jennifer Yan. Christophe Sadones, GM of the Park Hyatt Shanghai and wife.
The visiting French Vintners.
Jeanne Lawrence and Mrs. Sadones. Jerry Woo and Peter Ho.
The theme of the event was “16 dishes/sweet 16,” and only sweet Sauternes and Barsac, 16 of them, were served. A large group of French vintners flew to Shanghai for the occasion.

Christopher Sadones, GM of Shanghai’s Park Hyatt, the world’s tallest hotel (at least for now) consulted with the chefs on the menu for this important evening.
Clockwise from top left: Sweet and Spicy' a tasting of 16 Sauternes and Barsac; King Prawn in Fermented Grain Sauce, Taro Puff, Scallop, Hairy Crab Roe in Sesame Pocket; Accompanied by Bottles and Bottles of Sauternes and Barsac from France; Goose Liver Terrine, Jasmine Tea Carp Fillet, Spicy Beef Tendon with Peanuts and Baked Bread Roll.
Did we really taste all this!
Shanghai Chapter members. Other wine lovers.
Though Sauternes are traditionally served as an aperitif, I was surprised to discover how wonderful they are paired with spicy Chinese cuisine. To think I’ve been drinking beer all these years instead!

In February, Vinexpo/IWSR reported that the Chinese imbibe 25% of all liquor consumed worldwide but just slightly over 2% of the wine — and the wine drinkers of Shanghai account for half of that.

Recently there has been an increase in the number of specialty wine boutiques in Shanghai, and I expect more and more chateaux owners will be arriving to woo this potentially large market.
Commanderie de Bordeaux (Shanghai Chapter) taste wine and dine together.
A SHANGHAI THANKSGIVING AT JEAN-GEORGES RESTAURANT

For my first Thanksgiving in Shanghai, I decided to host a holiday dinner for my international group of friends, many of whom were unfamiliar with this American tradition.

I wanted to offer them the best, so I planned my party at the award-winning New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Shanghai restaurant. His first signature eatery outside Manhattan, this branch is located in Three on the Bund, a 1916 neo-classical building.

Yes, the restaurant is known for its French cuisine, but the chef on this occasion was American-born Eric Johnson, so I knew he’d understand just what was called for.
Jean-Georges restaurant at Three on the Bund, the 1916 colonial building. Gathering for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in JG's dining alcove.
Amelie de Mony-Pajol, Geoff Mannering, host Jeanne Lawrence, and Ding'An Fei.
Shelley Lim and David Zhong. Adriana Mannering and Lyle Hayden.
I owe thanks to the French General Manager, Jacky Goergler, for helping me find just the right setting for an intimate “family dinner” feel — an alcove off the bar. I decorated the long table with a holiday theme: seasonal colors, fall flowers, candelabras, votives and cornucopia.

After French Champagne in the bar area, we sat down to an elegant version of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner: Warm Mushroom Ravioli with Parmesan Broth and Herbs; Slow-Cooked Salmon with Celeriac Puree and Black Truffle Vinaigrette; Roasted Organic Turkey with Chestnut-Sourdough Stuffing, Cranberry, and a dessert tastings. To accompany the menu I chose California wines, in support of my friends in Napa Valley.
Sergio Young. Annie Wang, Jeanne Lawrence, and Laurette Hartignan.
Family style gathering.
Geoff Mannering and Jeanne Lawrence. Alex Hartignan and Chuk-Kwan Ting.
Warm Mushroom Ravioli with Parmesan Broth and Herbs. Dessert Tasting Finale.
My guest list reflected how international a city Shanghai has become. I was joined by friends from mainland China and the U.S. as well as Taiwan, France, Germany, England, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Japan.

In my toast, I remarked that though we were from different countries, our all being in Shanghai showed we had kindred spirit.
Laurette Hartignan and Johnny Hornby. Kiko Sih and Defne Ayas.
Jennifer Yan, Christian Poda, and Lyle Hayden.
Amelie de Mony-Pajol and Ding’An Fei. Sophie Von Haselberg and Jeanne Lawrence.
Peter Lim and Liu Ying Mei. Lynn Barboza and Pippa Dennis.
SUNDAY BRUNCH AT THE WESTIN

Jhenny and Elijah Widjaja
invited me to what is considered one of the “World’s Greatest Brunches” at the 5-star Westin Bund Center Hotel, one of Shanghai’s landmarks. Named by Condé Nast as one of the top Asian hotels, the Westin is well known for its Banyan Tree Spa and its “Heavenly Bed.”

Everyone, especially expats, loves to come for the extraordinary Sunday buffet and a lovely afternoon of culture with music and dancing.

Since Elijah Widjaj is the Westin’s chairman, we enjoyed our own private dining on the mezzanine overlooking the lobby below. Our Sunday brunch companions included visitors from Milan — Lizette Pozzinet; her son, Charles Pozzinet, working in Shanghai, and Patrizia Pontremoli, whom we all had met at a dinner at Yue-Sai Kan’s home.
Christmas Decorations at Shanghai’s Westin Hotel.
Westin Hotel Winter Uniforms.
The popular Sunday Brunch at the Shanghai Westin.
Westin lobby with Dale Chihuly glass sculpture.
As we dined on an extravagant array of fresh seafood and tasty Chinese delicacies, we watched below where acrobats, ballet and tango dancers and magicians performed. For the music lovers, a twelve piece string orchestra played while sopranos and altos sang all-time favorite arias and musicals.

What a lovely Shanghai sendoff! Next day I was packing to return to New York City for Christmas holidays.
Westin CEO Elijah Widjaja with actress Diana Pang. Adriana and Geoff Mannering.
Jhenny Widjaja with son Josh. Milan’s Lizette Pozzinet with son Charles Pozzinet who is working in Shanghai.
Tony Jiang, Deborah, Jenny, and Elijah Widjaja, and Diana Pang.
Jeanne Lawrence and Lizette Pozzinet. Patrizia Pontremoli, visiting from Milan, with friend.
Sunday Brunch at the Westin.
Sunday Brunch with cultural entertainment. Dancing with the Stars entertainment.
We got a laugh from Spider-man cleaning. Westin Shanghai with its iconic lotus-bud crown.
CHRISTMAS IN ... SHANGHAI?

When December arrived in Shanghai, I was amazed to see Christmas decorations all over the city and Santas everywhere. Was this just for the foreigners? Or, as in the U.S., were the holidays becoming just another excuse for consumerism?

My Chinese friends explained that Christmas isn’t a religious occasion here. But the young people, influenced by Western culture, use the holiday as another reason to go out and celebrate.

For my own celebration, I departed Shanghai and headed for New York City. I can’t think of a better place to spend Christmas!
Shanghai celebrates the Christmas Season too. Specialty children's toy store.
China is the new consumer market.
Could be a store in the USA.
Consumerism is the name of the game.
Chinese Design.
Photographs by Jeanne Lawrence. New York-based Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in Shanghai and San Francisco, and wherever else she finds a good story.