I left off some ten days ago with the hope of writing something light. Well, adjectives are always problematic, for what is light to one may be perceived by another as weighty, controversial, incomprehensible and probably irrelevant. But never mind. Let me try.
I have been advised to abstain from alcohol while on the TCM protocol, and I had dutifully adhered to the regime, well almost, for two weeks plus. Last night, Su brought back some sushi and sashimi, from Tsuen Wan West, because the fish vendor in Mei Foo had nothing to offer, we being still in the rest period for fishing. She argued that they were fish derivatives, and fish was not on the ban list, albeit being raw and cold. She also picked up a 1.8 litre bottle of sake from her favourite vendor at Mei Foo on her way back. How could I refuse such temptation laced with so much goodwill and love? The rest is history. Today at lunch, I also succumbed to the offer of a double black label on the rocks. The Continental at Pacific Place served the drink with a real rock of ice which I couldn’t refuse.
I left a caveat in chapter one of my memoir on the likely foundation of my lifelong affinity with alcoholic beverages, which I had intended to follow up, but didn’t because the book was getting a bit wordy. Maybe I would do that in the sequel.
I have always enjoyed anything alcoholic. I recall consuming many bottles of beer on the beaches at summer camps with my classmates after those matriculation examinations, when everyone was well aware and prepared for the group to be dispersed worldwide for higher education, for most of them could not make the grades for HKU, and hence would be separated for good. And we were surprised by the number of empty bottles the morning after. But my serious drinking career had probably developed when I was an undergrad. Before I joined HKU, I used to take the brandy given to me by my Dad at family dinners, and I never knew how much they cost. I soon found out that brandies were not cheap. In the mid Sixties, a decent bottle would cost about $30. Then some fellow undergrads introduced me to whiskies which tasted just as nice if not better, but which were in general much cheaper. I recall buying a bottle – with my own money the first time – at less than $20. It was VAT 69 which I liked very much. Me and my drinking pals at the time were drinking whatever we could afford, mostly beer and Chinese rice wines which were not bad. Shortly afterwards, I developed a taste for Johnnie Walker, beginning with Red Label, followed by Black Label, and learnt to make cocktails with Red rather than Black Labels. It was thus Black Label became my staple drink.
On graduation, and even before that, a restaurant opened on Percival Street in 1969 – Café d ’Amigo – later changed its name to Amigo which featured a piano bar and a fine dining restaurant with half pints of draught beer selling at $5 initially. We became regular patrons and soon we would be there every evening. We met up other drinking pals and established our signature rituals. We must have lived that way of life for almost a decade until most in the group got married. In those years, we would take our cars there and parked either in front of the restaurant or on Jaffe Street or Lockhart Road. There was no drink driving laws at the time and often we drank to excess. On the evenings when we had dinners with our girlfriends, we would send them home and return to meet at the restaurant. It was a ritual. We became friends with staff of the restaurant which provided living quarters nearby and to which we were invited sometimes after the restaurant closed and where we would continue to drink and eat until God knows when. Sometimes, we would retire to a Chinese restaurant in Western District – Tsing Hwa Kok – and had more drinks until daybreak. Those were the drunken days indeed.
I have tried red and white wines too. I know what I like, but I don’t believe in spending inordinate amounts for any drink, regardless of its reputation. Somehow, Black Label has always been my regular, even though I have taken to single malt whiskies since my retirement, but that would be another story.
After meeting Su, and actually even before that, I have taken to drink more champagne, primarily because it is very drinkable and is a drink for all occasions. Lately, Su has developed a taste for sake, so I followed.
Tonight, Su decided to repeat what she did yesterday and had brought back more sushi and sashimi so that we could continue with the left-over sake. Again, what could I do?