Restaurant Review: Capital M, Beijing, China

June 7, 2011

I am reading “Justice for hedgehogs” by Ronald Dworkin at the moment. The book makes the point that one of our cardinal interests, ambitions and responsibilities is to make our lives good lives.

“We must find the value of living – the meaning of life – in living well”, says Dworking. He also states that dignity and self-respect are “indispensable conditions of living well”.

So what does that mean if you are sitting in Beijing, China at a beautiful Sunday morning with time on your hands? Well get up early and go to the National Museum to see the German sponsored exhibition “The enlightenment”, a unique show of a selection of art pieces from that era of our history which mattered so much for the freedom of the individual and rationality.

After that it’s downhill all the way. More of Dworking’s good life is to come. After fine art, one needs fine food and drink.

I suggest you stroll down to the South end of the Tian-an-men Square and have lunch at Capital M, one of my favourite restaurants in Beijing.

Capital M in Beijing, view from the terrace

One has a wonderful view from the restaurant. It is located at the third floor of a newly reconstructed building, a kind of replica so to speak, of an older house. Capital M has a wonderful terrace with a grand view of the square.

I got there much too early; the kitchen was still closed. The kind waiter offered me a table at the window, and I ordered a glass of house white, a Sauvignon Blanc by the South Australian family winery Angoves. Newspapers were brought to me and I indulged in the pleasure of reading in quiet. I was the only customer at that early hour.

Tasteful crockery for morning tea

I was still full from breakfast and unsure if I should lunch at Capital M. Then I though of Dworkin and my responsibility towards the good life in dignity and decided to move to the table the kind waiter had reserved for me. in the meantime the first guests had arrived, casually dressed most of them. In this relaxing atmosphere, I felt at ease.

I read through the menu and decided on a two course meal. My choice of entrée was white asparagus which is just in season in Beijing. What a good choice that was. The asparagus was firm and succulent, it melted in my mouth.

I also had another glass of the house wine, the SB by the Angove Family winery.

Asparagus with a poached egg on top and olive oil

For my main course, a white snapper on a bed of vegetables, I selected a ‘2008 Dry Riesling’ by Dr. Buerklin-Wolf, in Wachenheim, Palatinate in South-West Germany. Riesling is one of my favourite white. Although just one of their starting wines, this Riesling was exactly what I needed, a beautiful accomplishment with my meal.

2008 Dr. Buerklin-Wolf dry Riesling shows an intense colour

The main course was so jummy, I could not believe it. I took it bite by bite, slowly exposing my taste buds to the food. I wanted it to last as long as possible. The veggie selection interspersed with flower petals and a nut mix, was just amazing, awesome stuff.

The main course

Unfortunately, the battery of my camera did not last and gave up her service right in the middle of my meal so that I cannot show you more pictures from the restaurant, the view and the people.

The service at Capital M is exceptional, hard to find in China this kind of concern for the customer. Prices are also decent. I paid for three glasses of wine and a two course meal 42 EURO, which is not bad.

Apart from the Forbidden City and the Great Wall lunch or dinner at Capital M in Beijing is a must if you visit China.

Address:
Capital M Beijing
3/F, No.2 Qianmen Pedestrian Street
(just south of Tian’anmen Square)
Beijing 100051 China
中国北京市前门步行街2号3层
邮编 100051
Tel: +86-10- 6702-2727
Fax: +86-10- 6702-3737


A Sunday at Bloody Hill

September 21, 2009

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Great Yarra Valley views from the Mayer Vineyard (left to the dam)

On a beautiful Sunday in early August, we were in for a surprise visit to the Mayer’s. We bought some “nibblies” (Australian for cold meats, sausages, cheeses, condiments, etc.) and some wine in Healesville and drove up the steep drive to Bloody Hill on top of which their beautiful house (rammed earth) is situated. Alas, they were in and happy to welcome their unannounced intruders.

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The vineyard at the crest of the hill is very neat

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Some of the wines on “offer” (f.l.t.r.: a Silvaner from Franconia, Dr. Buerklin-Wolf, a Riesling from the Pfalz and a Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley)

We came at the right time. A shipment of Riesling wine (about 60 cases) which Timo had made on a visit to Germany last year had just arrived and was ready for tasting. Moreover, as a member of the South Pack, Timo was in the preparation of a wine tasting tour to three Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane). The South Pack is a group of eight innovative young Australian wine-makers who have raised the bar for the selling of premium and super-premium wines in sluggish markets.

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The German Brotzeit

A quick “Brotzeit” was thrown up and the wine tasting could start. We did not drink in any kind of order but rather according to gusto and enthusiasm. First cap of the rank was the German Riesling Timo had made, Dr. Mayer Riesling of which I have no picture which speaks for itself. This was not a time for tasting notes but for joy and nourishment of body and soul, for Australian and Swabian story telling and song.

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Bloody Hill Pinot Noir

Timo is a native of a small hamlet, called “Grossheppach” (about 4,500 inhabitants), today part of the small town called Weinstadt (translated: wine city) in the Rems valley (the Rems is a small river), Wuerttemberg, about 15 km east of Stuttgart. As everything in Germany, Grossheppach has a long history.

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Coat of arms of Grossheppach showing the river Rems and four grapes on a vine

Furthermore, the village has a long tradition of vine cultivation and wine making. Timo comes from a family of small vintners (and farmers).

In 1279 a historical deed is the earliest written testament of the flourishing wine production in Grossheppach. Magister Rudolf, a local doctor, had bequeathed his house in Esslingen and three vineyards in Grossheppach to the Abbey of Bebenhausen which was witnessed by knight ‘Fridericus miles de Heggebach’.

Timo showed as a historical chronicle of Grossheppach with black and white photos which also depicted his family in the 18th and 19th century. Here we are, thousands of kilometres away from the old land and talking grape production, wine traditions and wine styles. To cut a long story short, Timo had made his first ever Riesling wine in Grossheppach and shipped it for sale to Australia.

It was not the time for tasting notes, I guess. We opened one bottle after the next. First the Riesling wines, then Chardonnay and finally Pinot Noir and Shiraz, all Mayer Vineyard wines and Timo Mayer creations.

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Mayer and Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir and a traditional German wine label with the coat of arms of Grossheppach

The Mayer Vineyard is only a small operation (2.5 ha under vines). All wines are hand crafted and from a single vineyard. Timo believes that wine is made in the vineyard, therefore there is minimal interference. The reds are unfined and unfiltered. Timo makes wines with a difference, with great character and individuality. As he says “he wants to bring back the funk”, and funky these drops are. James Halliday, “the wine pope of Australia”, has awarded his highest rating, a 5 stars, to the Mayer Vineyard.

The Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir is one of the newest creations from the masters hands; a great wine, elegant, whole bunch fermented if I am not mistaken. Timo assumed that all of it would be sold during the South Pack promotion tour together with the Riesling. By now there should be nothing left, I guess.

Needless to say that the day extended to the night and ended with a pasta feast for 9 hungry mouths.

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The pasta sauce in the making

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The magician at work, this time in the kitchen and not in the wine cellar

We had a great time. The children played all afternoon. We walked the vineyard and Timo showed me where he shot a deer. Then we went to get some of that venison for us to take home. The “Brotzeit” led to dinner and then it was time to drive home to our own vineyard in Glenburn. Good news is that Timo is planning to make Riesling again in 2009 and maybe the following years.

For sales and enquiries contact:
timomayer@bigpond.com.au

The following wines are for sale:
Bloody Hill Chardonnay
Bloody Hill Pinot Noir
Big Betty Shiraz
Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir (also as the Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir)