Xmas Dinner at Shangri-La and Tribute to Cheese

A student of mine and her family invited me for Christmas dinner last night at this hotel. It is said to offer the best buffet in Shanghai. Agree. For 300 RMB (roughly 50 USD) per head, you get to try a huge variety of delicious dishes. After I was done with the Dim Sum, I concentrated mainly on the cheese selection. (Jessica, you’d have felt in heaven.) I really enjoyed the dessert counter as well, especially the blueberry ice-cream with raspberry sauce (and they also put a violet mini cotton candy in my hand to go with it).

Besides all kinds of exotic delicacies, it was great to have a service with a smile at long last, which many other places in Shanghai so infamously lack. Shangri-La have a mixed Chinese and international staff and, at one point in the night, between stealthy sips from my Sauvignon, it was almost too perfect to be accompanied by a French chef, who kindly showed the way to the cheese plates again. He explained the story of all the sauces and chutney that a given cheese was to be eaten with, while we had a quiet whisper laugh that almost all of them were still untouched. What happened was, he said, that while for lunch buffet sometimes more Westerners turn up who tend to attack the cheddar and co. cheese-cosmos, at dinner, when we were there, the crowd was mainly made up of local customers who don’t even glance towards those stinky mass of substances.

(Just on the side note, when we had Xmas pot luck last week at the office and Julia, our young editor-in-chief, mentioned she was allergic to dairy, r-go couldn’t taste any of the numerous cheesecakes the French colleagues had ordered from La Casbah, their jaw dropped. How is it even possible to be allergic to cheese? The most enigmatic oxymoron, I hear them.

One thing to admit, though, which I also shared with Julia when we talked about cheese-fanaticism. Before moving to China I’d dreaded the thought of cheese disappearing from my daily routine of indulgence. Surprisingly, it was easy to forget about it so I didn’t notice for a long time that it simply ceased to be an omnipresent ingredient of my diet anymore. So, apologies, dairy-wheels, I’m still a huge fan and I guess a paid tribute to many of you on the high-end of a luxury hotel Cafe, but will not miss you until next Summer, when mum will so wake me up with some pogácsa fragrance floating in the air from the kitchen downstairs.

Strict fasting today, folks! Obviously.

Thank you for this fantastic Christmas treat, Keith!

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