Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Drink’

Getting to know Hong Kong all over again and meeting the Empress of Tea

June 01, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Drink, Places, Traveling No Comments →

View from the Hotel Stage, 1 Chi Wo, Jordan

I will always have a special fondness for Hong Kong because it’s the first foreign city I ever visited on my own. (There’s an extremely detailed account of that trip in the first Twisted book.) Since then I’ve been to Hong Kong a few times, but it doesn’t get old. Hong Kong is not just about the spectacular sights and food: there’s something in the air, something thrilling and vaguely chaotic. It’s a sense of possibility that you get in a world city. You know that things are happening that were not stage-managed for promotional purposes.

We spent several days in Hong Kong at the end of May to shoot two episodes for Trippies. We had wonderful meals that we burned off by walking, walking, and walking from markets in Kowloon to hiking trails in the New Territories to Old Town Central where we looked for the locations of Wong Kar Wai movies, to the Film Archive to Sai Ying’s haunted houses to the dojo of one of Ip Man’s students, to new food and drink haunts like May Chow’s Happy Paradise and Victoria Chow’s Kwoon cocktails.

At the end of a long, packed but strangely not exhausting shoot, we met Vivian Mak, whom I hereby dub the Empress of Tea. Vivian is the proprietor and soul of MingCha Tea House, one of the finest tea shops on the planet. She gave us a quick workshop, during which we sampled a variety of teas, each with a distinct flavor and aroma, which is more than I can say for some overpriced tea shops. It’s not cheap, but you get more than what you pay for and leave feeling clean and almost virtuous.

Even the setting is dramatic: MingCha is hidden inside an old factory building.

Now I’m going to re-watch Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love, and if anyone borrowed my DVDs and didn’t return them, prepare for pain.

You can watch the previous episodes of Trippies (China, Turkey, Thailand, Korea) here.

In praise of the three-martini lunch

November 26, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Drink, Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

Photos of the library, building and cafe from

Carmen invited me to a three-martini lunch at the Morgan Library. A year like this calls for regular doses of alcohol as a survival mechanism, so I said yes.

The Morgan Library houses the impressive collection of Pierpont Morgan. Listen, if you’re going to be a robber baron, the least you can do is leave a spectacular library.


The library is pretty much the way it was in Morgan’s time, but the building has been renovated by Renzo Piano.


It feels a little jarring to step out of the exhibit of Charlotte Bronte’s papers and into this. One is expecting Thornfield Hall, mud and howling wind.


Carmen, a tech consultant, started Whisky and Books, which pairs books with whisky and meets every month to discuss. This month’s pairing: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Bruichladdich X4+3. What a great idea, we should do this in Manila. Noel and I have long planned a Silence of the Lambs dinner with a good chianti (and fava beans).


I associate martini lunches with this scene from Mad Men. (Coincidentally, I have a ticket to The Front Page starring Nathan Lane and John Slattery.) We did not remake this, probably because I did not eat a bucket of oysters.


As long as we were pleasantly tipsy we visited an altar to literature and drink: The Algonquin Hotel, where Dorothy Parker et al held court at the Round Table.


The Algonquin is now ruled by the imperious Matilda, third of her name.

From The Workshop: The Rock Bottom Story

August 06, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Drink, Workshops 1 Comment →

We give writing workshops at the Ayala Museum. The workshops consist of three two-hour sessions of lectures, exercises, and group discussions held over three weeks. The most recent workshop, on The Personal Essay, concluded last week. The next one, Writing Boot Camp, will start on 3 September 2015. For more information or to make a reservation, email Marj Villaflores,

This month we are featuring, with their permission, essays by the participants. The last batch was half-standup comedy, half-trauma ward. We encouraged everyone to get over their fear of exposure, embarrassment and “What will people think?” Here are some of the results.

* * * * *

Christmas Morning in Lincoln Heights Jail Drunk Tank, 1952

The Rock Bottom Story
by Cristina de la Paz

I’ve been trying to write a book for some time. I’d like to call it an autobiography of sorts. It doesn’t have quite the right beginning since I can’t really tell where everything starts. I could just start from the middle but where is the middle? As for the end. . .there are many ends, I just don’t know when and where to stop.

This is my story. Not a chronological series of events from the day I was born to the day I die, but a collection of moments in between that would make for a really good story. The kind of story that folks would think was based on a movie and not the other way around, like a life-imitating-art kind of scenario. I heard stories like those where I ended up, and I thought the same exact thing: “Boy, that sure sounds like a plot for a movie.” But then I get to my story and all film comparisons go flying out the window.

I’ve been trying to tell a story about how my life turned to absolute hell. That moment where I crashed, burned, hit rock bottom and dragged myself, bloodied and torn through a wasteland of drama and disillusion. Where does one start with such a tale? The beginning is a blur, the middle a sea of confusion and the end—well, the end is where I am.

So I guess I start at the end.

I have been off booze and drugs for a year and a few months. It would have been three years and a few months had it not been for an errant Negroni during a trip to the US, but that’s a moot point. Really. I had gone a long way to get to that point in California and, after I finished that drink I realized I made a mistake and swore it won’t ever happen again, and it hasn’t.

Things to do in Normandy

November 06, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Drink, Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

fresh air
1. Overdose on fresh air. We’re in Villedieu-les-Poeles, founded by the Knights Hospitaller during the Crusades. The name means “City of God of Pots and Pans”, though if you mispronounce it sounds like “City of God of the Naked.”

2. Go fishing. Our friend’s place is called The Mill in the Forest. Because there’s an old mill and a forest. (“Trouble at the mill.” “What kind of trouble?” “I don’t know, I wasn’t expecting a kind of Spanish Inquisition.” “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!” Every time we hear the name we have to do this.) There’s also a pond teeming with carp. Does anyone know about carp? Does the pond have to be cleaned? Isn’t it a self-regulating ecosystem? City slickers need help.

3. Recreate the Allied landings. Which happened on another beach, but close enough. This trip is turning out to be a WW2 retrospective, backwards.

4. Befriend a direwolf. This is Gaspar, the biggest German shepherd we’ve ever seen. He guards the calvados (apple brandy) distillery.

5. Drink calvados (KAL-va-dos). It cures sore throat instantly. They also make cider and pommeau—cider and calvados.

6. Do not get freaked out by the silence. It’s so quiet you can hear the neighbor’s refrigerator, and the nearest neighbor is a mile away.

7. Sleep early in your cozy attic room, because tomorrow you’re going to Gondor.

minas tirith
The island fortress of Mont-Saint-Michel was the model for Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Rules to drink by

December 21, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Drink 3 Comments →

There’s only one way to get through this season without shoving a karaoke microphone up a happy reveler’s nostril. Drink. Read The 86 Rules of Boozing at Modern Drunkard.

80. Anyone with three or more drinks in his hands has the right of way.

81. If you’re going to drink on the job, drink vodka. It’s the no-tell liquor.

82. There’s nothing wrong with drinking before noon. Especially if you’re supposed to be at work.

83. The bar clock moves twice as fast from midnight to last call.

84. A flask engraved with a personal message is one of the best gifts you can ever give. And make sure there’s something in it.

85. On the intimacy scale, sharing a quiet drink is between a handshake and a kiss.

86. You will forget every one of these rules by your fifth drink.

Hitchens on waiters who interrupt your conversations

September 18, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Drink, Food No Comments →

Cartoon by Donna Barstow

Recently we wrote about waiters butting into our spoken stream of consciousness at the table to ask us if everything is all right. Obviously it was all right and we were scintillating until he rudely broke in. (However, since this is the Philippines, we would be considered the rude ones. Argh.) Here is Christopher Hitchens’s piece on that subject. It’s included in his new essay compilation Arguably, which we need immediately. (Thanks to Jackie O for the alert.)

Notes on Etiquette from From Leonardo da Vinci’s Kitchen Notebooks

The other night, I was having dinner with some friends in a fairly decent restaurant and was at the very peak of my form as a wit and raconteur. But just as, with infinite and exquisite tantalizations, I was approaching my punch line, the most incredible thing happened. A waiter appeared from nowhere, leaned right over my shoulder and into the middle of the conversation, seized my knife and fork, and started to cut up my food for me. Not content with this bizarre behavior, and without so much as a by-your-leave, he proceeded to distribute pieces of my entree onto the plates of the other diners.

No, he didn’t, actually. What he did instead was to interrupt the feast of reason and flow of soul that was our chat, lean across me, pick up the bottle of wine that was in the middle of the table, and pour it into everyone’s glass. And what I want to know is this: How did such a barbaric custom get itself established, and why on earth do we put up with it?

Leonardo: Top Chef, Old Master in Lapham’s Quarterly

There are two main ways in which a restaurant can inflict bad service on a customer. The first is to keep you hanging about and make it hard to catch the eye of the staff. (“Why are they called waiters?” inquired my son when he was about 5. “It’s we who are doing all the waiting.”) The second way is to be too intrusive, with overlong recitations of the “specials” and too many oversolicitous inquiries. . .

Read Wine drinkers of the world, unite in Slate.