Unlimited expatriate enthusiasm


Dining room at the Westin Beijing.

I have recently taken up residence in a country where drinking is neither prolific, nor genetically advisable due to the incredibly unfortunate absence of an all-important enzyme. Yes—this British Enthusiast is in China, the land where even a waft of alcohol sends most locals into a flush, rendering true enthusiasm near impossible.

So when an establishment such as the Westin Beijing, with its many stars and respectable patrons, invited an Enthusiast such as myself to get “bubbalicious” on a Sunday, “any time from 11am,” I doubt they understood the chaos that was likely to ensue.

Now, while the average person might see the word “bubbalicious” and not think it much more than a cutsie phrase, an Enthusiast reads it as “all you can drink champagne,” or even better, “unlimited Moët.” And this is precisely what was available—accompanied by just about every type of food under the sun; again, in unlimited quantities.

Unlimited Moët.

But this is where an amateur may fall down. (Not in an enthusiastic way, you understand. Rather, in a failure to really step up to the mark and reap the benefits of such a wildly exciting challenge kind of way). Seeing as an Enthusiast’s stomach can only hold so much, it becomes a game of numbers—and a test of strength.

In general, it’s all about pacing. Those who go out hard and fast, guzzling the bubbles like they are going out of fashion, will fail to complete the course. And on the flip-side, those who cling to sobriety like a fat kid clings to the chocolate fountain will either leave feeling unfulfilled or will end up chasing a sprint at the finish … and we all know how those end in darkness.

Yes, it is all about pace. A successful Enthusiast should hope to be feeling the buzz before attempting any of the less-liquid fare. Tipsiness achieved, she might then partake of several small rounds of the buffet, allowing the different tastes to compliment the succeeding 3 or 4 flutes of delicious elixir.

But—an Enthusiast should be warned—there may be some false friends hidden within the fabulous array of gluttony. I’m sure the creator of the shrimp cosmopolitans and oyster daiquiri shots is proud of his life’s work, but honestly, whoever needed to ruin a perfectly delicious drink by throwing a piece of raw fish into it?!

At this juncture, it might be politic to draw attention to the vodka station. I am still undecided if this was put here to lure lurking Enthusiasts to show their true colors or if, as I rather suspect, there are some people who can look at said-station and not see an opportunity to sniff out the weaker members of their group. (Needless to say, yours truly saw and took that opportunity with varied results.)

Good, solid shots of Polish vodka, washed down with a few more bubbles (by this time the waiting staff should have left the table with a few bottles to save them returning every 3.5 minutes), and it is about time for dessert.

And what better to help a chocolate mousse slip down than, you guessed it, more Moët! There is typically an offer of coffee at this stage, but unless it is of the Irish variety, it seems somewhat immoral to consume such a stimulant. No, as 3:30 rolls around, the best thing to do is gather the troops and head on over to an alternative establishment to congratulate yourselves on having practically bankrupted the entire Westin chain.