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Sweet, Intricate Mooncakes Get Their Annual Spotlight

中秋節, the Chinese mid-Autumn festival, brings with it a treasured pastry hiding a salted duck egg yolk surprise

Sunya Mooncake Production In Shanghai
Row upon row of mooncakes
Photo by Tang Yanjun/China News Service via Getty Images

Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is terrifying.

News of the week

Harvest Festival was last Sunday, which feels a tad unfortunate given most of the country was being assailed by Storm Alex and not, therefore, in much of a mood to think about a successful harvest. But Chinese mooncakes care not for storms. These pastries, often stuffed with red bean paste and hiding a salted duck egg yolk, are the delicious symbolic food of 中秋節, the Chinese mid-Autumn festival, and Instagram absolutely loves them. They’re also the emoji that your favourite London restaurant misuses when trying to represent a tart. Twin with a viewing of the pagan rom-com Midsommar, which, based on this trailer, looks like exactly the sort of sun-dappled escapist fare that could offset the grim weather outside.

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from kee wah bakery

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Trompe l’oeil of the week

Emphatically not raspberry ripple.

Bantz of the week

Better than 95 percent of Kinder Egg fillings, to be fair.

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Happy Saturday everyone!

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Good point of the week

After centuries of resisting any kind of external scrutiny, the wine world is finally coming to terms with its deep-rooted structural inequalities and attendant environmental impact — although it will undeniably take a long time to change a culture in which the estates producing some of the most prized bottles are named after literal castles. Perhaps this is just another of many small steps in the right direction.

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Can we please discuss capsules? Can we do away with them? I welcome feedback from the wine world please. ⁣ ⁣ What is their real purpose, if not an aesthetic one? A common argument is storage and protection. But how many wines are actually made to be aged for decades? I don't know the % but I would hazard a guess that it's less than 1% of wine being made today. To me capsules feel like a redundant remnant of a bygone era. ⁣ ⁣ If we're going to talk sustainability and waste, why use a capsule on your wine? They will end up in the bin, or will cling onto bottles and either way end up in landfills. There are various materials used, but the most common are PVC and polylaminate, so either plastic, or 'containing' plastic. Even capsules made from pure tin (technically recyclable) will likely not end up being recycled due to their size and how the processing of recyclable materials works. ⁣ ⁣ I am fully aware this is a very minor detail in the wine sustainability discussion. The emissions from the shipping of wine are a far greater challenge, and of course the bottles themselves, the labels, the corks... the list goes on. Not to mention the actual process of viticulture and winemaking, I’m under no illusions. But this seems like such an easy one to at least cross off the list right now, so why not? ⁣ ⁣ On my end, through early conversations with my growers I have managed to get to 79% of my list capsule-free, and working towards 90% within the next 12 months. That being said, a small percentage of those are sealed with screwcaps, and a decent amount are sealed with wax, neither of which are great either but that's worthy of a separate post. ⁣ ⁣ Thoughts?

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Tote of the week

The original bag for life.

Dish of the week

A big mood.

Shot of the week

Surely enough for even Sir Mix-A-Lot’s notoriously exacting anaconda.