Chapter 8 – Refreshments

Refreshments at the end of the First Day

The conference was on schedule and there had been no technical problems, the presentation had been well delivered and each delegate would have access to all the supporting data in both English and their chosen languages. The documents would be delivered to the chosen addresses by a serious of encrypted pathways. No authorisation had been given that would allow the removal of the documents and supporting electronic copies from the conference room, this was to maximise the protection of data for the corporation which was almost paranoid in self security. How-ever this clinical approach reduced the potential for threats to the delegates during transit and prevented any underhand or unusual requests by international border agencies.

Kirill stood at the podium, he was both pleased and relaxed, his contribution of both the significant volume of data and the supporting analysis had been well received and the delegates had been very co-operative in their own interpretation and discussions. It was 16:45 PM and the first day was drawing to a conclusion, the delegates were quiet, he could see from their mannerisms that it was also a good time to finish with the necessary formalities of the proceedings and take a break for more relaxed discussions and conversations with some refreshments in the adjoining meeting room.

He did not intend to prolong their discomfort and formally ended the afternoon session and informed the delegates that he would enjoy their company to discuss anything on the agenda over a glass of champagne, wine and/or other light refreshments together with a few delicacies before they disappear and prepare themselves for the visit to the Bolshoi Theatre.

He reminded the delegates of their impending visit to the beautiful and exciting visit to the Bolshoi Ballet. They would have to leave the conference centre at the latest 18:30PM to guarantee at least a few minutes before the ballet started at precisely 19:00PM, they could not afford to be late!

The delegates would be escorted to the Bolshoi Ballet where they would have the best seats on the Main Stage to watch a major revival of Ludwig Minkus “Don Quixote” (a ballet in three acts).

There would be two intermissions for them to enjoy light refreshments, Kirill would join them at the Theatre where he would maintain contact with the commander of the close protection teams. He would maintain a presence at one of the bars located on the fourth tier. After the performance they would be escorted to the Turandot restaurant for an evening meal.

Kirill walked calmly and very relaxed with the delegates into the adjoining room, they were winding down, the conference had been very concentrated and exhausting due to the volume of information and the fast pace which Kirill had insisted upon, that would enable him to maintain control over the whole proceedings. It was a tight, hectic and demanding schedule but it had worked very well and he was inwardly satisfied. He had to maintain and edge and be in control.

The schedule was indeed tight, planned with his usual enthusiasm and he knew that the delegates would be hungry, and they would not pass up the opportunity to enjoy a few or maybe more than a few delicate nibbles and a glass of the finest champagne before hurrying away to devote precious time to their appearances.

An absolutely delicious buffet had been prepared, with a generous and intriguing array of sophisticated hot and cold bit-sized morsels that contained the perfect blend of aroma, panache and flavour. The artful canapés were made from the finest meats and sea-foods together with delightful tasty dips, artisan cheeses and delicate salads.

Kirill had spared no expense to ensure the delegates had the absolute best of everything during their short stay in the Russian capital and that included the caviar which was the most expensive of all caviar, and indeed the world’s most expensive food the ‘Almas’, from the Iranian Beluga fish – 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) of this ‘black gold’ is regularly sold for £20,000 (then $34,500).

The champagne was simply the best he could arrange in Moscow and at 60k Roubles a bottle he could do no more. The vintage champagne flutes would be full, the delegates would have a sip or two and leave the rest, what a despicable waste. He knew the staff and security would look on with absolute disgust, but that was why they did it, after all, because they could!

Kirill made some notes on the champagne, he liked this one, he was not one for “bubbles” but sometimes one has to make sacrifices! He had his notes for the awkward “I’m smarter than you are questions” in his pocket.

Knowledge is power and don’t forget it! Kirill had every intention of enjoying the food, he was hungry but would wait until the delegates had left to prepare themselves for the evening entertainment, he needed to be able to talk without distractions and maintain control. He would have a drink, a tough choice between the Champagne and the Chateau La Mission, perhaps both starting with the Champagne.

Kirill’s Notes included:

Champagne – Cristal AOC, 1995 and approx. 60,000 Roubles a bottle:

  • Colour: Champagne sparkling light straw colour
  • Taste: Has a powerful, harmonious, buttery taste with fine acidity and a special freshness, with dominant notes of ripe yellow fruit and strawberry on a background of the nuances of toasted toast
  • Aroma: Deep flavour filled with hints of toffee and toast with yeast nuances
  • Gastronomy: Louis Roederer, Crystal is the perfect accompaniment to any social event. Champagne is a wonderful aperitif, goes well with scallops, caviar, salmon, lobsters and oysters
  • Interesting Facts: It was created in 1876 for the Russian Emperor Alexander II. Now – this is one of the most prestigious and elite champagne in the world

White Wine – “Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion” Blanc, Pessac-Leognan AOC, – approx. Roubles 192,690 a bottle:

  • Colour: Wine of pale yellow colour with greenish highlights
  • Taste: Intense, expressive, with fresh shades of tangerine marmalade, caramel melon and lemon oil, mineral nuances, pleasant acidity and notes of toast in a long aftertaste
  • Aroma: Full bodied and fresh, reveals aromas of mango, pineapple, lemon shades, mineral notes and nuances of graphite
  • Gastronomy: The wine is perfect as an aperitif, and is the perfect accompaniment for fish dishes, seafood, shellfish, crustaceans noble – lobster, crayfish
  • Interesting Facts: Wine “Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion” Blanc made from grapes Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Then the wine is aged for a year in oak barrels, of which 40-50% – new. The annual output of wine “Chateau La Misson O-Brion” Blanc is only 500-700 bottles

The delegates were calm and relaxed, Kirill enjoyed the brief small talk with them as they stood around the tall tables. The food was amazing, but there were no complimentary remarks as the two hostesses placed their choices on the finest china plates. They would not stay long, there was another contest to consider before they left for the ballet. They sipped at the champagne and left the flutes on the tables, almost full as he had predicted before their excuses and leaving individually with their associates and taking the elevators to the appropriate floors.

He was left alone with the hostesses who appeared relieved that no unfortunate accidents or otherwise had taken place. There was an uncomfortable silence and he asked for two heavy duty bags to be passed from the back of the serving area. He spoke slowly facing them “thank you for your services, do you drink champagne or wines? Take two bottles each of what you prefer, it has been cleared with security, I hope you enjoy them”.

Kirill was not a man of too many words, he picked two unopened bottles of the ice-cold champagne and two flutes and placed them carefully into a specially designed drinks container, he needed a cigarette. He ate a few more mouthfuls of the sensational caviar and washed them down with a flute of the Chateau La Mission, a combination made in heaven. Picking up the container he headed for the elevator, a few minutes more and he would be wearing a thick coat from his suite and smoking several cigarettes on the rooftop with Hugo who also enjoyed the finer things in life, hence the two glasses.