Saturday, December 10, 2011

Deke Xmas Dinner

A regular stop on the holiday party circuit is the Deke Alumni Christmas Dinner. It may have been over a couple decades ago that I was partying away all those university nights at the fraternity house, but it doesn't take much of an effort for some pretty crazy memories to surface and leave us laughing in stitches. And, there's always the bonus of having ready made nicknames for many of these guys. I don't have to come up with a "nom-de-ma-blog" when the boys have been known as Flounder, Bear, Army and Archie as long as any of can remember.

The organizers of this year's event changed up the standard old sit-down dinner buffet by booking Salt Cellar and creating a bit of mash up of a dinner and a beer/wine garden. I quite like the venue but the only events I've previously attended at Salt Cellar have been wine tastings since the restaurant only serves cold plates. That was hardly a damper on the evening - although I think more than a handful of the boys finished of the meat and cheese plates and wondered when dinner was coming. There was more than one suggestion that we see if it was possible to order in some pizza - just like old days at the Deke House.

It was a BYOB event - as in "buy your own booze" - so Beamer and I split a couple bottles of wine and caught up with some of the regulars and a few others that we haven't seen in what could be decades.

1011. 2008 Camelback Sangiovese Shiraz (Heathcote - Australia)

Salt is known as restaurant with a very well thought out wine list - many of the wines I knew but there were more than a couple of surprises. This Camelback was one of them. Not only was it from a producer I hadn't run across before but a blend of Sangiovese and Shiraz is hardly a classic - even for the Aussies. Seemed like as good
a place to start as any.

Camelback is a second label produced by the Galli family - along with Galli Estate. The operation is fairly new as it started up in 1997 and the family has vineyards in two regions of Victoria state in Australia, the Heathcote area being about 100 kilometres north of Melbourne. The innovative blend of 79% Sangiovese and 21% Shiraz stems from the family's transplanted Tuscan roots setting up shop Down Under. I quite liked it. I often find Sangiovese and Chianti wines to be a bit acidic and light bodied, but the Shiraz added some nice fullness and deeper fruit to the wine. I'll watch for more of their wines.

1012. 2008 Elderton Cabernet Sauvignon (Barossa Valley - Australia)

I never did get a shot of Beamer's bottle but he continued with the Aussie theme on the wine. When Beamer checked in to see if I was copacetic with the choice, I told him that I invariably find Elderton wines to be well put together and good value. The Barossa Estate Range of wines is a mid-range label and is a nice example of Aussie, New World Cab - plenty of fruit but still showing enough restraint that you can appreciate the nuance of wine's levels.

Not that those nuances really mattered at all with this gang. The wine wasn't so much an accompaniment to fine dining as it was a lubricant to drag out some of those old stories of mud- and jello wrestling, of regrets from having passed out in common areas (luckily those weren't my stories) and party themes that we likely could never pull off nowadays. The slide show of times passed elicited some major "Did we really do that?" and "Whatever happened to him?" moments. Weren't times ever so much simpler back in the 80's?

As much as we'd barely tapped all the tales that were still there in the memory banks, folks started drifting off once the food had been finished off. There were groups headed for the aforementioned pizza, others to watch the girls at No. 5 Orange and still others headed off for a beer at one of the local gin joints in Gastown.

Beamer, Tyrant, Boo2 (he's "2" because he's not my Boo but he was "Boo" to us long before my Boo was even on the scene), Jake and I were counted among the latter group. We never did find the other gangs but I did finally get to Chill Winston, a Gastown pub that's looked interesting for years. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but time sure flew. I had to ask our waitress if I could give her a hug when she announced "last call." I told her that I can't remember the last time I heard those words while out at a bar and that it's like she was the fountain of youth.

The problem, however, with encountering "last call" on a Friday night during the holiday season is that getting home is hardly going to be a piece of cake - even though I only live three or four miles away. We ended up hiking the whole length of Gastown in search of a cab. We didn't find any cabs but we did find late night hot dog vendors on almost every other corner. I'm not sure what it says about your evening when you grab a dog at the first wiener wagon and then stop again two blocks later for another. I do know that I'll likely always have a fondness for a spicy Polish dog from now on. "Bring on the spicy Poles," I say. (Inside joke folks.)

As for the late night photo, you can tell I didn't have a tripod and there were no flat surfaces that could be used to stabilize the camera. Despite the fun of the evening, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment