Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Neighbourhood Dine Around Comes Around

Despite the fact that I was out last night for what was likely my first "last call" in I don't know how many years, the old "no rest for the wicked" proved itself true because I had to get right back on the social horse and wagon and get ready for our annual Neighbours' Dine Around. The players may have changed somewhat and those involved have expanded a bit over the years, but the basic premise of spending a short time eating and visiting with our neighbourhood gang during the holiday season remains the same.

The array of food and drink never ceases to amaze me and tonight was no exception - even if I wasn't fully participating in all the wines and cocktails that were available.

1013. 2008 Mon Ami Rascal GSM (VdP Meditterannée - France)

After a bit of jockeying for positions, this year's extravaganza started off with Cupcake and Haggis and, being the rascal she is with all things witty, Cupcake served up the cutest little olive, carrot and cream cheese penguins. The kids loved them and you can count me in as one big kid. Whether they went along with the GSM is irrelevant - they were too cute to care.

Mon Ami Rascal is the house blend made for the earls restaurant chain by the Perrin family in the south of France. GSM (or Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre) is a traditional Rhone blend and, as you'd likely expect with a house red, it's an easy drinker with plenty of fruit and easy tannins. It's an easy way to start the evening avec nos amis rascals.

1014. 2010 Thornhaven Estates Gewürztraminer (VQA Okanagan Valley)

BabyMama and Arty400 offered a butter chicken as well as a vindaloo curry. I could have easily just chowed down on a couple heaping bowls of this and called it a night - but I had to show some restraint and limit myself to just a sample since there were another four homes to visit - and stop #2 is still considered appies in the greater scheme of things.

I always look forward to seeing what wines Arty400 serves up since he's a bit of wine fiend and he's always on top of the latest suggestions that Barb Philip, one of Vancouver's resident Wine Masters, is touting. I totally get serving the Gewurtz with the curries and the Thornhaven exhibited all the classic characteristics of a Gewurtz, but it wasn't my favourite wine of the night.

I didn't get to spend too much time with Nature Boy and Mr. Principled at their stop because I had to make a quick exit to get our place all set up, but I was able to hang around long enough to try their most delicious lamb stew. They matched it up with a very tasty red wine but I only had time for a quick sip and didn't even catch the name of the wine. I may have to try and follow up on that with them.

1015. 2009 Stoneboat Chorus (VQA Okanagan)

Boo and I teamed up to make a tourtiére seeing how it's a classic Québécois dish to serve up at Christmas. I'd never tried making it before but, if I do say so myself, it was pretty darned good. Boo made one of his best crusts ever and the filling was bang on tasty. When our tourtiére got the seal of approval from Marquis and Red, our resident Montréalers, I knew we'd pulled it off.

I offered up both a white and a red as the joy of tourtiére is that it'll match up with almost anything. An earlier vintage of the Chorus was added to The List a couple of years back, at #336, when the wine was still called "Nebbia." A blend of six white varietals, it's a summer sipper kind of wine that captures all the fruit of the Okanagan. I figured it would match nicely with the pork and crust.

Plus, the wine's a bit of Christmas present to myself because I'm going to add the Schönburger varietal to my Wine Century Club list this time around. I didn't add the grape last time because it's only provides a small percentage of the blend, but I'm adding all the varietals I find in blends nowadays since I've finished off the initial century. Besides, I rather doubt that I'll run across many wines that feature Schönburger in anything more than a supporting role.

2006 LaFrenz Shiraz (Okanagan Valley)

I brought the LaFrenz out simply because it's a beautiful wine and it made sense to share LaFrenz with our friends. Actually, I didn't exactly have to foresight to think of that little witticism before I opened the bottle but I'll use it since somebody pointed out what a nice idea it was. Credit where no credit's due. Gotta like that. I found the wine to be a little more acidic that I recalled in the past, but that was likely a good thing with the flavours of the tourtiére.

I do know that everyone was asking about the LaFrenz. So, I guess I'll let that make me feel a bit better about the fact that I served a wine that's already on The List. I'm not supposed to do such a silly thing.

By now, I was starting to fade a bit, but there were still two homes to visit. I kind of made an executive decision to back off on the wine though when I started nodding off - martini in hand - in a cozy old couch at Shameless Hussy and Rock God's place. At least I didn't spill the martini at all or start to snore. I don't know that I'd be able to show my face in the neighbourhood after such a faux pas.

As if they haven't seen way worse.

A double dessert and quick massage in Widya's "alien attack" chair basically spelled the end of evening for me. No cigars or Port this time around but it was yet another great little affair for the crowd. Now it's time to diet before the rest of the Christmas dinners to come.

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