Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holiday Dine Around

There's been a bit of change in the neighbourhood over the last decade. Folks have come and folks have gone but, thankfully, there's one constant that (so far) has shown no signs of fading away. Indeed,  it would appear that the only thing threatening our hood's Holiday Dine Around is its success.

The catalyst of the event was the fact that six new households all started up around the same time as three adjacent duplexes were completed. Following the first year of meeting the new neighbours, we thought it might be nice to visit each household for half an hour or so for a bit of cheer and some nibbles. We're now into our second decade and the participants have expanded to include three of the houses immediately next door or across the lane. Without doubt, it's one of the most anticipated evenings on the McSpadden calendar.

With potentially nine stops on the tour, it makes for a lot of wining and dining. As such, we were actually pleased to give two "free passes" due to renovations that hadn't been finished in time. We'd have been happy to give a pass to Biker Boy and Steffi since they are juggling a four-month old bundle of joy but they said they were still game.

The possibility for adding seven or more bottles to The List was probably there but I needed to 1) pace myself and 2) enjoy some of the libations offered that hailed from different bottles. We do live in Yeast Van after all and, as an equal opportunity drinker, who am I to discriminate?

1822.  2011 Masi Campofiorin (Rosso del Veronese IGT - Italy)

I did gravitate towards the Masi Super Venetian that Arty400 and Baby Mama were pouring. I always like to try what Arty serves up since he gets a whack of tips from one of Canada's Masters of Wine, Barbara Philips, on a regular basis. Plus, they were serving up some stylin' pizza and it just seemed a natural fit. There was boar, there were figs, there was blue cheese and pear. I could have made an entire evening's meal here alone but this was only one of many delicious stops.

1823.  2011 Ravenswood - Old Vine Vintners Blend Zinfandel (California)

A Zin was a bold choice for the green curry that was served up by Widget but as a cocktail wine can you ever go wrong with a Zin? Especially if it's meant to an accessible crowd-pleaser like this Ravenswood is meant to be. Made from grapes that hail from appellations all over California and blended with Petite Sirah, Syrah and (my favourite) 3% mixed blacks, it's big and bold with plenty of fruit for standing around or for recovering from Widget's extreme massage "chair of death." I don't know why I do it, but I submit myself to multiple winces of pure pain every year at this time. A bold drink was exactly what I needed after an episode in that chair.

I didn't even have any wine at our place - although Boo and I did open a bottle of Red Rooster red and white since we received our annual box of wines under the winery's Adopt-A-Row program this week. I opted for a glass of Boo's hard core - and, okay, famous - eggnog. I knew how much rum and bourbon went into the nog; so, I knew better than to have anything more than that one glass. The creaminess sort of matched up to the butter chicken we were offering as well. The white wine would have been fine but we still had another two or three stops to fit in and I can always add those wines at a later time since they are readily handy.

1824.  2013 La Vieille Ferme Rosé (AOC Ventoux - Rhône - France)

We went from green curry to butter chicken to bouillabaisse at Nature Boy and Mr. Principled's home. What was funny was that Boo and I changed our mind to go with butter chicken at the last moment due to time constraints but Widget had thought about butter chicken before she decided on the green curry and seafood. We had to laugh when Nature Boy said that they'd been thinking about butter chicken and only changed their mind to go with the bouillabaisse in the last day or so. We came very close to a seasonal butter chickens bake off.

That could be a viable idea for a future neighbourhood gathering though.

The boys went with an oh-so-appropriate choice of a Rosé with the fish stew. I'm not sure if they were aware that fish stew and Rosé wine go hand-in-hand in France. I've seen and tried the other Vieille Ferme wines but I hadn't seen the Rosé before. Made from Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah - traditional red grapes in the region - I was happy to be transported off to the Mediterranean for a half an hour or so.

1825.  Quinta do Bom Retiro - Ramos Pinto RP20 Tawny (Portugal)

For a first time in eleven years, Shameless Hussy and Rock God took a pass on hosting. The dust and torn up floors - that they currently call home - just wouldn't have worked out as well this year. Feeling guilty, however, they paired up with Cupcake and Haggis and brought along a special treat - a 20-year old Tawny Port to go with Cupcake's desserts.

I haven't run across this Tawny previously and I'm a regular at the Port tables every year at the Vancouver International Wine Festival. I'm not sure how Shameless Hussy came across it but Ramos Pinto has been in existence as a Port house since 1880 and has been part of the Roederer Group since 1990. I'm going to have to keep an eye for it down the road as it provided a sweet and carmelly end to another successful Dine Around - as should only be expected from a fine, old Tawny.

And, the holidays continue...

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