Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Around the World, A Six Course Review

Okay, so when I married Eugene I knew that he was smart, ambitious, funny and extremely hard working. But what I didn't know is how amazingly talented he would become in the kitchen. This dude can cook. I mean REALLY cook. And guess what? So can my older brother. The two of them are unstoppable in the kitchen.

As evidenced by our SIX course "Christmas Around the World" dinner this past weekend. My brother's family spent the weekend with us and we all celebrated Christmas a little early. It was such a memorable weekend. I mean, it really felt like Christmas. 

But the meal? OH MY GOD. Yes, the food was impeccable, but the kicker? We had a professional sommelier pair 2 wines with every course. Talk about fancy!

We watched our family's cheeks grow flusher by the course. And the laughs, oh the laughs!  

  So course by course, and drink by drink, here's the menu.


International cheese tray with mixed nuts, salami and fruit. Cheeses include Manchego (Spain), Queso de Cabra (Spain), Iberico (Spain), Wensleydale Aged Cheddar with Cranberries (England), Dorset Smoked Cheddar (England), Cheddar with Port (England), and Traditional Farmhouse Cheddar (England).

Paired with...

Mionetto Prosseco (Italy). The aroma is fruity, reminiscent of pear and citrus with a slightly floral bouquet. The wine is fresh and crisp with apparent apple and peach flavors.

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir (New Zealand). From Marlborough in New Zealand's South island. Fresh cherry flavors burst forth on the palate and on the nose augmented by subtle earthy notes. Duh.

And the winner on the cheese plate, was the Wensleydale Aged English Cheddar with Cranberries, by a unanimous vote. Creamy and delicious and bought from Costco, so get some!

Like the dry erase marker to label the cheeses? Isn't that genius? My brother gets all the cred!

It was the perfect start to our feast.


Shrimp Ceviche (Mexico). Traditional Mexican appetizer featuring shrimp, fresh tomatoes, avocado and citrus hints. Accompanied by a spicy avocado sauce.

Paired with...

Pewsey Vale Riesling (Australia) A pale straw with green hues, the wine shows intense fruit aromas of talcum, crushed stone and lemon lime fruit, with a hint of overlying dried herb, but of course.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand). Deriving from the French word sauvage (wild) and blanc (white) ours is a crisp and powerful, well balanced wine with intense aromas of gooseberry, passion fruit and citrus flavors. 

Guys, this ceviche was SO delicious! And the Kim Crawford wine was awesome on its own but the riesling was a surprisingly great pairing with the ceviche.

At this point we were all feeling a lil' bit loosey-goosey, so 
my brother began to chug the table-top dump bucket.

Just kidding. That was staged. But this adorable picture of my sister-in-law was not.

I wish she was more in focus, but it adds to the artsy value. She is our resident wine expert and was responsible for getting our wine pairings professionally assessed. 
So, right about now you might be thinking, six course meal? Where the heck were the kids? Well for one, they were barracaded out of the dining room. Need proof?

Exhibit A:

We were able to ignore the whiny little voices coming from behind the fence for about 4 courses. I mean it was 10 adults drinking glass after glass of wine--did they think we were going to pick them up or actually listen to them? Hell no. The moment they walked up to the fence they'd get heckled so badly they had no choice but to turn back.

Okay, the truth? We may or may not have left an entire bag of Holiday Oreos just within reach. 



Lobster fra Diavolo with Bruschetta. New England lobster tail sauteed in a garlic white wine sauce, served on bruschetta bread. Accompanied with Linguine alla' Aragosta. Homemade marinara with fresh tomatoes, lobster and pepperoncini.

Paired with...

Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay (California). Cement tank fermentation. Soft and round entry with an acid backbone, ripe fruits such as lemons, gooseberry and grapefruit. Finishes dry.

Clos du Bois Chardonnay (California). As fragrant as a stroll through a summertime farmers' market (this description had us all rolling) our bright and juicy Chardonnay beckons with aromas of apple blossom, ripe pear, peach and sweet lemon drop.

So good. So, so good.

And the unoaked Chardonnay was a hit. And their bottle is awesome. Here it is, a cement bottle just like the tanks it was created in. Talk about keeper.


Lemon Zest Sorbet (Italy).


(When you read the description, try to imagine it being said with a hilarious french accent. Which is exactly how Chris read it to us)

Bacon wrapped Roast of Filet Mignon (France). Trimmed, center-cut filet of beef tenderloin lightly seasoned and dressed with a winter coat of gently smoked bacon. Accompanied with reduced burgundy mushroom sauce, crispy hash browns and seasonal roasted crowns of broccoli and cauliflower with sweet baby cherry tomatoes.

Paired with....

Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon (California). Combines a complex mix of firm yet ripe and supple currant, spice, mint and cedary oak with good length, but also tannic muscle. Hubbawhat? Tannic muscle? Um, okay.

Bogle Petite Sirah (California). Voluptuous and full-bodied on the entry, the heady aromas of black currants and plums awaken the senses. Lusciously jammy and inky in appearance with tones of pipe tobacco, leather and cocoa, to mesmerize the palate.

Okay at this point I should not have operated machinery let alone a camera. Which is why I do not have a picture of our steak course. But...I do have a picture of the tenderloin before it was cooked. Check. This. Out!

It was delicious. My brother knocked it out of the park with this one. 


Inspired by a traditional yule log, this classic holiday cake with layers of rich chocolate. 

Paired with...

Fonseca Porto (Portugal). Blended from reserve wines selected for their superb fruit character and depth of color, it's well-knit structure, rich, velvety full body and luscious blackcurrant and cherry floavors, also dominant in the bouquet, finish on an intense, lingering note.

7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel (California). Sexy and endearing, it offers a deep ruby/purple color, full-bodied, corpulent flavors and abundant berry fruit, pepper and spice notes.


A night with all of my family is always something to remember. But this night and this meal was one we'll never forget. Thank you Rich and Eugene for a five star memory. 

"Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards...therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and in our plate."
- Grimod de la Reyniere

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