Saturday, December 25, 2004

Props To A Couple of Gracious Hosts

While I am enjoying a lovely cup of red tea and soaking in the beautiful, crisp Christmas morning from inside my thoughts float back to Thursday night's dinner party hosted by Monkey and Nora. The two of them have been hosting formal parties now for the past couple of years and they have been truly wonderful nights. Thursday night's dinner party was no exception.

Monkey, being a rather militant vegetarian (hehe), always plans a grande menu for all with the help of his main squeeze making them a dynamic culinary duo. Like myself, Monkey has learned from an early age his way around a kitchen. So everything that is prepared is always on point. They share my personal passion for fine food, wine, spirits and the fine company of friends. I always feel honored being invited to nights like these. The evening started with a "cocktail hour" with hors d'oeuvres served with lovely Georgia wine (not the state but the country formally part of the Soviet Union) presented by Sashka. I was glad Sashka was in attendance because I don't get to see him as often as I used to. The wine, the name escapes me unfortunately, went particularly well with the Gouda cheese. After a couple of glasses all were bubbling over with the holiday spirit. During the cocktail hour, I had met guests from previous parties and the vibe was that of old friends. The conversation meandered from careers to electronics to movies and cinema to food and international holiday traditions. Hermo, Leslie, Working Man, Sashka, Bri, Jenn, myself and all were stimulated, indeed.

Everything was warming up for the main sit-down featuring roasted free-range chickens, soy-based poultry, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams (personal fave), an assortment of vegetables, everything one would expect on a Holiday menu and some you wouldn't expect. Hats off again to Nora and Monkey for a delicious feast. I was touched when Monkey asked me to carve up the first round of chicken which, by the way, was so tender it practically pulled straight from the bone. As the conversation rolled on between stuffing our faces, more wine flowed and happy song rang through the home. The wine selection was excellent covering many regions and continents. As I've grown older I appreciate what a fine wine can do to highlight a lovely meal. My own contribution was a case of Ruffin Chianti desert wine to be imbibed with the crown jewel of the holiday feast...

Chocolate fondue! It is true that I am not a fan of desert foods. I generally pass up cakes and pies because when I was a kid I could not get enough of them. Maybe it is some weird form of Irish Catholic guilt but who knows. But there are two things that make me break my own rule; a good chocolate mousse and a great chocolate fondue. The foundation of Monkey's chocolate fondue is Lindt's all natural Cocoa Bar chocolate. I should have paid particular attention whether it was the 75% or 85% variety Lindt features in their cocoa. Both of these blends offer a little less sweetness. This is required when consuming chocolate fondue with such naturally sweet items as raspberries, strawberries, Granny Smith apples, rice crispies treats, mandarin oranges, etc. My mouth still waters a bit thinking about the wonderful chocolate fondue. I feel I may be repetitive but that is just too bad because the food was excellent.

So in an evening filled with Christmas cheer, lots of friends and a fine atmosphere, you couldn't ask for anything more. My only regret is that I did not offer a toast to Monkey and Nora and all the guests for making the evening a stellar night. I am sure that through out the night I made my high regard for the party known to everyone. For all those who attended the party, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and safe travel to your destinations. Be happy and be safe because I look forward to seeing you all again at the next party!