Sunday, November 19, 2006

wine tasting dinner

wine tasting dinner
Originally uploaded by nicole_gt.

So everything went really well. Was super organized all day long. Even had time to go and get my hair blown out*. B was off first thing in the morning to IKEA and came home with a table and another 12 wine glasses. We didn't actually need more glasses, per se, but I thought it would look nicer on the small table to have two different sizes of glasses. Also, they were so squished together no one would have been able to keep track of their glasses if there wasn't atleast two different sizes. Now our bar is absolutely bursting at the seams. I have 23 small IKEA wine glasses, 12 large IKEA glasses, 6 martini glasses, 11 amber colored wine glasses, 8 old-fashioned glasses, and 6 shot glasses- plus the 36 crystal wedding wine glasses that are in the buffet in the dining room. After this last party I was almost ready to say that maybe I should scale back my entertaining until we have a bigger place, but actually, I should do a bit more, considering I must have enough glassware for a party of 100. On the other hand, I needed to run the dishwasher 3 times on Saturday and it took me ages to wash and dry all the crystal by hand (but I am not complaining. There is a certain zen pleasure I take in washing the crystal and seeing it all lined up back in the cupboard- sparkling and perfect.)

The food part of the dinner went perfectly, although I was a bit panicked when I started cooking the lamb and realized that the massive pack of meat I bought was full of weird, useless cuts that I couldn't use. I ran to the grocery store and bought another pack of meat, but I think I should have probably taken two extra. EVERYTHING was eaten, which I I take as a bad sign. My favorite thing turned out to be the white beans, which were so amazingly good. Actually, there were beans left, but not very much. I had them for both lunch and dinner today, on toast with a poached egg and a bit of parmesan. I think I could live on that for the rest of my life. And it wasn't very difficult to make, as the beans were canned, only I used homemade chicken stock in the broth and that makes such a huge difference in the taste so I won't be able to make them very often. Also, the sauce for the lamb was gorgeous but I don't think that very many people tried it, as the meat wasn't very moist and didn't really need a sauce. It was all very garlicky as well, which shouldn't have surprised me (I did spend probably an hour altogether peeling dozens of garlic cloves...) but it did taste very... peasanty? Robust? Whats a nice way to say that no one was attacked by a vampire that night on their way home?

I think I was a bit too preoccupied by the organization and didn't actually get to chat enough because I had to ask B if he thought everyone had fun or if it was too dull. He said it was a silly question because everyone got on really well together and talked and talked. Of course, most people knew each other vaguely but there were no awkward pauses in conversation, empty silences. He's completely right, I was just being a bit paranoid about having seated people wrongly (of course, as soon as everyone had their place I realized exactly who should be next to who, even though I spent the whole of Thursday night switching cards around). In fact, if there was one thing that I would complain about its that the conversation was so lively that the sommelier couldn't really talk much. He came over to chat with me and said that rather than give speeches, he would just go around the table since he didn't want to interrupt things. He was right, it would have been a bit of an atmosphere-killer to start a long discours on wine in the middle of things, but the next day, I felt oddly disappointed considering how perfectly it all went and I think it was because we didn't really learn anything about the wines he brought. The only reason I have even a vague idea about what we drank is because he left the open bottles for me. Its my fault, because he asked several times how exactly I wanted to do things and I didn't have a very good idea. I said that I am sure he could do it very well on his own, since he has done so many dinners. Next time (shhh- don't tell B that there is going to be a next time, he's hardly recovered from Friday) I'll try and sort it out so that we actually take some time to talk about each wine individually. Maybe everyone else will hate that- I get freakishly academic and detail obsessed at the most inconvenient times- but I think it would then justify the title of Wine Dinner. Friday night was really just A Dinner with Wine Picked Out by Someone Who Knows. He also kept all our glasses full, and in retrospect, how handy. That might have been worth the money, in and of itself.

By the way, Olivier, the sommelier, was adorable and couldn't do enough to make things go smoothly. He was in the kitchen helping before dinner, cleaning up before I had chance (when it was actually me throwing things on the floor in a last minute organizing panic), and checking in all night to make sure that I was happy with how it was going. I just really think he is such a nice guy and I'm mad that I wasn't v. selfish and had him seated next to me all night. Again, must note that down somewhere for the next time we do this...

The final great thing about the dinner, IMO, was the flower arrangements. I went to that florist on rue St Antoine, Comme Ca, whom I LOVE and found these fantastic branches of berries. They always have exactly the thing and I don't know why I am so lazy and waste my money at Monceau Fleur every week. Of course, my first choice was actually branches of orchids that were lime green spotted black, with very spidery flowers on long branches. They were still in the packing boxes, not yet priced, and I had to change my mind when they said it was 30 euro a branch. Plus, they weren't at all what I had in mind. (I guess that I could have just changed all the table clothes for something white. Oooo- with black silk runners. How gorgeous would that have been? Not very "autumn-y", but v elegant). But these berries where just thing. Austere, seasonal, perfect with the table linen, plus they were only 10 euros all together for 2 tables and I can keep them in a vase for the next week or so while I have house guests.
So, all in all, a great party. No one was swinging from the chandelier, no one was ridiculously drunk, we were in bed by 2 and woke up tired but no hangovers, which makes me feel like it was all a bit too grown-up and boring. I'm such a malcontent. It all went perfectly, I was showered in compliments, and I was actually functional the next day. What more could I possibly want?

* When will I learn my lesson and stop telling them "with a bit of volume"? Every single time, it seems that I come home with my head covered in ringlets. Friday night I spent a frantic 10 minutes in the bathroom with some Frizz Ease and a flat brush trying to calm my White Girl Afro. In all fairness, my hair does curl very easily, but I don't think that "volume" means "Shirley Temple curls" in french. And then, when they spin me towards the mirror, they ALWAYS say "Regardez! C'est Nicole Kidman!" (Look! Its Nicole Kidman!) I hate Nicole Kidman. Is it any wonder I don't leave a tip?

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