Our holiday dinner coincided with a winter storm that was halting traffic. We were heading across the Ohio River to the Metropolitan Club and travel advisories were out, so when the starting hour was at hand, we were but a handful of attendees. Hearty soles populate our ranks, however, and everyone but one couple braved the snow for a memorable evening of great food and wines, plus some seasonal caroling.
When the stragglers arrived, we welcomed them with Veuve Fourney & Fils Grande Reserve Brut and a choice of dainty lobster club canapés, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, and well-matched smoked salmon tartare on a spoon. With all accounted for, we sat for our first round of French inspired dishes with a nod to Fall. Roasted butternut squash bisque with pumpkin flan and crispy pork belly had rich, full flavors and a Meyer-Fonne Pinot Gris from Alsace had a richness to match with hints of apricot and apple. This was followed by another winner, seared scallop and veal sweetbread with cranberry-pancetta risotto. The complicated combination of flavors was brought together with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and was supported by a marvelous Domaine Cherisey Puligny-Montrachet that had a fantastic balance of oak and fruit.
Our intermission brought us to a snowflake ice sculpture for egg nog sorbet and a choral quartet in Dickensian garb. We refreshed our palates while the a cappella group sang Christmas carols for some heartwarming entertainment. We returned to our seats for the Winter themed portion of our meal, starting with thyme roasted breast of squab surrounded by a medley of vegetables and Port wine sauce. Charbonnière Châteauneuf-du-Pape was spectacular with a spicy, full body. Succulent meats continued with a course of braised short ribs of beef aside polenta and caramelized Brussels sprouts. Glasses of smooth, floral Château Branaire-Ducru from the loved 2005 vintage were poured for an elegant accompaniment.
To bring our taste buds down slowly, a salad of heirloom beets, arugula, blood orange, and Capriole Farm goat cheese gave fresh, crisp notes to our meal. Pear Charlotte was a classic end to the meal, but for those not ready to brave the weather, Cognacs and other cordials awaited fireside in the library. The snow ended so we could find our way home knowing we embraced good times and camaraderie for our holiday from the blustery winds.
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest