By Sean Murphy, Proprietor, Beach Bistro and Eat Here
We once had a baby-sitter who gave our son a time out for playing with his food. We kept our son and got rid of the baby-sitter. People like to play with their food. It gets way more fun when they can also play with their wine at the same time. Here are some suggestions for your next dinner party.
The First Course
Make the first course a miniature smorgasbord of charcuterie and cheeses, figs, berries, and some chilled shrimp or smoked fish. All of these tastes pair well with wines and are easy to serve. Cheeses can be placed out early and left at room temperature. The others can be pre-plated and served straight from the fridge. Set your table with an abundance of glasses. Guests can sip and savor, contrast and compare and still remember what they are drinking.
I have three favorites; Groth Sauvignon Blanc, Rombauer Chardonnay and a wild card wine, Domaine Ehrhart from Alsace, off-dry and spicy.
The Main Squeeze
Keep it simple, serve your hot courses “butler style.” Use oven-proof platters and some widgets for putting them directly on to the table. Assign one platter for the significant protein, and one each for veggie and starches. Cook everything until it is just three minutes under done, then plate on your oven-proof dishes and wait for show-time. When it looks like the white wine side of dinner is winding down, pop all the plates in the oven for that last three minutes, and then serve them directly to the table.
Here are some cool picks for the meat course that are generally available and accessibly priced: Beaux Freres Pinot Noir, a new Zinfandel from Alexander Valley Vineyards called Redemption, and Three Vineyards Cabernet from Pedroncelli. Have your red wines ready and on the table before course service. Keep the flavors clean for the meat dish. Grilled is great but you don’t want to use a lot of sweet stuff that will knock the fruit or more subtle nuance flavors off the wine.
If you serve some chocolate for dessert you can keep pouring the reds until the end of the evening – and right through cleaning up. Pretty easy.
I ran into that old baby-sitter lady the other day in the supermarket. I took a quick glance at her cart. There was a lot of healthy-looking stuff and tuna fish. No beer or wine. She is still not having any fun with her food.