Birthday Musings: The Great Birthday Roast

The second part of the Great Birthday Bash was borne out of a coincidence of timing. This month’s wine club, typically convening the last weekend of each month, was bestowed a birthday theme.  Patrons were asked to select a wine (or food) that would embody the core characteristics and personality traits of this esteemed author.  Okay, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was quickly discovered that any potentially positive character trait I may possess was going to be conveniently omitted from the discussion.  Cheer up, I was told, “we simply wouldn’t bother at all if we didn’t like you.”  Sigh. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

The Roast Begins ...

The evening birthday bash-turned-roast commenced with an appetizer of garlic-rubbed crostini with bruschetta, goat cheese, caramelized onions and toasted walnuts. 

The crostinis were intended to kick off the evening’s festivities with “a lot of crusty white bread for a very crusty white man.” Not the best of beginnings.  The garlic was added for my apparent pungency, and the goat cheese symbolized an individual with occasional “headstrong tendencies” and “not always too clever” (lovingly contributed by my wife, no less). The walnuts capped off the first round as the most gracious element because, well, “you’re a bit nutty, after all.” True enough.

The “crusty white bread” was paired with a 2015 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés.  The wine hails from the Salta appellation in Argentina, the epicentre of the Torrontés varietal and claimed to possess the highest elevation vineyards in the world.  The weather in the high altitudes of the Andes Mountain Range can be unpredictable, but one can always rely upon constant, cool, dry wind that helps to produce dry white wines.  A rather obvious theme is developing. At least one could not fault the crowd for inconsistency. 

Adding to dry and white, the crowd was quick to point out another hallmark of Argentine Torrontés: cheap.  One patron made the (presumably) gracious attempt to more kindly rephrase: “an unexpected value in a modest presentation.” Thanks. In typical Torrontés fashion, the aromatics were bright and expressive, with peach, white flowers, orange blossom and citrus lemon. Floral and mineral elements accented the palate while citrus was the standout with lemon zest and grapefruit. Although fruity and floral, the wine was dry with medium body and a crisp finish.  A good value wine in a region still honing its craft.

Currying Mild Favor with the Birthday Host

The evening’s entrée showcased a Southeast Asian yellow curry with coconut milk, tofu and vegetables.  This delicious, lean and healthy dish was primarily intended to convey the author’s propensity toward all things Asian. I must admit, they did get this one spot on. Well played.

The entrée was paired with a 2015 Don Olegario Albariño from the famed Rías Baixas Denominación de Origen in the damp, green northwestern corner of Spain. Again, dry and white (shocking).

The nose was treated to ripe peach, citrus and floral scents with just a touch of spice.  On the palate, bracing acidity with tropical citrus fruit, for the white Bostonian that made his way to the tropical shores of the Pacific. A complex and expressive wine (two characteristics that were not mentioned in conjunction with the author), the wine is crisp, refreshing, and an overall great example of one of my favorite white varietals. If you lack familiarity with Albariño, I would strongly suggest becoming more acquainted with it in the warm spring and summer months that are soon upon us.

A Holy Interjection

I did point out that, were I to bring a wine to my own party, I would have pulled from my wine fridge a 2010 Le Clos du Caillou Châteauneuf-du-Pape, an appellation d'origine contrôlée in the Rhône Valley of Southern France which famously housed the papal seat during the fourteenth century, when civil war was stirring in Rome. 

This expensive, elegant and sophisticated wine, of course, undoubtedly represents my purity and holiness. Most, however, were very quick to doubt. Rigorous debate ensued.

A Sweet Ending to a Crusty Beginning

The evening’s festivities culminated with my wife's contribution of homemade Circus Animal Cookie Ice Cream. She reported that, in addition to being one of my favorite ice cream flavors (no one, including myself, can figure out why), the dessert expresses the “whimsical, childlike side of you that most people don’t get to see.” 

At least we end on a sweet note.

The evening was truly a delight and full of laughs.  Many thanks to those who participated: for your food and wine contributions, your (too) clever insights, and most of all, your wonderful and steadfast friendship. Cheers.