Three months after the swallows returned to the mission of San Juan Capistrano , The Girlfriend has moved back to her native land in the Golden State, following career and family. It was a good run while it lasted and we've parted amicably as dear friends. Hereinafter she'll be referred to as California Girl as I try to get her to smuggle out wine bottles from small producers on the West Coast. And I've got a place to crash for future visits to the heart of American wine country... stay tuned!
There was a goodbye party at Paul's place, replete with appetizers and laughter and a riotous game of Apples to Apples. The frivolity was fueled by wine and various spirits, including the following:
2004 Paringa Sparkling Shiraz. $10, 12.5% abv. Drier than expected, muted tones of shiraz flavor obviously enjoyed at a colder temperature. In many parts of the English-speaking world this is a favorite for a big Christmas meal of roast bird and assorted sides. I thought it would be an interesting change of pace from standard bubbly and would go well with a a variety of small dishes and cheeses.
2006 Falesco Vitiano Rosé, $12. 30% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Aleatico. Aleatico is a sweet red grape famously grown on the island of Elba. While Napoleon was imprisoned there Aleatico wine was his only pleasure. Bright and fruity, with a strawberry-kiwi flavor. While it was delicious on its own, I found myself craving grilled fish, or perhaps a little Italian frito misto.
2005 Screw Kappa Napa, $10, 13.5% abv. Oaked, buttery, nutty, with a touch of caramel and popcorn. Overall sensation of a box of Cracker Jacks. Aside from the casual ease presented by the screwcap enclosure, I picked this out as a little joke in honor of California Girl's sorority days.
What else was there? I recall martinis and Paul's collection of Ports and the old bottle of cachaça that was considered and then wisely returned to the liquor cabinet. A grand time was had by all.
Next up on the week of celebrations was the grilled ostrich dinner, a personal request from her that I was all too happy to prepare at home.
And the final dinner, l'ultima cena if you want to be dramatic, was held at Roustica on the north side of Midtown. I've been there once before and absolutely loved it. She'd never been, making it a pleasant surprise. After the Maytag bleu salads, I had the rack of veal with goat cheese mashed potatoes (I'm still salivating), while she picked the quail, served in a little nest of frites with a hard-boiled quail's egg hiding under the grilled bird. Dessert was an unexpected joy: sorghum crème brûlée. The tangy, slightly bitter and smoky flavor of sorghum is a perfect match for a rich custard.
All in all the various dinners and gatherings served as a fun, enjoyable sendoff. As she drives off in the direction of the setting sun, I leave you with the quote I used as a toast during the party:
"Don't be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends." —Richard Bach