This weekend Mike and I went on the first kid-free date since last September when we celebrated our wedding anniversary. We only get a few nights a year where we don’t have to ask one kid to use his inside voice or keep his pants on, this is Denny’s! We had tickets to Chateau Ste. Michelle winery’s chef dinner and last night’s theme was a salute to Julia Child. Tickets for the private chef dinners normally run about $115 a person, but before you pull a Rihanna-YOU-FANCY on me, these tickets were free thanks to a contest I won on my favorite podcast, Too Beautiful To Live. Do you know how many rounds at the Chinese buffet $115 could swing me? Do you!? Or how many times I could go to the putt-putt course? Many times, my friend. Many times.
I was a bit worried about the evening because Chateau Ste. Michelle is an incredible place with a reputation for phenomenal wines and if there’s anything I know about wines, it’s that I don’t know anything about wines. I have the sophisticated palate of the Pace Picante cowboys who can discern whether the thick and chunky salsa is made in San Antonio or New Yawwk City. And that’s about it. Wine to me is either red or white and served in a jug I get from the gas station or in a cardboard box I can pick up at the liquor store when I need to buy a Megamillions lotto ticket. Plus, what would I wear? Something fancy like my wedding dress or something simple like the French maid outfit I wore for Halloween?
When we arrived at the sprawling winery, we checked in and entered a large cask-lined room where people drank wine and chatted with each other. A huge screen in the corner played Julia Child trussing a bacon-wrapped chicken.
The first appetizer served was Coquilles St. Jacques à la Parisienne, scallops simmered in white wine and mushrooms and served in big white spoons. When I spotted this tray being passed, I slowly trotted over to the woman serving it to guests, forgetting that I was in a fancy winery and not Costco where if you don’t elbow your way to the front of the crowd waiting for the guy to finish sticking toothpicks into potstickers, you aren’t getting any. The lady nicely turned to us, holding her empty tray and smiled, “I’ll be back for you!”
Other appetizers were Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage (potato cheese sticks), Caneton a`l’Orange (roasted duck with an orange sauce) and mini quiche lorraine. I had to keep calm and not get all Costco-sample-vulture in front of people who are so adult, they know what the NPR station is in whatever town they are in without having to look it up.
We headed outside for some fresh air, but on the way out, Mike stopped by the standing coat rack and starting feeling up some of the furs. He pulled on one long fur-lined coat and said to me, “Do you like this? Do you think this is nice?”
I was stunned that he was rifling through RICH PEOPLE’S WEAR, but I didn’t want to cause a scene by shrieking, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” I just nodded in agreement and tried to usher him away to the door, hoping that no one had seen my husband with his hands all over their fancy clothes.
Then as we walked out, he stopped and said, “OH! I thought they were for sale! I didn’t know that was a coat rack!”
We took our seat at the table where there were seventeen million wine glasses because each meal would be paired with wine. The chef came out and talked about each course and her history with Julia Child. She had also prepared Julia’s 80th birthday dinner some years ago and said that much like that dinner, this one would have tons of butter. Another woman spoke to the wines themselves, how the grapes were prepared and were they were picked.
The first course was Sole Meunière with lemon, butter and parsley. I didn’t get a photo of this because I was too busy shoveling into my mouth and then suppressing my O-FACE because OOOOH IT WAS DELICIOUS.
Next was the grilled asparagus sauce maltaise. I wanted to lick the plate and then consume the porcelain pieces.
Julia’s classic cheese souffle! Some of the dishes didn’t rise, but mine had a very nice puff. A small salad with balsamic vinaigrette nestled against the ramekin.
The main course was Tournedos (beef tenderloin) with king oyster mushrooms, madeira sauce, accompanied with a baked tomato, artichoke bottoms and pommes de terre parisiennes, little potato balls that had been carved out with a melonballer and baked. When the plates were being taken away, I noticed that some women at the other table didn’t finish their steak and I wanted to yell, “TONIGHT IS NOT THE NIGHT TO THINK ABOUT YOUR ARTERIES!” Or more likely, I would pretend I worked there and pick up the plates myself so I can eat all the juicy morsels they left behind.
Finally, the dessert was Bavarois a l’Orange (orange Bavarian cream), strawberry sauce and palmiers which came from West Seattle’s Bakery Noveau. This was my favorite wine pairing. The ice wine we were served had 27% sugar which is my favorite flavor in the world: sugar. I crumbled the enormous palmier cookies into the cream and each bite made me feel like I was in heaven, chomping on clouds while a harpist played in the background.
I was so impressed by the quality of the meal, an insight into how the other half lives–a half that knows so much about wine. They talk about how the grapes were stressed, meaning plucked at a certain time and not stressed because they just saw their checking account and need to return whatever they just bought off Amazon.com. And as much I worry about being around the lifestyle that can afford $$$ meals, everyone we spoke to was very kind and eager to talk to us. At one point, the people at the table said, “We wanted to give you a moment to yourselves because we know that you are having a romantic evening.” And I think we were all having a romantic evening that night, whether we were romancing our significant others or just falling madly in love food so incredible, you would lean into the butter and sauce and cream and whisper in a slow, seductive breath, “Baby, you so fine.”