The 9th annual McAdams HalloWine party was this weekend, a weekend we look forward to each year. This year was a week later than usual, which actually turned out well; the time change was that night, and everyone got an extra hour to sleep after the party!
The party is themed each year based on whatever we decided to theme it on. Over the years we’ve had the party, we’ve had a decent variety of themes:
- US wines not from California
- French wines Italian wines
- Wines from the southern hemisphere but not Australia
- Guests’ favorite wines
- and, this year, Sonoma County wines
I picked Sonoma County mostly because I have a bunch of Imagery Winery wines, and I really enjoy just about anything I’ve tried from them. If you are looking to try some really great wines that aren’t available just anywhere, call them up and put in an order; you won’t be sorry!
I didn’t really have much of a theme for the food; I wanted to try a paella with brown rice, and I saw a photo online of some great pear salads. I cut the pears into 4 sections horizontally, with a ceramic knife so they wouldn’t oxidize (turn brown). The core was cut out, and a mix of watercress, Parmesan Reggiano cheese and balsamic glaze was kind of stuffed between the layers and in the core. These were pretty nice salads I’ll have to try again!
One idea I had for finger food, on top of olives and fruit, was to smoke almonds with a variety of flavors. I melted some unsalted butter and mixed with the almonds, applying seasonings to 4 groups of nuts. The first group got simple Fleur de Sel salt, followed by salt and ancho chile. Then my wife made up a batch of blackened seasoning (this group also got topped with powdered sugar when they were done), and, finally, bourbon salt. To smoke the almonds, the Big Green Egg, with pecan wood, was up to about 250 degrees. After the first 20 minutes, I checked the almonds for doneness by eating one. Once the texture was where I wanted it, they came off (they stay soft, but the dryness of the almonds told me when they were done).
We got several cheeses, including brie, a great English cheddar, taleggio, a Provence Roquefort, and a great Italian style cheese that was soaked in balsamic vinegar. I baked a couple loaves of French bread (on the BGE) to go with the cheeses.
Dessert was inspired by one of our favorite trips so far, our 5th anniversary trip to Kennebunkport, Maine… Whoopie pies! They were really easy to make, and really delicious to eat! The recipe was from Gourmet.
The wines were fun to try, and the consensus was that the best of the whites as a really nice Sean Minor Four Bears Sauvignon Blanc, and the best of the reds was a Tempranillo from Imagery. But the highlight of the wines was a 1997 Beringer Alluvium that our friends brought just to drink before the actual wine tastings.
The real highlight of the night, though, was that our friends, Tim and Lisa, brought along their neighbors, Bill and Deb. We really enjoyed meeting them, and I think everyone had a great time. Next year will be out 10th wine party… and we have a few things that will be a different for next year!