I have a cousin who has taken it upon herself to have, which has become an Armenian tradition in our families, an Easter Eve party. Since all of the cousins now have families of their own and we are splintered on Easter, all having dinners for our respective families. She has an Easter egg hunt for the young children, who are getting older each year, and that tradition may soon, alas, become a faded memory. She also maintains a traditional Armenian tradition of an Easter egg battle, which consists of everyone having a dyed Easter egg held in their fist, and one Egg point attacks another Egg point, until only one Egg is left the sole survivor of an intact egg shell that has not been cracked. It sounds silly, but we have had these egg wars since time immemorial.
Well my cousin puts out quite a spread for the event. She has not only fresh fruit and vegetables with dips to start out, but also some wonderful Armenian delicacies. She served this traditional Armenian cured meat called Bastarma that is cut paper thin and has a very spicy and unique taste, that I have to refrain from, because unfortunately the spices that it is cured with stays in the body for a couple of days. There was Lahmanjoun, which for a lack of a better term is a personal Armenian pizza topped with ground lamb, tomato paste, onions, garlic and parsley that has a bit of a zing to it, and if you need a little more zing, just add a little more Cayenne pepper to it. Then there was Cheese Boreg which is a light flakey triangular pastry filled with a brick cheese that is baked to a golden color. There was an Arabic Kibee Nyee, the raw ground lamb, onions, garlic and parsley dish, and the Tabouli Salad. The Armenians tend to mix these two dishes into one and place into pita bread to enjoy. There was Hummus on the table as well, and these were just for starters.
For dinner there was an abundance of thick lamb chops served, along with Armenian Pilaf, which I have never seen duplicated in any restaurant, as properly as we make it. Another tradition albeit a newer tradition was a dish my Father created called “Hot Ham” which was also served. There was an Armenian version of a Mac and Cheese dish as well. Not to mention a variety of salads and vegetables for sides. By the time I had enjoyed all of these dishes, I am sorry to say, there was no room left for me to enjoy the wonderful spread of desserts that I kept looking at, but I resigned to the fact, that there was just no more room left for even one more morsel of food. This is just the classic way for an Armenian dinner, where the tables can barely support all of the food that is being offered for the diners.
Besides all of the mixed drinks and cocktails being served, there was wine and beer being served as well. There were two different wines from the Rodney Strong Vineyards of Sonoma County in California and both were Vintage 2010. There was a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon and both were enjoyed by the revelers. I also brought a couple of the Sterling wines that I had written about a little while ago, the Chardonnay and a Meritage. All of these wines were very good where enjoyed by all. I also brought the bottle of Galante Vineyards Ace High Malbec 2009 that I recently received from the Monterey Wine Club. I had stated that I was looking forward to trying this wine, as I have enjoyed the other wines that I have had from this winery. Let me say that this was one of the most balanced Malbec wines that I have ever had the privilege to drink. It was not as heavy as some of the Argentine Malbec wines that I have had, and the tannins and were not overt, and it was also a bit dryer than most of the wines that I had encountered as well. My Bride even was impressed by this wine and suggested that we purchase some more of it, before it disappears from the shelves. That is indeed high praise from her.