The dinner club that I belong to has made some changes to the usual structure of the meetings. The Christmas meeting is now what is called a Dutch Treat meeting, meaning that each member pays for his dinner, and we have also gone and made another change and it is now a meeting with spouses. I am sure that the founding members, as well as some of the Old Guard when I joined some thirty years ago, that have since passed way, would all be spinning in their graves to know that women are invited. The club was originally a way for the members to get together with other hobbyists and have a “boys” night out, as they used to refer to it. The times have changed, and since this is now a “Dutch Treat” event, the attendance is much smaller, and to be truthful, it is the most expensive night out for the club.
The last couple of years we have been meeting at the Oakland Hills Country Club, as one of our members also belongs to this prestigious and lauded club. It has two distinct golf courses and has been the site of many famous tournaments, but we were all going there for dinner. Something new at the country club was that they actually did an inventory of all the assorted golfing memorabilia that they have acquired over the years and then they built special new cabinets to show the collections. We were in one of the private dining rooms on the second floor of the club house which would have been overlooking the course, but it is dark so early, but it allowed everyone to look at the collections in the cabinets instead. As is the norm for the Christmas dinner, it was a set menu starting off with hot Hors d’oeuvres that were brought out by our wait staff for the evening. We began the actual dinner with a Caesar Salad and while it was very good, I still prefer my Bride’s and so far, hers has not been bested. Our entrée was Filet au Poivre and grilled Jumbo Shrimp (and yes, by anyone’s definition they were “jumbo”) with Rosemary Potato Gratin and Garlic Herb Lemon Beurre Blanc. Our dessert was one of the specialties of the country club for this time of the year, their Yule Log Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Glaze, Berry Sauce and Whipped Cream. Everyone was well sated and very pleased with the menu that our member selected for us, for the evening.
As for drinks, the bar was quite open, though I felt sorry for the wait staff as they would have to go downstairs to the bar to get our drinks. I asked to see the wine list, and the waiter not only brought the main list, but also the better list, and he did tell me that they also have some real special wines that are not on either list, like assorted vintages of Screaming Eagle (first label), as the second label was listed on the better list. As I studied the well thought out list of wines, there were many that were too dear, especially just before Christmas, but I did notice that there were some Cru Bourgeois from the great Communes of the Medoc; how could one go wrong with one of those selections. My Bride and I had a bottle of Chateau Tour Coutelin Saint-Estephe 2007. There are five Classed Growths from Saint-Estephe, but they are also known for having quite a few Cru Bourgeois estates. While the wines utilize what is referred to as the Red Bordeaux Blend or in California as a Meritage, the grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec; Saint-Estephe with its heavy clay terrain favors Merlot more than its neighbor Pauillac. While the vintage year of 2007 was considered un-even, Saint-Estephe was noted for doing it right. The wine was everything I expected from a nine-year-old Medoc and we were not disappointed. Of course, for next year, perhaps I will do some better planning, but I am sure that I won’t still go to the better wine list.