Twas the night before Easter and all through the house…Oh I think that I have my holidays mixed up. One of my cousins has taken it upon herself a Herculean task of having all of the cousins for Easter Eve dinner. She does this, because we are all splintered off for the holidays with our holiday dinners, with everyone married off and spread across the metropolitan area. Not only does she make sure that all of the adult cousins get together, but she has an Easter Egg hunt for the little ones as well; and it is just a great way to see everyone other than a wedding or unfortunately a funeral.
We arrived at the proper time with some dishes that we made to help out with the task of feeding everyone and most did the same thing, just to be good. I ended up sitting with one of her cousins and an Aunt and some others at the center of attention before the dinner. It was where all of the appetizers were arrayed and we could have all stopped eating then without the main entrée, it was that great. There was Lahmajoon, a delightful individual sized Armenian “pizza” with a very thin crust that is covered with finely ground lamb, mixed with tomatoes, garlic, parsley and other spices and then liberally doused with addition Cayenne red pepper just before eating. There were platters of Armenian Cheese Boereg, which are small individual size parcels of Phyllo-type dough wrapped around white cheese and baked until golden. Then there was Armenian String Cheese and Armenian Basturmah, a delicate cured lamb that is covered with Cumin and Chaiman (an Armenian hot sauce rub) and aged, which is then sliced paper-thin, a dish that I try to avoid only because the spices seem to permeate every pore on the body for several days and having always dealt with the public, is a cause to refrain. There was also Cheehemah or as most people now know it as Kibbe Nyee, the raw ground lamb dish with bulgur wheat, onions, tomatoes and parsley that the Armenians created and has been copied through the ages by other nationalities that knew a great dish. In case you may have noticed a trend that I have only mentioned Armenian delights, there was also a huge platter of mega-jumbo shrimp with a cocktail spice and then there was bread and pickled vegetables as well, and that was only for appetizers and we all had to somehow pace ourselves for the main meal. The main dish was done by a caterer and finished in the circular driveway in front of the house, there was a ninety-five-pound whole lamb that was barbecued and by the time it was done, the meat was literally falling off of the bones. Now add to that dish, Armenian Pilaf, salads, vegetables, an Armenian version of Mac and Cheese and belts had to be loosened. Then if that wasn’t enough there were cakes and desserts that rivaled impressive Sweet Tables at weddings. I think we all over ate.
As for the beverages, there was a liquor cart in one room and my Bride could have her Scotch and water, she may have given up wine for Lent, but she did allow herself to have an occasional Scotch. In another room, there was a bar set up with an assortment of waters, soda pops, beers and wine; and that was the room that I tended to frequent for some odd reason. I started off with Rodney Strong Chardonnay 2015 from Sonoma County. Even though there were appetizers with lamb, the chilled Chardonnay worked very well with them. This particular wine had sixty percent of the juice fermented in a mix of oak barrels and the balance was aged in Stainless Steel and then blended together for a nice refreshing glass of wine or several as the case may be. I brought a bottle of wine from my wine club that I was looking forward to trying, and the truth be told, there were very few wine drinkers there, but the wine did evaporate by the end of the evening. The Sinecure Grenache Noir 2013 with a Monterey AVA was I have to admit a great choice with all of the spices of the evening, as this was a wine that promised and fulfilled a full- bodied glass of wine with the taste of spices and peppers. I liked it and I guess that others that tried it also agreed. Throughout the evening my cousin was also wandering around pouring shots of Armenian Brandy just in case there wasn’t enough representation of Armenia during the affair.