Every now and then I speak of an evening with food and wine with my dinner club. My club is now about one-hundred-thirty years or more old and counting. The founders of this group, if one knew history, especially the history of Detroit would recognize their names as there are streets, buildings and businesses of those men, not to mention the immediate family of presidents, governors and mayors. It is or was quite a lofty club in the early days, and by charter, there are only forty-four members allowed, and I think that was because of the size of the homes back then. Originally the members would meet for dinner at a member’s home and that included dinner and drinks, and today I really don’t know of too many people that have a home to accommodate that crowd, let alone a spouse that would agree to cook for that large of a group. The group survived the Great Depression by being dynamic for the times. The meetings were moved to a residential hotel, that had a large dining/assembly room and three men were assigned to be hosts for the evening, of course they then ate on someone else’s dime for the rest of the year. Eventually more and more of the members had moved out from the city into the suburbs and then the three man teams started selecting a restaurant that had a private dining room and that still worked out great, a method that we still use today, though there are fewer restaurants that still have private dining rooms. I joined this august group of men in 1989, and I was assigned with two other men, one of who had joined in 1928. Through all of the years, we have seen men who have had to leave from moving out of state, illnesses and death, but only once did we have a member who quit just prior to his turn to be host and the club had to pick up his third of the tab; and then he petitioned the club to be reinstated, was told that he would have to pay of his debt and he refused, and he is still not a member. The only other unique case was a member that quit the year before his cycle of membership years would have made him the president of the group again, and as you can surmise he was up in the years, so he quit for a year and then rejoined as a new member; he never saw the cycle of membership to make him president before he made the big trip.
As you can see, I have been host many times over the years and at different venues, for a very long run, I was part of the group that had the Christmas meeting at a private yacht club, that several of our members belonged to (not me) and for that dinner we actually went from three to four and finally to five members because of the differential of cost, and then we lost our members that belonged there. My group has tried several different locations and I think Rocky’s will be the way for us. We meet in the room in the back of the restaurants and we do stick out like a sore thumb these days, as we still require a coat and tie for dinner, and while one may see some gentlemen with sport coats on for dinner, there are few ties to be seen, outside of our group and I think it is still a nice touch. The group had their choice of a New York Strip Steak, Chicken Piccata and Broiled Salmon. There were also fresh baked dinner rolls, a nice tossed salad and a hot fudge sundae for dessert.
For the beverage selection of the meal, one of my other members and I get together and buy a bottle of wine to split, so that we can have a wine that is much more interesting than what is offered by the glass. The other member is a real Pinot Noir enthusiast and he went on the restaurant’s web site and saw a Pinot from Willamette that he thought was interesting and I could see that, but they were sold out of his suggestion. Then I saw a Red Blend that sounded good, and a third member asked if he could get into the wine selection, but when I told him that it was a Red Blend, he backed off, and may I say, it was his loss. The last time, I had him stretch with a Merlot, and now he was going to trust me with a Blend. We ordered a bottle of Celani Family Vineyards Robusto Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley 2017. I have gone to a Celani Family Vineyards wine tasting and I have some wines resting in my cellar from that event. This was a new wine for me, but Tom Celani is lauded in the Detroit area for his largesse for charitable organizations that he helps in a grand manner. He and his father ended up creating one of the largest Miller distribution companies in the United States along with other beers and wines. Tom Celani fell in love with wines, first as a drinker and a collector and finally acquiring a Tuscan-style estate with seventeen acres of grapes and one-hundred-twenty olive trees in the foot hills of the Vaca Mountain range in Napa Valley. As the proprietor of the Celani Family Vineyards he has chosen to bottle wine without costs becoming a consideration, to him wine is about quality and not quantity. This is truly a Proprietary Red Blend, as there is no information even on the trade notes, but the winery grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and they are partial to new French Oak. This wine has been made to be enjoyed young and it truly is, with a fruit forward taste, but not a jammy Napa Cab, and softer tannins. We were literally chewing this wine to get all the flavor and the finish was excellent, the perfect wine with our steaks. I know that I will be booking Rocky’s for next year.