The end of an era of elegance and class came to an end; instead of Cary Grant we now have Stanley Kowalski. Years ago, Ronald Reagan called for the Berlin Wall to be razed, today there is nothing as dramatic, but supposedly the State is back to normal. Restaurants can start full capacity indoor seating and extended hours, but now they have to find the employees to make this happen. Everywhere one looks, there are signs for hiring, but the number of people filing for unemployment is rising, this is all beyond the Economics that I took in college. While the science that demanded businesses to shutter was never shown, the science that allowed the all clear was never shown here either. Though political recall petitions in a couple of states allowed the normalization from the powers that be without any further ado. I bring this all up, because my Dinner Club that I used to write about ten times a year, just had their first abbreviated meeting since the lockdown began. It was abbreviated, because the restaurant informed us that they would be shutting down at eight in the evening sharply, which eliminates several parts of the meeting.
The club has been around for about one-hundred-thirty years and originally it was held in a member’s home, because by the constitution of the club, membership is limited to forty-four members. The club survived the Great Depression by holding the meetings in restaurants, because homes that large and formal were disappearing and no one could afford the staffs to maintain such a lifestyle. Several other traditions over the years have also disappeared from the club, and finally one of my favorite traditions was deleted by a quick vote during our first meeting back. With the club originally being held at a member’s home, a coat and tie were de regueur for the meetings, and they voted to change the wording to “country club dinner attire.” I expect by next meeting, I will see some members in shorts and tee-shirts.
Normally, the menu selection is limited to three choices by the hosts, as the dinner tab is shared by three members; due to some quick decisions, the first meeting was a “Dutch Treat” event, years ago, the tradition of the hosts picking up the drinks for the evening was also terminated. Even with my club, traditional values have gone by the wayside. The restaurant had paper menus and each member could select, what ever entrée, he wanted and our waitress did a fine job of getting all of the orders properly, as well as the individual bills, albeit with a twenty percent gratuity added per tab, which is fine, because if it had been a hosted affair, the same gratuity would have been applied. I have always enjoyed the St. Louis Style Baby-back Ribs that they make, so that was my choice along with their version of jumbo well-done and seasoned French Fries, Garlic Toast, Cole Slaw and a Chocolate Sundae. When I asked about the wines, our waitress informed me that they now had a Shiraz, so I took a chance on such a great offer, after having my traditional Whisky Sour during the cocktail hour.
I had the Michael David Winery Petite Petit Lodi 2019. Michael and David Phillips represent the fifth generation of grape farmers in Lodi. During Prohibition, the family skirted the law by growing grapes and creating solid bricks of concentrated juice with explicit warnings detailing the steps not to take in order to ferment and produce wine from the concentrated juice brick. It was technically legal, and a clever way to survive the first failure of the Nanny State. The winery now farms seven-hundred-fifty acres of vineyards and all the vineyards are certified organic and since 2011 they are certified as sustainably grown. There most popular brand is The Seven Deadly Zins, and beyond their popular priced wines the brothers also have a reserve collection of red single-variety wines. The wine I had was a blend of eighty-five percent Petite Sirah and fifteen percent Petit Verdot. The wine was aged for twelve months in French Oak, with twenty percent new. The wine was a classic fruit bomb of deep colors, dark fruit, figs and vanilla. It was kind of in the middle of the road, it was not dry and it was not sweet, but it was great with the ribs. It looks like the next meeting will be a “Dutch Treat” again, until we can get a schedule going again for the hosts. More tales to come.