Friday, November 2, 2007

Wining and Dining

I am told that many emails went into the planning of my bachelorette party last weekend, and by “many,” I mean something like, “good lord, you have NO IDEA how hard it is to coordinate the schedules and opinions of up to 10 people, shoot me now.” Well, as someone who remained somewhat blissfully unaware of the backstory of the weekend, I am pleased to let me dearest friends and faithful readers (redundant?) know that I couldn’t have planned one better myself.

We started the festivities at the only place on Earth I actively enjoy going out, Paladar. Heaven. Happiness. Oh, how my body starts to tingle in anticipation of a glorious minty mojito with sugar cane or a super-spicy Vampiro (a hibiscus flower “martini” with cayenne pepper around the rim).….of the endless baskets of chips with black bean sauce and hummus for dipping. Paladar is a place where all just seems right and rose-tinged. And this is coming from a gal who pretty much actively dislikes the process of “going out”—yes, at some point in my mid-20s I became a curmudgeonly old woman, shaking my fist at “kids” and “noise” and “drunken fools.” This place reminds me of my first apartment with Andrea on the Lower East Side, finding my way in New York for the first time, going out almost every night and becoming a person who wasn’t me to see how it felt, and laughing ‘til it hurt the entire way.

After a few cocktails, a mountain of French fries, and a simple, tasty dinner of grilled fish tacos with huge hunks of avocado, we loaded up a rented minivan and were on the road to our mystery destination. Of course, we first had to stop off for road snacks, including a box of bad-to-decent pizza slices, and gas station rations of Pepperidge Farm cookies (Bleh—chemically. I’ve grown to hate packaged baked goods.), licorice bits, Chex mix, plaintain chips (Oddness – not sure who bought those?), honey-roasted peanuts, and pretzels. Heaven forbid we go more than an hour without food! Unthinkable!

Our three-hour drive ended allll the way out on Long Island in a town called Southold. I had a pretty good idea of what was in store for the day ahead when I saw sign after sign displaying bunches of grapes. I’ve never been to a vineyard and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for, oh, forever. And of course, they all knew! My friends are the bestest.

Also, I remember when thinking about what my ideal bahelorette party would entail (even when I was very much single), I used to say just my best friends, a few bottles of wine, and a weekend locked in a cabin in the woods. Or something. And food, lots of food. And so after driving down a dark, empty road for about 30 minutes, we pulled up to where we would be staying for the weekend. Oh, my – they rented a SECLUDED HOUSE! Just for us! (The below picture was taken the next day...we arrived around 11:30 or so).

Haley entered the passcode and the 7 of us ran around the downstairs, looking at all the beds, and scampered upstairs to marvel at the wraparound porch, huge living room and kitchen area, and two upstairs bathrooms. We were like the Real World kids upon being introduced to their new phat pad—“Omigod, this is really ours?? This is so cool! I’m SO not sleeping in the downstairs room!!” A house! All for ourselves! A mere block away from the ocean, to boot, although we didn’t take advantage of that amenity. Summer 2008 is begging for a revisit.

The next morning, Jenn woke us up at some insane hour telling us she was going to go for a drive, and asking if we wanted coffee. Wow, why yes, we do thanks! We all got up one by one, trudged around the living room, and Andrea decided to make us all scrambled eggs. I might be incorrect, but I think this was her first time attempting the art of the scrambled egg. She’s a natural.

From around the house the question was raised, “Um, where’s Jenn?” At this point, she had been gone for about an hour and a half in search of coffee and a toothbrush. She walked through the door triumphantly about 15 minutes later, bearing coffee for all and bags filled with local pastries. Seven women, coffee, various fruity muffins, scones, a chocolate croissant, eggs…we were grabbing and munching and then regrabbing and munching some more for a good 30 minutes.

We had another super-secret appointment at noon. At 11:45 I was led outside to…whoo! A waiting limo! A limo, too? For real? We had the limo for 5 hours and were off to a tour that included 4 wineries and a lunch.

I won’t get into all the wineries because I’m not well-versed enough in any way to properly talk about the nuances of the wines we were served. I’ve had a lot of wine—aside from Paladar cocktails, it’s the only form of alcohol I truly enjoy—and I still can’t get beyond the, “I like this!” and the “I don’t like this!” stage. I mostly just always look at a wine menu until I see the offered Riesling and then call it a night. Yes, I like my wine to taste like fruit, what’s it to you?

I’ll just say that the first winery we went to was by far the most beautiful. The tasting area was set up outside on a porch overlooking the expanse of grapes. The grayish white sky and mild temperature made everything have a sharper edge, from the leaves, to the wine glasses, to the people milling around. Everything felt classy and crisp.

One of the wines we were poured was a dessert wine hated by all but I think 2 of us. It tasted like raspberry syrup—in fact, the pourer dude, who was all kinds of nice, told us that it’s divine poured over cheesecake or vanilla ice cream. That, I can get behind.

The next winery gave us the most bang for the buck—4 full glasses of any wines we chose to check on the paper placemat before us. I had a cloying ice wine that gave off the most odd perfumey smell. It might have been fine in lieu of dessert, but was mostly thick and tasted of concentrated apple juice. A bit too sweet, even for me. The two reds I chose were fine—not fabulous, I’d order them again, but nothing to get crazy over. My favorite wine of the whole day, however, was a lovely glass of pinky-peach rose that tasted of slightly alcoholic grapefruit juice. I was a little tipsy at this point—that lovely wine tipsyness!—and kept exclaiming how great this wine would be with brunch. “No, seriously guys, isn’t this such an awesome brunch wine! It’s so light and fruity! Isn’t it interesting? Yum, this rose is so fruity!” And so they bought me a bottle to take home, because they’re awesome.

We made our way into the limo for winery #3, a bit soused and a bit hungry. Before lunch came our first tour, given by the winemaker himself. Maybe he was captivated by our charm, or maybe he was amused by my tiara and veil, I just don’t know, but he pulled just us aside to go even further downstairs to see the barrels. Down there, we got a taste of the reserve cabarnet sauvignon, which was very smooth. I loved hearing the man who actually makes the wine talk about how much he loves what he does, and how much he loves his product. Winemaking is his family business, and you could tell it’s just something he performs with a natural grace. The girls bought me two bottles from this place, too.

After picnic lunches on the porch (I was told that there was much email debate over which lunch selection I would prefer. They ended up with a duck salad. I mean, once they saw that a duck salad was on the menu, I really don’t understand why there was any debate. What, I’m going to have a grilled veggie sandwich? Please.), we loaded up the limo once again for #4, slowly, bit-by-bit, going from tipsy to sleeeeeepy. Winery #4 might have been nice and all had it been our first stop, but we were pretty much done and ready for a good, winey nap. The only thing that perked us up a little bit was the purchase of a cheese plate with spiced nuts, some of those most delicious roasted (and pickled?) red pepper we’d ever encountered, olives, a manchego, a cheddar, and then two others. Yes, I was too tired to even pay attention to or finish all the cheese. I am a sad food blogger after a glass or 2 or 7 of wine...

Back to the house, under blankets, a viewing of Clueless, a ravaging of the leftover muffins, and an episode and a half of ANTM later, we were off to dinner. I’m going to speak for the group and say that not one of us was very hungry, but hell if this group was going to miss a meal. A meandering drive (civilization was far) and two failed attempts at finding affordable restaurants near the water later, we ended up at a perfectly serviceable pub with food that really isn’t worth mentioning. We broke open the champagne that was part of the wine package deal and babbled on and on until our waitress brought over dessert that she was kind enough to decorate after hearing about my upcoming nuptials.

That’s me and Jeff’y! And our happy home!

Then it was to bed for us, because we’re old and tired. The next morning we were on our way home, but had to stop off first at one of the many roadside stands that you think only exist in movies when you live in New York City, but then realize actually do exist and hey, wouldn’t it be awesome to live in a place where driving up to one of these is a reality? But then you realize that means driving a car, and for me, that means it’s a no-go. I picked up a jar of rhubarb jam to bring home as a souvenir (this week we’ve found it helps make an interesting PBJ sandwich) and Haley snapped this gorgeous apple picture. This makes me want to bake something with apples and buttery crumbs, which you can expect me to write about very soon.

The weekend was everything I could have wanted. I love my friends so much. I love them not only because, just like me, they’re always willing to eat until busting point while talking about what we’re going to have for our next meal, but mostly because they know me so well (sometimes too well, they cannot be fooled, ever), that when we’re together there’s nothing to do but let go and laugh and laugh. I can’t wait for them to walk down the aisle with me in January.

(Boo, Jenn is missing in the above pic.)


kimberlyand said...

You've captured the weekend fantastically. I feel like I just re-lived the whole thing.
And now, appropriately, I'm hungry for baked goods.

alison said...

dude, how am i ever gonna run for office with a pic like that up? :)