We bought some rye flatbread and some seafood salad, and Hillary dished up individual servings for an appetizer. We bought a head of leafy lettuce, which Hillary washed and I tore up for a salad. I sliced red pepper, celery, cucumber, and carrot to add to the salad, and we topped it with salt-and-pepper croutons. We made a navy bean soup, and I thawed some sliced ham from our freezer, cubed it, and added it to the soup. We sliced a couple apples, which Hillary tossed in lemon juice, and they served as dessert. It was quick and easy and pretty tasty but a definite departure from our weekly Scandinavian culinary experiments.
After supper, Susan and I were off to a unique event for our city: a chocolate and wine tasting. It was called "A Chocolate Affair," and it served as a fundraiser for the Western Wellness Foundation. The Days Hotel recently completed an addition and remodeling project, so the setting was beautiful: one of the hotel's new ballrooms and the adjoining lounge areas. The ballroom was lined with tables at which sat chefs with delicious chocolate desserts and candies for us to sample. Another table featured two chocolate fountains (one milk chocolate, one dark chocolate) with fruits and sweets to dip and with trays of savory appetizers at the end for people to cleanse their palates once the chocolate overload set in! They also served water and two types of coffee for the same purpose.
At either end of the ballroom were tables at which people poured samples from several types of dessert wines. The sommelier overseeing the wine tasting took orders for any of the night's wines at a discount, so we ordered some of our favorites and look forward to getting a phone call once our wine comes in.
Elsewhere there as a station at which people could pay $20 to pull a number corresponding to a "mystery bottle" of wine; one wouldn't know ahead of time what wine one would win, but each bottle was worth more than $20 anyway. At another station, we dropped off our ballots for the best chocolate; and at the end of the event, they tallied the ballots and awarded the "People's Choice" award to the winning chef. At another station, we admired the gift baskets that were being raffled off. Each person's ticket to the event had a number on it and served as his/her ticket for the raffle. And guess what! I won a basket!
We sampled chocolates and wines and chatted with friends and admired how well run everything was for a first-time event such as that. It was delicious and fun, upscale but casual (lots of conversation and laughter), and all for a good cause: supporting the Western Wellness Foundation's programs for children in the community. We left with a nice program from the night containing information on all the participating chefs and the businesses that sponsored the wine tasting and provided coffee, prizes, or other in-kind services and donations. Check these out:
- Brickhouse Grille -- banana rum truffle with strawberry drizzle
- Spaghetti Western -- marshmallow semi-freddo with hazelnut, apricots, and a chocolate liqueur sauce
- Elks Lodge 1137 -- white Russian chocolate turban
- Hawks Point -- chocolate truffle tartlet
- Mulligan's Catering -- peanut butter truffle, crème de menthe truffle, orange chipotle pepper truffle, tequila chocolate truffle, and crispy bacon strips dipped in chocolate (hey, don't knock it until you've tried it!)
- Simply Flowers and Gifts -- Sweet Shop USA truffles
- Stix 'n' Twigs Cafe -- chocolate petit fours with chocolate ganache
- Take-Home Chef -- peppermint devil cake [no Web site -- this is a young man still in high school who will come to your house and cook you a meal of your choice!]
- Town and Country Liquor -- numerous tasty wines, including Banfi Rosa Regale, a sparkling raspberry wine from Italy that we loved [no Web site]