The annual tradition in Manhattan Beach, CA, a blind wine tasting upon arrival began with brown paper wrapped bottles. We had no idea what was what. The three we tasted, to me anyway, weren’t sufficiently different to warrant the huge price difference, $18 to $90. I’d have been very happy with the $18 bottle which is actually $5 more than I generally like to pay for wine.
The larger issue here is that more expensive wines make me want more expensive wine. It’s a dangerous game to play.
Like a dog in an apartment, I used to be just perfectly happy with $10 Sterling Cabernet until one day my brother-in-law Peter (the Madison Peter) showed up with a $15 bottle of Rodney Strong and then that was that. Now, the California Peter brother-in-law, is trying to bankrupt me.
Coup de Foudre $90 (Love at First Sight, I happen to know [the tooth sucking sound])
Rodney Strong $18 (but not my usual Rodney Strong)
I went out to LA for my sister Peggy’s annual fireworks party. Theoretically I go out to help her but in reality she doesn’t need any help. Unless hand-holding counts as help. She begin having this party when she and her family moved onto the beach with a great view of the ocean where the city of Manhattan Beach has fireworks on the second Sunday of December. Six years ago there were about 20 people, this year there were probably 70. The menu hasn’t varied much from the original party although the quantities have.
I did decorate the table, note the lovely hanging ornaments…but no one looks at table decorations when there’s fabulous food in the way including her world renowned spiced shrimp, pulled pork (with my world renowned BBQ sauce, OK, Judy Anderson’s), cheese tamales, cole slaw, tomato salad and this year we repurposed some green beans that her friend Wendi tried to force feed people the night before at her Hanukah latke party. I served them with lemon vinaigrette and they were the first to go, it is California after all.
I love being in California. I mean, who wouldn’t. My sister and her husband are great hosts, the weather is great, I see my nephews, and the food, well. . .
Below is the beach where Peggy lives. As you can see, it is expansive and fabulous. I left on Wednesday for -5 degrees in Milwaukee. Honestly, I don’t mind cold weather. But there’s something cataclysmically wrong with leaving this for that.
At least I had a great last meal. Grilled swiss cheese with olives, tomatoes and arugula. I don’t know why I don’t eat arugula more often. The sandwich was amazing and the accompanying tabouli was right straight out of this world. Peggy had curried chicken salad. It was good but mine was better and that’s the way it should be. I was leaving 66 degrees for -5. A grilled cheese is a small consolation, but consolation nonetheless.
My sister Peggy lives in LA about a block off of the beach and has a spectacular view(last pic). She built this house and moved in a few years ago. Manhattan Beach has a fireworks display in December instead of on the 4th of July. This year was the city’s 100th anniversary of and they had a double show. One put on by the city and the other by Sketchers which is located in MB. (the Sketchers family who live about a block away are getting divorced, FYI)
Peggy made her amazing shrimp, pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw. Everything was really good but the coleslaw was great. The kind of thing I would turn my nose up at. She used a combination of bottled Kraft coleslaw dressing and Paul Newman’s vinegar and oil. In my mind completely illogical. She also used packaged shredded cabbage something I don’t like and wouldn’t use. It was awesome.
Of course the fireworks for me were incidental to the food.