Bourbon and cake

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The Mister has always been a big fan of birthdays, and this year marked his thirtieth.  We knew we’d be out of town on his actual birthday for a wedding celebration, and while we made fun plans for the day itself, a thirtieth birthday is something special.  Wanting a chance to celebrate with his nearest and dearest, we figured we could throw a little shindig at our apartment the weekend before.

That Saturday night, we hosted about twenty of our closest friends for a night of bourbon tasting.  We had a few nibbles from Trader Joe’s, some amazing cheeses, and, of course, our favorite dark chocolate cake with raspberry preserves between the layers.  The real highlight however, was the ten or so bourbons, ryes, and whiskeys set out for guests to try.  The Mister even made up info sheets for each bottle with details about their make and price.

He was in his element that night, giving mini-lectures about the different varieties, telling stories about our travels along the Kentucky bourbon trail, delighting everyone with the giant spheres of ice he’d made for the tasting, and teaching our friends to make quick bourbon cocktails with his homemade ginger or burnt sugar syrups.  I’m usually more of a gin and tonic kind of girl, but that night the pretty bottle of Willett was just my speed.

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Beaujolais Nouveau Party

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Last Friday, the Mister and I invited our good friends over to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day.  It’s our favorite excuse for a party and this is the fourth year that we’ve hosted.  Over the course of about six hours, we welcomed around twenty friends, shared fourteen bottles of beaujolais nouveau, and devoured ten kinds of cheese, two kinds of charcuterie, and one large block of pate.

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Beaujolais nouveau is a vin primeur, a wine meant to be drunk the same year it’s harvested.  It’s young and fruity, and in France many people have parties to celebrate it’s uncorking.  Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the first day of the year that the wine can be sold, is held on the third Thursday of November.  In years past, we’ve done the traditional Thursday celebration, but we finally admitted to ourselves that it was much too hard to drink so much wine and still make it into the office on Friday.  This year we decided Day-After-Beaujolais-Nouveau-Day was our thing.

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As you may have guessed, we are big fans of cheese and this party has always been the perfect excuse to buy a dozen different kinds.  I typically buy a couple of interesting looking blues for the Mister, then fill the rest of my cart with a variety of soft cheeses, the riper and oozier, the better.  We also like to have a selection of cured meats and a sizable block of pate.  I like to garnish the platters with lots of things to nibble on like marcona almonds, caramelized walnuts, grapes, pomegranate seeds, and melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolates.

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The other great thing about this party is that it typically falls the week before Thanksgiving.  Neither we, nor most of our friends grew up in this city, and over the holidays everyone is so busy traveling to visit family and trying to wrap up the year’s work, that it can be hard to find time to see each other.  Beaujolais Nouveau has always given us a chance to get together–admittedly over lots of cheap wine and expensive cheese–before we scatter across the country until after the new year.  It was so wonderful to spend time with them all, and we even managed to set tentative plans for a few dinner parties in the new year!

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and good night!

…and good night!

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