It’s hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone. I am constantly finding myself trying to stop time – to create a pause, no matter how brief, and linger over one more glass of wine, one more nibble of food. It is often said that food brings people together and I certainly find this to be true, especially in the case of Christmas. Everything is centered around traditions and events where food is the catalyst. When it comes to my Christmas I am blessed to be surrounded by three families, each of whom has bestowed in me a love for food in their own unique way. Never is this so apparent than over the holidays. This post is a tribute to them – the McClaves, the Stewarts and the Behrs – who I will be forever grateful to for teaching me all that they have about food and family. These images from a Foodie-Girl Christmas will be recreated for individual posts over the next few months. For now, I give thanks for my family and friends and can’t wait until next year. I am, without a doubt, hungry for more.
My Mother-in-Law, Lesley McClave, will undoubtedly tell you she is a bad cook. I can’t seem to convince her otherwise but trust me – she is wrong! My favorite thing she does with food is create little bites of familiar, favorite flavors. To kick off our holiday celebrations, she served tatter-tots wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheddar cheese. Comfort food at it’s best! Mini pizza pies with marinara dipping sauce followed along with her signature homemade trail-mix, which packs a spicy punch. Perfect way to kick off our shoes and settle in for a relaxing holiday weekend!
Zach and I traveled to Argentina this year and explored the wine country of Mendoza. The very first stop was at Mendel in the region of Lujan de Cuyo. Our tasting was wonderful and really set the tone for what Mendoza is all about – a burgeoning wine scene that is creative and youthful, overflowing with pride for their country and their grapes. The excitement and appreciation was palpable and entirely approachable. Our guide was a lovely local woman and she painted beautiful answers to our questions, never once making us feel silly or stupid. Stressing that their wine is meant to make you happy, she didn’t like to chat about the cost of a bottle. If we liked it then the price was irrelevant. You can find this bottle state-side for under $30 and I would recommend picking it up. It is rich, smooth and easy to drink. It warmed my soul, just like the people of Mendoza did. We will most certainly be going back.
Our next stop was my childhood home. Arriving Christmas morning in our pajamas (it’s a rule), we were welcomed by hugs and this wonderful strata my Mother, Shari Stewart, prepared. Stuffed with bread, tomatoes, spinach and cheese it was a welcome start to the morning.
Prosecco with breakfast and gifts is also a rule in the Stewart household. I am forced to participate.
Our wine contribution to Christmas dinner with my parents, brother and sister, was a beautiful bottle of pinot noir from Etude in Napa. Heirloom is what this particular winery is best known for and it lived up to the memories I had, sipping it in the Napa sunshine with our dear friends Matt and Glynnis. It is rich and tart with hints of raspberry and currents. It made me feel special and I savored each sip.
The Stewart family tradition is to have a steaming pot of clam chowder on Christmas day. Accompanied by a smoked salmon platter, one of my top five favorite foods, it made for a lovely evening.
Christmas night is spent with our dear family friends the Behrs. Tom and Carol have been a integral part of my culinary growth from an early stage. Carol taught me all about French wine when I was a senior in high school and had to complete a project for my AP French class. An avid collector, Carol has built a beautiful cellar and I have been lucky enough to sample her treasures. Christmas night was no exception and she started us off with this 1994 Tapestry Reserve from Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa. The aroma made me think of rich chocolate.
Did I mention that the Behrs are passionate about wine and beer? Well liquor makes the cut too and we were treated to what is arguably one of the best wines you will ever taste as well as some 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle. My bourbon-loving husband was especially in heaven.
A sweet vintage port finished off our night and I left feeling happy and truly spoiled. I am so blessed to call the Behr’s my friends and I consider them family. Cheers to another wonderful holiday and here’s to hoping 2012 brings more food, wine and happiness! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!