December 2005 - Karnes #4 (dt)
Even a caution of a slippery driveway (a newly paved one, at that) could not make even a miniscule dent on Christmas spirit for DP8, who once again were the beneficiaries of the Karnes’ generosity and hospitality for this Christmas (and Deb’s birthday) event. Dinner Party of 10 (the 8 plus Mike & Sheila Romalin) entered under a just-past-full moon and enjoyed the Christmas tree, festooned with 1960s-style lights and skirted with presents pressing the lower branches upward.
       The Up Side: Even our favorite restaurants can’t match the informal, roam-as-you-wish atmosphere, making this our favorite destination.
      Initially, we surrounded the hors d’oeuvres center island, munching away on a vegetable platter and an ample crab ball platter, almost as popular as the almond slivers encrusted, hand crafted, three cheese snow man which was carved to nothingness in quick order.
      Cabernet sauvignon, syrah and Chianti jostled with an array of beers. Chay anticipated Judy’s Kir Royale, and then a demand from others prompted making a half-dozen more. A brace of Johnny Walker Red drinkers filled out the evening.
       A pre-dinner break was held so Deb could open her birthday gifts. (If my math is right, and as of this night, only 1099 days remain until the big 50.) The men departed to play a round or two of shuffleboard while the women chatted over dinner preparations.
       A champagne vinaigrette dressed salad of romaine, roasted peppers, craisins and pistachio nuts added another winner on the list of Deb’s salads, followed by cleanser of lime sorbet, flavored by the freshly picked limes from the Deb K’s lime tree.
      The main course found Deb grunting under the weight of a sixteen pound prime rib, encrusted with garlic and horseradish. Inch and a half slabs of plate-sized beef settled us to serious business. Accompanied by sliced and cored potatoes, blanched Hollandaise-sprinkled asparagus, and brown sugar glazed baby carrots, the plates soon emptied, testifying to an excellent verdict on the meat, even by the diners who usually order something other than beef.
      Too full to consider dessert, we lazed to the living room for the much anticipated gift exchange, drew numbers, picked gifts, discarded the wrapping, and eyed our gifts before the possible “theft” of someone else’s treasure. This year, Christmas spirit meant at least three cases of theft, with the red ball, the chimes, and the copper bird house being “exchanged.” WWSD? (What would Santa do?)
      Dessert was beckoning. Ramekin-filled raspberry crème brulee (a bowl for Judy) evoked moans of pleasure from five happy diners. Satisfying the others was a chocolate frosted Yule log, consisting of layers of thin chocolate wafers sandwiched around thin layers of raspberry filling.
      Earlier on, we twisted the customary party poppers, each with a riddle, confetti and paper hats, all of it photographed for “charming” memoirs some years hence. A pint box filled with a clump of boxwood was Deb’s party favor for the guests.
      In the meantime, catching up on personal stuff and recent news (two recent snow days, the Adamses’ Christmas trip to Milwaukee, the Karneses’ trip to Dunkirk, the full moon, Buddy, Krypton, and Christmas shopping, the Beth Geisel case, and a couple dozen other topics) was the order of the evening.
      Our banter eventually included only a few double entendres....
      All in all, the company and Christmas spirit complemented the top notch food. Again, there wasn’t a restaurant open this night that could outdo the efforts of Chay and Deb. Thank you, Deb and Chay, for your wonderful hospitality. And, Merry Christmas to all.
       The Down Side: You gottabe kidding. OK, even though the guests tried to help with the clean-up, ultimately, the hosts have to finish the last spots, and that ain’t fair.