The ritual of the Opera Dinner has been in
force now for 10 years. Kind of a
cap on the opera season and an entrée to the Christmas Holidays.
Always a dress-up affair to set a festive tone, for the first number of
years they were a tradition at our house, with Kris and Howard serving elegant
food and wine, and decorating in high style.
Mike and Leslie kicked in a few times when we all motored to Cupertino.
Last year we decided to give ourselves a break and headed out to Charles
of Nob Hill. It was splendid.
We decided to try The Dining Room this year, just for the variety.
Splendid again. The room is beautiful, with oversized tables spread wide
apart. We had a great round table
next to the harp (playing muted at the request of the captain who overheard
Leslie muttering as we entered something about disliking harps!), making
conversation easy. The service was
above reproach: very attentive, but never intrusive.
Never haughty, always friendly, but not familiar.
Nice touches like escorts for the ladies to the restroom, striking cart
service for carving roasts and serving wonderful cheeses.
Oh, yes. The food. Delicious.
Leonard handed me the wine list, and since we had all just returned from
Italy, I went straight for the Italian red page to find a central wine to build
around. Only a small selection –
a very extensive list, but shy on Italians.
An ’85 Barbaresco stood out, but with consultation it turned out to
sold out, so the sommelier steered us to this ’68 Riserva Barolo from Conterno.
It knocked our socks off. We had it between a starter of a
Bruno Giacosa Arneis, another Piedmonte wine, and we finished with a lovely
California Richioli Pinot Noir that the sommelier gave us a break on because it
had been mistakenly open for another table.
We lucked out.
Leslie’s Christmas gift to Mike was
an evening in a suite at the hotel, so we all gathered there for pre-dinner
Champaign and gift exchange. Great
fun! Jim Mehan and Chris Adams were
scheduled to join us, but sadly Jim’s dad passed away and he was off to New
Orleans, and Chris was out with a bad cold.
They were missed, and our condolences and prayers go out to Jim. He
gave us a call from the Detroit airport – he was on his way back to San
Francisco, and it was good to hear from him so he could be a little part of the
evening. Bob and Missy Vanderlaan
have been regulars at these dinners, but dropped from the opera season this
year. They sent along some nice
gifts to the hotel. It was nice to
remember them. They were missed. Maybe they will be back next year.