Monday, July 19, 2010

Entre nous: The Tasting Room event at Chevy Chase

An amazing week just passed. The team at Boxwood Winery, my real-life media job, put together a fabulous gathering in one of our Tasting Room locations at The Shops at Wisconsin Place, in beautiful Chevy Chase, Maryland. We kicked off the location's new happy hour (and arguably the best happy hour in all of the fair kingdom of Chevy Chase) in sleek, modern style.

I want to share some of the evening with you, since I am, after all, the Blushing Hostess around here and I like to give a peek of the actual hostessing whenever possible; to establish my prowess and to also prove I have done something this season other than wrangle my over-zealous squash and watermelon planting in the garden (this last bit to be filed under: What, whaaaat, was the Hostess thinking? Lordy!).

For the happy hour launch party, and frankly for all parties, I save a lot of digital images which I always hope will help our team for inspiration. As you remember, I have been hanging onto this beauty for sometime, ever since I discouraged you from creating a cheese avalanche in that unforgettable work of my pen long discussed in event planning circles.

My bosses are exceedingly patient people, gratefully. They are willing to wait while I dive (digitally-speaking) into a veritable ocean of media I have amassed looking for one tiny piece of inspiration. The photo above was just such an instance.

In the initial planning stages, I showed this picture to Rachel and Sean Martin, for whom I work because, aside from being an example of my favorite sort of cheese presentation (large hunks, not tiny, sweaty, hot bites of pepper jack - oh help me!) it seemed like that might be a wine barrel top underneath the cheese service. Perhaps? And if so, that is right up our alley, obviously.

I asked Rachel, Vice President for winery operations, if we would have a spare barrel top upon which to display. After tossing the idea around, Rachel mentioned an entire barrel would stand at hip height to an average person. We concluded we should bring the whole barrel to Chevy Chase for the cheese display. I think ours, in the photo below, was magnificent, don't you?

A word of caution loved ones, unless you are Adam McTaggart, our princely winemaker at Boxwood Winery, or some of the brave employees at The Tasting Room at Chevy Chase, you should not attempt to be rolling your own French oak barrel hither and thither. I am certain it was comical to watch me stretching, limbering-up, pushing, wiggling, and then giving up on moving the barrel with an annoyed pout on that fine 100 degree Virginia afternoon.

Let's just say that I am lucky the Boxwood Estate Winery group is agreed that no task is too big or small for every set of hands on staff. And so, my wine barrel escapade was saved by Adam who no doubt had about a billion things to do, owning to his having 16 acres of Bordeaux varietals under his care. Ah-hem.

And now, on to the glorious and tasty nibbles. The menu was created by Rachel and Chef Nico Armoure of Chevy Chase's unparalleled M Cafe at The Collection. It included four offerings of small bites: Duck confit sliders with roasted fig and aged balsamic vinegar, grilled spicy Moroccan lamb skewers, ahi tuna tartare atop toasted brioche, and fluted Parmesan crisps delicately filled with crabmeat salad. I am sorry you cannot not taste these delicious nibbles, but I offer you the photos and hope you are enjoying a magnificent meal as you read Blushing today.

Great entertaining and event planning should, more than anything else, be a process in which your five senses rule in the plans. I really took my time looking over the store at Chevy Chase, hoping to see the littlest details the architect and build-out contractors took their time with when the location was born. The lighting is a small twinkling directed beam above each table. In the world of great hosts, that one detail is critical for getting the event exactly right. Under each glowing beam, a perfect orchid, and the menus.

So ends our jaunt through Boxwood Winery and The Tasting Room Wine Bar Media Launch Event. The hippest and best happy hour in Chevy Chase got off on a perfectly tuned high note, and while we were exhausted when it was over, it was great fun for all concerned as well as the guests, which as always, is the key to great entertaining.

Photos credits: The Boxwood Winery and The Tasting Room Wine Bar and Shops of Chevy Chase, Reston, and Middleburg, Virginia. Under copyright and by permission only.

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Karena said...

I can see it was a wonderful experience, what luscious tastings. Be sure to see what I did last weekend!

Art by Karena

little augury said...

It all looks pretty perfect. Well done as always Catherine!

Tamra said...

I love the idea of using a wine barrel at the "cheese board". Fantastic! Can't wait to implement this in our next party.

Thank you,

The Gilded Barn

pretty pink tulips said...

So fun to see the "behind the scenes" of your fab party! Love the wine barrel for cheese display idea. xo Elizabeth