Saturday, June 27, 2009

Five After Five

Traditions are important to me. This is why I go to my grandma's each Sunday to do laundry, even though I have a machine in my own basement. This is why I look forward to most free Saturdays, knowing that my mom and I will spend a couple hours perusing the shops and not buying anything but an iced mocha. This is why, in college, I got together with three girlfriends each Wednesday afternoon to complain about and celebrate our respective lives. And lately, this is why all week I look forward to hanging out in a grocery store each Friday evening.

I'm not sure when Five after Five started at Whole Foods in Cincinnati, but I started going in January. Customers pay $5 to get a wine glass and menu, and they go around to five different stations sampling wine and hors d'oeuvres. The wine portions amount to a third of a regular-sized glass, and so while customers may feel affected by the wine, they certainly haven't over-indulged.

I've learned a lot about wine, but I have to admit that I spend more time mustering the courage to try some of their food samples than I do reflecting on my reactions to pinot grigios and zinfandels. My favorite part of the experience comes at the last station. While the other four stations always have something new, station five always has three cheese samples. The samples vary in texture and flavor. The accompanying wine is almost always a red (I can't remember a time when it wasn't) and delicious.

Once my friends and I have eaten our cheese and drunk our wine, we get a tiny dessert sample and miniature cup of coffee and find a table large enough for our expanding group. This is another reason Fridays are so special to me: I've been able to invite and spend time with friends from high school, college, work, and childhood (and even others, through their various connections). I may not go to fancy parties or hot clubs, but I wouldn't trade this tradition for anything.

Edited to Add...

The menu for June 26th, 2009

Station One:
  • Emeri Sparkling Sauvinon Blanc - this wine was light, crisp, and fizzy!
  • Chilled Peach Chipotle Soup - I gave this to my friend, but everyone else thought this sweet, fruity soup was full of win.
Station Two:
  • Yalumba Viognier - this white wine wasn't bad, but it wasn't memorable either!
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Melon - I also passed on this dish; it was a piece of fruit wrapped in what looked like bacon.
Station Three:
  • Ruffino Orvieto - a white blend, light and yummy
  • Grilled Cilantro Lime Shrimp - I... didn't eat this one either. This is the first time I've gone three stations without eating any food.
Station Four:
  • Penfolds "76" Shiraz/Cabernet - this red blend is a nice summer wine. It wasn't dry at all, which works for such small samples.
  • Steakhouse Bruschetta - the toasted baguette had a really nice pesto on it; I didn't eat the steak.
Station Five:
  • Gabbiano Chianti - another nice red from Italy.
  • Fromage a Trios (Zamorano Marques de Castallio DO, Kaltbach Le Gruyere, & La Serena) - I don't remember which is which, but all three cheeses were delicious!


Ecocandle said...

It sounds yummy. I have been traveling the last few weeks, and have missed reading your blog. It is good to be home.

August said...

Welcome back! :)