I am ashamed that it has taken me several weeks to write about a food event that I look forward to all year long... our Choir Appreciation Dinner.
As an incentive for members of the choir to be faithful, our choirmaster Dan prepares a 5 course, wine-with-every-course, meal for all who have attended 80% or more of the rehearsals and services throughout the year.
I have been fortunate to make the cut off each of the three years I have sung with this choir. Tim assures me that working in the kitchen (what some of the less than 80%-ers do as "penance") is just as fun... but I will continue to strive to reserve my seat at the banquet table.
This year's menu was a trip around the country, with several things coming from Dan's home state of Indiana. After our appetizer of pistachios and Left-Hand Sawtooth Ale from Colorado , we moved on to what will now be the famous fried biscuits from the Nashville House, in Nashville, IN. Umm, these are not biscuits, but much more like donut holes. They are crispy on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside (this sort of thing happens when you put the dough into an inordinate amount of Crisco!), and were served with the best apple butter I have ever had (and I am not a fan of apple butter). We had these not only as a first course, but served throughout dinner, which is a dangerous way to be served "bread".
The wines this year were perhaps my favorite in memory from meals past... the red from Spain particularly, (Codice Tempranillo 2003 – Rioja, Spain) and I was excited to see a bottle tucked into our stash of kitchen supplies to be brought home with us.
Other courses included a salad of romaine with raspberries, pecans, and brie, (mmm, brie) with a honey mustard vinaigrette, a fun curried shrimp couscous with peas (served with Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2005 – Stellenbosch, South Africa), and the main course was coque-a-Dan, chicken marinated with both red wine and Jack Daniels served over brown rice and a healthy side of asparagus.
Dessert was a peach kuchen accompanied by vanilla ice cream, a recipe that Dan was given by a host mom when his college orchestra toured through Lancaster County, PA a "few" years ago.
18 of us made the 80% cut-off this year (out of a choir approaching 50 members) as well as the 10-or-so folks helping out in the kitchen... so Dan certainly breaks the bank each year to feed us. But I think he has figured out what strong motivation food can be.