Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Family Reunions, Cape May, NJ and the Fourth of July

If this does not appear to be a typical wine blog, it isn’t. But my family reunion in Cape May, NJ revolved around food and wine. Actually it used to revolve around mostly food, but as the younger generation married and began a family it included wine, spirits and beer as well. And no, it wasn’t just my influence as we had wonderful input on wine from many in the family.

There were 23 of us in one house, but it was a really big house with a really big dining room that held two long formal dining tables, which we filled with the many meals we made together. I lost count of how many times one of the parents was looking for a child in the house. It was that big. The home was on Beach Avenue, Cape May at the east end with great views of the beaches west and north.

The kitchen was also very big, and with several cooks in our family that was a selling point. We went through several bottles of Chilean and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a goodly amount of Riesling. All good wines for the seafood we regularly enjoyed. This was the Jersey Shore, after all.

When it came to pizza, burgers and such, we indulged in Argentinean Malbec and Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Occasionally we went with California and Washington wines, but southern hemisphere wines are still a good bet for the price and we had a lot of glasses to fill.

Our first Sunday after arriving was a Thanksgiving dinner with two turkeys and all the trimmings. Why Thanksgiving? Well that is when most of our reunions occurred in the past and my family like to plan big elaborate meals. 

July Fourth saw us all working as a team to make the clam’s ala casino. The recipe here is different from ours, but I can’t disclose our family recipe. I did sign a non-disclosure after all! The main ingredient is fresh clams that are shucked to begin the process. When you have six dozen, you need a lot of help. We added the Jersey fluke (summer flounder), Jersey tomatoes and corn and we were in heaven. It’s called “a Jersey shore dinner”.

The only time we went out to eat was our last evening before returning home. The Inn of Cape May is a landmark at the Cape. If one wants to imagine this town of Victorian mansions in the early 20th century, this is a good place to begin. In fact there are more Victorians here than any other city including San Francisco.

The food is good and well-priced and they have a decent wine list. We also had most of the main dining room to ourselves and the staff was wonderful as always. I started with a very good Caesar salad that I shared with my grandniece, Ava. Actually I didn’t know I was sharing it until she dipped her fork into it. Fortunately for her she has a high cuteness index so I indulged her.

After cocktails we ended up with a very good Sauvignon Blanc wine from Chile, Carta Vieja. Chilean “costa” Sauvignon Blanc wines are not as intense as those of New Zealand, but represent very good value. This 2012 Sauvignon Blanc boasts racy grapefruit, gooseberry and grassy aromas that come through on the palate with lime and lemon and balanced by good acidity. We went through a few bottles with our dinner.

If made for a wonderful farewell dinner and our last night on the Jersey shore and evoked the many years our family had gone to Manasquan, NJ and spent summer vacation with our grandparents. Now we are the grandparents continuing the tradition.