Good wine, good food, good music, good cause
I recently wrote a column for another publication about Broadwalk on the Boardwalk, where a gaggle of boa-clad women trekked the Rehoboth Boardwalk on a Sunday morning to raise awareness - and funds - for the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition. I was impressed by the participants’ singular devotion to the cause. In fact, many of them are cancer survivors themselves.
Last week, at Fish On! in Lewes, I was honored to once again enjoy that remarkable devotion as Matt Haley and his merry band of chefs and restaurant gurus put together a dinner, raffle and a tasting of some of Bogle Winery’s surprisingly inexpensive California wines. All to benefit DBCC. Catherine and Kevin Hester of Teller Wines chipped in as the presenting sponsor and retail merchant, sweetening the raffle pot with a couple of magnum-sized bottles of Bogle’s signature vintages.
The evening was rife with surprises. Sue Ryan, outreach assistant for DBCC, was the first to speak. Like a true professional, she kept it short and to-the-point with a description of the organization’s mission and expressions of gratitude to the participants, sponsors and raffle donors. We were then treated to the upbeat Robbie LeBlanc, Bogle’s northeast regional manager. With a hoity-toity title like that, you’d expect some guy in a shiny suit, armed with business cards and a pained expression. Not Robbie. Clad in a black T-shirt and jeans, he charmed the crowd with his enthusiastic description of the Bogle family and their products - and he brought his one-of-a-kind acoustic guitar. That would bode well for the evening.
What wasn’t a surprise was the feast cooked up by SoDel Concepts’ executive chef Doug Ruley and Fish On!’s very own Maurice Catlett. They kicked off the festivities with a cup of creamy corn chowder laced with chunks of crabmeat and a hint of vanilla; the perfect companion for Bogle’s not overly oaked Chardonnay. A summer-themed garden salad was next, with red peppers, sugar snap peas, cucumbers and a few plump kernels of corn, all drizzled with a whole-grain mustard and sherry vinaigrette. The selected vintage was the Sauvignon Blanc, which Robbie described as “California meets New Zealand.”
Bogle’s light and summery Pinot Noir won the opportunity to accompany Ruley and Catlett’s ode to Thanksgiving: Chicken breast roulade stuffed with Bill Hickman’s chicken sausage dressing, perched comfortably atop Malibu carrots and smoked cheddar mashers. The crowning touch was a single, crunchy fried chicken liver. This one was the star of the show. Both chefs stood off to the side, smiling, as the room resonated with the muted echos of happy chewing, oohing and ahhing.
There are few tastes that equal a good red wine and chocolate. And Bogle’s Old Vine Zin found itself happily married to a Rocky Road Chocolate Trifle layered with almonds, marshmallows and four incarnations of chocolate: cake, chips, mousse and sauce. Beware: Reading that twice might make your teeth fall out! But that’s OK. The velvety elixir from those 80-year-old vines required no chewing to enjoy.
The final surprise was a pre-raffle concert from Robbie LeBlanc and none other than SoDel Concepts’ bigwig Mike Dickinson. Who knew the guy could play? Now that everybody was riled up, additional tickets were sold (100 percent of those proceeds went to DBCC) and ticketholders whooped and cheered when their lucky numbers were drawn. Prizes included those huge bottles from Teller Wines, gift certificates to various SoDel Concepts eateries (including the recently opened Papa Grande’s in Fenwick Island), some logo apparel, and tickets to the brand new EatingRehoboth.com downtown food tours.
Dickinson, Ruley, Catlett, Fish On!, Teller Wines and Bogle sure know how to throw a party, and it felt good to do it all in the name of curtailing, and maybe even one day eliminating, breast cancer.