Night out: Be­ing fancy is hard to do

The Western Star - - LIFE - Heather Huy­bregts Heather Huy­bregts is a mother, phys­io­ther­a­pist, blog­ger (www.heatherona­, wine advocate and puf­fin whis­perer from Cor­ner Brook. Her col­umn ap­pears bi­weekly.

On June 1, we at­tended Sip and Savour, a fundrais­ing event for our re­gional hos­pi­tal foundation fea­tur­ing an evening of gourmet food and wine pair­ings.

Now, we al­most never go out to eat be­cause, 1. I love to cook, and 2. we’re cheap. And on the rare oc­ca­sion that we do, it’s less “beau­ti­fully served on fine white linens” and more “stuffed in a brown pa­per bag and handed to us through a car win­dow.”

So this was a big deal. I even bought a new out­fit — a blue, one-piece pant suit. Fun fact about adult jumpers with deep neck-lines: you ei­ther have a wedgie or you’re top­less. There’s no in be­tween, ev­ery­thing’s connected.

Our plan was to keep it civ­i­lized — it’s a fundraiser, after all. I would, of course, avoid the red wines, be­cause fancy peo­ple can’t have pur­ple chom­pers. I even brushed my teeth ear­lier in the day with char­coal pow­der (which on­line, popup ads keep re­mind­ing me I need) so I could con­vince my­self that my smile was ex­tra daz­zling (Char­coal: fights acne, whitens smiles, prob­a­bly com­bats global warm­ing ... it’s the co­conut oil of 2019!).

Any­way, we ar­rived at the venue in fine form — our out­fits free of spillage, ready to get our sip­ping and savour­ing on, class­ily. The com­pli­men­tary drinks in the en­trance were pink and fresh and boozy and had mint leaves — four big, firstim­pres­sion wins! There was no seat­ing, we were in­formed, so we would be stand­ing whilst sip­ping and savour­ing.

The menu for the evening sounded amaz­ing: fresh lo­cal crab sticks, but­tered porta­bella and goat cheese tartlets, grilled bluefin tuna sushi pock­ets, Thai moose salad, braised lamb shank can­nel­loni ... Each menu item was at its own sta­tion, paired with wine. The glasses were gen­er­ously pre-poured. I’m a big eater and fancy por­tions are small, so I found my­self ready for the next menu item with still a siz­able amount of wine in my glass. It was less “sip­ping” and more “down the hatch” with the ol’ vino.

I pur­posely (and with dif­fi­culty) didn’t eat any­thing after 3 p.m. that day to make sure I had a full-on dose of hunger sweats and gen­er­al­ized weakness for the big event. And we all know the best thing on an empty stom­ach is a large quan­tity of wine, chugged ma­ni­a­cally and paired with rel­a­tively tiny por­tions of food.

Onto the sec­ond sta­tion — the tartlets. They were heav­enly. Want a so­cial chal­lenge? Hold a plate with a de­li­cious yet crumbly tart in one hand and a full glass of rosé in the other. In the throes of small talk and nei­ther a hand nor a so­cial op­por­tu­nity to jam the tart­let into my gul­let like I wanted to, I just con­tin­ued to drink hun­grily in or­der to empty my glass and free a hand. The tartlets were pretty big — three-biters, eas­ily — so as I con­tin­ued feign­ing a grown-up con­ver­sa­tion and main­tain­ing eye-con­tact, I tried to take a dainty lit­tle nib­ble. Wrong-o. The porta­bella good­ness was set on shaky foundation. Some went in my mouth. A piece of mush­room flapped on my chin. But the cheese — and most of the crust — landed in my (at­tempt at) cleav­age.

I slammed the rest of the savoury treat into my face hole be­fore it could col­lapse fur­ther, still main­tain­ing in­tense eye­con­tact with the un­lucky gentleman who got stuck at­tempt­ing repar­tee with the rav­en­ous and awk­ward likes of me. We chat­ted as if I didn’t have a bra-full of goat cheese and arugula.

I man­aged to chew the en­tire face­ful of tart with my mouth closed, fully ready to suf­fo­cate if my nose were stuffy; I was com­mit­ted to be­ing fancy, even if it meant death by tart­let. I did the only rea­son­able thing I could think of in the mo­ment and stole a sec­ond glass of wine from the serv­ing ta­ble to swish out the left­overs that had set­tled be­tween my freshly-char­coaled teeth. I then, ob­vi­ously, pol­ished off the glass.

At this point, I was start­ing to feel the ef­fects of the fizzy drink from the en­trance. And the glass of pinot gri­gio. And both glasses of ro-*hic­cup*-sé.

I took a re­stroom break to al­low my­self a mo­ment to sit (on the toi­let) and con­tem­plate my next move. Was I still fancy? I flushed the toi­let, stood on one (high-heeled) foot and didn’t sway. Af­fir­ma­tive: still fancy.

Next up: sushi. Dear, sweet Anne Hath­away, the sushi! So good! I may have even got­ten a friend to sneak me two more. And it paired per­fectly with the what­ever-this-is white wine and its rich bou­quet of al­co­hol. I fin­ished off my glass.

Whoops — did I just sway? Easy, tiger. You stay fancy.

Bet­ter keep eat­ing. But, also, wine-pair­ing.

And so went the evening. In a beau­ti­ful space over­look­ing a lake and a stun­ning golf course, I sam­pled some of the most suc­cu­lent and de­lec­ta­ble dishes I have ever tasted. While get­ting — in the classi­est way pos­si­ble — proper shit-faced.

Red wine hap­pened; de­spite my best in­ten­tions and pro­tec­tive char­coal, I smiled for the cam­era with pur­ple teeth.

At the start of the evening, I used the ut­most dis­cre­tion when ac­cept­ing sec­ond helpings or ex­chang­ing food/wine tick­ets with oth­ers; the end of the evening saw me gob­bling the re­main­ing crab sticks di­rectly over the serv­ing ta­ble while blab­ber­ing on and on (with my mouth full) to the un­for­tu­nately sober woman work­ing there.

As the other fancy-pantsers slowly dis­persed and serv­ing ta­bles were cleared, I re­call a rogue bot­tle of wine some­how com­ing into our pos­ses­sion. We opened the bot­tle with a very classy ballpoint pen, plung­ing the cork into the wine the way — I imag­ine — the French do. I re­call cap­ping it all off with a de­li­cious cof­fee-mug full of red and think­ing “who’s cof­fee mug is this?”

We sipped, we savoured, we spilled, we wa­vered. And to­day, we Advil. Be­ing fancy is hard on the sys­tem. But cheers to a good cause!

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