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About Town: Toast to Year’s End and Afton Holiday Wine Dinner

Raise a glass–or two–to the busy holiday season we just enjoyed all around town in December. And cheers to the many tasty wine dinners with a toast to the new year ahead in 2016. I had the opportunity to catch the annual Afton House Holiday Wine Dinner hosted by second generation owners Dan and Dave Jarvis in December and peeked in on the work involved with their team, which is headed up by chef de cuisine Ryan Kaliher as he prepared a delicious four-course dinner for 70 guests.

On the afternoon of the dinner I caught a few shots of Kaliher making up the canapés and appetizer spreads as well as mixing up fresh chopped lobster into the mashed potatoes, a really great way to offer your guests a little feel of the classic surf and turf for this beef course. I also saw the trays of dozens and dozens of the seared and seasoned beef tenderloin ready for the grill before dinner. I am always amazed by how a chef preps multiple courses for so many guests, and he just smiled.

Then it was show time. And a delightful, delicious dinner it was, too. We were seated in the Wheel Room, a lovely window-walled corner dining room, and it all began with the first course of chef-selected and butler-passed canapés with a bottle of California Wycliff Brut, poured by the co-host and Swirl Wine coordinator Amber Tyrrell. The second course salad was a mix of organic greens with sweet onion crostini and a house cheese with sherry vinaigrette served with a delicate pinot noir, The Calling, from Dutton Ranch, California.

Our third course entree consisted of grilled beef tenderloin with demi-glace and those delicious lobster mashed potatoes with grilled asparagus. The beef was paired with a lovely red blend from the label Saved, also from California. And the grand finale was the fourth course dessert, which was a chocolate ganache with peppermint crust and delicate eggnog anglaise. Delish! This was served with a rich, almost port-like Urlo Pinot Grigio, from Venezie, Italy. Magnifico!

Kaliher and Tyrrell explained the courses and wine pairings during the dinner, and we also learned the wines are available in the fun Swirl bar and wine shop on location at the Afton House Inn. The inn’s website promises more Friday night wine dinners each month this winter, too, with a five-course Italian wine dinner on January 15 and a Sweetheart Four-Course Wine Dinner coming up on February 19. And on March 18 is the South American four-course wine dinner. The most fun is the chance to get a deal on an overnight package for one of the fireside jacuzzi rooms when you reserve for dinner. See details here www.aftonhouseinn.com/dining/wine-dinners

Check out behind the scenes photos with Chef Ryan Kaliher in the slideshow below.

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