Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I wouldn't want to brag about being a good daughter.

Okay, I wouldn't ordinarily, but who else but a very good daughter would go to dinner at a place that has Tr*mp wines on the wine list?

Not to mention that I'd just gone to the Northern Neck on Wednesday to make lunch for my Dad on the occasion of his actual 87th birthday, so it's not like I was looking to score points or anything.

Daughterly duties done, that lunch might have been enough for some offspring.

But while we were in Islamorada, I'd gotten an invitation to Dad's birthday dinner and the 26th of January seemed forever away and my brain was probably somewhat softened by all that sun and relaxing, so I'd casually mentioned it to Mr. Wright and he'd agreed.

It probably didn't hurt that he and my father have a mutual admiration thing going, but his brain may have been a tad vacation-compromised, too. An acceptance was sent.

So there we were, driving to the Northern Neck Saturday afternoon, allowing enough time to get ready and have a glass of wine in Irvington before setting out to meet an abbreviated version of the family (including the only sister and brother-in-law he'd yet to meet), meaning only eight people for dinner at the Kilmarnock Inn.

Although I've been to the Inn plenty of times, I'd never noticed the political slant of the menu before. I'm talking about a menu with the title "Filibusters at the Kilmarnock Inn," that then moves on to "Starters for the First Term" (and second term) and includes such entrees as the POTUS platter (filet mignon) and the Presidential Running Mate (NY strip).

Refusing to be part of that nonsense, I instead opted for seafood wontons followed by a salad of greens, craisins, Feta, olives and pecans, then flatbread with wilted arugula, marinated tomatoes, goat cheese and bacon.

Not a partisan opinion in sight.

But no self-respecting liberal wants to open up her wine list and see, not one, but two, Tr*mp Winery options staring back at her. Goodness knows, I remember all the yard signs in this neck of the woods back during the election cycle, so I knew I was a stranger in a strange land, but the decision to offer those bottles can't possibly sit well with every Inn visitor.

So I have to assume management are idiots.

Eager to share my disdain with the choice, I discretely pointed out the wines, first to Mr. Wright and then to Dad, both of whom made their opinion of the inclusion obvious in their return looks. My discretion was necessary because one sister and her husband are of a different political affiliation than my parents and me and I wasn't looking to start any discussion on that subject.

Instead, a lot of the evening's conversation involved travel. Seems the absent Sister #5 and her husband are about to take a river cruise through Europe, although no one seemed quite sure of where they were leaving from or going to. Sister #3 regaled us with a laundry list of Italian cities she and her husband have been to, while lamenting not having decided which one they want to retire to.

When talk turned to sports and the topic of ballparks, a mention of me - the least sports-inclined of my Dad's six daughters - having been to Wrigley Field caused Sister #4 to say to her husband that it would be a good one for them to visit.

Even an athletic failure like me knows that, as ballparks go, I got to see a game at one of the best.

In typical Sister #3 fashion, once she realized the depth of Mr. Wright's sports knowledge, she wasted no time in bluntly asking him what he was doing with me.

Ah, sisters. Can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em.

The second problem with the Kilmarnock Inn, after its wine-buying habits, is that it's located in Kilmarnock, where they roll up the sidewalks by 9:00 on a Saturday night. We'd barely finished our desserts when we were informed that they'd finished up everything they needed to do and were closing up for the night.

Translation: we needed to clear out.

Fortunately, two of the couples were staying at the inn, so we all adjourned to the gathering room, a euphemism for a good-sized room located near the inn's cottages with a TV, a pool table and leather library chairs for lounging. Bottles of red and white wine helped keep the party going once it was decided that shooting pool was in order.

Luckily, as the two least coordinated (but best read, I might add) sisters, Sister #4 and I immediately settled into chairs to chat while the ultra competitive Sister #3 teamed up with her husband and challenged Mr. Wright and Brother-in-law #4 to a game.

Little did she realize that you don't challenge Buffalo and Chicago natives to pick up a cue without expecting that they've spent some time in a few pool halls. Even after what Brother-in-law #4 referred to as "giving them a shellacking," Sister #3 continued to insist on additional games.

Meanwhile, Sister #4 and I, comfortably sipping Grillo on the sidelines, were also learning about hidden billiards talents in our partners. I can still use the excuse of newness, but they've been together for 30 years, so you'd think pool would have come up before now.

Eventually, the victors refused to shellac the losers even one more time and we left the inn to recover from family time those who were sleeping there.

We'd opted out of brunch with the clan so that we could have a leisurely Sunday, eventually landing at the library to hear Richmond Times Dispatch columnist Bill Lohmann talk about his book, "Doctor Copter" about the physician who'd made weekly treks to Tangier Island to provide medical care.

For us, it was a rare cultural activity on one of our Irvington weekends, but to locals, it was like the second coming. Attendees not only filled the large room where Bill spoke, but also another room downstairs where they'd decided to broadcast his talk to accommodate the overflow crowd.

I'm sure a big part of the appeal was the Northern Neck/Tangier connection - many of the original settlers in my parents' village came from Tangier - because the doctor flew out of Whitestone in the early years and later Topping. That said, Mr. Wright posited that it was a function of being held after church let out, being a free event and, probably most important of all, that local women make cookies which are then served to attendees after the lecture.

What more could a curious Northern Necker want on a Sunday afternoon?

I don't know about what else those people might have wanted, but we closed out the weekend at Merroir, sitting on the porch for a change because of the temperature. A couple and their dog were the sole occupants of the outdoor seating but even they eventually caved and put Rover in the car so they could dine in warmth.

Meanwhile, the porch provided everything we wanted: a view of the water, a bottle of Hugl Gruner Veltliner and a platter of Old Saltes to get the party started. After the Ruby Salts I'd had at Perch and the gigantic Apalachicola ones I'd slurped in Isalmorada, I needed a palate correction back to what a truly briny oyster should taste like and Old Saltes never disappoint.

But we'd come, not just to chow down, but to talk and Mr. Wright's rockfish under caramelized onions and my fishcake over mixed greens provided the fuel to do a post-vacation look back while considering next year's winter getaway possibilities.

He likes to say that there's an awful lot of thinking and talking that goes with this relationship, while I'm convinced it's really just a whole lot of planning and executing.

Not that I'm complaining.

Well, except when it comes to businesses foolish enough to serve wines labeled with the name of the man attempting to destroy the American democratic experiment.

Can't we just give him a shellacking and be done with it?

1 comment:

  1. Loved this.

    Glad your home!! ...and your book finally arrived.... so we should meet soon... yes?

    talk soon... no?