Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Getting my servings of fruit from the swim-up bar

We just got in from our first official Family Vacation at an über-all-inclusive in Punta Cana. For the record, I second my mother-in-law on her proposal: that every Ontarian should have a week in the south covered by OHIP. Going all winter long without vitamin D in its natural form just isn't right. I'm already in withdrawal ...

From the moment we stepped off the plane, our pores soaked in the glorious hot sun and our brains shook off the fog of hibernation. My eyes ached at the sight of so much colour - I'd forgotten what green looked like. Tropical birds exploded out of bushes of bougainvillea in a cheerful greeting on the way to the hotel. A whole week in paradise. Finally.

The Doodle loved it: Let's go to the beach! Let's go to the pool! I want to go to the bouncy room! I want to go on the Orange Slide! This was a particularly kids-friendly resort, complete with a Flintstones-themed kiddy zone of miniature pools, climbing structures, Fred and Barney meet-n-greets, and Betty's Kitchen, a dining hall decorated like a page right out of his-toh-reeee. A train system ferried guests throughout the vast complex and had the Doodle positively giddy every time it pulled up: "Do you hear that? I think it's the TRAIN!!! Which train is it going to be, Mummy? I think it's going to be the YELLOW train!"

Between that, Bahama Mamas sin alcool (aka "smoothies") and a complete menagerie of critters to feed, her days were packed. At night, she would flop exhausted into her cot, recharge, and be bright-eyed and bushy tailed for the next day's line up of adventures.

Mummy and Daddy had a pretty good time, too, thanks for asking. Being grown-ups, it doesn't take much more than sunny weather and a few drinks to keep us amused. My exercise consisted of laps to the pool bar and power walks to the lobby bar for all manner of frooty deliciousness: Dirty Monkies, Sex on the Beach, Bahama Mamas (con alcool, por favor) and il Presidente's finest lager on tap.

When it comes to booze, all-inclusives are more about quantity, not quality. Based on previous experience, we weren't expecting much in terms of the house wine being served. The reds were somewhat palatable; the white was downright obnoxious. So, on a couple of the "special" nights (one being a romantic dinner for two at the French à la carte -- thank you, Grammy! -- and the other being the group's last hurrah at the seafood joint) we splurged on a few bottles from the wine list:

Louis Latour 2007 Pinot Noir (Burgundy, France) - Light enough to be a gamay, the red field berries and smoked earthiness went quite well with my spinach roll and Hubby's beef tenderloin.

Concha y Toro Frontera Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon (Chile) - Gorgeous, crisp blend with bright, fragrant citrus and fantastic acidity. A versatile crowd pleaser with our ocean-fresh appetizers and surf-n-turf platters of beef, lobster and bacon-wrapped chicken.

Our return at the end of week was reluctant, to say the least (although The Doodle was more than happy to get back to her play kitchen and Wall-E DVD extras. Ah, to have that seamless ability to adjust again ...) We indulged one last time with a prime rib dinner accompanied by a 2007 McPherson Shiraz, part of the case we bought for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary (what better way to celebrate than to share? Thanks, M&D!!!) Rich, plummy, and jammy with smooth tannins and a long, silky finish. Great match with still-mooing roast beef and hubby's Yorkshire puddings.

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