Reigniting a Post-Thanksgiving Tradition

Many years ago when the kids were much younger we had a family tradition of attending the Dallas Stars hockey game each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. However, as the years moved on my son went from playing recreation hockey to select travel hockey. That meant that literally every holiday throughout the year he had a hockey tournament. Although his Thanksgiving tournaments were always in Dallas we would attend 5-6 games in 3 days, often at rinks over an hour away and once at 5am the morning after Thanksgiving. Thus our Friday night at the Dallas Stars game came to a hault! Fast-forward to last year, after two concussion and boys on the other teams growing much faster than my son, he decided to hang up his hockey skates and life as we had known it for a decade came to an end. He quickly moved on to Tae-Kwon-Do, Ju-Jitsu and golf and my husband quickly adjusted to having his weekends back to watch football in the fall, basketball in the spring and whatever else he wanted to do. I, on the other hand, found myself missing the friends, travel (his team traveled throughout the US and Canada), crazy schedule and felt a void in our lives that I am honestly still getting over. All that is to say this year we once again attended the Dallas Stars hockey game the Friday night after Thanksgiving.

Stars game Freemark Abbey

My husband and I like to attend concerts so we visit the American Airlines Center often; however, we had not eaten at the Audi Club since last October when we saw Michael Buble in concert. I enjoy dining at the Audi Club but I have to wonder what other cities do hockey the way Dallas does hockey. I have been to Detroit and the iconic Joe Louis Arena, I honestly cannot imagine dining in such luxury at the Joe, but you know we Dallasites like to be cosmopolitan, even in the hard working blue collar sport of hockey. The Audi Club is an all you can eat buffet with a very high quality spread of salads, cheeses and cured meats, beef, chicken, fish, delicious side dishes, fruit and desserts, but before we surveyed the food we ordered a bottle of wine.

Stars game spread

Stars game Freemark Abbey2Freemark Abbey 2012 Merlot Napa Valley: This Merlot poured a deep ruby with purple highlights into the glass. On the nose this beautiful wine dazzled with great aromas of ripe berries with chocolate and smoky spice notes. On the palate this luxurious Merlot opened with ripe fruits of cherries, blackberries, currants and plums; followed by earthy flavors of smoked spice, dark chocolate, espresso and a touch of toasted almonds. It was round on the palate with depth of acidity and refined tannins that lingered on the palate. The concentration fruit and earthiness with acidity and tannins promote great balance and elegance in this Merlot. Winemaker Ted Edwards crafted this Merlot from 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec from grapes grown in 5 different Napa Valley vineyards. The grapes were cold soaked for 5 days then fermented in stainless steel for an average of 21.5 days before aged for 14 months in small American and French oak barrels. This Merlot contained 14.5% alcohol. It received 92 pts from Robert Parker, drinks beautifully now and will age well for up to 15 years. SRP $34; click here to buy this wine. I recommend this wine!

Stars game spread 3

Stars game spread7

Stars game spread8

The wine was very good and we enjoyed it with an array of foods that I listed above; here are some more pictures of the spread:

Stars game spread6

Stars game spread4

Stars game spread5

Additionally, I would like to take a moment to brag on our server, David. He was very attentive to our needs of wine pours and clean plates; furthermore, in addition to the delicious pumpkin cake with salted caramel and Chantilly cream served with the buffet, David unexpectedly brought us two to-go boxes of cookies, layered spice cake and cheese cake from another dessert bar in a different part of the arena. YUM!

Stars game dessert

From the Freemark Abbey web site:

Freemark Abbey LogoFew Napa Valley wineries can rival the rich and storied history of Freemark Abbey. It all began in 1886, when Josephine Tychson established the original winery along Route 29 in St. Helena where Freemark Abbey still stands. She kicked off a history of innovation, becoming one of the first woman winegrowers on record. Though many consider our library wines a religious experience … we’ve never actually been run by monks. The current name of the winery was created in 1939, when the three owners – Charles Freeman, Markquand Foster and Abbey Ahern – combined their names to form the moniker “Freemark Abbey.”

I encourage you to visit the Freemark Abbey web site to learn more about this outstanding Napa Valley winery and view their entire portfolio of wines.

Stars game

Overall it was a great night. The food, wine and service was great and was fun to re-start an old tradition. The game was heartbreaking! The Minnesota Wild were up 3-0 then in the 2nd period the Stars scored 3 goals on 3 shots! Woo Hoo! The AAC was electric! In the third the Stars scored the go ahead goal, but with less than 2 minutes left the Wild pulled their goalie on a face off in the offensive zone and tied the game! Bummer! OT here we come…. About 1:30 into OT the Wild scored again. Crash, burn…game over, fans deflated. Heartbreaking!

My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with this fun night of food, wine and hockey is Thunderstruck by AC/DC. Hockey is a tough sport; hockey is a rock n’ roll sport! I love the music they play during hockey games; the energy from the music helps feed the fans so you don’t hear soft music or country music…just rock. When my kids were little I used to have Stars season tickets. I was a crazy hockey fan who would stay up til 1 or 2 am on a week night to watch play-off games against San Jose or Edmonton; I am a proud Joe Neuwendyk jersey wearer; I saw the Stars lose the Stanley Cup in person to the New Jersey Devils; and the one song that stands out in my mind (other than SRV’s If the House at Rockin Don’t Bother Knockin when the Stars win home games, Tom Petty’s Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometime when they lose, and Pantera’s Dallas Stars which was their theme song for many years) is AC/DC Thunderstruck. Plus when else will I be able to use AC/DC in a wine review article! So here you go:

Get your own bottle of Freemark Abbey 2012 Merlot Napa Valley at the Audi Club while attending at Dallas Stars game and let me know what song you would pair with it. Cheers!


6 responses to “Reigniting a Post-Thanksgiving Tradition”

  1. Hockey is great fun, isn’t it? We usually see the CAPS once or twice a season in DC at the Verizon Center. Unfortunately, the wines available are . . . well, I end up with a beer. Cheers!!

  2. Interesting to hear of an upscale restaurant at a hockey game. In Toronto, most seats are corporately owned and the suits who sit on their hands for most of the game, can settle in under the seats where drinks and fancy eats are served. It does mean, however, that seats are empty for much of the game. The worst hockey crowd in the league. Would love to visit Dallas to see the Stars. Saw a lot of Seguin up here.
    And, the freemark Abbey isn’t too shabby either. Song? Anything by ZZ Top

    • I am sorry to hear about the Toronto hockey crowd. The Dallas crowd is lively and fun. We have lots of suites but they tend to be fairly full; especially on the weekends. There are 3 nice restaurants at the AAC, but that is just Dallas. We like to eat out at nice restaurants in this city. Seems odd with hockey but it works. I love all ZZ Top but I did not feel this wine had quite the funk for ZZ Top. Additionally, we hear a lot of AC/DC at the game. I paired La Grange with Locations E a few months back. Next time I use ZZ Top I will let you know! Cheers!

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