Every semester, Phi Chi, the co-ed medical fraternity, holds one of the most successful student events on campus, the Wine and Cheese Gala, held every semester at the residence of Dr. Atchley, the Director of Community Services at AUC. As I have never been a big fan of wine, I hadn’t gone the last 3 semesters, but hearing so many good things about it, I decided it was time to check it out this semester.
Before I move on to talk about the event, I’d like to point out how cool it is that a good number of us students and faculty at AUC live within walking distance of each other in Cupecoy, and Dr. Atchley’s residence was no exception. After I put on the new shirt and tie Irene helped pick out for me in Miami, I headed downstairs to meet with Arif and some other friends. The sun had already set and the half-moon was out with the starry sky. Together we walked across the street, and after just a few steps away, we were at Dr. Atchley’s house. Other students were walking toward the same direction and everyone was dressed well and looking very sharp.
The line was very long at the gates and there was a lot of people. When we got in, we were given a wine glass. Walking in, I was quite impressed with the set up. First off, Dr. Atchley’s resident is at a high area, with an infinity pool overlooking Simpson Bay Lagoon below, making her place already a surreal venue to hold such an elegant, formal event. Tonight, Dr. Atchley’s house and yard was decorated very beautifully and the whole place was glowing. There were round candle-lit tables set up where people sat and ate. The cocktail tables around the infinite pool glowed like lanterns with lights illuminating underneath the draped cloths. There were Indian Corn decor on the tables to reflect the autumn atmosphere and Christmas lights hanging from the trees above our heads. A local guitarist played his version of new and familiar tunes in the background.
A tent was set up in the middle of the yard with the most delicious foods prepared by chef Dino Jagtiani, the renown chef from Rare and Temptation. I was quite impressed with the selection. There was pasta salad, fruit salad, and red snapper. The spare ribs were really tasty and tender, and they made the most gourmet mac-n-cheese I’ve ever eaten. There was a caterer at the tent who was frying crab cakes and serving them fresh off the skillet onto our plates. It was the best thing ever. And then of course, there was a good selection of fine cheeses — aged swiss, cheddar, brie… My favorite was the French-imported goat cheese. It was so soft and creamy and was not overpowering or too salty. It was an amazing cheese. For dessert, I had some tiramisu and chocolate from the chocolate station.
Around the yard were nine white-clothed tables serving wines from around the world. Eight of the tables served a variety of red and white wine from specific countries: USA, Argentina, Portugal, Chile, Italy, France, South Africa, and Australia. In addition, another table served a variety of dessert wines. I’m not a big wine drinker and know very little how to distinguish between them, but it was fun going around the tables, learning about the different wines from the servers, and tasting the different shades of flavors on my palate. The wines with descriptions like “smokey, full-bodied with a hint of huckleberry, cappuccino, and oak” (I just made this up) were interesting but my favorites were the dessert wines.
Inside Dr. Atchley’s house, the Alpha Phi Omega Honor Society held a silent auction for a number of items and activities, such as Dinner at Rare, Sunset Cruise, Snorkeling trip, Dinner and Beach Time with Dr. Van der Waag and Dr. Hertz, Kayaking, gift certificates, massage, free personal tutoring, and others. All proceeds went to charity on the island.
Overall, I really enjoyed this semester’s Wine and Cheese Gala. Not only did I get to try all sorts of fine wines, cheeses, and food from around the world, but also got to mingle with many of my friends, colleagues, and professors on a more personal level outside of school. I definitely recommend the event if you ever have a chance to attend. Phi Chi’s Wine and Cheese gala really is a great event gathering the people from our school community together in a classy, yet fun and sociable setting.