It was a Saturday night in Denver and the Veuve Clicquot was open and flowing in celebration of Ms. Marsue’s graduation and high honors. This was all well and good but I needed to talk about something serious: We were to embark on a journey the next day and there was no time to dilly-dally. We had reservations for champagne brunch at The Brown Palace, the oldest and seriously posh hotel in downtown Denver, at 10:30 the next morning. Preparation is everything.
Marsue had been to their brunch once before, I had not. I needed to talk strategery and thought her knowledge of their brunch would help me glean information about set-up, the variety of bounty and rules of what gets you kicked out or cut-off. They were pouring Moët & Chandon, not the orange label mind you, but that stuff was not too shabby at a bottomless bottles brunch. I peppered Ms. M with questions from what stations do they have—seafood, carving, omelet, and sushi—to what delicacies they offered. I asked about pastries, specialty and hard-to-find items on buffets like caviar or truffles. I asked about the set-up of the room and if there was easy access and get-away in a crowd, and of course I asked what the refill rate of champagne was. I tried to drill down to what the dress code dictated and if there were any factors that could impede our celebrating.
Most of the answers I was met with were “I don’t remember,” “I am not sure,” or “maybe?” It seems Ms. M was too awed (meaning drunk) during her prior visit and retained little to no knowledge of her attendance. Add to that fact we were drinking her favorite champagne at the time of this discussion so she was subject to being impaired by champagne or she is just lackadaisical, the line there is so close it is hard to call. Bottom line about our brunch was we were going in blind.
Well thankfully this is not my first rodeo. Of course you want someone else driving your ass there and back whether it is a city bus or Uber. I know the basics of getting your biggest bang for the buck and doing it with style at this type of soiree. The style part means wear a lovely summer frock with no restrictive clothing in site. Forget Spanx in a situation like this, you are essentially placing a gastric sleeve on the outside of your body, and you might as well throw the brunch fee in the gutter. You need to think of all those bubbles and jumbo shrimp having room to migrate with ease. Adorable comfy shoes are a must. Although you are sitting most of the time there are reconnaissance missions to scope out the joint when you get there: from understanding the food options to understanding the bathroom situation, and of course the many trips to the buffet itself. You want to know all of this prior to imbibing; looking for a hotel bathroom at the 2-hour mark when you had a bottle or two of bubbs in you is a YouTube video you will never live down. Nobody wants to be “drunk broad in koi pond peeing” with 2 million views and counting.
On the food and beverage front we talked about key elements of success. The first being: never drink non-essential liquids. It is easier to tell you what essential liquids are than to list the non’s: Champagne and water; Always with alcohol you drink water, not doing so is a rookie mistake. You can drink a little coffee toward the end to be the awake drunk rather than the sleepy drunk, but only a little. The key is to go slowly and never get drunk, just steady-on glow, tipsy, giggly, animated and not obnoxious or loud, rude or entitled, though we all know people who can achieve the latter stone-cold sober. Pass up juices, caffeinated concoctions, fancy drinks, fizzy foreign waters or anything else you might find in your own fridge or at Starbucks. There is no place for non-essential liquids on an outing such as this, instead focus on drinking enough champagne to fill a large Jacuzzi.
Many of the same principals apply to food as well. The first rule here is to arrive hungry; just make sure to eat a little off your first plate of food before drinking too much. Drinking more than a sip or two on an empty stomach spells koi pond incident in your future. The next thing to keep in mind is to focus on the high-dollar items you love and don’t get often. This could be anything from amazing smoked salmon to crab legs to fancy desserts made for you with fire and alcohol (which is like a Vegas act done by a guy dressed like an orderly). I can make salad at home, I can make an omelet, I will not make sushi or crown roast pork anytime in the near future, and never one with tiny little booties on it!
A champagne brunch is about indulging, savoring, taking your time to enjoy, taste, chat, laugh and experiment. It is about being bold and tasting the weird thing in the pretty dish, then deciding one taste is enough and letting it sit there until the nice busboy takes it away and creates space for a new plate. Eat dessert first or have two rounds of seafood and no breakfast fare at all. Jump into the prime rib and back track. This is not about stuffing yourself, racing or eating until you feel sick. It is about pleasure, about sharing the experience and laughter, about good food and great beverages and being thoughtful how you go about it. This is about strategy and choosing the best of life in the moment, and not about over indulging from the fear of this being gone soon. Know that thoughtful choices, a little prep work and reconnaissance of what are your options will help you navigate. Not using a detailed topographic map, not a step- by-step iron clad plan but loose guidelines. Look, flexibility and preparedness can go hand in hand and should when we explore the unknown and untried. We want to be bold, have fun, experiment, test, try and make the rounds again and again. Auntie Mame said “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” So get out there folks and enjoy the potpourri of goodness life is making available. And remember, to stay hydrated and wear your big girl clothes!