As was mentioned, we started with cold dishes. To start the meal. You have to understand, in Shanghainese home cooking, cold dishes aren't actually cold. They're just the dishes to get the appetite going. Things like cucumber and seaweed salad, cold cuts of beef in a chili/vinegar sauce, and tossed bean curds. Things like that. An hour or so in, I went in to start on the hot dishes. Began with mussels in white wine and a tomato sauce. Simple. Then the most amazing savoury clams, in wine, green onion, and ginger. Fish of course, a traditional Shanghainese croaker dish in a sweet/sour sauce. Some cured pork hocks, some greens, and of course, a beef stew to end the meal. Forgetting some things, but we kept it simple and kept it a proper Shanghainese dinner.
The wines. I'll explain in detail a bit later, but we started with a young Napa chardonnay. It was delicious, especially so as I had low expectations. One of my uncles brought a Niagara sauvignon blanc/semillon blend. And we finished with a big, powerful Chilean syrah. All winners, all very satisfying. It's been a while since I've been so pleased with how sub-$20 wines have shown. Very satisfying indeed.
Good. Everyone left happy, well-fed. We went seafood-heavy, which may not seem substantial at first, until you begin to appreciate its digestibility. Meat dishes are great and all, but one or two good bites is all you really need. Everything went according to plan - no cuts, no blisters, no surprises. And the wines were shining.
When the bottle is empty, you know it was a good night.