This story begins several years ago when the Swede and I, while on the traditional Nordic country residents’ quest for lower-priced alcohol, came across an interesting Australian chardonnay at the Border Shop in Puttgarden, Germany. Interesting primarily because of its name: Bushwhacker.
Immediately recognizing how much fun it would be for us, a female couple, to present a bottle of Bushwhacker as a host’s gift, we bought a case of it on the spot. And it was, indeed, a big hit/great ice-breaker/interesting conversation-starter at every dinner party we ever brought it to … so much so that we searched high and low for it at Sweden’s state-run liquor stores when our limited supply ran out. Unfortunately, Systemet does not carry it, so we made a point of getting a case of it whenever we (or someone we knew) made a booze run to Puttgarden … at least until the Border Shop stopped carrying it, DAMMIT.
Fast-forward to last week, when following a particularly rollicking “after-work” meet-up/reunion with my friend Sophie and her partner Matilda (whom we met formally for the first time that evening), we ended up with an invitation to their place for a casual dinner party a few nights later. This was so sweet and spontaneous and, in my experience, at least, so very UN-Swedish, that we were beyond delighted to accept.
Despite being informed that we needed only bring our appetites, I made plans to swing by Systemet for a bottle of Prosecco. They had both ordered a glass of it when we had been out together so I knew it would be especially appreciated. But when I mentioned it to Dr. Darling, she said she thought we still had a bottle of Bushwhacker left in the liquor cabinet.
OMG COULD THERE POSSIBLY BE ANYTHING MORE PERFECT?!?!?! Because for all the wonderful reactions we’ve received as a female couple turning up at someone’s home with a bottle of wine called “Bushwhacker”, this would be our FIRST-EVER opportunity to present a bottle of it to another female couple. I was practically giddy at the prospect! (Though the fact that I was going to be able to avoid a trip to Systembolaget was probably a factor as well.)
So the date of the dinner party rolled around, and while the weather earlier in the day had been perfect for a walk or bike ride out to their place in the Western Harbor, it was cool and threatening rain by the time we needed to start heading that way. After some discussion, we decided to take the bus instead. I had managed to remember to put the now-extra-precious bottle of Bushwhacker in the fridge the night before, so I slipped it into an insulated flask-holder before placing it in a backpack and off we went.
Now the Western Harbor is one of the city’s most prestigious residential districts. We have a number of friends who live out there and we regularly fantasize about owning an upper-floor condo with a sea view ourselves. Because there has been a lot of new construction out there over the past year, the bus routes had changed a bit since the last time we’d taken one out that way. But since we had plenty of time, we chose a route that was new to us just to see where we’d end up, which turned out to be not quite as close to our destination as we thought it would be. Still, it wasn’t raining (yet) and we were happy for the chance to explore a new area of the ever-expanding neighborhood.
We had just started out in the general direction of Sophie and Matilda’s place when I made the ill-fated decision to switch the backpack from one shoulder to the other. But I had not accounted for the slippery texture of my rain jacket or how quickly the shoulder strap would slide off my arm because of it … and the backpack got away from me and hit the pavement with a pretty good thump.
Initially I thought the Bushwhacker was okay. It was tucked inside a padded, insulated bottle-holder, after all, and I’m not exactly tall. But a quick check proved me completely wrong. The Swedish scientist noted that the bottle must have hit the ground at precisely the right angle, because the bottom of it had completely shattered. Dr. Darling was like, “How the hell did you drop the backpack?” and I was like, “This never would have happened if I’d just bought a bottle of Prosecco!” I was devastated.
Naturally, we both ended up with our hands drenched in Australian chardonnay while trying to extract the remains from the bottle-holder … which very conveniently kept most of the glass shards contained so they could be tipped back into the top half of the bottle. At this point there was no way to replace it with something else … and in fact we couldn’t even find a safe place to discard the broken glass. Which is part of the reason we decided to just take it with us to Sophie and Matilda’s place anyway, because it’s the thought that counts, right?
So this is how we ended up trudging through one of Malmö‘s swankiest neighborhoods smelling like a couple of winos and, in Dr. Darling‘s case at least, looking as though we were headed to a gang-land rumble. (Given that I’m the one who dropped the bottle and am also completely blind on my right side, we both thought it best that the Swede carry it for the rest of the journey.)
Despite all the drama, we actually arrived a few minutes early … which thankfully saved us the embarrassment of having to explain what had happened to the other two dinner guests, both of whom we had never met before. Though in hindsight, that probably would have resulted in a “1st impression” that neither one of them would ever forget.
Sophie and Matilda were completely wonderful about it, as I *knew* they would be, and laughed right along with us as we recounted the full “Bushwhacker Saga” for them. Sophie even made a point of telling me the wine smelled like it would have been really good as she gingerly made her way downstairs toward the recycling bins with the remains of the broken bottle. I freely admit to having a major soft-spot for this woman from the moment we met through a mutual friend almost 8 years ago, but I think I adore her even more now for that perfectly-timed touch of humor and kindness.
From then on, the rest of the evening was absolutely brilliant. The other two guests, both coincidentally named Lotta, were smart and funny and delightful company. The food was lovely (they had me at “home-baked bread”), our hosts were charming, and the conversation and laughter flowed fast and freely despite the regular and (for the Swedes, at least) seamless shifts from Swedish to English to Swenglish and back again.
By the time dessert was served (fresh strawberries, whipped cream and an extra dark chocolate bar shared around the table), we were actually telling the “Bushwhacker Saga” to Lotta #1 and Lotta #2, helpfully illustrated by the photo I had snapped of the destroyed bottle. Please note the artful positioning of the famous Turning Torso building in the background (Dr. Darling‘s contribution to its composition).
So now we happily owe Sophie and Matilda a home-cooked meal, and I’ve already decided that no matter what I end up serving for dinner, I’m going to play it safe and go with a bottle of Prosecco. In fact, I may even buy two.