Never Too Many Cooks
Happy is she who has friends that love to cook. And in this case, the she in question is me, and the friends are a group of 12-14 who gather at least once per season to cook, dine, and drink together. We always do this at the home of our friend Steve, who bought a table that holds 14 people snugly just for this bunch, folks who like each other a lot and don’t mind cuddling up to their fellow diners. But now Steve is moving, after years of hosting these dinners on a ridge top above Seattle, and so last night’s event had a bittersweet air of finality, tempered by a certain amount of packing-related chaos and confusion.
Arriving at Steve’s house yesterday we were greeted by the sight of 17 boxes filled to overflowing with books in need of a new home, as Steve emptied his bookcases in preparation for a down-sizing move. It was a super-eclectic collection, and we were delighted to snag The Physiology of Taste, or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy by Brillat-Savarin. I decided to abandon Natural Capitalism to its fate, since given the current economic climate, capitalism seems downright unnatural.
Sadly for us all, Steve wasn’t emptying his excellent cellar with similar abandon, but he did break out this lovely 1998 Côte-Rôtie, something that you don’t get to drink just every day.
This is a group that takes mixology as seriously as oenology and gastronomy, so someone’s always inventing a cocktail to suit the season.
But let it never be said that we don’t cook at least as much as we drink. And if you’ve never tried asparagus and prawns with a curry mayonnaise, make it today. Just poach the prawns and the asparagus, make a good mayonnaise, and season it judiciously with curry powder. It’s an awesome flavor combination.
Watercress soup is the essence of springtime, and if you add a dollop of lemon crème fraîche, it’s heavenly. Double points if you have a pot almost the exact color of the soup.
Or make a duck egg and caviar omelette and serve it with slices of rare duck breast and sautéed mushrooms with duck confit. That may sound excessive, and it probably was by some rational measure, but then, sheer unmitigated excess never stopped this bunch for a second.
Alternatively, make a little flan of cardoons and serve it next to a baby turnip, fresh new turnip greens, and Dark Mocha Lamb*, which I can’t seem to stop making. Or do all of the above, plus assorted appetizers, lemon and oregano sorbets, a berry genoise, and an overflowing cheese platter, and then you’ll have recreated our dinner exactly.
But as we know, all good things must eventually come to an end. Or maybe it’s not that they must, it’s just that they do. So this sweet house has seen its last gathering of the merry band, and soon we’ll be reconvening on a floating home lazing at the dock in Lake Union. Steve says that the huge dinner table will fit in his new nest, and it had better, since none of us will allow him to live where 14 people cannot cook and eat together.
photo credit Eric Hall
We’re back on our island now, looking across the 8 miles of open water that separates us from that house, those friends, that lake, and that table. It’s a goodly distance, but one easily traversed, especially when a large dining table floating on a small lake beckons.
* If you missed Dark Mocha Lamb the first time, click here for the recipe.