Yesterday,I and several other 'hounds had the good fortune of experiencing the synergy of Theresa Whitehill's sensual poetry, bottles from Melanie's and Lucy's wine collections,and the wonderful food of Cafe Lucy in Napa. Before getting into the details, I just want to share my appreciation for Melanie, Lucy, and Theresa, not simply for what they do, but for the generosity of spirit and deep connection in how they write, read, gather, cook, eat, and drink.
Lucy had created quite a buffet.(Lucy, or anyone, please help out on the ingredients!)
--One all-around favorite was the chicken liver pate with carmelized onions. We all noted the depth of the pate, and how the richness of the liver was balanced by the sweetness of the onions and a bit of spiciness (green pepercorns?). Everyone went back for seconds, and toward end of the evening, I noticed the serving bowl had made its way to the table of a couple of Chowhounds!
Melanie brought a 1995 Petaluma Riesling from Australia and a 1996 Adelsheim Pinot Gris from Oregon which she suggested for the pate. (I learned that an older Riesling can have a faint scent of petrol and it's not a flaw.)
--Another dish good with those wines (I preferred the Riesling) was the cold mussels in a vinaigrette of reduced sherry vinegar, shallots, and maple syrup. I'd never had mussels with a slightly sweet sauce and I really enjoyed the comingling of briny, sweet, and sour.
--A refreshing salad of diced celery, diced asiago, parsley,lemon, and olive oil reminded us all that we had forgotten how good celery is. Melanie opened a 1984 Joseph Swan Estate Chardonnay that surprised us for how strong the fruit had remained.
--There were three other salads: one that included figs, pears, arugula,roasted pearl onions (shallots?), and gorgonzola; one of sweet tomatoes--yellow pear, cherry, and green zebra;and a mediterranean salad of basil, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, italian parsley, and...baccala (salt cod). All were bright with the freshness of the ingredients.
--Lest the carnivores be worried, we also had fall-off-the-bone tender roasted pork ribs done in a marinade reminiscent of Filipino adobo. I could have made a meal out of those alone.
--Melanie also brought a 1995 Domaine de Garrigue Cotes du Rhone with its distinctive aroma of earth and mineral (though the fruit had gone) and a 1996 Marques de Grinon Syrah from Spain. There were other bottles Lucy had provided as well--some nice French roses, a lovely Macon Villages--that I didn't get a chance to write down. Anyone else remember?
As we ate and drank, Theresa treated us to her poems which so well captured the emotional truth of our senses when we take the time to listen. Of particular note to Chowhounds is Theresa's unabashed joy in food. One poem was a paean to Lucy's provencal onion tart and its pairing with a glass of 1995 Saintsbury Reserve Chardonnay. We too were given a slice of the tart (crumbly crust, creamy sweet onions set off by a bit of stilton and rosemary) and a glass of the wine (quite toasty with lovely vanilla overtones). You could hear the "oohs," "aahs" and "oh my gosh, this is sooooo good." We all clearly understood the poet's inspiration. (I have a link to Theresa's work below.)
The conversation, eating, and wine-tasting lasted well into the evening. I left feeling not only well-nourished but also grounded. Thanks again to Lucy, Theresa, and Melanie for arranging such a special event.