Last night Jennifer and I went to Mark and Eileen’s home in Atlanta for what has become an annual tradition with some of our closest friends. We call it the First Feast because the gathering is centered around a scrumptious array of appetizers, main courses, and desserts that everyone brings. Though closely proximate to Christmas and New Years, it is technically the first time in the year we get together like this.
Music and conversation permeates all of our gatherings. We enjoyed a KFOG radio stream then switched to all sorts of tunes from a nice Pat Matheny mix to old Van Morrison. Beethoven even made a brief appearance. We’re a rather eclectic bunch.
Lively discussions were scattered through the dozen or so people there and could leap and change topic without a moment's notice. I had a great talk with Clint about Proust and looked at some photos he had recently taken, with Erin about digital cameras, blogging, and what it might be like to be in a plane crash, with Mark and Lyle about a New York Times article on architectural changes to the White House, with Eileen about the specifics of what she was preparing in the kitchen, with Jean about tension build-ups and how noticing them in the body helps to deal with stress in general, with Jennifer and Will about Obama and health care reform, with Diane about the behavior of dogs and whether it was right or not for Senators to be appointed rather than elected, with Bryan about chopping wood, his new furnace, and future plans to remodel his house. It was all kinda random like that but always entertaining and interesting.
Naturally as the wine and beer and port continued to flow things tended toward the silly a bit more.
For the appetizers I experienced a wide range of olives, crackers, fruits, and cheeses. The Saint Andre was excellent as was a special blueberry and jalapeno fruit spread on nut thin crackers. My favorite appetizer was the fresh dried dates with Humboldt Fog cheese on them. I had more than my fair share of those. There were also these wonderful roasted beets which I discovered served as a superb palette cleanser to recalibrate for the next taste sensation.
The main courses were served about 9:30. Let’s see if I can remember the setup…fresh tossed salad with homemade blue cheese dressing, fresh-made monkey bread, rice with black-eyed peas, green beans and kale, broccoli and cauliflower casserole, baked salmon with brown sugar, thyme, and coriander, and veal served with sauteed fennel and shallots.
The dining room was extended with three tables and assorted chairs (from cushy to plastic, hey, our sense of classy is all in the mind’s eye), wonderful assorted candlelight, topped with party favors that were enjoyed after most everyone had their second helping.
Then, amidst a sprinkling of feigned complaints, desserts were served. Oatmeal and honey cookies, followed by a prune bundt cake with an orange glaze, followed by Mark’s mother’s “award-winning” frozen toffee pie perfectly augmented with plentiful amounts of strong French-pressed coffee.
To the uninitiated, it all might sound more than slightly decadent. But, though extraordinary for the moment, it was, in fact, typical of our gatherings. A lot of booze and ideas tossed around punctuated with multiple feeding frenzies. Diane summed it all up best when she called the wide variety of fare a “foodgasm”.
Cheers to all our friends for a memorable evening, the highlight so far of this young 2009.
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