Sunday, March 7, 2010
First Feast 2010
The forever to be remembered as way beyond decadent chocolate peppermint mousse stacks with the accompanying wine. The flute contains cheap Korbel Brut which is a surprisingly great value in champagne if you ask me. Note the added touch of the overturned giant sized plastic Cool Whip container on the right. Just the right balance, Dillos riding the karmic party wave in Dillostyle.
The annual Dillo gathering know as ‘first feast” was delayed this year due to the reclamation effort and remodeling of Mark and Eileen’s home, which received significant flood damage during last year’s torrential downpour in the Atlanta area (see September 21, 2009 post).
Better late than ever is a constant Dillo mantra though and the evening did not disappoint. Jennifer and I arrived mid-afternoon to enjoy some pre-dining champagne with our hosts and take in a brief tour of the renovations. The house looks great with most of the wood floor throughout having been replaced, a gorgeous new dining room table, and a completely upgraded bathroom complete with heated large tiled floor. Never saw one of those before but it evenly distributes the heat throughout the comparatively small space. The fixtures and trim work are exquisite.
Afterwards, we enjoyed some casual conversation and opened a second bottle of champagne. Over the passing of this time, Clint, Ted and Jeffery arrived. We watched the last half of a college basketball game and munched on hors d'œuvres. Eileen had created this magnificent pate from scratch, some incredible deviled eggs, to compliment a host of different cheeses, dates, grapes, crackers and toasted breads. In true Dillo fashion it was already a feast and most everyone hadn’t even shown up with their stuff yet.
In the midst of this, after Mark’s alma mater lost to a rival in basketball, we managed to pop in the Gustavo Dudamel DVD. Eileen was the one who told Jennifer about Dudamel last year, who in turn bought me the CD for Christmas, which caused me to purchase the DVD. So, there was a connection here. Also, Jennifer and I had dined with Mark and E (as she is affectionately known) last month at a great local restaurant. At that time E opined that there was a real lack of good recent classical music being composed. I had mentioned the John Adams’ piece that opens this DVD as an example of something great and recent.
I played the last movement for the group and everyone seemed to enjoy the way City Noir ends, even though we managed to blow out a couple of Mark’s stereo speakers from having it cranked up a notch (or more) too much. Then, as more people arrived, the Mahler First played in the background. I have never considered Mahler to be decent background music. But, most that seems out-of-place is perfectly acceptable at a Dillo gathering. As the evening wore on the music became very diverse – another Dillo gathering tradition.
Sometime amidst the Mahler, Deanna arrived followed by Erin, with the guy who renovated Mark/E’s bath and his wife. The gathering gradually transformed into a full-blown party as dinner was being finalized by various people doing various things, E leading the charge, Mark being the perfect host. Will, as usual, brought up the rearguard, about 2 hours after he said he’d be there. He brought excellent port to drink and Jennifer was most pleased by this development.
Much of the discussion naturally centered around the whole essence of Dillo-ness, a recent trip by several of our group (including Jennifer) to Cumberland Island. Dillo is short for our self-proclaimed cult: the Cumberland Island Armadillos. But, what that’s all about will have to wait a future post. Suffice it to say that it is the ground-swell of many friendships over many trips over many years.
Long-story short, everyone who went agreed it was awesome, wondered why they had waited about 9 years to go back, especially since it used to be such a central feature of who we were together as friends. Well, it still is, I guess. More of a slumbering, underlying current at this time in our lives. Of course, there plenty of pics and stories to be shared.
The first course was scheduled for 8 pm. But, also in Dillo-fashion, it was closer to 9 pm. A garlic soup started things off, which turned out to be a perfect transitional piece from the heavy hors d'œuvres to the bountiful main course – a brilliant poached tenderloin. The beef was complimented with this incredible “cloud” of mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, brown rice, collars and turnips, and a great vegetable medley thing Will created. There were far too many different kinds of wines going around the table for me to recall.
Diane and Brian arrived last, having a conflicting engagement. She made the desserts. Dark chocolate bunt cake with lush blackberries was served along with chocolate peppermint mousse stacks and a special sparkling dessert wine. For me by this time, strong coffee was in order. I was driving home after all. All that sugar and caffeine put me in hyper-alert mode.
Ted made CDs of a bunch of older Dillo pics he had recently digitized from various slides and prints in his collection. There was a folder on each CD for each “original” member of our backpacking group. Most of the pics went back 15 or 20 years and featured Cumberland Island and other camping excursions. Despite the fact that he had a folder of pics of himself, for some reason that made perfect sense to he and I at the but now I can’t recall he told me he had “transcended folderhood.” It seems like a cool insight at the time.
My personal conversations in the orgy of ideas, humor, and general blabbering were diverse as usual. I spoke with Deanna about what it was like for her to teach a bunch of seventh graders science all day. Clint and I worked in a Proust conversation (he is now reading the novel a second time) and also about the recent 180 he did in the middle of a busy Atlanta expressway, having been tipped by someone in his blind spot. No one was injured fortunately and there was only minor damage to his vehicle. Ted and Mark and I discussed scanning slides. Erin and I talked about this (apparently) cool niche store called Anthropologie, Erin had on some really hot boots from there. Diane and I talked about great restaurants that are no longer open in Atlanta. Jeffery told me his machine shop business is picking up noticeably. It is all usually random like that.
Afterwards, Coldplay was on the stereo, we ventured out into the cold, clear night for “a breath of air” returning to the warm quasi-new abode for more port or some micro-brew. I had switched completely to water by this time. People gradually started filing out the time being past midnight. Jennifer and I (with Charlie on a rare roadtrip behaving pretty fine) drove back that night - this morning in fact. It takes about an hour and the drive was easy, not much traffic at 1 am.
First Feast was a tad late this year. But, it seems we’re all the better for it anyway.
This is a pic on the CD Ted gave us last night. It is me in the guest bedroom of his house in January 1991 after a terrific New Year's Eve party at his place. It was the first time Ted met Clint as I recall. Jennifer says it was the first time she and I met Mark as well. I drank way too much scotch however. It was the last time I got sick as a result of partying. Which is more than I can say for my wife. I am laying face down under a blue sleeping bag that is open like a blanket, the late morning (it was noon when I finally got up I think) sun shining brightly.