Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Fine Art of Cheesecake But Not The Way Eileen Wants It

Jennifer's cheesecake ready for serving.  Brian's two sorbet accompaniments await in the background.  More wine!
Even after 25 years I am discovering new things about Jennifer.  Driving home from our annual Cumberland Island Armadillo First Feast last night I turned to Jeffrey, who had driven down to Atlanta with us this year, and told him that one of the joys of being with someone for so long is when you learn something new about them it is a bit like having a new woman in your life all over again.  Naturally, such things become increasingly rare and precious after the span of two and half decades of togetherness, but they become increasingly special when they happen as well.

Jennifer’s cheesecake is what I will most remember from the 2013 First Feast.  Lord knows there was plenty else to enjoy.  The wonderful olive appetizers or the tomatoes and cheese with their tasty leaves of fresh basil, the surprising champagne that accompanied all that, the Cesar salad with anchovies and exquisite croutons, the incredible spaghetti with handmade meatballs of beef and sausage and veal.  Those wonderful wines that Ron contributed to the cause.

Late in the evening, my wife was a bit giddy on all the wine and the food and the fellowship both serious and comical (mostly the latter) slicing her cheesecake and stealing kisses from me at the table.  Not quick, glancing kisses but hovering, staring, smiling, looking, slow and tender tongue kisses like appetizers for the dessert course itself.  “Get a room! Get a room!” the table chimed in.  Yeah, yeah, whatever. 

Then the stuffed lot of us pigged out further, as we always seem to do, on the wonderful cheesecake Jennifer made.  Mind you, she has never made cheesecake in my 25 years of knowing her.  For that reason I was probably more amazed and appreciative than everyone else.  The Dillos topped it with cherries and scoops of Brian’s really flavorful lemon and raspberry sorbet on the side.  I preferred mine in the raw, al naturale, nothing else but cheesecake.  (Well, I had some sorbet as an after-dessert.)
 
It technically wasn’t an Italian cheesecake to top off our Italian themed meal which was accented with a zesty Cuban music stream for some strange reason.  I guess it was in the neighborhood of suitable for an Italian theme.  Dillos delight in mixing and matching flavors, genres, customs; our fabulous eclectic style is a common thread to our themed gatherings. But Eileen, a bit of a purist for cooking traditions, was expecting an "Italian" Cheesecake (with ricotta cheese).  All the preceding week Jennifer had told me that she was making a cheesecake “but not the way Eileen wants it.”


I shared this repetition with the gathering as everyone was ooing and ahhing over the dessert experience.  My wife tends to repeat herself.  It is a kind of mantra thing with her - this saying the same thing the same way all the time.  So all last week I heard “I’m making cheesecake but not the way Eileen wants it.”  The joke became that that was the name of the dessert…Cheesecake-But-Not-The-Way-Eileen-Wants-It.  Naturally, that became a silly on-going punchline for the next half-hour or so.  Re-entering the conversation by various Dillos as we yakked about other things.

Soon afterwards all that pasta and wine and sugar caused Jennifer to crash.  She was asleep on the sofa, Clint retired to a chair, as the rest of us continued our banter over strong French-pressed coffee.  Diane told us about the time she visited Brian in Paris and her luggage got lost for a couple of days, so she ended up wearing his underwear and clothes as they toured the city of love.  Mark gave an overview of their trip on the Danube this past December from Budapest and Vienna up (via canal) into Germany to Nuremberg. 

We called it an evening early by Dillo standards.  We just don’t party like we did ten years ago.  Of course, our stamina might improve if we didn’t assault ourselves with such a rich dining experience.  But, that is wonderful too.  I guess we have traded one for the other.  It was no big deal really.  I didn’t mind returning home from Atlanta by midnight.
 
Today we had a couple of pieces of cheesecake left.  It was nice to enjoy it again.  I savored mine in its pristine texture and flavor; a great reminder of the First Feast that officially kicked off the 2013 Dillo social calendar.  The New Year is officially here now.

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