We were in fine form. Flying around the kitchen, finishing dishes, cooking the potatoes au gratin. Unfortunately, this was still in my sleep. D. had already risen and was hitting the kitchen, but I was still in my dreams. After falling out of bed, I grabbed the car keys and staggered out to Banh Mi Che Cali to buy baguettes and a morning cafe s?a dá. The coffee worked quickly, and by the time I had purchased ice from the gas station I was back in Andretti driving form. Donating rubber to the pavement, I zipped back home to reform Team T.D.
When hosting a gathering, both D. & I obtain a cooking rush, beginning with the controlled chaos of cranking out the final dishes and it carries through until the end of the gathering. Putting on a feast can be a little crazy, but we both enjoy it. Sometimes we’ll balance on the knifed edge between exhilaration and pissy stressed, but both our work experiences allow us to keep a level head and enjoy the frantic pace. Working as a two-cook team we “tuck & rolled” fresh springrolls, assembled pulled pork banh mi and tofu banh mi, composed all the salads, sliced the brisket, and plated them all. Next came peeling, slicing, seasoning and baking 4 dishes worth of potatoes au gratin. The kitchen got it’s final clean, and the floors their final mop. The sweat was dripping and the dogs kept getting in the way. Big dog just wanted to see what the good smells were. Food fixated butt head. No touch! We forgot to prep one of the dressings, but that had any easy fix.
A little of this, little of that, throw it in a mason jar, shake it like a cocktail and it’s all done. The guests could be arriving any minute now, so time to rinse the head in the shower, change shirt, and make ourselves presentable. Luckily D. is a low maintenance, battle hardened chick. Unlike many of the female persuasion, there are no hours in the bathroom prepping and preening. In 10 minutes and she can go from bed-head to beautiful (although her bed-head isn’t too bad either). One last minute addition of a pork patty wrapped in lettuce & skewered was being finished as the first guests arrived. We handed them a skewer and the feasting began.
The scene about to be described is not dramatized. This actually happened (a first for our gatherings.) The guests quickly arrived in waves. Within 10-15 minutes twenty + people had arrived and were hungry. The only thing preventing them from filling their bellies might best be described as shock and awe. Cameras were pulled out, calls were sent to loved ones left behind, and the constant question, “You guys made this?” was repeatedly raised. D. braved holding them off for a few precious moments to get some pictures, then we let the dam burst. Plate after plate was filled. Greetings were sent out to newcomers, but no one left the line to extend those greetings. We had chosen a menu where nothing was needed to be cooked during the gathering (although last minute we added fried springrolls which we did cook throughout the afternoon), and the pre-cook menu was a wise choice. We were in non-stop motion refilling the table and making sure everyone was taken care of. I think we did ok.
Our friends shared their recollections of the memorial seminar, painting a picture for us so that we could appreciate it’s special moments. Sensei would demonstrate a technique then share stories about the technique and moments with Thai. A PowerPoint presentation was lovingly crafted and presented to commemorate Thai’s life. From the looks on their faces and the warm, awed tone of their voices we knew that the seminar had been very touching. It was one of those truly special events which mark either exceptionally joyous or painfully tragic moments in our lives. Demonstrating life’s lack of fairness, this was obviously marking the latter. Savor what you have, right here and now, because you never know when it will be stripped from you, or you from those that love you. We are reminded to enjoy the beautiful things in life while we still can.
In an effort to keep from getting too melancholy, we shall continue to describe the rest of the afternoon. The afternoon was a day of enjoying life. Friends lounged and gorged, sharing stories and thoughts. Dante entertained the crowd with his pup-arrati performance, singing in rhythm to Tchaikovsky at the piano. Sierra entertained the youth with her non-stop eagerness to play. When time came to cut the desserts, crowds gathered again. A feast it was, and no one left hungry. The weather was incredibly beautiful, the mood was happy, the people were all fantastic, and the food turned out well. We had hoped to do honor to Thai’s memory by putting on the best gathering we knew how, and in musing on our efforts, I am proud of what we were able to share.
Pulled Pork Banh Mi
Lemongrass Tofu Banh Mi
Sweet Onion Dip
Lemongrass Tofu Fresh Springrolls
Curried Tofu Fried Springrolls
Garlic Beef Fried Springrolls
Pork Lettuce Wraps…on a stick!
Three Green Bean Salad w/creamy ginger dressing (edamame, sugar snap & snow peas)
Curried Rice Noodle/Vegetable Salad
Parmesan Pasta Salad
Vietnamese Chicken Salad w/ Rau Ram herbs
Yukon Gold Potatoes Au Gratin
Smoked Brisket & Homemade BBQ Sauce
Chocolate Coconut & Toasted Almond Cake
Sponge Cake w/ Fresh Berries
Meyer Lemon Curd Sponge Cake
Whiskey Mandarin Custard Tart
Chocolate Mandarin Cupcakes & Sponge Cake Blueberry Cupcakes