dear family (parents, brother, cass, cass's family and girlfriends C, E, N, K, L - am I forgetting anyone?):
tonight I had planned a special dinner, an entree I last made in Seattle. I consider this dish special because - according to the NW Best Places Cookbook, from whence it is drawn - the chef who created it dreamt it up on a sunny beach in Hawaii while feeling homesick for her native British Columbia (to whence she has since returned). It's a northwest dish at heart, and tonight I made it for the first time since leaving the great wet north, feeling great sympathy for the homesick Canadian when she first came up with it.
Somehow, Santa Barbara and I are in synch tonight - the night of all nights that I cook my homage to home - as the patchy clouds this morning built up, greyed out, and broke rain upon us by evening. Rain! Even now, I hear the cars outside and the familiar wet sound of water on the pavement as they drive along. We are at the end of harvest, the time of cornucopia, the time of thanksgiving, and I am so grateful for all of you.
So tonight, I set a place for you, wishing we could all be together, feasting, keeping merry and warm against a cold, dark, and wet exterior. I poured you a lovely glass of Kenneth Volk's Negrette, all blackberry-licious and wonderful. I made you a salad of fennel and mushrooms, marinated in balsamic and garlic, and served over endive and arugula. And finally, I brought you a chicken breast coated in mustard and fresh herbs from the garden with a crunchy coating of chopped hazelnuts, swimming in a blackberry-raspberry sauce.
Berries, mushrooms, hazlenuts, red wine. On a northwestern evening, wishing we all could be there.