Dinner and an overnight stay had been planned with our friend Mike Smith at his beautiful home on the grounds of Joy Creek Nursery (the nursery's "lavender path" is pictured). We've always referred to his place as "our country house." Ed and I arrived at the nursery for what I thought was going to be a quiet dinner with Mike, and our friends Chuck Palahniuk and Mike Keefe. I was out wandering the gardens when Mike came out of the house, to find Ed and ask if there was some confusion about a main course as he had not prepared one. Ed mentioned he hadn't brought one either. Mike responded that he had a leg of lamb as a backup (OK, I really am oblivious). Back in the house, Ed took a phone call and walked into the kitchen with a silly grin. At that point, I asked "What is going on?" and I was told my friend Ron Pitt was not feeling well and couldn't join us. OK, I didn't know that Ron was planning on joining us, and I'm not that oblivious. It was then I realized something was going on - just not what was involved.
Then I saw a familiar vehicle pull in the nursery's retail parking lot - the car of my friend (and long-time client) Lisa Horne. I knew I'd been had. She was soon followed by our next door neighbor Stacey Elkins - bearing tiramisu made by my friend Pat Di Prima of Di Prima Dolci. Then my friends Lisa Francolini, Bev Wells, Anne Kilkenny, Jon Naviaux, Craig Ellis, Chuck, Mike, Debby Higgins and the nursery's neighbors Pierce and Erin showed up. Most of these friends have also been traveling companions to Italy, the Caribbean, or for our annual gold-mining adventure to the Wallowas. I'd been had - big time!
With this group it's always about the food and wine. The evening started off with a great assortment of "poo poos" and Armance B. Brut and Domaine Barmes-Buecher Cremant D'Alsace The incredible meal to come was what I had asked Lisa Francolini (who is also my acupuncturist) to prepare for a birthday dinner I was supposedly having at her house the next evening: her incredible spinach soup, what has become her signature chop salad, chicken parmesan (which would have made her grandmother proud) and fresh asparagus picked that afternoon from the Joy Creek garden. With my dinner I drank a Chablis Grand Cru "Bougros" while the red wine drinkers imbided on a Dona Paula Mendoza Los Cardos Malbec. Then it was time for the dessert buffet of a banana cake, a German chocolate cake, the tiramisu, Craig's homemade biscotti and Anne's special lemon offering "for the digestion" (which needs to be said in an Italian accent). It was an incredible meal, with amazing friends.
Of course, after all that bubbly and the great wine I had no problem at all in dropping my pants to share my 50th birthday tattoo. I even discovered that Erin and I share the same tattoo artist.
It was a wonderful evening in my extendo-birthday schedule. Thanks to everyone for making the surprise dinner so much fun. Two more b-day dinners are still to come this week...
Photo courtesy of Joy Creek Nursery
© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.