Friday, October 24, 2008

[Napa 2001] 4. learning to embroider

I spent hours carefully stitching the outline of a fig leaf into a beautiful piece of linen, intending to stitch it up into a skirt. It would be more than a year before my sewing machine made the trek west, and the project still lays idle.

My fascination with the shape (and scent) of fig leaves remains. A month ago I stole fig leaves from a tree on First Street in Napa to wrap tender bits of halibut in, and steam. I served these in the starry dark of Naya's Napa backyard for Eileen's birthday.

Story four, in a series of 48.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

[Napa 2001] 3. dark chocolate sandwiches on sourdough

Despite working in a natural foods superstore and a thoughtful food co-op, I really hadn't sorted out chocolate until I moved to Napa. When I was 14 I spent a month is the USSR, shooting guns at the high school's rifle range in the basement, eating yeasty sweet cheese buns in the cafeteria, vaguely teaching English, eating ice cream in the snow in November, and meting dark chocolate in at spoon carefully held in the tension of a cup of hot black tea. Soviet chocolate had none of the grim waxiness of Hersheys, and I was smitten. Erin and I still love this chocolate trick, 19 years later.

There was breifly good bread in Columbus, Ohio, but the only good bakery had been shuttered in a flurry of financial disasters for several years before I moved to Napa.

So that summer, I lived in a perfect storm of the start-up stress of Copia, Acme sourdough baguettes and Scharffenberger chocolate. In this storm, I acquired one of my favorite sandwiches. Naya seemed to discover this same sandwich in the basement of Ritual.

Story three, in a series of 48.