Sunday Brunch

The first week of living in Los Angeles was somewhat uneventful. Having just transferred from a very-large-university-in-a-very-small-town in West Texas to a very-small-college-in-a-very-large-city, I was more than happy to shut myself off from the rest of the world and live quietly, alone, and uninterrupted in a single college dorm room for the next two and a half years. I rented books and movies from the library; framed pictures, talked long-distance to anyone who cared to listen; copied recipes from culinary magazines; created wall hangings, bedspreads and curtains; organized and disorganized my shoe pile; read the backs of soda cans and miscellaneous food packages; feng shuied my room, arranged and rearranged my desktop icons alphabetically, and by file size; turned the light switch on and off and on and off…until a hurried knock pounded on my door. I checked the clock: 11:45 pm. Who on Earth? The R.A.? Was my music too loud? A friend? No, I had no friends here. And that knock. There was something about the severity of that knock that made me nervous.

I cautiously open the door only to find a thin young man wearing a tight argyle sweater, dark pants, and stained black Converse All-Stars sheepishly standing in front of me. The moment the door fully opens he takes two steps back as if he were afraid of me. There are holes in the sleeves of his sweater, almost as though he likes to stick his thumbs through the end of his sleeves, perhaps a gesture to keep them from riding up. His small frame must get cold easily and this sweater looks like its survived its share of harsh winters. He stands in front of me like a shy child, perhaps a lost one. Certainly that knock didn’t belong to this man.
“Good evening! Hello! How do you do?” He booms from a distance. His voice surprises me; more assertive, soothing and confident than I would expect. But even from where he stands I can smell the alcohol on his breath and suspect that’s what’s giving him his edge.
“I’m Alex, I, I mean we live below you; that is Evan, Greg and myself. We live below you,”
…aha! From edgy to awkward, he’s slipping…
I can’t tell if he’s quite an awkward person or if he’s just drunk and needs to borrow something from the mute hermit upstairs. I still don’t respond, or rather can’t respond because he’s already talking again;
“We noticed you moved in recently and we hadn’t introduced ourselves yet and well, we make coffee-all the time, really dark, strong coffee- seriously, we have a pot on all the time,”
…how strange, from awkward to manic in a flash…
… “and well, if you ever need some coffee to study, or stay awake, or whatever, just let one of us know. You can come by whenever and just ask. One of us should be here. We may play our music loud and occasionally have a few people over to party but we’re really nice guys and well, we just wanted to say hi. So, hi.” He steps forward, tosses the hair out of his eye and sticks his hand out to shake mine.
…from awkward to manic back to confidently approachable…interesting...
An important fact to know about me at this point in time: I do not drink coffee. I hate the stuff unless it comes frozen, mixed with equal parts sugar, egg yolks and cream, and labeled Haagen-Dazs.
“Good evening, hello, I’m quite fine, thank you for asking. My name is Ali, I’m new and live above you, and I would love to have a cup of coffee with you guys sometime.” I reach my hand to his extended gesture and we shake on it. He smiles, takes two steps back again, turns on his heels and disappears down the stairs.

At the time I was not sure if I would ever see this person again. Now, five years later I am happy to say that this occurrence, this meeting, would become the beginning of a beautiful friendship between me and one of the most clever, witty, striking people I have ever met: Downtown Alex Brown, co-creator and co-producer of The Hot Knives.

As Evan mentioned in the previous post our “L.A. Family” swept through Portland this weekend for a whirlwind catering tour. Unfortunately extenuating circumstances caused their 120 head catering gig to be canceled. Fortunately there was light at the end of the road; they were granted a much deserved vacation in our hip little city and 25 of us were treated to a first-class, pull-out-all-the-stops, mama said knock-you-out Sunday Brunch. Despite living in Los Angeles, the Knives were determined to create a menu based solely on Pacific NW seasonal items sourced fresh from quality producers and farms. Early to rise on Saturday morning they lovingly admired and scoured the aisles of our beloved Portland Farmers Market and last minute trips to New Seasons Sunday morning sealed the deal.

Sunday Brunch
(Hosted by the lovely Claire L. Evans and Mike Merrill of UrbanHonking fame, Catered by The Hot Knives)
Yesterday afternoon, friends new and old gathered in a beautiful N. Mississippi apartment to eat, drink, and be merry noshing on the following:

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Bloody Marys
celery, capers, garlic, gherkins, sea salt, cracked pepper, and love
BLT Salad
with Farmers Market spring greens and cherry tomato confit
Baked and Stuft’ Fingerling Potatoes
with fresh dill, chives, sour cream, and smoked paprika
Wild Mushroom Scramble
topped with Oregon truffles, dressed arugula, and Oregon beets
White Bean Chili with Chorizo Sausage
braised in beer and served on rustic artisan bread

Oh, and did I mention it was all vegan? Incredible. While the food was indeed a masterpiece for the eyes, mouth, and stomach, I must say it was the talent and careful execution by the chefs’ and sous chefs’ hands that could not be missed.

To our dear friends: thank you for the thoughtful invitation, the delicious meal, and the impeccable company. We miss you already. XO

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Joey - lovely piece of writing and reflection on friendship and food. Thanks for sharing. xxoo