8.09.2007

Fuel for the Journey


Much apologies to our dedicated blog readers. I hope that after we recap the many events which have occurred over the past (gulp) almost week long time period since we last wrote, you might begin to get a sense of why the blog has taken a backseat to everything else that has been going on.
The previous entry we submitted for our blog was this past Friday. The following day (Saturday) Ali and I left Portland to attend the wedding of two of our close friends, Pete and Kim. The two have a relationship that is very similar to that of Ali and I, in that they have been “officially” dating for over seven years now, and have known one another even longer. Their ceremony/reception was a multi-day event which took place of the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. My oh my, do those kids know how to throw a party! Ali and I arrived at the site around 1 pm on Saturday, and when we left the following morning around 9 am we could still hear their friend’s electronic music blaring from huge speakers that were positioned at the main house, the location where most of the partygoers pitched their tents and slept (or didn’t sleep) for the night.
Though we hadn’t caught much sleep ourselves, we had to head back to Portland early so that we could pick up our “son” Zeus (a two year old fawn pug), and his “brother” Caesar (also a fawn pug, who is really Ali’s dad’s dog), who had both stayed the night at my parents house. Once we retrieved the dogs, it was back to our house to try to get some more rest.
After a two hour nap, Ali and I awoke feeling only a little bit more refreshed, and began to make ice cream. Why would we spend what should have be a lazy Sunday afternoon making ice cream you might ask? Especially when we hadn’t really caught up on the sleep we had missed from the night before? Well I’ll tell you:
On Friday afternoon we happened to bump into Steve our mail carrier outside of our house. This might sound nothing like a coincidence given that we regularly see Steve outside our house delivering mail, but on this afternoon Steve was in street clothes, and happened to be delivering invites to a garden party he and his wife were throwing at their house the following Sunday. Given that Steve is an ex-chef and knows a lot about food, I engaged him in conversation to let him know that Ali and I would be opening a café just down the street in the coming weeks. After chatting for a few minutes Steve informed us of the upcoming party, and good guests that we try to be, we offered to bring some homemade ice cream for dessert.
And so it was that we found ourselves sleepily churning ice cream on Sunday afternoon. When selecting flavors, we tried to keep in mind both Steve’s passion for Thai cuisine, as well as his background in New Mexican cooking, which stems from his years spent living in the state while in college. Without really knowing anything of the party’s menu, we settled upon two distinct but interesting flavors which we felt screamed summer. The first batch was a Fresh Mint ice cream for which we utilized fresh mint from our garden to make the custard base. Fresh Mint ice cream really tastes a lot different from many of the peppermint candy ice creams one might find lining the frozen foods shelves of their local grocery store. The second batch we churned was a Toasted Coconut with Bing cherry and chocolate shavings. This concoction was inspired by the fabulous “Cherry Garcia” ice cream made by Ben & Jerry’s. This new flavor creation has a lot going on, but is really balanced quite well and of the two we brought to the party Sunday evening, this was undoubtedly the more popular option.
As far as Steve’s food goes, let me say that it was obvious to both Ali and myself that we have much to learn before we can call ourselves chefs. For me to even attempt to describe all the many wonderful items that Steve and his lovely wife Marie prepared for the meal would only do injustice to their amazing culinary talents. We can say though, that among the favorite items we tried was Steve’s Mango-Habenero Salsa, Chilled Cucumber and Lavender Soup, Grilled Corn on the Cob, and Marie’s many Green Chile Corn Muffins. Perhaps even more amazing than the food was the opportunity Ali and I had to meet so many of our neighbors. They were undoubtedly a very creative and artistic bunch, and among the group there were landscapers, educators, musicians, and artists. Throughout the meal Ali and I would often stop and look each other in the eye, as if to say, “How is it that we have lived in our house for over two years now, and have not met any of these amazing people?” With luck, the ice cream we brought will lure them into our café some day so that we can have yet another opportunity to sit and talk with all of them.


Monday and Tuesday felt like a blur. A few months ago Ali and I committed to attending Ali’s grandfather’s 90th birthday celebration back east, not knowing when we would sign a lease, or more importantly, when we would be trying to open our new restaurant. It was a tough decision to make, whether we make our dream of opening a restaurant a priority and stay in Portland, or whether we embark on this once in a lifetime opportunity by choosing family over work. To us, this café is without question among the most important things in our life, but we knew that we might regret our decision later had we not gone on this trip, so ultimately we decided to put family first, and here I sit in the baggage terminal of Boston’s Logan International Airport, awaiting Ali’s mother, sister, and brother-in-law. So back to Monday and Tuesday…yes, they were a blur indeed. We did our best to tie up every loose end prior to leaving for this trip, though sadly a few of the tasks we accomplished came at the expense of friends, as we had canceled yet another dinner date with our good friends (and hopefully still our future employees), Tim and Lindsey.
The rest of our pre-vacation time was spent going to doctor's appointments, paying bills, picking up various smallwares and random pieces of restaurant equipment, while simultaneously trying to coordinate our return from this trip. Now that we are gone, I can say without reservation that we made the right decision, though before we left, there were many times that I questioned whether or not we were making the right choice. But like I said, now, it all seems so clear. We need fuel to get to get us through the journey, and time with family can sometimes be just the fuel you need.

3 comments:

Tim said...

Don't worry, I've been plenty flaky myself in the past and will definitely have mercy on you.

So is the picture of the espresso at the top of this entry from the new Synesso by any chance?

Ali & Evan said...

We wish! No, the featured espresso comes from a sampling of local espresso out here in Mass. In fact, E actually took this one back after tasting it. Sometimes being a coffee snob can backfire on a person. Thus far in the journey E is convinced he cannot find a decent espresso. We'll keep ya'll posted if we find something worth mentioning. In the meantime, if anyone has any hints regarding Martha's Vineyard food and drink PLEASE pass our way!

Steve said...

Most certainly your neighbors will be lured to your cafe after partaking of your delicious ice cream and for future conversations & food for thought.

Your blog so amply documents your great love of food, love for life and love for each other.

We look forward to the opening almost as much as you do : )

your neighbor (and mail man) Steve