Home again

I’m home from about a month away – back from the Nomad Chef road trip. I guess I’m no good at doing more than one thing at once. Can’t walk and chew gum. Can’t travel and write. Well, I’m a bit of a disappointment to myself in that regard. I should have been writing and posting little vignettes the whole time. But I was too busy traveling, cooking and eating….er, umm… and drinking too. But I’m back! And I’ve got a whole new perspective.

The Nomad Chef: Mouths Wide Shut (dinner) was a revelation. Two days before the dinner only 7 people had reserved seats, probably 6 of them my son’s friends and the 7th perhaps a friend of one of my co-chefs. But by the end of the flight (yes, Virgin America has internet and powerpoints!), a 5 hour flight, the number climbed to 22! I rushed to turn off the ticket registration function. Sold out! Wow, what a difference a few hours and the anticipation of failure can make! As I was driving from the airport to the beautiful house I rented for our week in Beverly Hills, I made a few calls (of course, on my hands free!) and somehow managed to organize the rental of more tables and chairs. I love how things work in California (or at least in LaLa land) – last minute incredible service. And I reopened the ticketing function on our website. In hours we were up to 35 people. Who were all of these people? No doubt, friends… of friends, and strangers who had yet to become my friends. In the end we had about 40 people! And I personally knew less than 10 of them! Now I know them all!

The house was truly amazing. An old school Beverly Hills home set on tree lined Rodeo Drive. It was purchased by the current owner’s father in 1941, from Joseph Kennedy (yep, JFK’s dad!). And I doubt anything has changed since then. Beautiful paintings on the wall are the only ones who can still remember the titillating conversations that must have been had there in the 30s and 40s among icons that included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra and John Kennedy. We felt like film stars and famous producers ourselves in this magical home. And the owners were on hand to lend their hands for every step of our new, if temporary, life in LA.

Lovely appetizers were prepared by a beautiful actress and co-chef; European influences to complement the mostly Asian fusion repas. Then raw oysters and oyster pie were the first course of this erotic dinner. (Side note: Earlier in the week I was forced to wonder at some of the reactions of would-be dinner guests. Apparently a few had asked the friend’s of friends who’d invited them about what to expect with a theme that was clearly a nod to Kubrick. “It’s just a dinner party where girls get to wear high heels,” I responded a little too forcefully (due to shock). Were they really expecting me to invite my son’s friends to some kind of fettish party? Hmmm… There are certainly some differences between Beverly Hills and London.) I’d carefully prepared and frozen the Nomad Chef special green curry paste which I used for the 2nd course (Thai green curry with shitake mushrooms); not exactly erotic but one of our standards that I wanted to share with my new friends. Next was either steak au poivre or tofu with a peanut mole sauce and assorted side dishes. But the crowning glory was prepared by one of my co-chefs: a chocolate trio of dark truffles with sea salt, home made chocolate ice cream with chipotle peppers and a chocolate cookie. These provided a truly orgasmic end to a dinner that lasted into the wee hours of the night.

So, I’m home again, jiggity jig. And happy to be here. It is only by leaving that we often appreciate even more what we’ve left behind. In true Nomad fashion I will look forward to future road trips. The next one will include Napa Valley. Although I came home to a house that is still empty of my son’s physical presence, I felt him in all of his old haunts. While struggling in LA as an actor he had even cooked for someone who lived right around the corner from the house I rented in Beverly Hills. I felt his presence everywhere. Now that I’m home again I will be conjuring his spirit in all of the Nomad Chef dinners here. I’m sure his spirit is as nomadic as he was, just as I am. We were both happy on the road and happy at home.

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