at Carolyn's house.
Those of you who know Carolyn, know how she can entertain. Those of you who know Kenneth, know how he can cook, and that the man is only REALLY happy when he's serving others. That added up to a truly therapeutic evening for their guests, when Kenneth decided to give Carolyn a 5-course meal, with a few friends, for her birthday. I am so happy I was one of the few!
I arrived early, departing home after a long week of teaching. As I drove west into the mountains, I noticed more color on the hills. Carolyn and Kenneth have a new home, and I enjoyed seeing it for the first time. The 2 little munchkins were already in their jammies, and in order for me to stay the night, the eldest munchkin slept happily in a teepee in his sister's room. The living room was lit by 9 scattered candles, and dreamy music welcomed me to sink into their sofa. Carolyn and I partook of Kenneth's delectable appetizers: home-made French bread with pesto and some difficult-to-pronounce garlic spread, cashews, olives, and little stuffed/toasted mushrooms. I restrained myself from making a meal of these, knowing I would regret it; still, I kept glancing at the table. Okay, just ONE MORE mushroom.
When Mary, Heidi and Laura arrived, we sat down at the table our hosts had brought back from France. Kenneth, looking dapper in his white shirt and black bow tie (we teased Carolyn about the cute waiter) served our salads and bread. We ate in a leisurely way, allowing plenty of time between courses, and our time at the table became an event - an eating practice most Americans have lost, and with which they even feel uncomfortable. Laura said her mother, who grew up in New Orleans among the ex-patriot French, ate that way growing up.
Kenneth's main course was pasta with shrimp, topped with real (and I mean the REAL) Italian parmesan. Not the sprinkle kind. Not the white wedge from the grocery even. They secured some crumbly, mellow-yellow parmesan from the local gourmet eatery. On the side we had very hot veggies bathed in a light, almost-invisible cream sauce. Parmesan there too!
I was feeling cautiously optimistic at this point that I might make it through the entire meal, crossing the finish line with the final bite... and then the cheese plate arrived. Bleu, boursin, the parmesan, a strong cheddar, and a soft brie. All administered with Kenneth's warm bread. Who wants dessert?
I did, when I saw it. A long, layered cake, shaped almost like a Christmas yule: dark, dense chocolate cake on the first floor, chocolate mouse on the second floor, white whipping cream on floor three, and a repeat of those three. All drizzled with chocolate ganache. And as if that were not enough, a deep, round cup of hot cocoa on the side to sip occasionally.
And if you think that's just too much chocolate for a woman to take, at the end of a meal, then you don't know any real women. However, our tummies belied our desires, and only one of us could finish the cake. It was tragic!
All this was accompanied by delicious beverages which our attentive waiter brought at our request. I enjoyed the Kir Framboise.
After dessert, I proceeded to lie on the floor so that the other ladies could stretch out on the furniture, until someone asked the time. It was 11:15. I was glad I only needed to crawl to a bed in the back bedroom.
The next morning, fully recovered, Carolyn and I ate Kenneth's French toast, and headed to one yard sale, and to their school's annual flea market. I bought a table, which you shall see in my next post.
That was an evening I will always remember, as are most I've had at Carolyn and Kenneth's home. Many thanks to them both, and a happy, happy birthday to my friend.