Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Life That Is Waiting For Me

I've been remiss, and here is my apology.

Back in early May -- in a limbo between lives, living in a friend's vacant apartment -- I was invited to a wine-pairing dinner hosted by the fabulous Catherine Reynolds of Queso y Vino.

(Read the story of her heroic recovery from a brain aneurism here). I met Catherine when she was the wine buyer at Spanish Table in Seattle, and in conversation discovered our common interest in poetry and wine, and the friendship blossomed.

But back to the story: while updating my new circumstances in an email, Catherine invited me to her latest event, as her guest, if I would blog about it. At that time I was literally still shaking from the dumping out of my life into the middle of the freeway, gasping and bewildered, barely able to carry on a coherent conversation about anything. Without giving it much thought, I accepted.

Not such a good idea -- I'd just discovered that the tabs on the car I was using -- owned by my estranged husband -- were five years expired. (Yes -- five years. I'd only been using it a few months, when I lent my car to my son after his engine went out, and this car was sitting unused in my husband's driveway.) So I had to borrow a car, and venture far from my current comfort zone (which encompassed about one square mile -- I panicked when I went any further), and eat dinner with a group of strangers.


And to make things even more complicated, the restaurant was/is located in Renton, my hometown, which I prefer to avoid. A known entity, but much disliked.

Situated in a new development on the former site of the Shuffleton Steam Plant and beside the former industrial complex of my youth (Boeing, which has long since relocated) the recently-opened Peyrassol is a lovely, European-inspired cafe just steps from Lake Washington and the expansive Gene Coulon Park.

Catherine regularly hosts wine-pairing dinners at Seattle-area restaurants, and for a fixed price, one can enjoy a multi-course dinner with generous pours of at least five different wines, plus, all the wines are available for purchase by the bottle. I've enjoyed previous dinners at Gaudi, Art of the Table, and a Mexican-themed dinner held at a winery in Woodinville.

This particular dinner was Italian-themed:
Bigne Salata -- savory Italian gougere
Involtini di Coppa -- locally cured coppa rolled with shaved mushrooms, arugula & parmigiana, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil
Sformato de Erbe con Fonduta al Tartufo -- flan of wild greens served with white truffle fonduta

Pappardelle con Ragu di Fagiano -- hand cut ribbon pasta tossed with a pheasant ragu of porcini, white wine, tomato & sage

Bistec al Pepe Verde -- pan seared steak with green peppercorn salsa
Semifreddo de Arancia con Crema de Miele -- orange semifreddo served with a honey creme Anglaise, layered with amaretti, orange curd and whipped cream

And then the wines:

Castelle Carboncine Prosecco
2009 Falchini Vernaccia di San Gimignano "Vigna a Salatio"
2009 Castello Carboncine Cabernet Franc
2008 Casa Emma Chianti Classico
La Fiera Moscato d'Asti

Be still my heart! Delighted tongue!

This is clearly not the Renton of my youth, where dinner out was either pizza at Vinces or almond-fried chicken at the single Chinese restaurant (whose name escapes me) or a badly fried steak at the dive Rubatino's. My childhood was a Renton of horse pastures and post WWII project housing, just this side of White Trash.

All I could think of, on my way home, was "Damn. Renton is all growed-up."

I managed to make it through a three-hour conversation with strangers -- not my forte even in the best of circumstances. But the menu, the wine list, and my guilt at not immediately blogging about this have stared me in the face for three months, until today.

Catherine provided the wine for my mother-in-law's memorial last week, and last night I drove to her house to pay her. Her home office is lined with shelves of poetry, and amid the expected bustle of a home-based business (much like the bustle of the home-based business that employs me) and the glorious scent of curry, there was on her wall the same E.M.Forster quote that has become my mantra these past four months:

"We must be willing to give up the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

(If you look up to the right hand corner of my blog, it appears directly above my picture.)

A delighted chill ran up my back -- I keep seeing this -- on facebook, in my reading online and in books and magazines. It seems to be everywhere, and pointing at me.

Catherine sent me home with a sackful of leftovers from a weekend party that she and her fabulous-cook husband hosted: curried crab legs, banana curry, and a watermelon/golden-raisin salad. My son and I feasted last night on Catherine's generosity -- and enjoyed refreshing sips of Tour de Poce Sauvignon Blanc, a perfect summer wine -- available from Catherine. And yes, she delivers. (Free with $150 order, in the Seattle area.) Thank-you, Catherine! And apologies for the delay in blogging about the Peyrassol dinner!

If this is the life that is waiting for me, then I feel as if I have just found the door.

And it's wide open.


  1. i, of course, typed up & printed out the Forster quote when you first posted it & have it pinned above my desk...

  2. What a fantastic post and quote. I imagine the life waiting for you includes food writing.

  3. Isn't it wonderful when someone's love shines through?I wish I lived closer. That resto sounds amazing.

    I wrote that quote in lipstick on my bathroom mirror when I read it on your blog.

    Your crushed heart appears to be pulsating back to life!

  4. Every bit of joy, pleasure, delight, wonder that comes your way, I applaud.

    Love, C.

  5. It seems as if that quote is a real wake-up call to many of us here -- a call to consciousness in the midst of crisis.

    The food and wine sounds delicious -- right up my alley. I hope someday to share a real feast with you, as you know how to eat, m'dear!

    And yes, that door is WIDE open and hallelujah for that!

  6. I think I've been to Renton, to visit my not soon enough ex husband's cousin. The evening sounds like it was fabulous.

  7. Susan, I love the notion of this Forster quote taped to mirrors/walls/bulletin-boards across the planet. My guess is that he never would have imagined the impact he would have on future generations.


  8. Elizabeth, a future that included food-writing would be sublime; the trick, in this age of declining journalism, is to figure out how to make money doing it. Ideas?

  9. Jacqueline -- lipstick! Marvelous.

  10. Dolores, thank you for noticing this slivers of sunshine...I'm working on it!


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  12. Tara, I agree, except I believe that it describes a call to consciousness in every single day.

    Roethke, in Straw for the Fire, wrote:

    So much of adolescence is an ill-defined dying, an intolerable waiting, a longing for another place and time, another condition....

    When I first ran across this, at the tender age of twenty, I believed (foolishly, from this perspective) that I understood what he was talking about.

    Now, I'd venture to say that the greater share of us here on earth experience that "longing for another place and time, another condition" on a daily, hourly basis.

    The point, I think, is that all we have is this single moment. It's the stuff of new-age, pop-psychology, but it's also the stuff of truth. My truth.

    I am delighted to be your friend.


  13. Lilith -- your comment really took me by surprise! In this global age, with readers from Canada, France, New Zealand, etc., I was stunned to read of a blog-friend who actually knew the place to which I referred. I love this world!


  14. T. the dinner sounds just amazing! And I wish you, 'the life that is waiting for you.' May it bring all good things.

  15. That is a SPECTACULAR header photo!

  16. Jacqueline -- thanks! I'm standing on the hillside at Minaun Heights, Achill Island, Ireland. It's one of my holy places.