Prepare to feel pangs of jealousy!
A girlfriend messaged yesterday to ask if I was free to accompany her to a unique fundraiser that night that her date was too sick to attend.
Not just any fundraiser, but a dinner at Western Bridge owners William and Ruth True’s house in Madison Park.
A dinner complemented with desserts and fresh cocktails made by the affable gardener/cook Amy Pennington.
A dinner where cider was pressed fresh right before our eyes (shown here), using apples plucked from a tree on site that day.
A $150-a-seat dinner—for which the tickets had already been bought and paid for.
Uh, yeah. I was free.
And I was in heaven the minute I stepped onto the True’s property and was greeted by a pack of dogs gamboling happily about the stone driveway and soon after handed a cocktail mixed with Rachel’s Ginger Beer and the aforementioned freshest cider ever and one other thing (I was too busy petting the dogs—including one named Butter!—to catch the last ingredient).
The evening was as lovely and understated as the table setting, which sported an eclectic collection of candelabras and the world’s best view of Mt. Rainier.
(You can’t see it in my crappy phone picture, but it’s there.)
“This is my real life,” I told my friend as we browsed the True’s personal contemporary art collection, which covers their intimidatingly awesome house. That other life, where I live in a tiny apartment and eat mostly processed foods – that couldn’t possibly be my life.
Not after I’ve eaten giant prawns smeared in smoky roe and paired with mushrooms!
Or had vintner Joseph Miglino pour me glasses of his own Martedi Dry Riesling himself.
Or eaten piles of fresh goat cheeses while sitting two chairs down from the man who tends the very goats who produced it.
New lamb, roasted potatoes, pickled fiddlehead ferns and asparagus, myriad spreads smelling of dill and…other fresh things, parfait with biscotti crumbles and boatloads of whipped cream—did I say cheese yet?
There was so much good food even Matt Dillon couldn’t keep track. He referred to one of the apertif spreads as “schmooey.”
I didn’t stop to ask very many follow up questions. I ate. Then I spilled some water.
Then I just gratefully listened to the Quillisascut farmers, Seattle Central culinary teachers and Seattle Chefs Collaborative members chat about simple things that seem alien in my city-bound life: things like scheduling an animal slaughter, waiting for peppers to get spicy, and milking goats. Simple things that contribute to a greater understanding and appreciation of food and eventually make an even better chef.
This is ultimately why we were there: Proceeds from this dinner benefit a scholarship to help students of Seattle Central’s Culinary Academy attend the Seattle Chefs Collaborative Quillisascut Farm School, which is the place to go if you want to understand how to cook, eat and grow more sustainably (while logging some serious Walden Pond hours, from what I can see from the pictures).
Amy Pennington assured us it's a place that changes lives, including her own.
The program is an extension of this bizarre idea that seems to be catching on: with more education and outreach, our local businesses, restaurants, markets (and even our backyards) can be the bearers of healthier and more sustainable foods. Also, tastier.
I not only live in this world now – I plan to shop here frequently.
Other fun discoveries from last night:
1. Bill and Ruth True's private art collection. It’s so adventurous without feeling pretentious. That may be, of course, because it’s in proximity to their wonderful couches, upholstered in cozy, mismatched plaids and tweeds.
2. I know I’m harping, but seriously: the Quillisascut cheese, which comes from goats, but isn't like typical goat cheese. You can sign up for a CSA and have it delivered to your house. Heaven!
3. Matt Dillon and Amaryll Schwertner’s homemade flat bread, cooked in the wood oven on the True’s back porch (shown below): this is the bread they’re talking about when they use bread as a metaphor for diplomacy. God’s bread.
4. You don’t know a carrot until you’ve tasted a carrot that looks more like an orange radish and tastes a little bit like dirt.
5. Martedi Dry Riesling. Dry Riesling. It exists. And it is just right.
6. The killer voice of CJ Emmons. Ruth True asked him to perform for the group (as a teaser for his CD release party happening tonight at Neumos). He fired off part of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” which sounded incredible. Apparently they met in line for an American Idol audition (Ruth's daughter was the hopeful contestant).
7. When pouring from a large jug into a small glass, go slow.
8. Always thank your generous friends. Thanks, Lacey.
Please note: Bond Huberman is not a food critic. She knows a food critic. And she eats food. For an informed perspective on the exciting (tasty) activity over at Quillisascut Farm, check out Seattle mag contributor Shannon Borg's book.