There is a scene at the beginning of the show Friends where they are sitting on a couch and watching the flow of a fountain. A simple chord pulled on a lamp suggests it’s time to reflect … be present … be quietly together.
We gathered to celebrate a lost friend at a place we had all celebrated together before. Our common bonds: friendship, great wine, great food. It was a wine dinner. A combination birthday party and passing on party. Our chef-friend J. enthusiastically brought each dish of magic to the table. We laughed, reflected, talked about the absurdity of death and life, and generally relished in the preciousness of friendship. Each plate and its wine pairing reminded me of the characters in my life. We create or stumble into likely and unlikely mixes and pairings. The whole is better because we constantly blend and invent and find what works. Each course of life gets richer and more interesting. More luscious. Like our wines, the aging of friendship adds value and complexity and something to pause and appreciate.
We began with a reception and clinked glasses of “J” Coveee 20 Sparkling. Our friend was effervescent. It was the most perfect beginning.
First Course: Grilled Swordfish over a Pumpkin Puree with a Paresan Crisp. Paired with a Falcor Sonoma Chardonnay, 2006. Buttery and full. Smooth and inviting.
Second Course: Black Tea Braised Duck over Roasted Mushrooms and a Grit Cake. Paired with Melville Sante Rita Hills Pinot Noir, 2008. Full. Like drinking a holiday.
Third Course: Tobacco Infused Beef Carpaccio with Arugula and Shaved Onion. Fourteen Napa Appellations Meritage, 2005. My absolute new favorite red. A blend, an “invention” from the best of 13 vinters in the Appellation of Napa.
Fourth Course: Prosciutto Wrapped Tuna, Sweet Potato Medallion, and Berry Reduction. Partnered with Paradigm Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006.
Finish: Port Pot de Creme with a Nieport Colheita 1995. A toast of sweetness to say goodbye, and hello.
We raised glasses and toasted in different languages and to different elements of life and death.
Then, for just a moment, it was quiet. Not a word. Unplanned. We looked around the table of eleven. The unspoken words were of thanks and wonder and absolute awe of the temporal beauty of friendship and the hope of an eternal connection. A votre santé, my friends scattered on this planet and beyond it.