Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A woman called Fordie

Last Friday evening Susie and I drove to Sherborn , Mass, to help her youngest sister Mary and her new husband Jim celebrate their recent marriage.  The small party consisted of a few family and friends and was put together and put on by Fordie M., one of Mary’s friends and gardening clients.

I should say at the outset that the evening was warm but low humidity, which made sitting and eating outside a sheer pleasure. The food was abundant, refreshing and incredibly tasty, the conversation lively, the conviviality warm and intimate. It reminded me of summer camp, sitting around the campfire telling stories, poking fun at ourselves and sharing some of the grand times in our various and diverse past lives. Laughter was the rule of the evening.

But the most rewarding part of the evening, an evening directed toward the celebration of marriage, was meeting “Fordie.” A marathon runner of some distinction (Joan Benoit calls Fordie “her mentor”) Hester Ford, known as “Fordie” since childhood, is one of those remarkable human beings we meet so very rarely in life.  From the moment Susan and I arrived to the moment we left, she was the epitome of kindness, humility, and generosity all neatly framed by a face whose sole goal in life was to see how many times it could smile and laugh in any given hour.

I’m sure Fordie has her flaws and I have no clue whether we will ever meet her again – she seems determined to put away the New England chapter of her life and exchange it for the haunting groves of the Monterey Peninsula.

Well, I can only say thanks for a wonderful evening – and may the gods speed you on your journey, leaving you with a light heart and a carefree soul.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heat relief at Scarborough Beach

We’ve seen warmer weather to be sure but this past weekend has been brutally hot if only because it’s only June. (photo: Barbara holding the ever-present Mr. Gray.)

Susie and I were planning on spending Saturday working at home (me thinking about options and her testing scone recipes) when Andrea called and asked if we wanted to come down to her mother’s place on the beach in Narragansett for dinner and cool ocean breezes.

“What can we bring?”  was the first question I asked and the answer was, simply: sparkling wine – a burden we were only too happy to bear.

So as the sun slid ever further west, and with three bottles of Spanish Cava resting quietly on ice in the cooler, and wearing our best summer togs, we left the apartment about 4pm. The car was pointed straight south down I-95 to Route 4 and then over to Route 138, inching ever closer to the relief of the ocean and  Scarborough Beach.

We arrived a little after 5 and met the other dinner guests for the evening: HK and his wife Nancy who had broken free of the heat in Houston (Texas that is) and headed north, spending a night in RI before crawling further north to the coasts of Maine.

(Photos above: HK and Nancy.)

Barbara, aided and abetted by her daughter Andrea (that's her in the photo below, center stage), prepared yet another flawless meal – seared, breaded sea scallops picked fresh that morning from a fish shop in nearby Galilee, and matched with a tasty spaghetti in a light, scrumptious cream and asparagus sauce.

We sat and ate on the porch, of course, overlooking the water barely a stone’s throw away.

The evening was about as perfect as one is apt to find, and we chatted about one thing or another, opening and closing one bottle of cava after another. Sparkling wine just seemed to fit the evening, the food and the group’s sensibilities.

The drive was unremarkable except for the feeling of satisfaction that one gets after spending a few hours balancing delicious food with  lively conversation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Marriage in Mass, compliments of Facebook

Life has a funny way of taking us from one odd twist to another even stranger turn. We just never know what to expect or where it will come from next. So the big news is Susan's youngest sister Mary married a high school sweetheart this past Monday at the town hall in Westborough, MA. They reconnected via Facebook -- the ultimate social tool -- and tied the knot in a quaint and cute ceremony, surrounded by a few family and friends, using the powers of the town clerk.

I had to work but Susie went and took a few photos, which you can see right here:

Next up, a brief discussion of the Newport Chowder Festival. Try to catch this event next year if you're in the neighborhood -- a bit pricey but the food was well worth the trip.

Ciao for now,


Newport Chowder Cookoff

Getting in or out. . . 

My favorite pastry chef ready to tackle the rigors of a serious New England chowder tasting:

Bartending on the waterfront:

Steak n Bacon chowder: