Some things are just fated. Natalie and I went to art school together in Eugene, Oregon, but didn't really know each other. When I waited tables at Portland's uppity Pearl District hot spot Bluehour I recognized Natalie dining with the PICA and Wieden+Kennedy power lunchers. (I later found out Natalie too had worked at the restaurant before me). Five years later, I discover that we are both working on flip sides making a DEVO record in Los Angeles. We couldn't ignore this any longer. We joined forces. A barbecue on Natalie's Hollywood Hills deck was decided upon almost immediately. A blending of our friends; food lovers, art lovers, and music lovers... But what would we serve?
Like any proper party, we needed to conceptualize a cocktail that would stand up to the smokey char of a crispy tentacle. Natalie brilliantly suggested the inclusion of smoked ice(!) Several tests on her part found that smoking water over cherry/mesquite wood and then freezing it produced subtly satisfactory results. In the spirit of the wood we ran with cherries and I made a brandied batch to muddle with orange in a Smokey Cherry Old Fashioned.
Macerating the cherries before tossing with hot water and submerging in Brandy.
The afternoon of the party, I was led up the steps to Natalie's deck by the scent of tantalizing smoke. Crows were eying the smoker, cawing at me as I approached the house. Inside I could hear a commotion. "Hello?..." I called stepping gently toward her open door, like a marked slasher victim. The grisly scene I walked into was not what I expected.
Brunellos Have More Fun and DomaineLA was present with a few fitting bottles. My favorite was La Dilettante, Domaine Breton‘s 2009 Vouvray moustillant. A delicious crisp chenin blanc with light, moussey bubbles.
Joy the Baker's fabulous peach & blackberry cobbler dessert (gobbled up before it was photographed) was geniously paired by Whitney with a Frantz Saumon Gamay Moelleux, a sexy, lingering yet tangy pomegrante, strawberry and pine masterpiece. (Read Whitney's account of the BBQ here).
Y La Bamba. She graced the hushed patio with a short set of passionate arias ripe with duende.
Come dusk, we walked up the hill to a nearby viewing point and sat with circling ravens, watching as the sun sunk into the ocean. The way every perfect summer dinner party really should come to a close.
For those hoping for some more in depth octopus cooking tips, here are Natalie's four simple steps to making killer tentacles at home!
Just do it.