I’m documenting this while my brain’s still groggy, foggy and operating on slow motion mode after only a few hours of sleep recently. It’s hard to capture the magic of what happened in the past couple of days in words and here on paper. To bring you up to speed on this adventure–I entered a contest sponsored through Campo Viejo wines of Spain. I won said contest. The grand prize was a celebrity chef coming to my home to cook a multi-course dinner for 10. Celebrity chef? Anthony Sasso of the Michelin-star NYC eatery Casa Mono Bar Jamon.
The 48+ hour soiree started with me fetching Chef Anthony at our local small airport in Colorado—flying from the Big Apple’s LaGuardia to our valley ranchland-like airport, deplaning right onto the air strip and being greeted by new faces as he walked to meet us must have been a little unnerving for him. Just Whitney and I went to fetch him because we didn’t want to scare him off with a cheerleading team of varying ages of women from the cusp of middle age to post-menopausal! At first, there was some quasi formality and a ‘deer in the headlights’ like look on his face, however, after some big hugs, pinching of his cute cheeks and telling him how happy we were to have him here, it was like ice melting! Anthony was at home—he integrated really easily and naturally.
My girlfriends, Beth, Whitney, Reagan, and I had worked most of the day preparing a dinner from shopping, cooking and cleaning to setting an elegant, albeit, rustic and boho’d dining table, for him—I mean what chef doesn’t love being cooked for! Our menu was totally comfort food! And, here’s the fun part! Anthony was like a boy coming home from college—he wanted to see what was simmering on the stove, he wanted to taste what was in the big pot, so, yes, he got a bowl and helped himself to a big juicy meatball—he also couldn’t resist the homemade bread right out of the oven and smelling divine—seeing it on the kitchen island, he tore off a piece for dipping in his pasta sauce—he was right at home! I was totally digging this because having three grown sons, in Anthony’s age range, told me, this boy is down-to-earth, loves big family, the easiness, the spiritedness and the soul that goes into food.
Our meal was in stages with good wine flowing! We started with a bevy of peasant roasted veggies seasoned with olive oil, sea salt and pepper then a healthy grating of fresh aged parmesan cheese. Accompanying that was my ‘Crusty Cowboy White Bread’ hot out of the oven, drizzled in butter, and pieces simply torn from the laves. Our next course was my Gallo Family Vineyards award-winning Bolognese with meatballs and pappardelle pasta (homemade from a Colorado company). From that we moved on to a refreshing European leaf salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, which was expertly whipped up literally by Beth at the last minute. Dessert was a duo of homemade peach cobbler by Reagan—using her family’s heirloom recipe and the fresh Palisade peaches she’d bought that morning at the farmers market, huge scoops of love oozed onto the plate. And, finally, I’d fixed my mom’s heirloom Croatian cheesecake recipe, which was drizzled with a rhubarb strawberry ginger citrus sauce—the rhubarb cut fresh from my garden that morning.
Finally, my husband, Ben, is a saint! Imagine having four women in your house for up to five consecutive nights, then adding into this mix a young chef! Not only did he relish the entire affair, but he is the epitome of the Southern gentleman, the host extraordinaire, and the supportive soulmate for me, a rabid foodie who definitely got a taste of what ‘sister wives’ might be like!