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Nostalgia: Flowers for Ms. Waters
filed under: Ramblings

Cab_and_chezp.jpgThis is the first in a series of wine & food memories I'll be penning in the coming months. Enjoy ;)

The first time I went to Chez Panisse (to be honest, it was the Cafe at Chez Panisse, as I was a budding entrepreneur at the time and the cafe at lunch time was all I could afford) I brought a bouquet of roses for Alice Waters. I didn't know if she would be there, and I was rather embarrassed at my juvenile display of adoration (after all, I was all of 26 by then, and ought to have been well beyond the era of proffering gifts to authority figures, much like a schoolchild might offer up an apple to a first grade teacher)...

And so I savored every bite of that wonderful three-hour meal, the whole time concealing the bouquet beneath the banquet. I can still recall the freshness of the vegetables, the doughy rightness of the pasta, and the impossible richness of the caramel pot de creme that followed. The wine selections - all Kermit Lynch imports - were divine and soil-driven, and the entire experience was not unlike being transported to some divine netherland where scents, flavors and warm feelings wrapped around me like a delicious cocoon.

It was only as my friend and I were on our way out that I found the courage to shove the somewhat wilted stems into the arms of an employee on the landing. "I brought these for Ms. Waters," I apologized, not even remotely close to working up the chutzpah to ask if I might actually hand them to the grand dame herself. "Oh, I'm sure she'll be delighted'" was the surprising response, and - pleased to the point of nearly popping out of my three-button blazer - I glided out the door and back into the bright Berkeley afternoon.

I had paid my respects to the Food Goddess, and experienced dining nirvana in the process. It was a very good day.

Posted by Courtney at


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