It seemed fitting that our third Slow Supper, in November, honor our local harvest. Living in fertile Santa Barbara, I've met some extraordinary chefs, winemakers and ranchers; our city is nestled between one of the most productive agricultural regions in California. I felt it would be meaningful to honor these people of the land and the hand with a dinner -- and cook for them -- as a sort of pre-Thanksgiving celebration. I was thrilled when one of my favorite sommeliers and writers, native Santa Barbaran Hana-Lee Sedgwick (@wanderandwine), agreed to model our Cordoba dress.
As folks gathered in the kitchen, Hana-Lee slipped out to the street to take pictures in the diagonal-stripe Cordoba dress with photographer Danielle Rubi. I was delighted when Ashley Woods Hollister saddled up to the wet bar and started making cocktails with T. W. Hollister vermouth (the vermouth's juniper berries are harvested at Hollister Ranch, just north of Santa Barbara, where the family's ancestral land is located and her husband's roots trace back to early Mexican Land grants in the 1800s.) The cocktail took the edge off of my cooking-for-chefs anxiety... and we tucked into chevre toasts while schmoozing around the kitchen (recipe below.)
Given the heavy hitters in the food and wine scene poised to gather at my table, I opted for a menu that highlighted the ingredients more than my (modest) cooking skill. I settled upon a menu of: hearty main dish with a red butter lettuce salad in vinaigrette, and a gorgeous red wine from local winemaker La Lepiane. I adapted my standard eggplant parmesan recipe (the trick is using petite Japanese eggplants) by adding a layer of Rancho San Julian beef chorizo at the bottom of the dutch oven (see recipe below.) . Rancho San Julian is an historic cattle farm in nearby Lompoc and is one of the original California Ranchos dating back to 1837. The resulting menu was rich and earthy for the crisp early winter evening. La Lepiane's Grenache, bottled right here in Santa Barbara County by winemaker Alison Thomson, made for a complimentary flavor (served cool): sheer, perky and decidedly unsweet.
Symbolically and in practice, food and clothes (and their production) are not so entirely different. The fashion world has looked to the Slow Food movement for guidance: clothing lines across the world are questioning the speed of collections, aiming to focus on quality and local production. One of the most prescient things a clothing line can do is make clothes locally - just as it makes sense to maintain a culinary radius that is as hyper local as possible. I have learned a lot in this arena from a podcast called Slow Stories, by Rachel Schwartzmann. Living slowly (and producing our line on a small scale, with intention, and locally) has become an anthem for our little brand's purpose. Rachel was surely a phantom honorary guest at the table that night -- having brought together, in my mind, the worlds of slow food and slow fashion.
Despite it being a school night, the party ended fairly late. We all lost track of time, what with the candles, the food, music (see the night's Spotify playlist, below) and the fine foodie company. Perhaps a languorous meal together is a way to stretch the space-time continuum? I certainly consider savoring a most worthwhile science.
At the table:
Jamie and Jayson Poe @poeandco
Hana-Lee Sedgwick and ________ @wanderandwine
Ashley Woods Hollister and ________ @twhollister
Allison Thomson and ______ @lalepiane
Elizabeth Poett @elizabethpoett @ranchosanjulian
Carey Snowden Harrington and Ryan Harrington