Gulp. He was coming to my house for lunch!
He’s famous enough to go by his first name. But in the event you don’t know who Jeremiah Tower is, I invite you to visit Uncle Google.
Okay, so you read his story, bio, accomplishments, accolades and gossip. And I was going to cook for him?
It happened like this. Years ago, someone told me that Jeremiah Tower was in town. Not many people in Tropica knew who he was, but as one of the original foodies of the 80’s, I certainly did. Back then my friends were chefs and restaurant managers in New York, so I knew what was going on at Chez Panisse before it hit the public gestalt.
Then one day I met him because he bought my house.
A few years passed. Our paths did not cross. We met again and a friendship began. He invited me out to dine, and for some reason, it got turned around, and now he was coming to my house for lunch!
How did I get myself into such a stew?
I am a fabulous home cook. It has been said that the best food in Tropica is in my home. It’s hard for me to go to a restaurant here, because paying for a bad meal puts me in a bad mood.
What do you cook for a famous chef? Jeremiah has hobnobbed with the world’s who’s who. He has eaten the best caviar, drunk the best champagne (in copious quantities) and tasted the delights of the world’s greatest chefs.
What would I do? The only thing I know how: prepare a delicious, home cooked meal, which is the nicest thing you can do for anyone.
For nibbles I made cheddar cheese straws and my Russian grandmother’s marinated mushrooms. We sipped frosty Orange Pellegrini because neither of us wanted to start boozing on a hot July afternoon.
I set the table on the verandah with rustic linen napkins, Alessi cutlery, white plates, and fuchsia bougainvillea blossoms scattered artfully about. The main course was Tania’s tender, juicy cutleti, (A Russian comfort food: small oval meatloaves with onion and dill, rolled in fresh breadcrumbs and sauteed gently in butter.) To accompany were translucent glazed carrots and a delicate, sweet sour German potato salad. Dessert was chilled, wine-poached pears.
My meal was a page from his book: Be true to your food. The best ingredients prepared simply.
What makes Jeremiah great is that he can enjoy and is appreciative of a simple meal. He is gracious and kind. I don’t see him that often but when I do he always greets me warmly and we talk with interest and concern.
He asked for seconds. Afterwards I had the pleasure of introducing him to Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. It was a splendid afternoon.
P.S. CNN via Anthony Bourdain (another one of my loves) is producing a documentary about Jeremiah Tower, to be aired in Fall 2015.
P.P.S. I also credit Jeremiah with saving my life. Literally. He made me promise to see a certain cardiologist when I complained of certain symptoms and yes, that saved my life. Thanks Jeremiah!
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