We have a headache. Which is to be expected, considering that less than twenty-four hours ago, we consumed a MASTERFUL AND GENIUS SEVEN-COURSE MEAL WITH WINE PAIRINGS. No, we didn't go to some schmancy Zagat-touted restaurant. This event of worldwide importance transpired at the homey abode of Simon's lovely sis-in-law Jo. All 84 plates of wonder were created by VHJ-inner-circleite Matt. Sime and Sera, when not moaning in full-mouthed ecstasy, kept exchanging burning glances that clearly said, "We must blog about this immediately. The world needs to know."
The chef at work.
We don't know about you, but we love us some food porn. Also, we enjoy reading about other people's personal lives. This post is for you if you are like us. It's a glimpse into the VHJ's near-n-dearest at their boho best. (If you aren't into fatty meals or candid snaps of folks you've never met, this post will bore you to tears; sorry; come back later; love you, mean it.)
You've heard of Matt before. He is the one who, when Sera was feeling like emo crap in a bucket of suck, arrived at her pad bearing pasta maker, bacon, Gorgonzola and cream. He's a fine writer, but more pertinent to this here blogversation is his blessed food-related obsessive-compulsive disorder. Matt owns a cookbook written by the psychotic genius who chefs the French Laundry, which is one of those restaurants that require reservations six months in advance. The cookbook talks about cutting little squares of meat "against the grain," fridging fresh fish in exactly the position in which they swam at the moment of their demise, and other frankly weird shit. Many of the recipes start with unseemly bits of offal, and end four days later. Not joking.
Most of us would treat such a cookbook as a novelty item, a glimpse into the inner-mindfuck of a true artist we could never imagine emulating. Matt, on the other hand, sees a fun challenge. He's the foodie equivalent of those crazy bastards who decide they want to swim the English channel.
As you can see, Matt likes to eat.Matt called Sera up a few months ago and told her he hankered to engineer a feast for twelve. It would be a bit of work, he said with hilarious calm. Would she pitch in her producer's mind for drama and help him create an evening so cool, Oprah would beg to film it for a segment concerning the joie-de-vivreiest Angelenos in the history of ever? Strategy meetings ensued; invitations zipped into the hot little hands of our lucky, lucky jury; and the harmonic convergence of this weekend was the orgiastic, drunkarific result.
Our motley tribe descended upon Jo's, dressed to the nines. Here is the part we recommend to all of you. This is the thing that life is too short (and also waaaaaay too long) not to do: next time you plan a soiree, do mention to your friends that there's no such thing as overdressed.
We know, we know, there's no way in hell you're cooking that much. We understand; when supper's left to us, we usually end up serving pizza and cupcakes. Not everyone is lucky enough to know a cook as talented and maniacal as Matt. But even if your dinner party was catered by drive-thru, it shouldn't stop you from requiring festive attire. Believe us when we say you will derive special pleasure from dining in your finest. You will rediscover the deep hotness of your friends. Also, drunk people are more fun to watch when they're dressed to give an acceptance speech.
So, we mingled in the candlelight, champers-tipsy and newly re-in-love with one another. Simon rocked the orange velveteen blazer and pearl tie-bar. Lovely Wife Julia donned black silk, platform heels and a sideways tiara.
Jo poured her Semitic loveliness into a sparkly gown previously worn by a chanteuse at Cannes.
Sparkly Jo with longtime companion, Wiener.Dinda and Mollie came as that couple at the cocktail party who make you reconsider swinging as a lifestyle.
Mols and Dinda, on the drive over. You know you want them.Shana wore a blue crocheted flower in her hair; her Brit beau Dave, natty vest and rocker hair.
Michael mixed thrift-store finds with designer duds in that envy-making way that overworked, sleep-deprived, yet nevertheless supermodelesque production designers do.
Intercontinental love in action.
Matt's Very Hot Musician bro Andy wore a hat that made us reappraise our previous dismissal of Abraham Lincoln as unsexy.
Matt's girlfriend-cum-sous chef Lindsay wore her slinkster dress from Junior Prom, because it still fits, bitches.
Sera wore silver leather flowers in her hair and a capelet fashioned from 100% muppet fur.
Sera as rejected Dorothy Parker's Vicious Circle candidate.
So, we ate a lot. We took pictures of that, too, which we will share here for your droolification.
First, Matt served a soul-crushingly delish amuse-bouche of hamhock paté (sounds gross, tastes like a three-picture deal making artistic horror movies executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro - oh, and you get final cut on the films, and also James McAvoy/Natalie Portman will wake you each morning with a loving round of oral sex. Actually, as good as that all sounds? The paté was better).
Then he served us soup we would gladly kill for. Matt's initial inspiration for the whole event was Sera's offhanded remark that she quite liked the onion soup at Doughboy's, a hipsterlicious Hollywood bakery. "Dude, I can make an onion soup that will make you believe in Jesus," Matt shot back. And so he concocted a heavenly liquid requiring several days of simmering and several pounds of asiago - hands-down the best fucking soup Sera's ever tasted (and, full disclosure, very nearly enough to make her consider emailing Christ an application for the position of Personal Savior).
We strongly suggest someone get this soup on the table for the next Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. If anything can get 'em in the mood to lay down arms, it's a still-bubbling bowlful of broth, spongy bread, and ooey-gooey cheese.
If memory serves, right around the soup course was the first time Jo burst into tears of joy. This behavior would continue throughout the evening, as new and miraculous taste sensations were set before her sparkling bosom.
Many charming toasts were made, and glasses of wine were imbibed. We can't remember how many. More than four but less than all the wine in the world. Matt and Lindz split their time between the table and the roasting-hot kitchen, from whence nirvanic smells wafted. They emerged bearing skate - the fish, not the wheeled shoe - in a vertical sculpture of garlic and pan-seared lemon slice on a nest of oniony delight. Several people proposed marriage to Matt. When he gently refused, we offered to be his slave forever, as long as he cooked us skate every day.
Next came this complicated ravioli-esque pasta dish we can't recall the name of. Redolent of cheese, bursting with sweet buttery goodness, many members of our group decided that they would rather eat pasta created by Matt than anything else they could think of. Yes, including that.
After that, a palate-cleansing grapefruit-tarragon sorbet which Sera failed to photograph on account of she was shrieking with laughter and already so full she feared it was a mistake not to rent forklifts to get people back to their cars after the party.
Jules with her pasta plate.
The Very Hot Jews like meat. We like it so much that we suddenly realized we weren't really that full when Matt set before us a dish of lamb so beautiful we wanted to bronze it. It tasted just as good as you imagine.
Plating the meat course, sexily.Then we took a much-needed breather - from the food, if not the drink, since Matt took that moment to bust out an epic bottle of dessert wine - and exchanged funny and embarrassing personal stories. Not to harp on the whole dress-up thing, but wearing spangly getups tends to jog one's formal-event memory banks. Visions of Sadie Hawkins Dances past pop into one's head. Michael charmed us with tales of helping his date - a girl! - make her dress. Sera recalled being helpfully informed that her prom dress made her look like a stripper. (It so didn't, at least in comparison to the stuff she started wearing later in life.) Tuxedo war stories abounded. Recollections of exotic travels punctuated by sumptuous meals that lead inevitably to heinous, gut-annihilating food poisoning. Life - isn't she grand?
Finally, Matt served dessert. He ended with another paté, the perfect symmetry of which seemed to soothe that OCD part of his brain. It was made of dense, dark, spiritually enlightening chocolate in a créme anglaise with pistachios. We all had seconds. Plates and fingers were licked. Groans of delight and overindulgence filled the air. Everyone swore they'd take a bullet for Matt, because protecting his gift had become the purpose of our lives.
Dessert, by the time Sera remembered to snap a pic of it.And then, weary, some of us sloshed enough to require a cab, we collapsed into satiated heaps.
And that, handsome readers, is how the VHJ party. L'Chaim!