On Saturday night, we celebrated Dad’s 20th year in the ministry. Twenty years. That’s a long time to tend the flock. He’s led two incredible parishes, including one through an arsonist’s church fire eleven years ago. He’s married, buried, counseled and consoled, all with the kind of grace and humility that proves he was born to do this work. We had much to celebrate and we did just that in typical Anderson family style. With food and wine, and each other.
I have to give Mom credit for planning the menu. Sharon wasn’t home yet and I was in New York with friends until that afternoon. In fact, the accidental perfectness of her menu was lost on us until nearly half-way through the meal. As we celebrated two decades of greatness, the evening was in every way a throwback to the 1980s.
We started with Kir Royales (in Desert Rose champagne flutes, a wedding gift) and Mom’s famous Union Square Bar Nuts. We sipped, we lovingly reminisced, we crudely joked and we finished some last-minute dinner preparations around our kitchen island.
When we’d drained our glasses and migrated to the dining room we started the meal with shrimp-stuffed artichokes straight from Mrs. Child herself, an Anderson family classic popular in our house when Mom still had a perm, and stretch pants cum stirrups were cool (the first time). The occasion called for some special wine, and a 1990 bottle of Torremilanos saved for such an event was provided by Sharon’s beau from his days spent working in a wine shop.
Once we’d licked our gold-rimmed china plates clean, Mom and Dad fixed dinner plates in the kitchen: rack of lamb, slices of potato rosti, braised brussels sprouts with mustard butter, garlic-sauteed tomatoes and a sauce whose sweet/savoury balance was simply perfect for the palate. It was decadent and delicious, but not too rich or filling to stop us from moving on to the next course.
We had a small cheese board to accompany the main event, a twenty-year old bottle of Santenay Premier Cru Burgundy, a gift given to Mom and Dad four years before which had been decanting for several hours on the side table.
We were satiated, but not stuffed, leaving just enough room for molten chocolate cake with sugared raspberries to finish off the evening.
Gold-rimmed china, crystal, family silver, French cuisine, old family favorites, aged wine, it all felt so appropriate, such a great tribute to the era in which Dad started his ministry. And it was all so perfectly accidental.