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Howie Hart

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I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by Howie Hart » Mon May 25, 2009 6:10 am

Isabella (my new granddaughter), Pete, Lauren and I arrived at the Henderson’s about 4PM on Saturday. I thought we were going to be late, but most of the other folks hadn’t arrived yet. Carl met us in the driveway, looking very dignified. When we came in their beautiful home, everyone made a big fuss over 3-week old Isabella, and she remained one of the centers of attention throughout the evening (I don’t think she even cried the whole time we were there).

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Carl watching the paella getting started.

Lots of food preparation was going on in the kitchen and Jo Ann had everything organized and under control. Michael-Anthony, whom Jo Ann jokingly refers to as her second husband, was preparing salads and she put me in charge of chilling and selecting which wines to open (she’s good at delegating) as she was making the paella. Wine glasses were conveniently set up next to the appetizer table containing a nice selection of nuts, dried fruits, cheeses, olives, hummus and other tasty munchoids. This table was set up below a stunning Matthew Jacobs painting of voters in the 1920s (they have a beautiful home). The weather was perfect as I migrated to the back yard with Jo Ann’s neighbor (who brought a very nice Barbera from Piedmont) and a glass of Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut – NV to join Jo Ann as she was setting up the terra cotta grill to cook the paella. “Back yard” is not an apt phrase, as it is a beautiful garden, with shrubs, flowers, herbs, terraced stone walkways and a fountain made from a monolithic stone. As things were coming together, more folks arrived, including Diana and Clint Hall, whom I had met with Jo Ann and Carl at Bucko’s two years ago on my first trip to WA, my cousin Candice, with who I reunited with for the first time since the late 1960s the night before in Everett and her son, Ben, Georgina, Donald, Megan and several others.

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Jo Ann with the Halls by the fountain.

I’m bad at remembering names and equally bad at remembering the names of all the wines we went through in the course of the evening (after I PM a few folks I’ll post about the wines in the Wine Forum). One of the wines we opened was a 2007 Rosé of Isabella from Goose Watch (Finger Lakes) that I brought along to toast my new granddaughter (she’s so special they named a grape after her :) ).
At last it was time to do some serious eating!
Paella – I was eyeballing Jo Ann as she prepared this, but missed a few steps as I was talking and helping Carl pour wine. This was cooked in her large, flat paella pan, over charcoal and pear wood. She started with chicken wings, browning them. I missed a few of the steps, but the next time I checked, there was a lot of liquid (chicken stock?), slices of Portuguese sausage, several seasoning ingredients and a short-grained Spanish rice. When I returned again later, she was adding the final touches – fresh peas, diced tomatoes, clams, mussels, whole shrimp, thin lemon wedges and roasted red pepper strips, all arranged in proper geometric fashion. The dish was cooked perfectly, with a slight burn in the center at the bottom and a golden crustiness that spread out across the bottom of the pan. This was indeed a masterpiece, and so delicious.
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Poached Salmon – I totally missed the preparation of this. Earlier, I saw two huge king salmon filets marinating on the kitchen counter and when it was time to eat, they were cooked and sliced into serving portions (I took two). Juicy and tender (it’s so easy to over-cook fish and dry it out) – just superb!
Watermelon and Cucumber Salad – I avoid cucumbers, due to the burp factor. However, I noticed Michael-Anthony peeling and slicing one of those long English cucumbers and was told they are burpless (and indeed they are). Following Jo Ann’s directions he added this to a large bowl of cubed watermelon with sliced red onions and finely diced jalapeno (not a lot). I don’t know what dressing was on it but it something simple that allowed the flavors of the other ingredients to come together. Whoda thunk that such diverse foods could come together and make something so tasty and was such an excellent complement to the paella? Jo Ann later disclosed that she adapted this from a salsa recipe.
In addition, there were sliced tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar and corn on the cob. After all of the above, I managed to try each of the desserts. There were two different chocolate truffles (yum), a cake with coconut – very tasty, and I’m not a big coconut fan, and the star of the dessert table was a lemon tart (torte?) made with a shortbread crust and topped with thin slices of cooked and sweetened lemon.
I was going to take a final picture of Jo Ann at the end of the meal, sitting in her chair with her feet propped up on an adjoining chair, a soot smear across her white apron, a contented smile on her face and a large, almost empty paella pan on the table in front of her, but I was too full to get and go to the other room to get my camera. :shock:
This was without a doubt, one of the finest meals I’ve ever had, with wonderful food and a great bunch of people. Bravo Jo Ann!
Last edited by Howie Hart on Mon May 25, 2009 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by ChefJCarey » Mon May 25, 2009 8:42 am

Damn, Howie, I am sorry I missed it!
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Re: I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by Carrie L. » Mon May 25, 2009 11:00 am

Looks and sounded like a beautiful and delicious evening (in so many ways). Thank you Howie (and JoAnn!) for sharing with us.
Hello. My name is Carrie, and I...I....still like oaked Chardonnay. (I feel so much better now.)
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Jo Ann Henderson

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Re: I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by Jo Ann Henderson » Mon May 25, 2009 11:30 am

Howie is too kind. But, much of what he says (and that I can remember) is true. We had a GREAT time! But, first, the picture that Howie is referring to is a Jacob Lawrence (I have a limited edition - #2, hand painted and signed serigraph from the migration series -- a very prized piece).

The party got rolling about 5:00p.m.; and the last person left pretty close to midnight! So, I think this qualifies as a party y'all! Here is the happy family that we were all celebrating. I didn't get a great picture of Isabella, though Howie has posted that picture somewhere else on the forum.
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Lauren, Pete and Isabella
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Finally, Michael-Anthony (the other significant man in my life) had a chance to meet some members of the forum. Elsewhere I have referred to MA as my other husband. He is a long-time (proud to be gay) friend who has been a mainstay in my life, and help mate for near 20 years. When I am traveling he will come over and make certain Carl has food to eat (I have one of those husbands who doesn't know his way around the kitchen); and if I am sick he will come over to nurse me back to health. And, he brings all the drama to my life that gay men are stereotyped with -- which otherwise my life would be very dull without. I truly love him and my husband has moved past his homophobia, the result of having a quality friendship with a gay man.
Howie's Party 002.jpg
Pete, MA, Howie and Clint having a bonding moment
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But, the party was about the food and wine, y'all. And, I must say, Howie knows how to travel! He came into the party with about 7 or 8 bottles of wine, most from his personal vinyard and a few store boughts. He made himself right at home and began chilling some and locating the necessary equipment for service. So, I put him in charge of keeping all glasses properly filled. He performed admirably!! I tried to make certain there was enough interesting food so there was plenty of noshing going on. But, ultimately it was about the Paella. It turned out perfectly (though, I could have pulled it off the fire about 3 minutes early -- a tad bit more scorched in the center than I had hoped -- but, it did not have that burnt rice taste). It was slightly al dente, with a good balance of flavors (without the saffron being overpowering), and slightly crunchy as it should have been. In addition, we had King Salmon cooked over alder wood in a lemon and herb based marinade that keeps it moist and flavorful throughout. Howie, his family, Clint an'em got a chance to party with some of my people. I had a fabulous time and hope to do it again soon with some others of you! Thanks for a memorable evening, Howie. Good luck with the rest of your trip.
"...To undersalt deliberately in the name of dietary chic is to omit from the music of cookery the indispensable bass line over which all tastes and smells form their harmonies." -- Robert Farrar Capon
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Howie Hart

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Re: I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by Howie Hart » Mon May 25, 2009 12:16 pm

Sorry about mis-naming the painter (terrible at names). Thanks again for the wonderful hospitality, great food and friendship. And if anyone else here ever gets a chance to chow down at Jo Ann's, I strongly urge you to take her up on her offer. 8)
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Re: I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by Robert Reynolds » Mon May 25, 2009 12:22 pm

Sounds like a great time was had by all. And a new baby is always a good excuse for a party. 8)
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Re: I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by Mike Filigenzi » Mon May 25, 2009 3:56 pm

Wow - looks like a great time all the way 'round. It's wonderful how well these board get-togethers work out.

(Now you'll all have to excuse me for a moment while I try and come up with an excuse to get somewhere near Jo Ann's place.....)
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Re: I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by Jenise » Mon May 25, 2009 6:47 pm

That's one grand and beautiful paella.

I'm so sorry to have had to beg off the event, we really wanted to come down. Would have loved to meet everyone in person, but we would have had to stay over, and we just couldn't spare that kind of time away. We've had to work on the house all weekend in preparation for workers coming in this week for certain specialized tasks. Bob is downstairs caulking windows as I type (and sneak in this break).
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jo Ann Henderson

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Re: I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by Jo Ann Henderson » Mon May 25, 2009 7:15 pm

Darn, Jenise
Had I known you certainly could have stayed in our guest bedroom. It's nicely appointed with all your spa essentials. Next time for sure. BTW, the desserts were chocolate truffles (Ghiridelli's recipe -- one walnut and one cocoa), lemon cream tart and coconut rum cake. I had dessert the next morning for breakfast with my usual cup of Earl Gray tea. It was just what I needed to bring back a little equilibrium after the early morning hangover. I just can't drink like I used to! :?
"...To undersalt deliberately in the name of dietary chic is to omit from the music of cookery the indispensable bass line over which all tastes and smells form their harmonies." -- Robert Farrar Capon
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Re: I Am Not Worthy (Dinner at Jo Ann’s)

by Jenise » Mon May 25, 2009 7:32 pm

Jo Ann Henderson wrote:Darn, Jenise
Had I known you certainly could have stayed in our guest bedroom. It's nicely appointed with all your spa essentials. Next time for sure. BTW, the desserts were chocolate truffles (Ghiridelli's recipe -- one walnut and one cocoa), lemon cream tart and coconut rum cake. I had dessert the next morning for breakfast with my usual cup of Earl Gray tea. It was just what I needed to bring back a little equilibrium after the early morning hangover. I just can't drink like I used to! :?


Jo Ann, I appreciate your offer of hospitality and would love to take you up on that sometime. But it wasn't the financial part of it that kept us away, it's the time commitment of the commute both ways plus plus--we'd have been away half of both days and just couldn't spare the time this weekend. I'll be SO glad when this over. I'm not having fun anymore!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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