Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grapes Without Wrath

Here is a cozy shot of my Chardonnay vine up in Bakersfield from the 4th of July which is full with fruit. The 4th was a lovely family day and a short but welcome rest from the wild schedule of the past few weeks. I also have a sauvignon blanc vine which is equally full with fruit. I am grateful to Lou Diaz for his attentive watering while I am in LA and for the Diazes hosting of the ever expanding vines. It's a constant struggle keeping them from climbing the beautiful young magnolias which flank them. Come September harvest I will make a bottle or two of wine from the grapes.

My friend David Hockney is in town for a flying visit and, yesterday, Rita Pynoos held a tea party at her Beverly Hills home to celebrate his birthday, which is next week. Rita had it catered by Wolfgang Puck's flagship, Spago's. I had heard about, but never partaken of, David's favorite, the smoked salmon pizza. On a crisp crust an almost mayonnaisy layer of mild herbed goat cheese supported a bed of smoked salmon and that in turn garnished with abundant, and big, glistening orange salmon eggs. Delicious. So I stand corrected, I had thought the idea was pretty terrible, until that first bite. Happy Birthday David and thank you Rita.

Today David stopped by for lunch round the corner at Cafe Figaro in my neighborhood on Vermont Avenue with Derek Boshier and Alfred Young in tow. It was me and the class of '59 as they had all attended The Royal College of Art together. We dined on escargots and moules frites which are particularly good there on account of the leeky sauce. We might have been in Paris. We talked of tripe and kidneys, liver and sweetbreads, and their general unpopularity Stateside and the fact that Musso and Franks is one of the few restaurants locally that keep lamb kidneys on the menu. It was a balm to hear new and familiar stories, full of laments over liberty and arcane facts from the past and present all spiced with humor and warmth. A nice start to the week and a pleasant weekend in all.