Guys, Grace is really famous.
First, maybe you heard about her in the food section of the Washington Post talking about pickles. And/or, locals, in the Washingtonian talking about home cooking.
If not, then surely, SURELY, maybe you saw her on a little show called CHOPPED?!?!?!?!
Most recently, she was on the FRONT PAGE of the WALL STREET JOURNAL.
Grace is also my friend, which is pretty cool since she was originally my boss (before a management restructuring led to me working for… a somewhat different style of leader… who wasn’t Grace! Why yes, that is a large reason I am no longer where I used to work. Plus also further education). Anyway.
We’d been exchanging Facebook messages for a few weeks and spontaneously on Tuesday (Mardi Gras, as you’ll recall) she said she’d be having some people for dinner and I should pop in. So I arrived to discover that in fact she was hosting for Feastly, the cool supper-club-type-thing she belongs to (about which the WSJ article was written) so there were 12 strangers in her house and she was cooking them a magnificent, multi-course, authentically New Orleans dinner. On a Tuesday. After work. NBD.
Being awkward in social situations (and understandably, given I was expecting to hang with like… her and her roommates and ended up in a crowd of competitive foodies, one of whom referred to “low quality ice cream like Haagen Dazs” which struck me as slightly absurd), I offered to help cook. With whatever.
So Grace gave me some celery to chop. For the guuuuuuuumbo!
Meantime the table was laid (this was only half of it; it seats 12. Also Grace and her roommates live in a truly lovely old rowhouse. It backs into Rock Creek Park and the basement contains an AUTHENTIC bomb shelter. Where they keep canned goods. Home preserved, of course).
Folks imbibed in some Sazerac. I drove there, and then learned Sazeracs tasted like Old Fashioneds (which I am not yet old enough to appreciate. Or something). So turning it down was fairly easy, though it was pretty. Also going out early in the game were unfortunately not very unphotogenic but totally awesomesauce goat cheese crepes. Then poorly photographed entirely due to user error mini muffalettas.
DUDE. Obviously my picture sells them short but I had no idea how amazing muffalettas are. Grace made her own bread which certainly elevated things. And given equal billing was definitely the tapenade-reminiscent shmear the rolls got. The “meat” was hilariously all vegetarian (some of the Feastly folks were) and even that resulted in a… blissful experience. Actually, I don’t know if I’d want a spread that rich with equally rich meat. I went on a long philosophical treatise about this to Steve, at which he laughed uproariously. Saying, “I just don’t like when my lips feel greasy after eating something” is foreign to the guy who eats bacon fat microwaved into improvised pork rinds.
Grace’s roommate and I were both staring more than a little intently at the roux on the back burner (sidebar: can we talk about that cast iron pot?!). Grace’s roommate was also not a fan of crawfish, so opted to try it straight up. I am not quite that hardcore (see above comments re: greasy lips).
However, once I stirred in the seafood (continuing to help to avoid socializing), it was a beaut, in taste and looks.
For the gumbo, folks had a choice between meaty and veggie. The veg one had tofu and that absurdly good Tofurkey sausage. I’ve had it a couple of times now and it is the best kept secret of vegetarians. Shockingly authentic in taste and texture.
The omnivores enjoyed theirs with shrimp and sausage. Grace is one of those people who knows exactly where meat comes from if she’s going to serve it. Always nice to eat food she’s eaten!
An enjoyable dinner continued, and then out came dessert. DC is generally woefully short on excitement, and it was particularly true this Mardi Gras, which coincided with the State of the Union, a DC “holiday”.
Which is a long way of saying there was no purple sugar to be had, so this cake didn’t have quite the pizzazz it ought to’ve. Grace’s other roommate improvised with the flower, which I thought was clever.
This was a cheesecake with a cookie crust, nomnomnom.
After the Feastly people took off, I lounged with Grace watching Chopped (to which she is now an addict; and during which I interrogated her about various proceedings during the show). And we chatted about the ol’ office, and there was a lot of schadenfreude to be had for me. Which was satisfying.
And then though we’d already had cake, we continued to talk about cake and then there was something called the Tunnel of Fudge in Grace’s kitchen so that happened too. VERY fun night.
So that’s Grace. She’s the bees knees, and writes a blog at Goose Eats DC but unfortunately not all that often. Check it out.
To share something exciting that happened in my equally famous and interesting life, I made some split pea soup.
It was GOOD split pea soup, in my defense. Got the Christmas hambone out of the freezer and jacked up that soup right nice.
And then there was still soup/meaty morsels on the hambone, so I gave it to the cat, who delicately licked it off for ten minutes, licked her lips for twenty minutes, and drank a lot of water.