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The Perfect Friday Night


Most Friday evenings all I want to do is come home from work, slip into comfy clothes, whip up a filling dinner, and lounge with my boys, playing games or watching a movie.

But every now and then, Jake and I ditch the kids for uninterrupted conversation and a little romance. After seventeen years, I now know the formula for the perfect Friday night: art, libations, and food. And it fell into my lap when I saw the announcement for Carmel Belle's Pop-Up dinner at the Monterey Museum of Art, La Mirada.

One week late for a Valentines' celebration...but, hey, romance happens all year long, right? No need to stick to February 14th. And thank goodness I didn't hesitate, the tickets sold out in less than a day for this inaugural event.

So, along with 58 other people, we lined up, checked in, and were ushered down the corridor to a cocktail reception with drinks from the elegantly effervescent and lovely Lauren of Lauren De Vine Beverages. I had seen her post on facebook about making kumquat shrub and knew we were in for a treat. Kumquat shrub + lavender and rose geranium from Serendipity Farms + (optional) vodka = beverage bliss.


Not only was the cocktail delicious, but it inspired Jake's painting. The museum had set up a painting station as part of its interactive Open Walls exhibit. In between courses people wandered over and put brush to canvas. What fun!



I opted for a small canvas and was pretty pleased with my tulip. Not bad for ten minutes, if I might say so myself.


That was the art and libations part of the evening. On to the food from Carmel Belle, prepared by the talented Chef Kyle Odell. He even did some of the serving.


First Course: Kale Caesar Salad. Luxurious dino kale from Serendipity Farms with a crisped garlic crouton, white anchovy, and shavings of parmesan. This was paired with a 2012 Chenin Blanc from Heller Estate Organic Vineyards.


Second Course: Kabocha Squash Soup. We were given bowls with crisped kale and toasted seeds. A splash of good olive oil was followed by the piping hot soup with kabocha from Serendipity Farms. This course was paired with a 2012 Chardonnay.


Third Course: Braised Beef Short Ribs. "Grass-fed short ribs were provided by happy cows along the Big Sur Coast by Mark Shelley of Tassajara Meats." Chef Kyle served them with smashed potatoes and grilled broccoli. Heller paired this course with a 2012 Cachagua Cabernet Sauvignon.


Fourth Course: Kabocha Pie. Not having much of a sweet tooth, this had the perfect balance of sweet and not sweet with a spiced cranberry glaze, vanilla cream, and an oat crumble. I didn't have the wine, but Heller poured a 2009 Late Harvest Riesling with this.


Just as we took the last bites of our pie, we looked at the time. Whoops. We were twenty minutes late to grab the boys from our friends. I felt a little like Cinderella racing the clock at the end of the ball. Until that though, it was perfect. As I said: perfect Friday night. I can't wait for the next pop-up.

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