By Molly Gore
By Molly Gore
By Pete Kane
By Lou Bustamante
By Pete Kane
By Ashley Goldsmith
By Pete Kane
By John Birdsall
Yes, I'll have another, thank you.
"Bradley, what's on here?" I asked.
"Oh, just a bit of creme fra”che. Some beluga caviar. Salmon caviar. And fresh chives," he explained.
Oh, Anne? Just one more, please. Or ... six.
"So, Bradley," I continued my inquiry, "last week I was rolling a cart down my local grocer's aisle, and I just happened across a package of some sausages with your picture on them."
"Oh, yeah. You hadn't seen those before?" he asked.
"Try the smoked chicken Parmesan," suggested Tony. "They're the best."
Bradley's own line of gourmet sausages also includes varieties like smoked chicken cherry and Yucatan turkey. Look for them at Molly Stones, Bell Markets, and wherever fine foods are sold.
Finally, Jody invited all of us to take our seats as Anne began opening multiple varieties of wine, including one very special bottle: For the Ogdens' 25th wedding anniversary, just a few weeks earlier, the Dellars had given Bradley and Jody a wine made the same year the couple were married. The 1974 Louis Martine cabernet was ... interesting. Complex. And, as one critic put it, "definitely drinkable."
"This wine should be really kind of leathery," explained Michael. "And cedary. A lot of that old cigar box quality."
The first course arrived: plates of wild watercress with Bradley's dressing and glazed walnut halves. Beside the salads sat our individual twice-baked Gorgonzola souffles. They had indeed doubled in size, as well as browned up crisp on the tops and edges.
Gorgonzola cheese. And cream. And you could never believe how amazing they tasted. As I remember it, we all sat in silence, 11 of us, letting forkful after forkful melt in our mouths, until there was none. Then Daniel's delightful wife, Anna, a maternity nurse, passed around a basket of warm, home-baked dinner rolls and bread. He baked the bread, for God's sake!
The evening's entree was charcoal-grilled tenderloin with porcini sauce. Michael had commandeered the grill outside to bring us a perfectly seared, rare piece of beef. Bradley carved the meat into thick medallions and served us two large slices each, covered in a thick, slightly sweet, brown porcini mushroom sauce. The side dish was an asparagus roast with potatoes and spring onions. The long asparagus spears were so tender and juicy that it was almost impossible to believe they came from the oven. As we ate I asked Bradley about how he'd come to the kitchen in the first place.
"Well, it was really a coup," he explained. "I was with my dad when I was 18, up in Michigan. My dad talked me into going to culinary school. He figured if I learned how to cook, I could always get a job. And he saw this article in the Detroit Free Press on the CIA [Culinary Institute of America]. You know, in Hyde Park, New York. This was like, '71. So he signed us up, my twin brother and I, for chef school."
"So that was it?" I asked.
"Yeah. I started flipping eggs at Bees. Then at the local Holiday Inn. And it's like I've been doing it all my life."
"Is your twin brother still a chef, too?" asked Mara.
"No," answered Bradley. "He quit after four months."
As we sat there, blissfully full of pate, oysters, caviar, watercress, Gorgonzola, tenderloin, and asparagus, topped off with champagne and 25-year-old wine, I thought, "Hmm. I'm full."
That's when Bradley and Anne started moving the dessert our way. Oh, man.
Picture enormous, handled ceramic crocks filled with a bright red mixture of strawberries and rhubarb, a flaky pastry disc floating in each of their centers, topped with scoops of homemade vanilla bean ice cream.
"Cobbler," Bradley called it.
Mara nearly had a heart attack. "Oh my God," she said. "How huge is that dessert? That's not a little dessert. I wouldn't have eaten my dinner if I'd known. That is a very large dessert.
"Yes," I agreed. "And I'm going to eat every bite."
As I attempted to do so, Bradley disappeared into the garage, searching for some dessert wines. He came back with two choices, a dark muscat and a La Famiglia Mondavi Moscato bianco. We chose both.
"Hey, wait a minute now!" exclaimed Jody. "Is that the rare one they only give to the family?"
"Yeah," smiled Bradley.
And it was tasty.
Then, adding insult to injury, or compliment to contentment as the case may be, Bradley produced a box of gourmet chocolate truffles topped with black sesame seeds and nuts. "Oh, good. Because we haven't had enough to eat," remarked Mara.
"These came from a special little shop, all the way from Chicago," explained Bradley. "I called them just for this dinner party."
"Really?" I asked.
"No," admitted Bradley. "They just happened to show up yesterday. But good timing, don't you think?"
Mara's attempt to refuse the truffles was met by collective scorn. "It's kind of a group thing," I insisted. "You have to take one. Peer pressure."
Then, suddenly, the food coma took full effect. In a daze, I was transported to the restaurant scene from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: