Of all the ways we choose to gather together, none positions us to be transformed from strangers to friends quite like sharing a meal. It speaks to each of our senses, draws us in with a primal magnetism, all the while nourishing and perpetuating our physical selves. The act of gathering to eat in any fashion, elegant or impromptu, is a merger of our most basic need in survival and most concealable necessity: companionship.
It is around a particular table that we speak from now – that of triple-threat team Secret Suppers, comprised of the ever-lovely Christiann Koepke, Eva Kosmas Flores, and a new friend to us, Suzanne Fuocco, maker of jams and nut butters so good they are not to be believed until tried. The theme of this evenings’ grandeur was mystery. The second of its kind, this supper hosted by the trio was opened to guests with few details, just a tantalizing list of plates to be served. Notably absent from the given information was the location where the night would be held, which went undisclosed until only 48 hours prior to the guests’ arrival. Hence, Secret Supper.
We must first commend the guests themselves, for agreeing to such willful uncertainty. Dinner on any given night at home could in a way qualify as a “secret supper,” never knowing what may come up or what might sound good to carry home after a long day’s work. A planned mystery on the other hand.. well that makes things a bit more interesting. All the same, each of the guests were worthy of the challenge, to endure suspense, even a few butterflies mingled between stomach growls.
Despite their elusive invitation, the hosts left nothing to chance. Each detail was given careful consideration, from lighting a dusky path to a table laid with care. Their collective talents were evident in the tablescape and decor: rustic, refined, and inviting. As the finishing touches were set, the scene appeared as one from some fabled farm picnic – with slightly more wine.
Aside from hosting the event, our resident hosts were Tumbleweed Farm owners Andrea and Taylor Bemis. Their home and the six acre organic farm they tend themselves at the base of Mt. Hood, OR set the stage for the evening, a powerful reminder of the sacrifice and dedication required to bring each portion to our plates. A collective effort, recognized and celebrated by all, the guests slid onto their seats that night not only to partake of a well-ordered meal, but to complete the circle of cultivation, cooking, and community.
As helping hands for the evening, we were privy to the magic transpiring both ‘onstage’ and off. There were other hands doing far more than ours, too. We were honored to be charged with tasks by the gracious and competent resident wine expert Danielle Firle, wash dishes alongside the tireless and saintly Kawika and Jess Kaula, and fawn over each course with Eva’s assistant Eva Goellner. At the end of the night, it was with these committed few that we consecrated our new friendships over an embarrassingly decadent bowl of leftover meringue, fresh sliced figs, and creamy nut butter. No photos were taken at this time, the moments captured where it is counted most.
Throughout the night, we hurried to make ourselves useful, all the while drooling over heaping platters of falafel with slow roasted cherry tomatoes and tzatziki atop Eva’s homemade flatbread. Between courses, guests passed about Roman Candle Bread to generously spread with Sir Isacc’s Folly Spiced Apple Chutney, Suzanne’s Heart of Darkness Fig Jam, Vermont Creamery Marjoram and Clove compound butters.
Courses were paraded out on a leisurely schedule, giving guests time to digest the reflect on the moment, unhurried by the arrival of the next plate until the last had sunk its comforts in completely. This was the heart of it all – to dine for the sake of its own pleasure.
At dusk, the main course was revealed: a slow roasted pulled pork, cushioned like royalty between pillows of picnic brioche. Accompanying the pork were pickled juniper grapes, a cabbage slaw that made my Southern heart skip a beat, and an unruly anise fig glaze I swear I could still taste on my fingertips the next morning. A symphony of sweet flavor, aroma, texture, and warmth against the night’s cooling air.
Dessert came bittersweet – a subtle cue to the night’s’ end. Waves of layered spiced figs, cloud white meringue, classic cream, and a touch of jam because it’s only right. The sweetness came paired with soothing cups of T Project chamomile hot tea and cream kissed glasses of Coava’s Ethiopian Kilenso Cold Brew.