Master of the Feast

22 July 2009

One of our favourite summer traditions is the wonderful evening we’ve come to call “RenFeast.” Our dear friends, Larry and Denise began this wonderful tradition way back in the year 1998, when they invited me and my young girlfriend Stephanie, to come to their house on a Wednesday evening for dinner. Our friendship was new, and it was still rather novel to have a “home” to go to for a meal and running water! They live in a northern suburb of Milwaukee, and in what was only my second year of coming to the Bristol Faire, that drive was a very big deal! For some reason I can no longer remember, Stephanie ended up being unavailable that evening, so when the day of the dinner arrived, I went alone.

The evening was a delight, and the food, magnificent. And thus, a friendship was cemented and a tradition was born. The next year, Stephanie didn’t miss it, and Larry and Denise extended the invitation to include Ginger and I believe there were five of us. By the fifth year the group was a healthy dinner party of seven or eight, and by last summer, the event was officially “RenFeast” and Larry fed eighteen of us! This year, with many who had previously missed the evening determined not to miss it again, the dinner party reached an amazing total of 26 people! The cooking began the day before, and Kelly went up to help. Allyson flew in today, and added her two hands to the busy kitchen. By about six o’clock we began descending upon the yellow house known as Giesen Manor, and the kitchen table was laden with various cheeses, dips and appetizer-type treats. The wonderful Vidal from Cedar Creek Winery was in plentiful supply and the company that gradually assembled included most of my favourite people in the world. Someday, I dream that Kyle will be available to fly up and attend this event.

The baked brie was ready by about 7:15, and by seven-thirty or so, we were all gathered in the dining room to toast our hosts. A five-course meal followed, with the traditional creme brulee for dessert. My photo is of Larry as he puts the appropriate crispy carmelization to a ramekin of the tasty stuff.

This evening also marked Allyson’s 30th birthday celebration, so there was a chocolate dessert specially baked by Kelly for those who had room to shovel it in! Happy Birthday, Allyson!

It is on nights like this that we are reminded just how special is our chosen family of loved ones. I am proud to be the original guest of the RenFeast, and even more proud to call all of these wonderful people my friends. Thank you Larry and Denise for one of the highlights of my/our summer.