29 June, 2009

All Seasons, Calistoga

I am over a dish of ricotta gnocchi at All Seasons. The co-owner, Gayle Keller, described the process of making the ricotta. She said it was easy. I haven't cooked for so long that it was difficult for me to visualize the process as she described the various steps. So I just focused on the product. It was piping hot, so I waited for it cool enjoying the fragrance of the creamy sauce.  I didn't wait too long but dipped into the dish and popped the first little dumpling in my mouth. It was rich, as I suspected, and comforting after a long day of hard core relaxation. We had spent long hours at Spa Solage training on the Pilates reformers, swimming laps, and doing Tai Chi and Yoga adapted for the pool. Over appetizers at the side of the pool we talked about the changes in the valley since I first arrived in 1975. I had left in 1980 to follow an urge to live in Europe for a time. Out of sight I had forgotten how it felt to be surrounded by the northern hills of the valley. The dry, golden grasses and the rows of terraced vines in all directions. The creamy sauce of the gnocchi reminded me of that rich, indulgent time of my life. I had lived in a little cottage with a fig tree in the back yard. How tempting to move back, even for just a few months or a year; or two, or three...I believe I could be happy waking up to those hills. breathing that air, hearing those sounds. By the time I finished the last drop of sauce I had a plan. And in the morning when I awoke, the plan, like the gnocchi, was gone.

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