Joel Riddell and Robert Moon, you outdid yourselves. Gene Burns's surprise birthday bash this weekend brought out a bevy of food and wine types. The yummy chow and interesting drinks like the Gene Burns Kaffir Lime vodka gimlet kept the crowd humming at the Sutro wing of the recently remodeled Cliff House. Culinary and cultural luminaries like Joey Altman, Joyce Goldstein, Graceann Walden, Michael Bauer, Roland Passot, Hubert Keller, Jan Wahl, Marc Vogel, Dafne & Mats Engtrom, and Elaine Petrocelli smiled and laughed as Gene told the crowd the funny process of "out-Teuton"-ing Robert as he attempted to put a corsage on Gene's lapel as they first arrived at the Cliff House. The corsage didn't make it, but Gene sure did.
The passed appetizers, sweet treats, and buffets looked and tasted good. Quince and foie gras made the rounds, along with: roasted pork with apple and brie, steamed pork sausage buns, sushi, truffled frites, spiral of parmesan, salami, and creme fraiche; and Joseph Schmidt chocolates (of course, his handiwork always makes for a show stopper at Gene's holiday bash). The sweetest ending was a butterscotch custard served in a delicate egg shell, with whipped cream piped in.
I considered trying to say hello and thanks to Robert Mondavi. He inspired me years ago by responding to a letter I had written him. His response then wasn't a form letter, but had genuine words of encouragement, that helped me believe going to cooking school was the right thing to do. Instead of approaching him at Gene's party, it seemed more appropriate to let him smile and enjoy the night along with everyone else.