The Distinguished Gourmand: Vespertine @ Home
Saturday was my birthday. It’s a weird time to be celebrating, what with our complete inability to plan a social gathering in which to revel with friends and loved ones. My “party” this year consisted of about 6 people on a Zoom meeting, chatting and drinking, and playing a couple of video games together via the apps shared-screen function. The fact is, that’s the most we could have hoped for given what’s going on in the world right now. It was still fun, and several friends promised that — once this ends — we’ll throw a proper shindig where all those whose birthdays were curtailed during the pandemic can celebrate together.
Before the Zoom meeting started, I was treated to a special birthday dinner by my quarantine partner. She’s become remarkably adept at picking birthday dinners for me in years past. Last year we dined at Trois Mec [review], and in 2018 she treated me to a singular experience at Vespertine [review]. This year she kept my dinner plans a surprise until the very last minute. I knew her plans required venturing out to retrieve the meal, so it likely wasn’t from a restaurant we could have Postmates’d o Caviar’d (which nixed places like Tsujita or Dave’s Hot Chicken). Upon her return, I was handed an envelope and asked if I could figure it out:
As you can probably imagine, I started joyously freaking out while reading the note from the chef. Mom would probably kill me if I called her “semi-retired,” but I don’t know how else to describe the amount of time she spends living in Savannah, Georgia now. Although I’ve only visited a few times since moving to Los Angeles, meals at places like Vic’s, Pearl’s, Clary’s, The Grey [review], and others have opened my eyes to the wonders of southern cooking. I was more excited about reading “…in a tiny sliver stretching from Savannah to Charleston” than figuring out what “-JK” stood for, but it didn’t take long for me to guess the name. The initials are those of chef Jordan Kahn, from Vespertine.
After dinner drinks included The Bruery’s Bois (New American Oak Aged) and Kane’s A Night To End All Dawns (2015). The former was bottled in 2013 (April 23rd, so perfect timing) and exhibited notes of big dark fruits, raisins, prunes, and dates. The taste was heavy on the spiritous side with hints of cherry and tons of oak. For a seven-year-old beer, this one still had plenty of life left in it. I’ve got a few other variants from the Bois series of old ales that I am now looking forward to enjoying. A Night To End All Dawns is a big imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels, originally bottled in 2015. Five years in, it was tasting mighty fine. It was dark and roasty, very coffee-like, with some bourbon presence and very light bitterness to it. It finished on the dry side, which kept us returning to our glasses for more. Perhaps choosing beers weighing in at 15% and 12.4% ABV respectively wasn’t the wisest idea. Halfway through our Zoom meeting, the GF was unconscious on the couch. I’m not complaining about getting to finish that imperial stout on my own…but Sunday morning would have been a little kinder to me if I had another mouth (and liver) helping me finish the bottle.
All in all, it was a very memorable birthday. Thank you, chef Kahn and everyone at Vespertine, for making my celebration so much more than just another meal at home during this pandemic.
Stay healthy and stay safe, everyone.
Stockholm Monsters – Happy Ever After [MP3]
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