Wednesday December 31
Karolyn and Jim kindly invited us and several other friends over for a New Year's Eve party. She chose the theme, which was Herman Melville: his books, his friends, his interests. She added that if they liked, guests could bring nibblies or bread, though she ruled our rare whale steak. We debated whether to go with something from Omoo, but decided against it.*
Instead, Holt made a Moby Dick focaccia, dusted with white sea salt. Keeping to the nautical theme, Barbara said she'd bring fish roe. As it happened, she got a jar of large, berry-like wild salmon roe, so she laid out concentric circles of two types of goat cheese spread (the green with arugula and olive oil, the white with cream cheese, cream, lemon, and white pepper), and sprinkled the outer one with fresh chopped chives and clusters of orange-red roe.
The results did look like a festive (though not very Melville-y) wreath.
When we arrived at their bright and flamingo-lit home, Karolyn and Jim greeted us with a tasty blue curaçao and prosecco drink that might have been what the crew of the Pequod ordered at a tiki bar. There were many delicious things laid out for us, including Julie's crudités and hummus (to keep off the scurvy), curried cashews, a cheese board, anchovy toasts, and classic 1950s cheesy olives. So we put out our offerings, and Holt plied the harpoon, with the immortal words "from Hell's heart, I stab at thee." And we all fell to, or overboard.
In due course, we progressed to main course: Karolyn's creamy cod chowder (a bowl of which Ishmael and Queequeg bonded over).
And for dessert, her homemade cookies that even Bartleby would have preferred: bars made of dark chocolate ganache on salted caramel, shortbread cookies, and gingersnaps (because one of the other clerks in Bartleby the Scrivener was called "Ginger Nut.")
And finally, we drank in the New Year with a bottle of bubbly noir des noirs, and another of cava. Thanks to all, especially Karolyn and Jim, for a very happy Melvillean new year!
*"The Julia's provisions were very poor. When opened, the barrels of pork looked as if preserved in iron rust, and diffused an odour like a stale ragout. The beef was worse yet; a mahogany-coloured fibrous substance, so tough and tasteless, that I almost believed the cook's story of a horse's hoof with the shoe on having been fished up out of the pickle of one of the casks. Nor was the biscuit much better; nearly all of it was broken into hard, little gunflints, honeycombed through and through, as if the worms usually infesting this article in long tropical voyages had, in boring after nutriment, come out at the antipodes without finding anything."