Memory Flavors: An Edible Tour of an Unforgettable Birthday Bash

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Russian River view

The view from the best seat in the house – don’t you just want to curl up with a good book and disappear for a while?

I just returned from three days on the Russian River celebrating two dear friends’ 50th birthdays. They threw their own party – inviting their friends and family to their getaway on the River, renting three other homes for the multitude of attendees, and then planning and cooking all the meals for the 30+ ravenous eaters. An amazing feat in and of itself, but the real gift to us all was the connections, camaraderie, conversation and lasting memories we will reminisce about forever.

In fact, during one conversation that drifted to food (shocking isn’t it?), we were naming food flavors from childhood that still bring us comfort, put a smile on our face, or remind us of a wonderful memory. And then casually our friend used the term memory flavors to describe those special food associations. @dormantchef and I looked at each other in wonder – that phrase captured the essence of the weekend and in so many ways, describes the reason I write this blog. Food gathers us together, nourishing not only our bodies but our minds and souls too, creating memories that can last a lifetime or when captured in words and visuals, perhaps, even longer.

Peach raspberry sangria

The peachy sangria was as fun to make as it was to drink.

This weekend was full of flavors that each guest might stash away for future recall from this amazing edible journey. Perhaps the sweet and tangy peach sangria accompanied by the spicy chicken carnitas that preceded our cozy conversations around the fire pit Friday night. Or the succulent ribs we devoured Saturday night after wine tasting, hiking, kayaking or sleeping our way through the lazy sunny day on the River. Or maybe that layered ice cream cake comprised of chocolate cookies, malted milk balls, ice cream and ganache in one tantalizing child-like ice cream dessert.

If you haven’t already drooled on your keyboard, here is a visual recap of the flavorful memories of a most glorious weekend at the River. Thank you Sharon and Arie from the bottom of our hearts for providing the venue and energy to gather us from across the U.S. for this happy, heartwarming event.

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What are your memory flavors? The foods that bring you comfort or always put a smile on your face? My list includes Kraft macaroni and cheese and my bubbe’s matzo meal pancake. Now that I’ve revealed some of mine, don’t hesitate to share your memory flavors in the comments below.

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16 Responses to Memory Flavors: An Edible Tour of an Unforgettable Birthday Bash

  1. Echo June 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Lovely pictures and great writing Beth! Now we officially have the unforgettable weekend documented. Thank you!

    • Beth (OMG! Yummy) June 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

      Only thing left is to gather all the recipes – I’m working on that! I love having you as a reader Echo!

  2. Echo June 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    1 of My Memory Flavors: Growing up in East China, we didn’t have western sweets such as cakes, chocolate. We often had preserved fruits as snack/sweets. My mom usually brought some home after work. Preserved plums were most common, they came wrapped in brown paper in triangular shape. Tangy, salty, a little sweet, even thinking about them made my mouth watering. I liked to keep them in my mouth for a long time, even after the flesh had melted away, the flavor lingered.

    • Beth (OMG! Yummy) June 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

      Doug also loves preserved plums from his Hawaiian heritage. Isn’t it amazing how vividly we remember and how much detail we can still conjure up? Thanks for sharing Echo.

      • Echo June 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

        THANK YOU for this great opportunity!

  3. Mike Sicilia June 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Lebanon Bologna! Wow! Haven’t see that in years. A throwback to my Pennsylvania roots. Thanks for sharing! Beautiful pictures and prose.

    • Beth (OMG! Yummy) June 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      One of the guests brought it from a deli he loves in the Sacramento area – it was one of many delectable deli meats he procured. Made for quite an amazing picnic that day. Perhaps a memory flavor for you??

      And thanks for the kind words :-)

  4. sandy corman June 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    My favorite childhood taste memories are my Moms roast chicken, potato kugel and most of all her most delicious coffee cake.

    • Beth (OMG! Yummy) June 28, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      Oh how I wish you had the recipe for that coffee cake… And I wish I knew how she made her roast chicken! Interesting that that is a memory flavor for you but you really are not a chicken-lover as an adult. Funny how our brains work…

  5. casacks June 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Such a nice post, Beth! Sounds like an unforgettable — and evocative — weekend. Memory flavors!

    • Beth (OMG! Yummy) June 28, 2012 at 8:22 am #

      It was a terrific gathering of friends and family and such a collaboration on the food. Not to mention that the wines and wineries of the Russian River are a hidden gem!

  6. Jean Hyams June 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    What a wonderful remembrance of a great celebration. We were only there Saturday but I’m lucky to be back at the river house for two days. I just posted photos on FB of my mom teaching my son the secrets of her amazing pie crusts. The food memories lice on at the River house. If only these walls could talk … and share recipes!

    • Beth (OMG! Yummy) June 28, 2012 at 8:25 am #

      We are all making the walls talk by sharing our photos and stories – it’s the part of social media that I find the most positive. How fantastic that your son is learning to make pie crust! I wrote a post all about learning to make pie crust – I’m a bit dough-a-phobic myself but am working through that fear, channeling my grandmother’s amazing baking abilities.

      Hope you are enjoying your stay!

  7. Nikki June 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Oh sounds like everyone had fun! Yummy I love peach sangria!!!

  8. Garry Corman July 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I’m still stuck on the gravlox…. they’re giving me future Omega 3 memories.

  9. thehungryartist July 15, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    My mom’s enchiladas. :)
    Looks like a lovely time. I used to live in Santa Cruz. I’m sad I never got up to the Russian River!

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