Richard, and I went to Berkeley Jan 31st with my long-time friend, Jodie Evans to celebrate New Year’s Eve and Jan 1st at the great restaurant, Chez Panisse. I had the honor, some months ago, of introducing the famous chef, Alice Waters, when she received an award at the Armand Hammer Museum. Alice started Chez Panisse some 35 years ago and, with it, she revolutionized much about how people eat in the United States. Most everything comes from local vendors and farms and is 100% fresh and made exquisitely. She started the Edible Schoolyard program around the country. This has school children plant, grow, harvest and sometimes, cook, eat and sell their produce. She was the inspiration for the Obama White House to put in a vegetable garden. She is an integral part of the global food movement which includes the organization Slow Food. Alice is a beautiful, inspired, free-spirit of a woman, surrounded by friends who have loved her and been a part of her life for many, many decades. In her restaurant it is not easy (especially New Years Eve!) to tell who was staff and who were friends and guests. We are becoming friends and so when she invited Richard and me to celebrate the New Year with here at Chez Panisse, I jumped at the chance.
I had never been to the restaurant before and as we got out of the car and approached the entrance, my heart was racing. That’s when we took this photo.
We got there in time for a late lunch. Here are some photos of what we ate. There were a lot more dishes but I forgot to photograph everything. Beginning with something as simple as the various olives and continuing on, you’d take a bite and realize that never in your life had you ever experienced the particular flavor before. All extremely subtle but orgasmicly great. Take the nettle pizza for instance. I took a bite and after a few seconds, a new flavorful taste hit the back of my throat in the most delicious and unique way.
Although the restaurant was a hub of activity getting ready for their biggest night of the year—a Chez Panisse traditional party, Alice sat with us and was a calm and lovely as could be. I’d have been a nervous wreak. Scott Peacock, a friend from Atlanta where he was renown chef at Watershed, was with us. An old friend of Alice’s, he was going to cook a traditional southern New Year’s Day brunch of Hoppin’ John and ham…the collard greens represent bills, the black eyed peas represent coins and the ham, good fortune.
After lunch, Jodie, Richard and I laughed ourselves silly at the new “Fockers” movie. Truly funny—Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller are perfectly matched foils for each other.
New Year’s celebrations were had back in Chez Panisse, complete with paper hats, horns and streamers, fabulous food and dancing. It was a perfect way to ring in what, I feel deeply, will be a good new year.
We got back last night and this morning I had brunch with my son, daughter-in-law and BBF, Paula Weinstein and her daughter, Hannah (my Goddaughter) and our dearest friend, Molly Rhodes.
I feel optimistic, full of love and friendship and am back working on my book!! And here I thought that was over. My editor surprised me with a swath of new changes she suddenly sprung on me. Yikes!
I can hardly believe it but 2 years ago tomorrow, I started blogging for the first time while en route to New York to start rehearsals for “33 Variations,” the first Broadway play I had done in 46 years.
Tuesday, I begin rehearsals to do it again here at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. I have never done theatre here and I am very excited—to rejoin the cast (only 2 new cast members), our wonderful writer/director Moises Kaufman, and our stage manager, Linda Marvel. This is also the first time I have done a play for the 2nd time and I am curious to see what will be new, what discoveries I will make having had 2 more years of growing up. And here I am, still blogging. I intend to do as I did while in the play in NY…blog every day about the experience. We open to previews January 30th.
Happy New Year to all. Love, Jane