On Friday night, Chris and I went to a small gathering of like-minded folks to listen to a public radio icon - especially to foodies - talk about balsamic vinegar. Lynne Rosetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table, was in town for Portland's "Wild About Game" cooking contest - and since she's a public radio person, OPB snapped her up for some hob-nobbing with donors.
(I should note here that Chris and I do not contribute enough to public radio to warrant an invitation to such a small event. We give, to be sure, but we're not the big spenders. Chris' company, however, gives enough - and that's how we got the invite.)
We mingled and noshed on the appetizers available (from the fabulous folks at The Flaming Carrot Catering), sipped a little wine (courtesy of Sokol Blosser), and waited for the show to start. Kasper gave a brief talk about the way balsamic vinegar - once an unknown quantity outside the attics of the Italian families who made it - is made, and why the supermarket variety differs from the $200/bottle stuff.
The talk alone would have been great, but then she handed out plastic spoons and went around deposting drops of the $200/bottle vinegar on them! It was not like anything you'd call vinegar - it had the consistency of a fine molasses and tasted slightly tart, with a slightly almost lemony flavor. After we tasted two more variations on balsamic vinegar (the good Italian knockoff and the supermarket nastiness), we each received a small bowl containing a scoop of vanilla ice cream... Upon which Lynne plopped a few more drops of the costly nectar! Vinegar on ice cream? Absolutely! It was really a treat, especially considering it's unlikely we'll ever purchase vinegar of that quality ourselves, and Lynne was certainly not shy about sharing.
Afterwards, we chatted a bit with both Lynne and her producer, both of whom are truly delightful. (Her producer became my idol when, at one point, she said she used to work with Prince.) To say that Lynne is as warm in person as she sounds on the radio is an understatement. She autographed our stained copy of The Italian Country Table and posed for a picture with Chris. You might think she's blinking here, but I prefer to think of it as a really, really big smile.
The two chefs: Lynne Rosetto Kasper & Chris