The leaves turn yellow, gold, and fall, yet there is a few weeks before the rake or boot when both gardens glow in early winter. The first rain, drifting music from downtown holiday parties. In the early mornings the scent of Scotty baking has a nutmeg and cinnamon edge. With this amped up appetite for an abundance of food and drink comes the ever present desire for joy we all hold within us, somehow easier to access and act upon in the run up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
It will be Chef Mark Hopper and Wine Director Chappy Cottrell’s first holiday season with us. They are already having a wonderful effect on our food and wine programs, as you can see for yourself from the photo album of the past week, below. Chappy organized the Billecart-Salmon dinner and he and Lukka have launched our new wine club. Meanwhile, in both kitchens, Chef Hopper is stealthily adding programs and fine tuning everything. All this new creative energy even has the bar team picking up it’s collective head with smashing winter cocktails.
The Christmas we know and love is but a few centuries old, while the floral and herbal scents we associate with the season, like Frankincense and Myrrh, were revered and traded as gold for millennia. The decorated Christmas tree is but a 17th century German invention, and we only began celebrating gift giving on the 25th (or evening of the 24th) during the Victorian era. But long before the birth of Christ this season was celebrated as humans turned to nature for remedy of physical and spiritual need during the long dark months of winter. Primitive small farm communities brought bows of fir and spruce indoors from the time civilization had doors. It’s lively, oily, greenly pungent scent was a visceral and often mind saving reminder that no matter how seemingly endless and gloomy, spring would come. So what must a ‘pagan’ Christmas have smelled like? K2 and I researched through a plethora of early Winter Solstice traditions; Dan foraged farm and forest and all the way down to Cloverdale, and…voila! Our love letter to the season will hang from the rafters until the first of the year. Don’t miss checking out the warm scents of Frankincense, Myrrh and ‘Gold,’ in the Somm’s Table trace boxes.