There have been many weekend mornings that either my husband or I will turn to the other and ask, “Do you want to get the good eggs?”
“The good eggs” has become our own personal shorthand for breakfast at Cafe at 407.
We usually order two eggs over easy with a side of gluten free toast for me and gluten-full toast for him. And every time we order this seemingly simple dish we are treated to the perfect marriage of eggs, butter, salt, and pepper. They also butter the toast in a way that indicates that just like me, they like to channel a little Julia Child and her great love of this divine dairy.
I’ve enjoyed many breakfasts, lunches, and desserts at Cafe at 407.
But I had never had the chance to attend one of their slow suppers.
I did happen to drive past the supper they hosted out in the square in June, just as they were wrapping up. I pressed my nose to the glass wishing that I could have been one of the happy people leaving their Pinterest-perfect meal instead of doing whatever else I had done that evening.
I was determined to attend the next dinner.
Not just because I longed to climb inside the pictures from the last event, but because they were offering an experience that I had never had before: the chance to become a part of a like-minded community.
Like most people, I had become accustomed to the natural communities that grow from our early experiences. I had a great built-in community in my extended and ever growing family. I had a large pool of classmates in college, making it easy to form acquaintances, friends, and the kind of best friends that grow to become family. And here and there I’ve had jobs that surround me with another community of people, but rarely has that pool of people lent itself to easy friendships the way that school did.
Now, back in my hometown after years in New York City, a place where it is all too easy to become a solitary figure in dense crowd of other solitary figures, I longed to grow my circles and meet new friends. And while I’m proud of my freelance business, my only co-workers are my two cats who, though very chatty, leave a little to be desired in the conversation department.
It seemed that a slow supper was the perfect chance to meet people connected to the area I lived in, connected to the cafe that had begun to feel like an extension of home, all while sitting down to a stunning five course meal.
When we arrived at the cafe a rectangular card waited on a plate at every place setting. The front of the card bore the menu for the evening. There was something cinematic about reading this long list of delicious items, as though you could already imagine the meal unspooling, course after course, through your mind.
The back of the card contained a long list of all the local farms and sources from which the food had come. This list would be consulted by everyone at the table once the meal began. With each course we couldn’t help but comment on how fresh everything was, how flavorful. How wonderful it was to have food of this quality so close to home.
Out of all the amazing things I ate that night, the spiced pecans, the fresh gluten free roll prepared for me, fresh black cherries, more fresh berries in a champagne sabayon, I am still grinning from ear to ear over the memory of the ear of corn and plate of fresh shelled peas I enjoyed.
There is something about corn that evokes nothing but great summer memories. For a very brief period of time in my childhood I lived next to a small corn field. I remember my tiny hands struggling to shuck the corn, and then later that there was something buttery about the corn itself even before my mother stuck the double spiked holders into the either ends of the corn and rolled the cob back and forth along a sick of butter.
I had my first corn of the season at the slow supper. It was the first ear of corn that most of the people sitting around me had enjoyed that summer. The corn from our local grocery store in recent weeks had been from Georgia.
I wanted to hug that corn. Maybe write a little ode to its very existence.
But I ate it instead.
And that was even better.
And then there were the peas. Fresh shelled peas that were left crispy and covered in caramelized fennel sauce. I have never had peas this fresh and I didn’t know until I tried them, how much I would love this crisper form.
Comments about how much we were each enjoying the food punctuated conversations that we were already having about art museums, cities we’ve lived in, the jobs we held, the generations we belonged to, the people we knew.
There had been a small part of me that was a little afraid at the beginning of the evening.
Afraid that it would be less communal than I had imagined, and that despite the long singular table that it would be just like the restaurants in New York, my husband and I having our own conversation while pretending that there weren’t people doing the very same thing on either side of us.
But my willingness to strike up a conversation with anyone who will let me was met with a group of people who felt exactly the same way.
After exquisite food and great company I walked away from the evening full of genuine joy and marvel that something so simple, and yet sometimes so elusive, had happened; I had found a new community who welcomed me with open arms. And corn.
If you would like to have your own great slow supper experience then please join us at Cafe at 407 on August 14th. Get your tickets here.
-Casey Rose Frank
Casey Rose Frank is a story-teller, a warrior, and an entrepreneur. She is an author, and a copy-writer and we are so thankful that she is part of our Circles of Change team! You can learn more about her work here.