Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Day With Carolyn; A Night In Havana

Thursday morning and early afternoon were spent at KU Med with Kiko as we sat with Jim and monitored Carolyn's progress. Our great lady had a tough morning of poking and prodding and various tests. She was shuddering with labored breaths and had clearly been through the wringer. Jim himself, already beside himself with concern for his wife, also had to weather some seriously negative energy from various sources. Said sources have left the building, so to speak, and everyone is breathing easier, including Carolyn. Jim had hooked up the earbuds of her iPhone to her ears so that she could listen to Mary Chapin Carpenter; one of her favorite musicians. She was already settling into a more peaceful slumber.

I told Carolyn earlier that I was planning to attend a party that evening. I had canceled all of my plans for the rest of the week, but I held on to this soiree: Troy and Sarah's A Night In Havana-1958. Troy's shindigs have long been legendary and I really wanted to attend but admittedly hadn't been feeling too celebratory. I began to remember that, of what I know about Carolyn; I know that she would insist we continue to live and not pass up a good party. After sharing a giant bag of "gourmet" jelly beans with Jim and Kiko in the waiting room, I headed out....however, not before learning that two blueberry jelly beans combined with one of those reviled buttered popcorn flavored ones tastes like a blueberry muffin. Who knew? I stopped by Wines by Jennifer in Parkville to pick up some Spanish Muscati for the party and noted the rising waters of the Missouri River encroaching on this beloved town. This is the park where we usually walk and it is now underwater. The good folks there have been sandbagging in preparation for the approaching flood and we are all hoping that they hold off the worst.

My friend Linda accompanied me to Casa de Snelling on an appropriately sultry evening that flirted with 100 degree temps. We arrived as the food was being set out and the aromas wafting from the kitchen were already enticing. Troy and several gentleman sported white dinner jackets and fedora hats. The women, including my friend Linda, were all alluringly draped in their festive best. I showed Linda around their home a bit and we noted the display cases featuring vintage Cuban money. Troy's friend Andy was the master cocktail craftsman and he created some marvelous mojitos in addition to a wicked Bacardi Especial. We met Amanda, the one genuine Cuban guest who also looked as if she had just stepped off the streets of Havana and she graciously agreed to being photographed next to Troy's classic Packard. I also asked the stylish Dr. Sid, whom Troy pointed out was channeling Paul Gauguin, and his lovely wife Jeri to pose by the Packard for some shots. I met Paige and Chris who were every bit as cool as Sarah said they would be. Paige created a fascinating drink: the Serrano Sling or as Paige herself describes it; the mashed-out guts of 12 limes, rum, gin and serrano peppers. This drink was served shooter-style in the makeshift lime rinds and as Dr. Sid helped serve my first one he told me that I needed to get a piece of that "okra" in the drink. That okra would prove to be a slice of serrano and that drink was an eye-opening shot of fiery heaven.

The food, sure to always be a highlight at Casa de Snelling, was indeed a sumptuous treat. Claire made a savory pork tenderloin, Sarah provided some luscious Cuban beans and rice, Tish made a seriously delicious avocado and tomato salad and Dr. Roy brought some soul-nourishing Cuban bread. Troy would introduce us to Roy later in the evening and I was enthralled in listening to him speak of his love of baking. He would give Linda some pointers with the sourdough starter shes' preparing. Dr. Roy's starter is 12 years old! Dessert was equally desirable: Corrine's' Caribbean Rum Cake (splashed with some of Dr. Sid's Caribbean Rum), fresh-baked key-lime pie and Tish's famous flan. Light breezes fell as the pink-hued sunset made for an ideal setting for the festivities.

Night fell; tiki torches flickered and cigars were lit. Everyone settled in for cocktails and conversation while the sensuous sounds of Tito Puente and The Mambo Kings soundtrack played in the background. The party may sound divine to you and indeed it was but I admit that my mind did not completely relax. Carolyn still occupied my mind, I've been lacking sleep and despite my best efforts, I couldn't quite kick back. Linda would later remind me that even though I'm passionate about this blog, I shouldn't forget to enjoy and even revel in the moment and she's right. Considering that this was one of the most intriguing and cool soirees that I've attended in quite awhile; its obvious that I still need to work on enjoying the moment. My guess is that Carolyn would not dig the fact that I was letting worry get in the way of living. Frankly, she would have loved this party.

Thank you for a brilliant evening, Sarah and Troy.

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