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August 18

A couple of weekends ago, we packed up the better part of the restaurant kitchen, crammed it in the back of a pick-up, and drove two and a half hours east to cook an all-day anniversary party for a pair of longtime Delancey regulars.

We rented a big house along the Wenatchee River, about ten minutes from the property where the party was held, and we brought as many people as we could fit inside, including a set of 8-month-old twins and one almost-two-year-old June.

If you’ve ever been to Leavenworth in the summertime, you will remember how hot it gets. It hit 100 that weekend, and no one had air conditioning. The flies were out and biting. But the party guests were somehow still cheerful, playing lawn games, hula hooping, napping in the grass, clambering down the hill to cool off in the river.

Brandon and Co. got up at 6:30 to start smoking a billion pounds of brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder. Ricardo manned the smokers; Brandon and Ben and June ran errands; Amy drove to Idlewild Pizza to borrow their ice cream machine (thanks, Eric!) and churn twenty quarts of vanilla custard. At some point, Cody showed up, and Katie and Kyle and Michelle, and some Campari shandies. I got to sleep in(!) and read a decent chunk of a YA novel (that I, for the record, refuse to feel embarrassed about), and then June and I crashed the party and at least one of us ran around waving a half-eaten hot dog bun like a lunatic.

Actually, I shouldn’t call it crashing. The couple who threw the party had invited our staff to be a part of it, to sit down like everyone else and enjoy it. Of course, it’s hard to actually do that, and between running platters of food and bussing empty plates, we wound up perched on ice chests or leaning against the folding tables of our makeshift kitchen rather than sitting at the table they had set for us. But to have been included was something in itself, because that’s not standard protocol. When you work in a restaurant (or at a grocery store, or as a bank teller, etc. etc. etc.), if you do your job well, your work makes you invisible. Most often, we as customers only notice service when it’s really, really bad, because when it’s good, it feels effortless, natural, so subtle that you can’t really point to it. As customers, it can be easy to forget that someone is working hard to make us feel that way. So it means a tremendous amount to me, and to Brandon, and to all of us, I think, who have ever cooked and served, when we can get to know the people we are working for, and when we are included not only to work, but also to play. And now I am getting sappy.

In this case, they even called us over for a round of applause. WE HAVE LIVED THE DREAM.

Because it was so hot that weekend, the river was only cold enough to take your breath away for a minute (as opposed to permanently), and when I managed to ease myself in, I was rewarded with watching an otter swim by. We are having a summer. Hope you are, too.


Blogger Unknown said...

You should never feel guilty about reading something you enjoy. Some people would have us believe that if it isn't a terrible slog, it isn't worth reading, but they're wrong. It's like saying that you should be ashamed of liking ice cream. Psh. Ice cream can be just as life-changing as a really complex coffee or something; it just happens to be more accessible.

*gets off soapbox*

I'm in the middle of my first real summer in six years. I'm glad you are having a good one, too!

2:00 PM, August 18, 2014  
Anonymous matt said...

Can we just talk about those photos for one hot second? GOOD LORD. BEAUTIFUL. I felt like I was looking at a wonderful editorial spread. I want to be there.

2:18 PM, August 18, 2014  
Anonymous Seáneen said...

We are busy this summer, the first summer in four years that we are and I am wistful for the heat and the stillness that comes from a quiet season. I love your picture of stifling heat and celebrations. Long may it continue... or at least until autumn.

2:20 PM, August 18, 2014  
Blogger Lori said...

wonderful wonderful :)

2:22 PM, August 18, 2014  
Anonymous Katherine (eggton) said...

Molly, look at this line I just read about reading. It's from Fiction Ruined My Family, by Jeanne Darst (which was amazing. I love memoirs by witty women.)

"Reading was more of a compulsion than a pastime for her, like a bowl of nuts on the table."

Isn't that fabulous? I just finished the book and I have that depression that comes along with knowing the a good book is over. I want to throw myself on the couch and whine "I WANT MORE BOOK, JEANNE DARST. MOOOORE BOOOOK!"

2:40 PM, August 18, 2014  
Blogger Evan Kendrick said...

I so love your posts. But that Slate article made me MAD. Read on, sister!

3:32 PM, August 18, 2014  
Blogger sweetbugfarm said...

the difference between a YA novel and an adult novel is very slim, esoteric and usually the decision of just a few people. read what you love-

5:20 PM, August 18, 2014  
Blogger SSteve said...

It's kinda the same when you're in the band. So when my wife and I got married twenty-one(!) years ago, we hired a band from Davis, where we lived, on the condition that when their band took breaks, my band could use their amps and drums while they got to be part of the party. It turned out great. My band got to play, which was the first time most of my old friends and relatives had heard me play since high school. Different pick-up bands formed throughout the evening. And the folks from the band we hired partied on the Navarro river into the wee hours of the morning with the rest of the guests.

But I'm sure our food didn't come close to what you and Brandon and crew made.

5:51 PM, August 18, 2014  
Blogger Holli Moncrieff said...

Lucky people, getting to taste Brandon's food. I am so curious--hope to visit Delancey one day.

June is absolutely adorable. She's a perfect blend of both of you.

8:04 PM, August 18, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Summer kiddo, gamboling around that Essence of Summer place, is something you will cherish, remembering this time when Winter comes. Did the "vortex" hit Seattle last Winter? I promised myself that I would never again complain about heat.

10:18 PM, August 18, 2014  
Blogger Isabelle Hulm said...

What a wonderful gathering to be involved in. The season over here has gone from stifling heat to very cool autumnal. We're hoping for an Indian Summer in September - that would be wonderful.

Your little girl is gorgeous, by the way.

1:22 AM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Maja said...

It looks so fun and delicious! and that daughter of yours...
Funnily enough, I saw an otter too recently. We were road tripping through the Uk and somewhere in the Cotswolds, there he was swimming in a little river and catching fish. It was amazing.

3:33 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger Gemma said...

Our Summer appears to have finished (at least for now) so we're hoping this Summer of yours sticks around for a few weeks longer!

On the subject of reading, I think you would like this

4:59 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger Mallory Fay said...

what a summer, indeed! love the stories of your adventures.

5:20 AM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Jen said...

My husband isn't a blog reader but he saw me reading this post and said, "I don't know what you're looking at but it looks good." It does look good. So glad that you're having a summer!

6:50 AM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Sara said...

Looks like an amazing weekend!

7:09 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger Isabelle Hulm said...

p.s. Molly, totally agree with not feeling ashamed about reading and enjoying books originally written for youngsters. I learnt a great deal from immersing myself - at a difficult time in my life - in a series of children's books I loved as a child. In case you are interested:


7:41 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger Dixya said...

such gorgeous photos...

7:46 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger sk said...

I love reading YA books :) Two favorites are Juniper and Wise Child, both by Monica Furlong. SO GOOD. I also like The Fault in Our Stars recently.

My husband and I own a small restaurant too and I've been meaning to email you for ages. You inspired me to give my husband the go-ahead on his dream of opening a restaurant (one of his MANY dreams, I might add). I've been reading Orangette since 2005 I think (first blog I ever somehow found, when I didn't know what a blog was!) and I've loved it all this time. I just devoured your newest book, Delancey, too. We have so many similarities and one day I will get up the time/energy/nerve to send you a proper piece of fan mail :)

8:10 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger Amanda said...

I moved away from Seattle last year and miss Delancy's so much...especially that Katie. She's amazing and might be the sweetest and kindest person on earth. Can't wait to get home to enjoy a jersey salad once again. What a lucky couple to have you cater their celebration!

8:20 AM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly, with the various wildfires in central WA, I'd been wondering how this catering worked out for you all (although it looks & sounds much more fun than most catered events I ever attended or worked). I volunteered outdoors that day, glad I was under a tent or or wisteria arbor for most of it. Mid-80's here, with several unexpected bursts of thunder and huge raindrops. Not our usual Seattle weather!

Your photos are great, and I second what someone else said - it looks like a magazine spread. Except yours is REAL. I bet you could do a coffee table book on catering, and it would be absolutely beautiful. And I don't buy coffee table books!

And thanks for your contribution to the P-Patch festival we held that day. Because of people like you in our community, it was a success.

AC in Ballard

8:54 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger Margaret Pinard said...

Brilliant and blissful! It makes me happy to see people treat their servers well; I try to do well on both sides of that equation too :-) I laughed to see you post the photo to prove exactly WHO was the hot-dog-waving-lunatic, lol. Enjoy the days of summer! And gather ye rosebuds while ye may...

9:31 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger James Pereira said...

I love the idea of letting the staff still enjoy the party (as much as they can). It's great you have such thoughtful regulars!

The photos are beautiful and June is adorable. :)

9:34 AM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Jessie Voigts said...

First, June is too cute for words. What a gathering - and what food! Gorgeous photos, wish I'd been there...

9:38 AM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Sophie James said...

You manage never to be sappy. In England we are soppy. You are neither. Lovely story and of course lovely photos. And lovely food (almost forgot). Sophie

10:08 AM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you cater parties in Victoria B.C. ? :)
This looks like a day where everything just came together and yay ! for respectful appreciation for those working hard to make it happen. June waving hot dog buns is bonus entertainment !

10:14 AM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Lorene said...

Molly - you're family is in one of life's truly sweet spots. How wonderful that you're recognizing it and holding it close! ENJOY every minute

10:38 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger JS LC said...

Lovely post and party but I really love the pictures of June! She is gorgeous and looks like a hoot to be around <3

11:27 AM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger Emilia said...

Every part of this is lovely.

11:53 AM, August 19, 2014  
OpenID lisasgarden said...

Every day is better when your posts pop onto my desktop. Thank you for writing & showing us such great photos!! Glad the party was a success.

3:58 PM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger Julie said...

I lived one of my dreams last month and got to eat at Delancey while visiting family in Seattle (coming from South Carolina). It was a lovely experience that you described so well in this post: everyone was working hard so that our dinner was easy and effortless and beyond delicious (loved that grilled zucchini and anchovy pizza). Thank you for your books and your restaurant and for being an inspiration. I wish you and Brandon and June all the best!

5:17 PM, August 19, 2014  
Blogger Jules said...

Thank you, Katherine! I just added the book to my reading list.

5:28 PM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Jeff @ Cheese-burger.net said...

That's a sweet spot for grilling and dining under the sky. June is so cute! They grow up so fast.

7:20 PM, August 19, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll second the Juniper books...I love YA fiction, it's my favorite after magical realism and I am unashamed to say so :D ...online...haha

Also, absolutely enjoyed the deep summery vibe of this post...feels like I've been there!

6:50 PM, August 20, 2014  
Anonymous Ckipps said...

That is a smile!

7:03 PM, August 20, 2014  
Blogger Unknown said...

I just read The Perks of Being a Wallflower recently and was completely absorbed. I am also completely absorbed and cry whenever I read Charlottes Web... Awesome summer fun! I'm starting to feel a bit blue now that the end is coming near.

9:55 PM, August 20, 2014  
Blogger Kate Ramos said...

I love seeing these pictures, it makes me feel like I'm in the middle of it all. What a glorious summer party!

5:42 AM, August 22, 2014  
Blogger Cynthia said...

And I paraphrase, but seeing the picture of June, a line from your first book came popping to me...something along the lines of "I mean come on people, the HAIR!" (referring of course to the lovely Mr. Orangette). Such a beaut.

6:34 PM, August 22, 2014  
Blogger Shauna said...

What a gorgeous summer you're having! xo

11:08 AM, August 23, 2014  
Blogger m. bloom said...

thank you for bringing us along on your adventure via lovely words and photos. and also thank you for recommending "this song will save your life." oh, dear. that slate article. that article was far more annoying than "fault in our stars." yes, i rolled my eyes a few times, too, when I read "fault..." but I was also touched by the characters, story, & honest emotion of the book. yes, "young adults" have different foci and concerns from not-so-young-adults, but there is still so much which one can relate to & love in this genre of books.

i'll get off my soapbox now... and again, thanks.

4:41 PM, August 23, 2014  
Blogger Rocky Mountain Woman said...

That little girl is just precious! Looks like she had a rip roaring time with her parents.


8:52 AM, August 28, 2014  
Blogger Rose Horton said...

The picture of June grinning is so very precious! I love it!!

8:12 AM, August 30, 2014  
Blogger Image Colorist said...

The little girl look like a fairy.
Really she is very cute.

2:43 AM, August 31, 2014  
Anonymous Jill said...

Absolutely delightful. Those ribs...

8:58 AM, September 11, 2014  
Blogger Jennifer in Kansas said...

I'm thinking we were in the vicinity while you were catering. Leavenworth was breathtaking - smoke and all. Later, in Seattle, I kept thinking, we should hit Delancey. sniff. didn't happen.

2:56 PM, September 17, 2014  
Blogger HereBeDragons said...

It looks like a beautiful day out.

11:05 AM, September 26, 2014  
Blogger Svev Gued said...

BEAUTIFUL BLOG! love your pictures and recipes! would appreciate if you could check mine out, im new to this xx

3:02 PM, November 05, 2014  

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