When Events Become Memories

I play the violin as many of you that read these blogs will attest to. My dad introduced me to the violin when I was seven years old and from there I performed my first concert when I was in the third grade. I was the only stringed instrument in a band that played for our school, Deer Park elementary school.

Believing that playing the instrument wasn’t enough my dad would periodically invite my mom and I to enjoy wonderful concerts performed by the Marin Symphony (which my dad played in). These were memorable times as my dad loved the symphony and became close to a number of members of the Marin Symphony.

As I progressed with my talent and acumen for the violin my mom and dad would train and teach me in the finer points of the instrument adding to my knowledge and appreciation for the violin. Learning to play the instrument takes on many different levels of accomplishment which includes but is not limited to music camps, private lessons, and auditions for chairs in orchestras.

My first year in high school my parents took me to an event I will never forget. My dad got us tickets to enjoy the performance of the San Francisco Symphony’s newest conductor, Seiji Ozawa. Ozawa’s attention to detail, lively motion (swaying to the beat of the orchestra), and interpretation of the score was an inspiration to watch. On this occasion the San Francisco Symphony performed Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. Twenty one minutes of sheer joy as I became immersed in the melody and engrossed by the technique of the musicians executing the perfect balance between horns, woodwinds, and strings.

Watching Ozawa point to the different musicians in specific sections to highlight passages of importance was a moment within an event that has created a memory that has lasted a lifetime.

Music and the culinary arts go hand in hand, like bow upon string. The art of creating a dish that transcends all others is a performance to be acknowledged. The preparation and technique of a chef are of equal task to those that have chosen the livelihood of a professional musician. On one such occasion a dish prepared by celebrated chef Jackie Robert (prepared inaugural dinner for President Regan) became a symphony unto itself.

Dining at Amelio’s located in San Francisco in the late 80’s was an amazing experience. Each plate was designed for the food that was created specifically for that plate.

Each table was adorned with a single fresh orchid resting in a glass orchid filled with water. The table cloths were the finest linen, the silverware was real silver, and the water and wine glasses were crystal. Each dish presented to the patrons were presented with cloche service. This means every appetizer, salad, soup, entree, and dessert was mysteriously covered with a silver dome. At the placing of each dish on the table several captains would (in perfect synchronized service) unveil the silver dome to reveal the dish.

On this occasion the unveiling led to several gasps at the table as the presentation was quite simply, a work of art. The particular dish I am referring to was an emerald green and bright yellow woven pasta in the form of a tapestry sitting center stage on the red and black fine china plate. On top of the pasta sat a perfectly prepared Langoustine surrounded by a lobster reduction sauce finished with squid ink. The presentation paled in comparison to the flavors orchestrated by its conductor, Jackie Robert. I have not spoken with Jackie over the course of these many years but if I had I would tell him that he created a dish, on that magical night, by which all others have been judged.

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