Vodka On The Rocks & A Rose In The Teeth: A Pashman Family Vacation
Writing this to y'all from the marble island of a Narcos-style hacienda in Montecito, CA. Grandpa Howard just stuck his nose in my face and said "whaddaya working on, Rem?" and I'm finding it a bit hard to concentrate after two glasses of Margerum of Happy Valley (a local Sauvignon Blanc) and a few dips in the pool but here goes.
We're in the midst of a Pashman family vacation (a yearly tradition) and we're doing it in typical fashion: with late afternoon naps, early evening vodka on the rocks, needle pointing in the kitchen during meal prep and fractured recounting of years past ("wait, was that the guy who kept the gun in his glove box in New Jersey?").
The house - "Kasmir Villa" if I'm to use the geotag - is absolutely beautiful. We pulled up and mom was like "Rem, it's a Frida house!" and she was on the money. It was built in the 1920s and is two stories tall, all crisp white with dusty tropical landscaping; there's one vine stemming from the bottom of the pool house wrapping around the second floor and there are gorgeous honeysuckle, bougainvillea, and cacti all around the property. Not to mention that the entire spot is built around the pool which has beautiful inlaid tile and feels like the centerpiece to a rat pack gathering.
Mom, Uncle Rob, HPP, Grandma Suzie and dad - a handful of the cast of characters bringing this blessed reunion to life - are outside on lounge chairs by the pool, soaking in the California rays before an early din of dad's famous oxtail rigatoni (simmering away on the burners and giving this kitchen a delicious smell, two feet away from me).
We've come together in Santa Barbara from SF, NYC, LA, Florida, and Chicago for a lo-fi week of dips in the pool, book talks (Brooke is just wrapping "A Little Life" - one of the best books I've read in the last few years and a total fcking doozy) and rambunctious dinners. We had a big celebration last night at a local Italian spot called Olio & Limone and were a few feet away from Derrick Rose and his date; I got yelled at by the LA fam for non-so-discreetly snapping a pic. No class, amiright? Dinner was in honor of Grandpa and Susan's 43rd wedding anniversary and mom & dad's 32nd so we had some delicious local reds (Il Fauno was my fave), fresh pasta, burrata, tiramisu and a hot chocolate tart. Yumm.
From a YYF perspective, the best culinary part of the trip so far has been hitting up the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market. Before NY, I lived in San Francisco for 2+ years and I can't say that I miss California but the produce here is off the chain, and it almost makes me nostalgic for my former life.
We walked through the stalls past zucchini flowers, crunchy seedless grapes (the best goddamn grapes of my life), goat cheese peddlers, misshapen heirloom tomatoes, Chinese eggplants, and Valencia oranges and I was just like goddDDdaaaamnNNN every sample I'm eating is the best sample of all time. Something to be said for bodacious California produce that's just brimming with flavor, and totally tricked out with all the colors of the rainbow. The produce in California is totally delish and it's also alien - you see things that don't even exist in NY: Chayote and lemon cucumbers and red onions the size of babies. We grabbed the essentials and then some (we brought home some caramelized spicy pear jam that's out of this world) and headed to Jeannine's for a quick interlude before zipping back down San Ysidro (e.g. some freshly baked bread, a few cappuccinos and a peach tart which was all butter and brown sugar and spongey goodness).
We've done a lot of cooking at home (steak and chicken on the grill, local wines, guacamole with perfectly ripe avocados, salami, cheese, fried eggs, shrimp salad) and I'm looking forward to more meals en sieme at home, and of course - dad's ragu tonight - cause that shit's the bomb.
And now I take my leave - as my cousin (the LA producer) tinkles with the piano keys, dad places a fresh salad and glass of white wine next to my laptop, and mom picks up her needlepoint.
"A little bit of alright" as Grandpa Howie says.