A small group of friends and family gathered over the weekend to celebrate my mom's 90th birthday.
[Photo: Michelle van Vliet]
My mom is scary; she's so energetic she wears out young children. I decided to keep the food very simple, partly because my mom freaks out if anybody does too much work for her. I had to give her a lecture the day before about graciousness in case anyone gave her a present. We had a raucous good time and I made a San Giuseppe-inspired feast of sweet Italian sausage and pepper heros, a very simple tomato salad consisting of only a mixture of very ripe Early Girls and beefsteak tomatoes dressed with snipped fresh basil, olive oil, and salt. We had tortilla chips with a salsa that my girlfriend Michelle made that was perfect and lots of beer, wine, and sodas. The sweet Italian sausages were plump and fat, the way they should be so that every bite squirted when you bit into it. The red and yellow bell peppers and the onions had been sauteed in olive oil and a little garlic until very soft and slightly caramelized. I laid the sausages and pepper in a pan for people to concoct their own heros. I used store-bought hoagie rolls which worked very well and set them next to the sausage pan. It's important to use soft rolls with heros because if you used hard rolls the sausage would slip out. Next to that was some very high quality imported provolone to lay onto the hot sausages so they would melt. The cake was store-bought, but really good: a lemon hazelnut meringue cake from the Rose Cafe in Venice, California; my mom loved it.
[Photo: Clifford A. Wright