Teri Orr: A most delicious week
After more time than I can ever remember in my long life of preparing (I can’t say cooking when there were days I just opened a can of soup or unboxed a frozen entrée) my own meals — I ate out. In fact — I ate out multiple times. Before mid-March, the truth is I ate out frequently. With friends and business partners. All meals were subject to being held in a restaurant — breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffee hours, cocktail hours, Starbucks moments. I really had no earthly idea how little I was in charge of feeding myself most weeks.
Then COVID. And cold turkey — was what I was serving myself for lunch, sliced thin — lunch meat style on bread purchased weekly and stored in the fridge where it could dry out to become something I would later tear apart for the birds in my yard. When you live alone there is no way to get portion control right. And anything worth really cooking — like a chicken or chili or pasta — is never something you create for one serving for one person for one day. Stuff lasts and multiples in a fridge. And the small freezer drawer. Cheese and cracker meals become the new normal. And ice cream — oh dear lord — you remember ice cream is always the right choice at any time of day.
So when my friend Nan reached out and invited me to the opening of Eileen Dunn’s (Done to Your Taste) latest creation — Fiercely Fresh Eats — outdoors in Kamas — I was beyond ready. I needed conversation that wasn’t on a screen. I needed sun and fresh air and basil enclosed in a glassine wrap embracing shrimp. I needed to drive to Kamas. I needed other humans.
I was delighted on all fronts. It was a beautiful spring day in the county which is the country with a light breeze and warm sun. We ordered our meals and then got settled in deep cushions for deep conversations under an umbrella on a cozy patio. We had so much to say — about the state of the planet and ourselves. We have both lived in our respective zones here about 40 years — give or take. And we have been reporting on news all those years. We had much to catch up on.
Eileen Dunn came out of the kitchen to share some virtual hugs and we spoke of all we had been doing and not doing in quarantine and life changes for us all. She shared her staff working at the cafe was a who’s who of food service folks we knew mostly (formerly) from Deer Valley — Karen and Scott and others. The food was crazy, crazy good, reasonably priced and served in disposable (or take-home) boxes with bamboo utensils. The umbrella provided the right amount of shade and the time somehow suspended.
Days later I was sitting on the porch at my old home away from home — Cafe Terigo. They had reopened the cafe and the patio. And I was with my dearest friends and we sat at the perfect table — closest to the street — where we have had more meals than I can count and watched all the parades for decades. The paper menus were delivered by masked waitstaff who we had missed so much. Owner Debi was there and her husband Ed and their daughter Amy and their grandgirls who had been sheltering from Texas with them. Daughter Carly was in the kitchen creating a new pasta dish. (Son Travis has re-opened his restaurant to rave reviews also last week — Purple Sage). We sat in that sun for all the hours it stayed on Main Street and we visited about how life — as we knew it — was never going to be the same. And how some of that was really positive. Mostly, we talked over each other like excited puppies in a basket — happy to be re-engaged in some semblance of the new normal.
Also this week — in a bittersweet twist of fate and the times — I received a note from Matt and Maggie of the beloved Tupelo restaurant on Main Street that they would be creating their long-dreamed-of farm-to-table experience in downtown Heber — closer to their little farm and where they live. It will be called Afterword by Tupelo Park City. When the time is right they hope to return to Park City in some form but for now — starting July 1 — they will open a new place and a new chapter in their creative lives. They have hosted so many great adventures and conversations for the arts and the city I will miss them on Main Street. And I look forward to experiencing that new dining adventure they have crafted … soon.
For now I have tiptoed also into a few lunches and dinners at the homes of friends — who have also been deadly serious about protecting themselves during the past several months of lockdown. It has been so joyous to just be slightly normal.
I returned also to caring for my home outside my walls. I have planted my herbs and they are growing wildly already. I have been harvesting oregano and mint for friends along with snippets of rosemary. I have been filling the bird feeders — knowing the squirrels and bunny rabbits are also snacking on the falling seed. The magpies have grown to the size of turkey buzzards and there are so many brightly colored new birds stopping by — I am going to have to pull out a bird book and see if I can name them.
The world is not hurting any less than it was last week — not the folks without jobs and/or in compromised health situations or precarious living conditions. I know some of that acutely within my own small circle. But to be able to be useful sometimes you need to recharge and remember and reconnect with both nature and good humans who can help you chart a course forward — in sunlight — both brightly and as it fades. With some time for reflection — and some measure of grace — these Sundays in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the founder and director emeritus of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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Columnist Teri Orr writes that on a trip to Boulder, Utah, she met a shooting star — Kael Weston, a congressional candidate in the state’s 2nd District.