A Bite of Aspic

I first spotted Art in an airport lounge in Seattle where I sat waiting to catch my flight home. He was dapper as can be with a tweed fedora, fitted leather jacket over a black turtleneck, wool trousers, snazzy leather shoes, and carrying a saxophone case. I was delighted and thought to myself, "If I was an elderly black man, I'd want to look just like him!"

To my surprise we were seated next to each other on the flight home and when he pulled out a travelogue book set in France, I had the sneaking feeling that he might, just might be a kindred spirit.

I took a deep breath, said hello and before we knew it we were nattering away like old friends. We talked of food and travel, music and books, family and friends, all the things that make life so beautiful. When we parted at the airport he gave me his business card and told me to keep in touch, and I went home pleased as punch to have a new friend.

A few emails later, Art invited me to have dinner with him and his fabulous wife, Donna. I was given the choice of dinner at a Mexican restaurant, a simple French dinner at home, or a full-blown 5-course French dinner. Was there any question? A date was set and on that auspicious day, over an amazing array of culinary delights, a friendship was forged that has swelled to include my siblings, parents and friends. Art and Donna are like family.

 With my dear friends, Art and Donna, at Canadian Thanksgiving last year.

Nowadays we get together every couple of weeks for dinner at someone's house, starting the evening off with a round of hugs and a round of drinks, usually a fine white wine or a lovely apple schnapps.

Art prepping the Chianti for pouring.

Not long ago Art and Donna had some of us over for dinner. We sipped our cognac and visited jovially around the table while Art presented us with a beautiful tomato aspic garnished with edible flowers.

Filling our glasses with red wine, he then set a gorgeous crudités platter laden with tomatoes, artichoke hearts, thinly sliced cucumber, celery spears, boiled eggs, stuffed olives and shrimp on a bed of red leaf lettuce. Delicious!

 This was followed by roasted peppers, onions and zucchini, cool and bright cucumber salad and a wonderful homemade lasagna.

As always, we ended our evening together cozy on couches in the living room watching British murder mysteries. :-)

I'm so glad I said hello that day on the airplane. :-)

Tomato Aspic
(From The Joy of Cooking)

3 1/2 cups tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp chopped onion
1 bay leaf
4 ribs celery, with leaves
1 tsp dried basil or tarragon
2 Tbsp gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

Combine everything but gelatin and water in saucepan, bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain out solids.

Soak gelatin in water then dissolve in hot, strained juice. Add water to make four cups of liquid. Pour into mold and chill until set. Garnish with edible flowers. Serves 8.


  1. Life is strange. You never know when something will come along and your life changes forever. In this case, good friends and good food. Thanks for sharing this. You must be a very fine person.

  2. It sure is, Chaya. :-) They've been such a joy and encouragement to me and I can't imagine life without them. :-)

  3. Wow- that's quite a story! It sounds like you made a wonderful new friend. Enjoy the aspic!

  4. I love the story that accompanied this post. You never know who you're gonna meet and where and how much of an impact they are gonna have on your life...best always to keep an open mind.

    I've never heard of an aspic before but it sure sounds good!

  5. Thank you, El! The aspic was fabulous :-)

  6. Thanks, Joanne. I totally agree with you. An open mind and heart has brought the most lovely people into my life. :-)

    Aspic is something I'd read about in books but never eaten. It was really nice though, savory and cool on the tongue. :-)