Eating Authors: A.K. DuBoff

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A.K. DuBoff

As you know, Bob, I have the pleasure of being on the Nebula ballot once more. It’s a heady experience, not least because it typically introduces me to other writers whom I’ve never met and/or read before. This week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, A.K. DuBoff, is just such a writer.

Amy writes space opera. She does it so well that her readers have nicknamed her the “Queen of Space Opera” (which has me wondering if she has an orb and scepter, or at least a crown, stashed away somewhere). Her focus is on character-driven stories and her work often wanders into that fuzzy domain we like to call “science fantasy.”

When not writing the next book, she can be found binge-watching TV series, traveling the world, and indulging in wine tasting.

Amy’s YA novel, A Light in the Dark, book two of her Dark Stars trilogy, is a finalist for the Andre Norton award.

LMS: Welcome, Amy. Please tell me about your most memorable meal.

AKD: Note: Vegetarians/vegans and anyone opposed to alcohol may want to skip this one.

My favorite meal memory was a home-cooked dinner prepared by my now-husband. To be fair, Nick is a great home chef (one of the many reasons I married him), but this was a meal where some mysterious ‘X Factor’ came into play, and it went from ‘good’ to ‘we still talk about it years later’.

Mindspace: Infiltration

By all accounts, it was going to be a regular Saturday night. At the time, Nick and I lived in a house within the strange zone where the urban City of Portland transitioned into the southern suburb of Tigard, Oregon. I’d spent five years living in small apartments at the center of downtown Portland before we met, so I was still getting used to the pros and cons of residing in a house again. One of the clear pros (until moving, that is) was having ample room to stock up on things, which provided a gateway to a Costco membership. We’d gone to our local Costco warehouse earlier that day to pick up our regular months’ worth of supplies and a few food treats, most notably a pack of fillet mignon.

My parents had gifted us (read: pawned off) their old gas grill when we’d moved into our house, so we were often looking for excuses to use it. I won’t digress into the merits of propane versus charcoal (clearly my parents sided with Hank Hill), but I will say that we eventually ended up getting a supplemental charcoal grill. But anyway, grilling steak was in order!

I went about doing… something—probably writing—for the evening while Nick worked his magic in the kitchen and on the back deck.

Crystalline Space

At some point after dark, I was summoned to the kitchen/living area, where Nick presented me with a glass of wine (as all good meals should begin, in my opinion). The wine is of particular importance, as we credit it for making the meal such a transcendent memory. Both of us loved wine, and it was one of the things that had brought us together (we later got engaged in Napa and married in Oregon wine country). Nick had come to the relationship with a wine club membership to Dry Creek Vineyard, which had enabled him to purchase a couple bottles of 2007 Endeavor (a cabernet sauvignon blend), the flagship wine for the vineyard only available to club members. Since we were having a spontaneous fillet mignon night, clearly one of the ‘good bottles’ of wine was in order. Little did we know that the 2007 Endeavor would turn out the be the best wine either of us have ever had, to this day.

The first sips of wine hinted at great things to come, but it was clear it needed to breathe for a while. We chatted in the kitchen while Nick finished platting up the dinner of the fillet, garlic mashed potatoes, and asparagus. Since I love potatoes as much as I love wine, I was already in a great mood.

Architects of Destiny

We took our plates into the dining room and got settled in. The first bites of the steak were… wow. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but this fillet reminded me why I hadn’t given up on steak completely. I still have no idea what Nick did during the preparation, but the steak was fork-cutting tender and bursting with flavor. Where it really came alive is with the wine pairing. The wine had opened up, and the combination was incredible. To the best of my recollection, we spent the whole meal in near-silence, only murmuring “Mmmmm” and “This is sooo good” between bites.

My favorite memory from the evening is what came afterward, though. We cleared our plates and then took the remaining wine to the couch, along with a bar of the Lindt cabernet-infused chocolate. Cozied up on the couch together, we sat in dimmed lights, letting the chocolate melt in our mouths between sips of the incredible wine. The buzz remains the best I’ve experienced—full body happy tingles. Completely relaxed, we were content to be in each other’s company, not needing to say anything to fill the silence.

“This is perfect,” Nick said to me.

“It really is,” I agreed.

I will never forget that feeling of complete peace and comfort. For that reason, it remains my best meal.

Thanks, Amy. I think you’ve described the early stages of the perfect food coma. What’s not to love?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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