Eating Authors: Brenda Cooper

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Brenda Cooper

We’re about to the midpoint of the month, or as I like to think of it, the time of maximum shopping frenzy as we mark the final ten days until Christmas. For those of you keeping score, Hannukkah (aka the Festival of Lights) starts tomorrow night. Here at EATING AUTHORS, our contribution to this time of year is to bring you Brenda Cooper, author, futurist, and past winner of the Endeavour Award.

You probably know her from Building Harlequin’s Moon (the novel she co-authored with Larry Niven), or her popular Silver Ship series. More recently she’s written Mayan December, as well as her Ruby’s Song Duology.

But what I want to focus on in this brief intro before she tells you about her most memorable meal is something even more timely: Brenda is one of six authors (the others being Bradley P. Beaulieu, Tina Connolly, Stephen Gaskell, Will McIntosh, and Martha Wells) taking part in an exciting Kickstarter project called Six by Six that bundles together six short story collections by six different authors (most of whom, as you can see from the links above, have been here to share past meals). I think it’s a great idea, authors pooling their talents and their respective readerships to cross-pollinate. It’s a real win-win approach that I heartily endorse, and exactly the kind of thing I look for in a futurist.

And you know, it would probably make a great holiday gift. I’m just sayin’

LMS: Welcome, Brenda. Let’s take a break from the holiday shopping frenzy and talk about your most memorable meal, okay?

BC: There’s a local treasure very near to us in western Washington. The Herb Farm specializes in local and organic cuisine. The salads and fresh herbs are harvested from the fabulous kitchen garden, the wines are generally local, and each meal is served in nine delicious courses. Reservations are pre-paid and sometimes hard to get. We succeeded in getting reserved seats there for the tenth anniversary of our first date.

The Silver Ship and the Sea

The Herb Farm serves a fixed-cost meal with one seating each night, and a rotating fixed menu that changes completely about once a month. We started the evening with a tour of the raised-bed gardens followed by a tour of the wine cellar. After that, we gathered to eat – and every diner had pre-assigned seats with table cards. Our wished us a happy anniversary.

This was September, or early fall here near Seattle. The first course came decorated with edible flowers. Even though I don’t remember what the flowers decorated (I think crackers and a spread of some kind), I remember how beautiful the flowers were (and that we ate them!). The first flowers were pansies and other colorful flowers, and another course was squash flower. I’ve had squash flowers since, but this my first introduction. Each course was small enough to come on a small plate or in a small bowl, and each was so unique that I couldn’t remember tasting anything exactly like it before. The basic ingredients were familiar – lettuce, fruit, vegetables, meats – but the spicing and the preparation all seemed incredibly fresh. Many of the courses had wine pairings.

Mayan December
The Creative Fire

The dining room is huge and decorated with tasteful wood tables and chairs and beautiful antiques. Unlike a typical restaurant, courses are brought to the entire seating at once. Some people are seated only with friends, others are at larger tables in a shared dining experience. The cooks and wait staff create a special experience. We were at one of the shared tables, and we really enjoyed our dinner companions.

Best of all, it was exactly the right amount of food. When I read about the meal, I expected to feel like I do after Thanksgiving – wishing I hadn’t eaten half so much. I walked out feeling fabulous, and it was a truly memorable anniversary meal. Best yet, anyone visiting or living near here can experience the Herb Farm for themselves. It looks (is!) expensive, but it’s no more costly than a nice dinner and concert or play tickets. I highly recommend the experience to anyone who truly enjoys fabulous food.

Thanks, Brenda. My wife is already asking me when we’re going to Seattle so she can make reservations.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

author photo by Tim Reha

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