An eight hour drive on Thursday brought me to the blissful, sunny wine country of Napa, so pronounced by a beautiful big wooden sign right before the left hand driveway I was told to drive into, behind the big white wall, to the Lub property. The Lubs, a family of Russian descent, were graciously providing me with three nights of lodging as we all met for the first time to travel to Burning Man together. My twin and male best friend Charles, who is in love with the daughter Lub, was the conduit who brought me here but I immediately fell in love with the vibes of the place and the people who occupied it.
I was first greeted by 21-year-old Nick Lub, with sparkling kind eyes, reddish hair and an extreme passion for brewing his own beers out of rich homegrown hops. He gave me a tour of the property that included various barns and sheds set up as art studios here and there to be used for his graffiti paintings, his mother Gaye's wood and paint female assemblages and his sister Sonia's elegant and sexy feather earrings that fall from your ears, onto your bosom, splaying silky threads of color.
Then he regaled us with a beer tasting that lasted into the wee hours.
The next day we set about setting up a mock camp: hours of building and placing our tents, tarps, chairs, shade structures and supplies so that we would not run into any actual problems once we hit the real playa that is unforgiving with no room for error. Nick fixed bicycle tires and tubes. Gaye Lub cooked dinner for us all to enjoy together after the labor.
Gaye described her pureed butternut bliss as "everything in the kitchen sink soup". Basically she had simmered a pot of vegetables from the garden including squashes and carrots with butter and coconut milk until everything was soft and tender. Then she pureed it and let it stay warm until we were done with our Burning Man prep. Served in bowls with fresh parmesan cheese alongside freshly cut cantaloupe slices, tangy olive bread, a wedge of mimolette cheese and red wine from a neighboring winery, it was the perfect simple belly warming meal. Can't go wrong on a cool night after a long day by offering soul-soothing soup, a hunk of cheese, sliced fruit and bread. Manna!
When I told Mama Lub how much I loved to read and write about food, she insisted I start to read a book immediately as she grabbed it from her shelf. "Tender at the Bone" by Ruth Reichl, part one of a three book series about the author's experience growing up at the table with a slapstick cook mother and family of food lore. I snuck away with my last glass of red to my fluffy Napa farnhouse bed with the red mandala looking down upon me from the window tapestry, and sunk into the perfectly witty and addictive book. Heaven...