So I guess it’s about time I tell you about my brush with fame. Or are you entirely sick of hearing about Spock and would love for me to get back to our regular civilian programming already? I’m still a little spaced out over the whole thing myself, partially due to the hooplah that followed – four radio interviews and Herald story (watch for it today). Sorry you’re the last to hear it.
(I settled in last night to write this, home at 10 from my cooking class, W tangled around me after a series of nightmares (no more Monster House!) and my (MacBook) laptop died! Or the screen did, anyway.. I could still hear it working away in the dark. But I couldn’t unravel myself to go to my desk. Even for you guys.)
So yes, I met Leonard Nimoy. On both Saturday and Sunday, in fact – I made lunch for him on both days, along with one Malcolm McDowell, Sid Haig, a bunch of guys from Twilight and Battlestar Galactica (!) and Erin Gray from Buck Rogers. And oh yes-even Brent Spiner. (He’s vegetarian – I brought him a cup of pureed red lentil, sweet potato and carrot soup with ginger and curry to sip as he signed autographs.)
But, if you’re still reading, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Here’s the story:
It all came to pass because I was on traffic duty Friday morning on the Eyeopener. (Where I usually do food.) Early in the show we were chatting about Leonard Nimoy being in Vulcan, and I wondered aloud who might be cooking for such a party, and what might be served. (Always making the connection between current events and food.) Immediately after the woman handling PR for Spock while he was in town called, and asked if I might be willing to make his soup. She wasn’t sure who else to trust with the task.
Well sure, OK. My plans for the weekend at that point were to rake half-composted leaves and thawed dog poop from the back yard. Later on, as we talked details, she mentioned that Malcolm McDowell would like soup too, and maybe a grilled ham and cheese? Ditto Sid Haig? And could Leonard’s agent have avocado, tomato and lettuce?
Spock requested beef and barley and minestrone – not the most travelable of soups – so I braised a chunk of beef overnight to add to the pot in the morning, and made minestrone late in the morning, so that the vegetables wouldn’t turn all flaccid and grey. I brought them over in the double CrockPot I had in my garage and thought I’d never have use for, along with my panini press and some nice grainy bread, ham, Sylvan Star Gouda, wee jars of Brassica mustard and a jar of Saucy Ladies spiced pickled beets. I made a batch of chocolate walnut puddle cookies, having heard that Leonard didn’t want any bread. (He ate three – and said they were “wonderful”.)
I set up in the green room – a small, dark room with three bare tables and one plug-in. No kitchen, no sink. People came and went, checking in to see if I was ready for Mr. Nimoy. (All he wanted was soup – it was easy to be ready for him.)
And then he came in. No pomp, no fuss. It was instantly comfortable – like my Dad or Grandad had arrived – he must be that familiar. (And looks close-up just like he does on TV.) He wore a T-shirt, jacket and baseball cap. He got a bowl of minestrone, sat down and ate it without comment. (I was all prepared to say hey, don’t worry about me! You don’t need to chit chat, this is your down time – relax. But he beat me to it. This is why I didn’t bring my camera in – their lunch break in the green room is respite from the thousands of fans – 10,000 on Saturday alone – they spend their days greeting, signing autographs for and having their photos taken with. Fortunately Mark was there with his camera – thanks to LoganImaging for the photo above, and sorry I once again look a little psycho – but hey, I had my arm around Leonard Nimoy! It’s amazing my eyeballs are still in my head.) He was very kind, friendly, chattier on Sunday than on Saturday. But let’s finish up Saturday’s story.
A few familiar-looking guys came in and sat down to eat – I learned later that they were from Twilight – fortunately I had enough, but ran out of bowls before Malcolm and Sid arrived. (Malcolm had to dump the kale chips onto a plate and use that bowl.) For their panini I brought olive oil and garlic as well as softened butter with grated Parmesan cheese stirred in – a secret I learned from my friend J to spread on the outside of grilled cheese sandwiches for an extra layer of cheesy crunch. I asked Malcolm which he preferred, and he said “I’ll take whatever tastes best!”
But wait, I didn’t tell you about how over the top nice he was. (Leonard was too, but in a quieter way.) Malcolm hugged me (lots) and went on about how fantastic it was to have the chance to meet me. (I know! Like HELLO, HAS NO ONE TOLD YOU YOU’RE MALCOLM MCDOWELL?) You’re excited to meet me? He had remembered the details about me that were undoubtedly told to him the day before. He asked me questions, and was so thrilled to be fed something hot and made from scratch, just for him. Yes, these guys are on the road all the time, eating at restaurants and ordering room service, and undoubtedly eat very well. But at conventions and media events they’re used to getting a platter of muffins or sandwiches or fending for themselves. The food was more well received than I anticipated.
So. They eat, get up to leave, and I ask what they want tomorrow – I mean, if I’m going to cook for them, it may as well be something interesting, right? More than just soup and sandwiches? “Don’t say that,” Sid Haig said, “or I’ll ask you to cook Greek food for us!” I asked if they liked roast leg of lamb. Their eyes almost popped out of their heads.
So I’m packing up, clearing dirty dishes and my little prep area that has become covered with bread crumbs and smears of ripe avocado, when Aaron Douglas and Tahmoh Penikett from Battlestar Galactica walk in. I didn’t even realize they were there. And then I came to with carpet imprinted on my face.
(I was such a Battlestar Galactica fan. I highly recommend picking up the series on DVD and getting yourself thoroughly addicted to it. And then you’ll see what I mean about Helo and the Chief. But you have to follow it – you can’t pick it up in the middle and expect to know what’s going on. It makes you think, and philosophise. I haven’t been as addicted to a TV show since. I don’t think The Office counts.)
The guys were starving, and wanted lunch, of course. Fortunately I had enough to make thick grilled ham & cheese for Tahmoh and a vegetarian avocado, cheese and tomato sandwich for Aaron. Fast-forward an hour and the organizers are asking if I can please come again tomorrow, but cook for everyone this time? And so on Saturday night I skipped out of a fundraiser (for the Janus Academy) so that I could go grocery shopping for legs of lamb and more lunch ingredients closing in on 11pm. I mostly thawed the lamb in a sinkful of warm water at around midnight, Mike browned them on the grill in the dark and I cooked them overnight (one in the CrockPot, the other in the oven at 275F) – in the morning I made tzatziki and naan. Exactly what I did here.
For the vegetarians I made a red lentil, sweet potato and carrot soup with ginger and curry (which I foresee having for dinner in the near future, as there are two jars of leftovers in the freezer). On Sunday I made an old standby – sausage, lentil and barley soup – and Leonard made so many yummy noises (groaning and mmmmm-ing) that it made Emily, who I brought along to help and who was undoubtedly the coolest kid in school Monday morning, giggle. She laughed harder when Aaron (!!) wrapped his arms around me, hugging me and thanking me for lunch. Immediately after, I walked into a wall in an attempt to go through the door.
Sorry, I think I just blacked out for a minute.
So yes, everyone was enamoured with the lamb and naan, and besides blowing a fuse with my panini grill, lunch went well. I made a big batch of brownies and a pan of baklava, and as they sat around the tables the stars commented on how they never get fed like this, and what a difference it made to their days. The Twilight guys raved about the baklava and asked how I made it – not overly sweet. Erin Gray (from Buck Rogers) asked for my lentil soup recipe, and promised her famous cheesecake formula in return. Sid Haig asked for my address – to send me a sample of a new spice blend he’s working on. Food really does bring people together, no matter who they are.
A friend sent me this – I was pondering not washing his bowl and spoon and encasing it in glass to put on permanent display…