Sometimes, we need to be reconnected to thinking and living 'outside of the box.'
My best friend has a gift for bringing adventure into our friendship. It has always been this way. With her, I have a schedule filled with fun things to look forward to. Concerts, amazing food events, and parties are commonplace in our calendar.
Recently she had me hold a Monday evening for a special kind of event. When she told me about her idea, it sounded like some sort of progressive bike ride dinner. Initially, I wasn’t so keen on it; my bike-riding skills are more suited for easy leisurely rides. But I didn’t worry about it much. I agreed and looked forward to enjoying something new.
As the date for this event approached, a string of emails started to come in from the organizer. The emails gave us instructions about what to wear, explained the theme of the night, and provided more details. It seemed that the host was treating this event more seriously than I was and I began to worry.
Photos from past rides were attached to the emails and the whole production felt whimsical. It seemed strange to be riding a bike through Beverly Hills dressed up in costumes. I asked myself, “wouldn’t our clothes drag? Wouldn’t we be uncomfortable?” I started to get even more nervous when an email came in asking us to sign liability releases.
I was exhausted from the week and my allergies were on full tilt. I was thinking of ways to back out. While brooding over the decision to go, I was confronted by an incoming text message. “Sonia: Are you sure you’re in? You haven’t really been active in the email thread.” At that moment, I took a step back and remembered that I had made a commitment to my friend who was trying to show me a good time by doing “food stuff.” I couldn’t turn back now.
Finally, the day arrived. Everyone had agreed to wear all white and showed up looking great. I arrived in a dress that was a little shorter, as I kept envisioning a longer dress getting stuck in the chains of my bike. But I was still anxious. I knew that I wasn’t a seasoned cyclist, and I feared that the group would be held back by either my bad biking or my ADD. Even before it started, I couldn’t wait until the whole thing was over. It was one of those days where being around other people felt uncomfortable.
As we got settled in at the meeting location, I expected to see a rack of bikes ready for the ride. Instead, we were greeted by a huge dining table, 8 stools with pedals underneath them (our individual yet connected bikes), and a chandelier hanging overhead – all connected on a chassis! And there was food! I had mixed emotions of nervousness and excitement as I saw passersby stopping to take pictures of this elaborate contraption. I wondered, “were we really going to eat and pedal at the same time? And through Beverly Hills? And as a crew filmed us?” Disbelief, hesitation, and nervous giggling filled me up simultaneously. As the other guests showed up, they seemed to have the same feelings of disbelief as I did.
My best friend had won this dinner at an auction named Two Bit Circus. The money from the auction promotes innovation for children in Public Schools. Two Bit Circus, an LA-based startup, creates new and innovative forms of entertainment. They utilize everything from cutting edge virtual reality to custom carnival games. And they’ve brought these custom interactive activities to companies like Intel, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.
Along for the ride was Daniel Busby. He invented this “movable feast” after being inspired by Hemingway. The fiery chandelier and the sun setting in the background felt surreal as we peddled away. We were peddling the table, cruising around town, and stopping periodically to enjoy the different courses of the fabulous dinner prepared by Chef Nick. Some of the dinner items were Tai snapper crudo, purple barley, poached king salmon, and a caramelized white chocolate tart with Raspberries. I especially liked the purple barley with asparagus, Miso, and sunflower seeds. It was really interesting to enjoy barley with a crunch.
As we rode and ate we laughed like little kids. We even got stopped by the police; they received 16 calls from concerned citizens saying there was a huge table with a fiery ball over head drifting down streets like Doheny Drive. The police directed us to West Hollywood saying we’d have more acceptance out there. By the end of the night we had made new friends, ate some delicious new foods and, and enjoyed a few hours of laughter. It was epic, and I thanked my best friend for making this adventure happen.
When I returned home and fumbled to open my front door, I reflected back on the night and realized that my fears were completely misguided and everything about the night was perfect. That night, I not only got to experience a great dining experience. I learned a new life-recipe from the great people who created this movable feast and I’m sharing it with everyone I can.
Lessons from a Moveable Feast
- No matter our age, it’s good to experience new things. This was creative, and it reconnected me to the power of thinking and living "outside of the box."
- People who love what they do are inspiring. I was inspired by our hosts. I could sense their passion for food and fun by how thoroughly organized the event was. It made me want to be just as passionate about the things I love.
- As you follow your passion, you can always help others. The hosts were doing something that not only fulfilled them but also created impact for those in need. That type of blend made the experience even more special.
Cherry Almond Trifle
- 2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (melted)
- 6 large eggs
- 7 ounces of almond paste (chopped)
- 2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups of sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups of fresh cherries (pitted, coarsely chopped)
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup chilled whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar Slivered almonds (toasted)
- Cherries with stems (to garnish)
- 2 cups fresh cherries (about 12 ounces), pitted, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
Add chopped cherries, sugar and water to a sauce pan and cook over medium heat.
When the sugar dissolves, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Pour mixture into a bowl, cover and chill the mixture.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Take a 9-inch-diameter pan and line with parchment. Butter parchment.
In a large bowl, blend sugar and almond paste together until they mix well.
Add in melted butter and vanilla.
Blend in one egg at a time.
Next, add in baking powder, salt and flour.
Pour batter into pan.
Bake for 70 minutes.
Insert tester and if it comes out clean, the cake it finished.
Remove from the oven and let cool for one day.
Add chopped cherries into jam.
Cut around the sides of the pan to loosen cake.
Cut the cake horizontally into 3 layers.
Spoon a thin layer of custard over bottom of the trifle bowl.
Add first layer of cake. Trim if necessary.
Add another thin layer of custard.
Next, add a thin layer of jam.
Spread jam to the edges of the bowl.
Add the next layer of cake.
Add in a layer of custard.
Next, add another thin layer of jam.
Spread jam to the edges of the bowl.
Add the third layer of cake.
Add the remainder of custard followed by the remainder of the jam.
In a bowl beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar together.
Do this until it takes form.
Pour into a pastry bag with a star tip.
Cover the cake with rosettes around the edges.
Sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Add cherries to each rosette.
Cover and chill for a minimum of 3 hours (one day max).