Friday, July 28, 2006

Lunching Into a New Adventure

After the joy of nearly a week's vacation with a good friend, I returned to work today for one reason only: it's the last day that the lovely Phoenix is working here with me.

Since she came to campus nearly four years ago, Phoenix has been one of the very best student assistants I've ever trained, and she swiftly became one of the best friends I've ever known. From the first day, we clicked over our mutually offbeat senses of humor and deep love for books, and the more we learned about each other, the closer we became.

It wasn't long before the sweet treats I took to the office or the meals I served Phoenix at my home convinced her to beg me for cooking lessons. And finding someone so eager to try new things and learn how to fend for herself naturally persuaded me to agree.

Over the past couple of years, Phoenix has gone from being unsure how to peel a carrot to throwing her own dinner parties, baking her own bread, and learning how to make dandelion wine and liqueurs. Each thing she's learned has built up her confidence more and more, and I know that once she's on her own at grad school and then setting up household with Mr. Nice Guy, she will prepare wonderful, healthy meals and impress friends herself.

So as much as I don't want to see her leave, I accept the inevitable (after all, this happens all the time at a college). But of course I can't let her leave without a celebration. And where better to celebrate friendship and a love of local foods than at the local Bistro?

We strolled downtown for a long lunch and settled into our seats, nibbling on the house herbed focaccia while we waited for our meals. Phoenix, being a fan of all things green, enjoyed the mixed organic greens with a baked zucchini, onion, and Swiss cheese tart for her lunch. I sampled the cream of asparagus soup, followed by a big bowl of bowtie pasta tossed with very fresh pesto and a mixture of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and who knows what else). We shared, of course, and both agreed that we couldn't find a finer lunch many other places.

For dessert, Phoenix ordered the black raspberry and blueberry crisp with local caramel ice cream, and I selected the sorbet trio, savoring the intensity of the mango, black cherry, and toasted coconut flavors. What bliss!

We walked slowly back up the hill, not really wanting to get back to work, appreciating this last walk together for a while. It won't be the same around here without her cheerful smile, her wicked sense of humor, and her willingness to cook and eat wonderful food, and I will miss Phoenix terribly. But other people and new friends will reap the benefits of what she has learned, and I'm so proud that she has learned so much.

Fare thee well, dear Phoenix. You grace the world with your light and your gifts, and I'm blessed to count you as my friend.

And if I have to bribe you to come back and visit, I will. Oh, I will.


At 8/01/2006 9:59 AM, Blogger Phoenix said...

Aww jeez, you're going to make me cry...

I heart the Baklava Queen!


At 8/01/2006 10:04 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Actually, I'm making you post a comment... and it worked! :-)

But hey, it's all true...


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