Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dinner with Lidia Bastianich at Avanti's

I love how life is sometimes like the waves of an ocean in that the tide comes in and then goes out and then comes back in again…..

Last night, Isabel and I enjoyed a wonderful presentation and dinner with a true cuisine rock star, Lidia Bastianich, at our good friend Patricia Livi’s restaurant here in Phoenix, Avanit’s. What a treat to spend an evening with her and get to personally know her and exchange thoughts and ideas. This lady is amazing. 69 years young this lady is full of energy and life and uses her cooking to share her message.

Flash back to 1979, I had just moved to Tempe as a sophomore college student from Durango, Colorado and didn’t know a single person with the exception of one friend from Durango, Danny Brown. Danny and I went to High School in Durango and I also shared time and a job with him on the Durango to Silverton steam train. Danny Brown is now the City Attorney for the City of Phoenix. 

Well our railroad boss and family friend, Bill Griffin and his wife Della, were in town enjoying a winter getaway and knew that Danny and I were down here at ASU. He tracked me down and asked if he could take us to dinner. Of course he was expecting something like the Chuck Box or the Dash Inn…. Of course I guess even back then I had good taste, I grabbed the Yellow Pages (remember those) and looked up restaurants, and found an Italian place called Avanti’s that caught my eye. Made reservations and met them there. My boss never let me forget that – “ask the kid to pick a place for dinner, and he picks this place with duck under glass!”

Now some 37 years later here I am with my wife having a fabulous Osso Bucco dinner with Lidia Bastianich in the same Avanit restaurant sitting next to one of the PBS Producers and his wife….. Add to it, over the course of the years I’ve become friends and the architect for the wife and co-owner of Avanti, Patricia Livi. If someone would have told me about this evening 37 years ago I would have laughed and never believed it. What is even more fascinating, is how many times I have watched Lidia and her shows on PBS, studied her cookbooks, and enjoyed dinners at her Eataly in NYC and now in Florence and then to sit with her and share dessert was just magical and so inspirational.

At 69 she is going strong, she is out promoting her show on PBS Lidia Celebrates America, her new book Lidia’s – Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine, speaking and book signings across the world with trips to Dubai and South America. Truly an inspiration. I encourage you to try her recipes. They are authentic and generally simple.

So as the tide flows in and then flows out, I wonder 37 years from now what I’ll be blogging about. I do not think this story is over – in fact based on our conversation last night, this story is just beginning!!!!

By the way, here is the link to my Osso Bucco just in case you want to make it this evening! Enjoy and Live Different!

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