by Joan Adler
Like many workplaces at this time of the year, Moosewood has an annual Holiday Party. I imagine every workplace party has its traditions and Moosewood is no different. This year we honored some of those traditions as well as adding some new elements, to keep things interesting.
We are really lucky to be located in Ithaca, a small town in the hinterlands of upstate New York with the cultural offerings of a city many times its size and with more than its fair share of local musicians, artists and performers. Contributing to the cultural richness is Ithaca College (IC) with its many wonderful concerts and musical theater productions. A number of past and present Moosewood workers are or were music or theater students at IC, so our ‘open mics’ have featured some amazing showcases of talent. Our own Dave Dietrich, also a founder of the Ithaca Shakespeare company, often emcees clad in full Renaissance regalia, and has led us in rousing pub sings. We tried games for a couple of years – Wheel of Moosewood Fortune, anyone?– we’ve roasted ourselves through satirical song, and had a spangled and bewigged quartet of workers (The Toasted Baguettes) vogue and lip-synch their way through “Please Mr. Postman” and “Stop in the Name of Love.”
This year we tried some new stuff. We did a “business swap” which turns out to be a great way for businesses to afford creative holiday gifts and gain wider audiences. One such swap involved our donation of a hefty Moosewood gift certificate to be raffled off to employees at La Tourelle, a lovely local Hotel and Spa. They, in turn, gave us a gift certificate for a night at the hotel with generous spa options to be raffled off at our party. In addition to our traditional thank you notes and bonuses, our Secret Santa exchanges were distributed this year by a Santa him (her?) self (who can tell in that outfit ?), though I suspect it was our own Todd Henderson. We also set-up a kid’s table piled high with games and craft supplies and bubble-blowers for our ever-growing third and fourth generation of children and grandchildren.
The biggest change, however, was the presence of a DJ. For years, we’ve been trying to get people to dance at our parties, first with tapes, and then CD’s, then IPods, even live music. Well, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, “it’s the DJ, stupid.” Apia (say Ahhh – pia) was our DJ and he is truly an artist. He well played the crowd as well as the disks, finding the perfect selection for dancers ranging from ages 2 to 62, and beyond.
And the food, the food! How could it have taken me so long to get to the food? It’s a total dish-to-pass but with orchestration….don’t want 35 varieties of lasagna or quinoa tabouli do we? So a sign-up sheet goes up a couple of weeks before the event, and we’re off! It’s hard to be humble at this point because we’ve got great professional chefs and home chefs amongst us and we all try to outdo ourselves. The spread is generally amazing. Yes, a (delicious) Béchamel Lasagna was on the groaning board this year, but so was ceviche, and paella, and Hoppin’ John, stir-fried vegetables w/glazed tofu, empanadas with two-fillings and pebre ( a spicy Chilean salsa), and phyllo triangles filled with a variety of dried mushrooms – to name just a few entrees, plus many, many side dishes. Desserts included Navaho Peach Crumble (from the Moosewood Book of Desserts), an Italian fruit cake, (thank you Susan), a chocolate-peanut butter pie (you’re the best, John), Hostess Cupcake-like cupcakes made from scratch, complete with a cream filling and the white squiggle across the top (go Jenny!), and countless cookies and quick breads. There was also an edible, neon green and red wreath made of God-knows-what but was worthy of a picture on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens.
When it was time to clean-up, Apia kept spinning and what at first felt like a marathon task was done in no time as we sang and swayed as we bussed and swabbed.
Well 2013 is here. It marks Moosewood’s 40th anniversary, a true milestone. Our longevity would have been impossible without the tremendous support from you, our readers and eaters. We thank you.
From all of us to all of you, we wish you a new year of peace, good works, creativity, kindness and many, many good meals.