Friday, June 22, 2012

Project Empty Bowl

A Loving Spoonful has been a favourite charity of mine from its inception. A volunteer-driven, non-partisan society, its "mission is to make sure that no one living with AIDS lives with hunger" and it has been providing free, nutritious meals to people with HIV/AIDS, on a weekly basis, for almost twenty years now. One of the society's signature events is Project Empty Bowl.

The evening's genesis sprang from a Montana teacher and his request, in the early 90's, that his ceramics students make enough bowls to serve a luncheon to school staff. The guests all donated $5 for a simple meal of a bowl of soup and a piece of bread. All the funds raised were donated to a local food bank and the guests were asked to keep the bowls as a reminder of all the empty bowls around the world that still needed to be filled. The concept rapidly spread from community to community and A Loving Spoonful has worked with an enthusiastic Potters Guild of British Columbia and the Canadian Craft & Design Museum to host their fundraising event since 1997.

I'm a little shocked that it's taken me this long to actually attend. Luckily there were plenty of auction items to bid after and plenty of wine to assuage that shock and guilt.

1180. 2011 Calona Vineyards - Artist Series Pinot Gris (VQA Okanagan Valley)

As you'll note, the bartender was generous to a fault with the size of his pour. I guess he might have been giving his best to loosen any constraints the guests might have had when it came to topping up those auction bids. I stayed with this Pinot Gris through the evening (unless you count the vodka martini - which I won't) and, with glass sizes like this, I didn't need many top ups.

Calona is the oldest continuously operating winery in British Columbia and I have to admit that I don't regularly drink much of their wine. Like my previous non-attendance of the Empty Bowl Project, my seeming avoidance of Calona wines is somewhat surprising - particularly when you consider that Howard Soon is the executive winemaker and their parent company also owns Sandhill and Red Rooster. Howard is a winemaking star in BC and the wines of both Sandhill and Red Rooster fill many posts in this blog and take up numerous spots on The List. I'm not sure why but maybe the lack of Calona wines on The List relates to a lingering reminiscence of the old Calona jug wines that were rampant while I was growing up. I don't know that I'll ever be able to disassociate the Calona brand from Schloss Laderheim - the wine that ensured the Calona's existence until vinifera grapes and a modernized industry arrived in the province and one that, even back then, I never associated with the phrase "fine wine."

The Pinot Gris was clearly no throwback to those 70's and 80's wines though. It was fresh and vibrant with acidity and it worked nicely with the array of nibblies in my bowl. It also helped ensure that I kept upping my bids on various auction items.

As is oft the case at these fundraisers, I ran into more than a handful of friends and acquaintances, including some that I hadn't seen for some time. It was particularly nice to have a chance to chat briefly with Easter Armas - a guiding force behind the host organization. Given the occasion, I'm going to add a brief statement from the society's website as it captures some of the society's beginnings and highlights the loving nature behind one of Vancouver's living angels.

"A Loving Spoonful started in 1989, sprung from nothing more than Easter Armas' determination that no one living with AIDS should live with hunger. She saw an acquaintance of hers, a brilliant lawyer who had lost his job because he was HIV-positive, eating from a dumpster. She was devastated. November 19, 1989, marked the first of many Easter's Sundays, monthly dinners held at McLaren House for people living with HIV/AIDS... Easter's Sundays aimed to diminish the isolation felt by people with AIDS by providing food, community, and comfort. From the determination of one woman and her tireless friends, the Vancouver Meals Society [later to be re-named A Loving Spoonful] was born. It was the first meal program in Canada to provide free meals for people living with HIV/AIDS."

A fun evening, a worthy cause and a great way to add another bottle to The List.

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