Is there anything that brings colleagues together like an office holiday party? Not in my experience.
The right setting and a few tasty beverages can make for an outstanding team-building exercise…for me, meeting those you work with unfettered by all but the most basic pretenses of professionalism is an important part of seeing them as people and not office equipment.
As it relates to this week’s entry, I had yet to meet most of the fine folks that help keep the Tribune rolling, and so at the last minute I begged our editor for a seat at the holiday staff party at Incanto.
While she was gracious enough to indulge me, she may not have known I was going to write an article about it although I’m not sure how she didn´t.
The Vibes: I walked into Incanto on the evening of the event and immediately proceeded into the wrong area, which actually turned out not to be a bad decision. At the top of a flight of stairs lay a dining room, where apparently I had walked in on a cultural exhibition.
A pair of women in elaborate costumes performed a ceremonial dance, their long skirts and broad smiles whirling around the room as they stepped and spun to the drum beat. The deepening twilight cast a spellbinding shadow on their forms through the glass doors of the upstairs balcony, and it was more than a few minutes before I could tear myself away from the display.
In fact, it wasn´t until the dancers had taken their bows and slipped away into the recesses of the building that I finally went back downstairs to find Team Tribune clearly enjoying their evening on the river-facing downstairs patio. What can I say, it was important research.
The Vices: The river deck was a beautiful backdrop for the evening´s affair. Full glasses and loud laughter made for the perfect decor, and finally putting faces and hugs to the names I so often read in the credits was a treat.
For full disclosure, I had arrived expecting more of a ¨punch bowl and cheese cubes¨ kind of office party–nothing wrong with that, love me some cheese cubes–but the fact that the festivities instead took the form of a multi-course dinner came as a pleasant surprise, particularly for someone who had spent the last few hours drinking at another nearby event I was nominally hosting.
Marcia in particular ensured that I didn’t miss out on the featured appetizer, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with bleu cheese. They arrived alongside a glass of red wine which I didn’t write down the license plate on, but hit my palate in a most agreeable fashion.
Next up was a salad of crisp green apples, leafy greens, and candied walnuts topped with a rich and tangy dressing. I´m not a huge salad guy–hell, I´m not sure I have ever typed the word ¨salad¨ in this space before–but this one was such a standout I could have eaten another out of pure flavor greed. Maybe it was those candied walnuts, I could eat those indefinitely.
Between courses I remembered that I was double-booked, but the ladies at the table were kind enough to excuse me from the table for about half an hour while I went to check in at the brewery…being in two places at once is a useful skill in this business.
Thanks to an uncanny sense of food timing developed over hundreds of social gatherings, I managed to make my return just in time for the main course. I made the tough choice between the chicken and beef dishes and was rewarded for my decisiveness with tender steak wrapped around a filling of savory mushrooms and served on a bed of peach-glazed vegetables.
Do I really need to explain to you how good that was?
After the initial moment of silence that follows the serving of something truly delicious, the conversation continued on while the wine flowed freely. Preliminary chatter about nations of origin and tenure in the area gave way to deeper discussions about life, love, and longing, and after the honey pecan ricotta cheesecake finished its short stint on the table, I was able to walk away secure in the knowledge that I was working alongside my kind of people.
Thanks for everything you guys…you better accept my friend requests.
The Verdict: I had been meaning to visit this cabaret in Centro for quite some time, and getting to finally check it out in the company of cool coworkers was one of the best gifts I have received this year. I really have to come back for a scheduled show….or maybe make one myself at the weekly open mic on Wednesdays. Maybe I´ll catch you there.