It was 10:40something pm and we were somewhere between Woodbridge and Charlottesville when the rain started coming down hard. I swerved and swayed, a combination of slick roads and sleepy eyes. He seemed nervous about my free-form style of driving but I tried to reassure him.
“We are fiiiine.” “Don’t worry!” “I got this.” I cooed.
All the while internally screaming , “HOLY HELL WE ARE HYDROPLANING – IT IS OVER!!!”
We had decided to take a trip to Charlottesville for a weekend with his college friends and a horse-race at Montpelier, which seemed like a big deal.
I bought a fashion-forward-floral turtle necked purple dress and tall suede boots for the occasion. Would you believe I even curled my hair? I wanted to do well by my guy; but more, I wanted to fit in with all the high society horse people in their quilted vests and long lineage. I was the new kid on the block, the initiate.
Feathered hats, tobacco pipes, the smell of horse and freshly cut grass. Rows and rows of colored tents neatly aligned, shading tailgate food and elderly women from the sun. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.
A member of our party started to walk around and take bets. A dollar here, a dollar there – I was picking horses based on their names and not their stats, a strategy that was starting to bite me in the ass. I think my second horse kicked off his jockey and ran the course backwards. More crumpled 1’s hit the table.
I needed to snack, I mean shake, this one off.
Our extremely generous, bordering on overly nice, made-my-cheeks-a-little-red-with-their-unbelievable-hospitality, hosts had quite the spread. Smoked salmon and blinis, mounds of fresh fruit, sweets galore, various dips and chips for grazing, an abundance of beer. I think there was even fried chicken! But my favorite of all the foods, the one I couldn’t stop filling my face with, was the Cowboy Caviar.
I’d never even heard of it before but apparently it’s a thing. A dip of black bean budget but caviar taste. I couldn’t get enough.
Eating, chatting, throwing a football, watching a race, betting, losing, winning, eating, eating, did I mention eating? I was happy to be with the world’s nicest people in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I didn’t want it to end.
Then suddenly, the roar of engines, the “schwwweeep” of collapsible canvas chairs being slipped into canvas bags, tupperware tops snapping shut, hugs, kisses, and goodbyes. Before I knew it, it was a perfect purple-pink-orange dusk and we were packing up to go home.
The ideal afternoon, spent with my favorite guy and his favorite people. An event I am not likely to forget and a dip I am desperate to re-create.
So I did – and here it is:
Chop all the stuff, put it in the bowl.
Add avocado last to keep it FRESH. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over top.
Get outside, get tailgating, bet on a horse, drink a beer, eat the Cowboy Caviar and love life.
Once the dip hits the table people will start to pop up. Or it’s just you and your mom doing a weird photo shoot in your yard while your dad snaps the pic from a ladder….
1 – 15 oz can of corn, drained and rinsed
1 – 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 15 oz can of northern white beans, drained and rinsed
4 tomatoes seeded and diced (I used Roma)
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 avocados, cubed
cilantro (as much as you like – I used 1 medium bunch)
salt and pepper
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon of honey
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of finely chopped garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Drain and rinse corn and both beans and add them to a large bowl.
Cut tomatoes in half and remove seeds. Small dice and add to the bowl with beans and corn.
Add chopped bell pepper, jalapeño, avocado and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Place all dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour dressing over Cowboy Caviar mixture and toss to coat.
Place in the fridge and let chill for 1 hour.