This weekend, I had some friends of mine in San Francisco come up for the 4th of July weekend. They’d rented a beautiful mansion in Ladd’s Addition (one of Portland’s prettiest neighborhoods) that came complete with a beautiful, huge porch (with a hot tub!!!) and a grill. Naturally, that meant only one thing:

4th of July BBQ!

Aside from the beautiful mansion, there wasn’t too much pomp and circumstance — just a pretty garden view, drinks, and tons of colorful salad to start us off as we waited for the food to grill:

Eventually, our grill master (a teeny, tiny girl named Nancy who definitely knew her way around the fire) started handing out huge plates of sausages, skewers, grilled vegetables, and corn on a cob. The sausages all went before I could take a picture, but I did manage to take this picture of the veggies:

Grilled red, yellow, and orange peppers are absolutely delicious. Often times, I find that roasting them in the oven tends to make them too greasy for my taste, but roasting them over a grill is a different story entirely. The peppers take on a wonderful, smoky flavor while releasing just enough oil to make them tender and sweet.

All in all, it was a pretty great feast:

As I’ve written before, I’m not one for birthdays or holidays. I tend to celebrate all special occasions like… um… regular occasions? Or just another ordinary day, at least. But I realize now that a big part of my reluctance to treat any holiday or birthday as a big deal is due to the fact that most of my good friends are scattered all around the country. By that I mean, although I have a fair number of friends in Portland, most of them are from different facets of my life: old college friends versus work friends versus gym friends and the like. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I guess I’m nostalgic for the days when it was so easy to gather a large number of friends who all knew/were all so comfortable with each other that it was just… well, easy. This 4th of July BBQ was a little bit more like those days: effortless and tons of fun.

And of course, a big, special thanks to the SF crew — Michelle, Andrew, Carlin, Emily, Nancy, and Irving — for coming to visit and hosting us in your beautiful mansion! Come back soon; you’re always welcome.