This is how I will remember Val Camilletti … smiling, in the center of a crowd, comfortable in her own skin, and willing to shower whomever she came across with a story, a laugh, or words of encouragement. She was larger than life and man, did she like to eat.
Over the years, Val became one of my favorite people to feed. She loved smoked fish more than most people I know, made gleeful noises while she ate, and appreciated garnishing (most especially diminutive edible flowers) on a deep and real level.
“Just look at this,” she’d say, holding out an appetizer I’d made as if I’d never really appreciated it myself. “It looks like a tiny little world; amazing, just amazing.” Then she’d examine the hors d’oeuvre for a long moment before popping the morsel in her mouth. Invariably she’d give me a big smile (sometimes an even bigger hug) and ask for another. Who doesn’t want kind of energy in their life? Val personified goodness.
News of Val’s early morning passing has left me feeling hollow. I’ve been reflecting on a party I helped throw in 2012 to honor her commitment to our community and the importance of Val’s Halla Records to those who live and shop here. We filled my friend Sue’s house to capacity with Val’s friends and supporters for a fancy/fun affair. Of course, we served a signature cocktail that evening called The Valhalla.
I’ve included the recipe below, as I think its only fitting we all raise a glass to Val in the coming days. She was effervescent and kind, and our community will not be the same without her in it.
The Valhalla Cocktail
- 2 Parts Orange Infused Tequila*
- 1 Part Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 Part Falernum**
- Several Dashes Angoustra Bitters
- Clementine Wedges studded with Cloves
Shake the tequila, lime juice, falernum and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and pour into a glass. Garnish with clove studded clementines.
Recipe note: When we mixed these drinks for Val’s party in 2012 we did it in large batches because she always attracted a crowd. To meet the needs of the music loving masses, we kept the cold tequila in a separate pitcher. We combined the falernum, lime juice and bitters in a second pitcher and iced it down in batches. To serve we simply poured equal parts tequila and strained mixer into pre garnished glasses.
*To infuse the tequila: Steep 1/2 pound of orange peels in 1 liter of tequila for five days. Strain before using.
**What is falernum? A sweet syrup used in tropical drink making, falernum, gets nutty notes from almonds, brightness from limes, and complexity from vanilla, ginger, and sweet spices like allspice and cloves.You can buy it pre-made or make your own from scratch.
*If you are interested in helping to off set the cost of Val’s final expenses and help to keep the lights on at Val’s Halla Records please check out the Go Fund Me campaign supporting her considerable legacy.