Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Delicious Birthday!

Friday, July the 9th was my 51st birthday. I am now closer to 100 than I am to zero. Gah. I have noticed an odd obsession lately. I don't know if it's because I work with so many old patients or because I have been anticipating tripping over that 51. I notice how old people are and at what age they die. I get very cheerful when a couple in their 80's comes into the office. But notice and feel anxious when someone is widowed in their 60's. We watch/listen to one of the cable music channels on TV when we go to sleep at night. Our station of choice plays swing - mostly 30's and 40's music. They put little blurbs about the artist on the bottom of the screen and when I'm not quite ready to shut my eyes, I'll read them. Often, because of how old the music is, the artist will be deceased and they will give the dates of his birth and death. I will be lying there idly reading/half dozing and do the math in my limited little brain. Now I know that jazz musicians are not the best demographic group to check for longevity. They weren't the healthiest living folks on the planet - all that travel and bad food and late nights and COCAINE took it out of them. But it still gives me mental hives. Fats Waller died at 32 and Chick Webb at 34! Jack Teagarden died at 59 (only 8 years older than Mr. Kim and I - though Mr. Kim would hasten to point out that HE is still only 50 and will be until next month) and Gene Krupa at 64. Louis Armstrong and Erskine Hawkins were old men at 70 and 79 respectively. This is not a healthy habit for me.

Mental hives not withstanding; I had a fabulous, food-filled birthday. The one disappointment was that Momma and Ted weren't able to make the trip. They were just not up to the drive. They were supposed to be here for the whole weekend, so we missed them a lot. Mr. Kim was off work and I got off at noon, so he took me to lunch at Secco - a wine bar in Carytown. I'd been hearing about it and read a wonderful review on the blog River City Food and Wine, so I was looking forward to it.

Really nice looking place and friendly, helpful staff:

We even saw one of our favorite servers from Cafe Rustica.

Mr. Kim and I started out with a glass of 2008 Boulay Sancerre Loire, France. Described as: "quintessential Sauvignon blanc with bright florals and citrus aromas underscored by mineral laden texture":

Lovely wine - my favorite for the past year. We shared an assortment of cheeses and meats:

The two preserves are kumquat and rhubarb.

Caromont Old Green Mtn. - a wonderful Virginia goat cheese with a strong herb tang.

Truffetto from Italy. A truffled semi-soft sheep and cow cheese. This was a truly rich tasting cheese.

Valdeon - a cave aged Spanish bleu. This was my favorite. Amazingly rich and stinky and deeply flavored.

Two hams:

Prosciutto San Daniele DOP Italian 14 month cure. Probably the best prosciutto I've ever tasted. So much deli prosciutto (even good delis) is sticky and stringy and this was positively NOT. Moist and tender and full of flavor.

Jamon Serrano - Spanish 18 month riserva. Salty and sweet and rich and perfectly cured.

Gorgeous and delicious.

Our server brought us a piece of the schiacciata (a foccacia-like Tuscan flatbread):

Really nice crumb and BIG pieces of sea salt that just burst into wonderful saline goodness with each bite.

We also shared this:

Pork confit, kumquat preserves and blue de causses on a crusty baguette. Great sandwich with a really rich porkiness. The preserves were just perfect with it. I suspect that they accidentally left off the cheese, though. We didn't even remember that it was supposed to be there until we reread the menu at home and neither of us tasted it. Even the little toss off side salad was perfect. Intensely fresh and incredibly balanced between sweet and bitter greens. It was dressed with the lightest vinaigrette - almost not there, but perfect.

With the sandwich, Mr. Kim had a glass of Gamba di Pernice, a dry red wine from the Monferrato region:

A big, complex wine.

I had:

A glass of 2008 Jose Pastor Lamilla, a Spanish red from the Alicante region. I'm not knowledgeable about wine, especially reds, but this was delicious with the pork confit.

It was a long, leisurely, chatty, nibbly lunch - just the kind I like. We had nothing to do except go home and get ready for dinner out, so we could take our time and enjoy our afternoon.

Mr. Kim and I are quite ignorant about wine, but really interested in learning more. Secco seems like the kind of place that would welcome helping us learn, and would be good at it. And not just to sell us some wine. They all seem sincerely excited about what is going on there. While we were there, a former coworker of Mr. Kim's stopped by for lunch. He was alone and sat at the bar, obviously having a comfortable chat with the staff. He might have heard Mr. Kim mention my birthday, because in a lovely gesture, he dropped a bottle of wine off at our table. We'll be back to Secco. If we lived close enough, we would certainly become regulars.

My birthday dinner was at Bouchon, a fairly new French Bistro that Mr. Kim and The Child had had lunch at. It was the three of us and Mr. Kim's parents. Unfortunately his stepmom had a bad headache and couldn't join us. I liked the food a lot and everyone else seemed to like theirs, too. The service was good and the restaurant was attractively decorated. It was very dark, so my pictures aren't worth posting. I started with the escargot. If snails are on the menu, I'm going to get them. And the fact that the restaurant is a French bistro just enforces that. My main was skate w/ spinach. This was just beautiful. The texture and flavor were perfect. I love skate, but don't often have the opportunity to have it. My dessert was a wonderful little chocolate pate. A deep, rich little rectangle of gooey chocolate perfection with a meringue on one side and a puff of whipped cream on the other. In the center was a perfect slice of candied orange peel. It seemed almost dehydrated - really interesting. I'd like to figure out how to do that.

The Child started with Mini Comte Cheese Raviole w/ Cream Truffle Sauce - Beautiful tiny pasta pillows filled with cheese and the truffle sauce was so deep and rich. Her main was Veal Tenderloin w/ lemon garlic, hot pepper, rosemary, white wine and potato gratin. I thought this was very good and that the gratin was one of the best I've ever had. My father in law had the same main course. These dishes arrived at the table cold. They very nicely returned it to the kitchen and brought it back hot, but it was a slip. For dessert she had the creme brulee. Unfortunately not very successful. It was too thin - in both meanings of the word. It was not as firm as it should have been and not deep enough. It should have been served in a smaller and deeper dish. Also the brulee was overdone in most places and there was an unpleasant burnt flavor.

Mr. Kim and his mom started with a cream of chanterelle soup that even I liked. It was just a beautiful soup - smooth and rich and deeply flavorful. They both also had the same main course, Grilled Arctic Char w/ white wine, artichoke, onion, carrot and pistou. This was delicious. Mr. Kim said the fish was so good that he didn't even need the artichokes.

It was a lovely, lovely day. Even though I am a suburb dweller, I am by nature a city girl. All of my favorite restaurants and shops and neighborhoods are in the city. I can remember being utterly broke in college and as a young wife and mother, but still loving living in the Fan. I always hope that the people who do live there truly appreciate just how fortunate they are. To live in a home that has architectural interest and integrity. To be able to walk to little food stores and shops and restaurants. And I am lucky to live near enough that I can experience it whenever I want.

The lovely day didn’t end there. When we got home The Child and Mr. Kim gave me my presents. A 10X lens for my camera and a laptop! Now there is no excuse for me not becoming a powerhouse blogger (well, except for that tendency towards indolence and a lack of writing talent).


  1. Pish-Tush to that last line, and a very Happy Birthday to all the rest!! And I see that it WAZZZZZ!

    What a day---lunch with your groom and then the leisurely afternoon, with all that pesky Bouchon business at dinner---ennui reigns.

    I repeat, WHAT A DAY!! I remember asking you your birthday last year when we were talking over all the albums and boxes and pictures strewn at our feet, and I think we got off the subject and I never did hear it.

    Belated Happy to you, Sweetpea, and Fifty-one more!! (At least)

    love and,

  2. Thank you, ma'am! I was a lovely day. If I am slow responding here and everywhere, you can blame the new laptop. I adore it, but am old (51!!!) and getting used to new stuff is HARD!

  3. Lord, I don't want to hear that 51 is old, especially since I'm nearly a decade older than that! But I understand totally your observations in the first paragraph of this birthday journal. But there is another side, too. Sunday a friend came over for brunch who I thought was in her late 60's. When she asked for and heard my estimate, she howled and said she's 87! Live young, think young, challenge yourself to do new things and think new thoughts.

    And stop apologizing for your writing. You are a loving, totally engaging person and that comes through in every phrase.

  4. Thank you for the comment - Lord knows I TRY, but expressing myself through writing comes hard to me. I'm glad that some of what I want to say comes through!

    I completely agree with "Live young, think young". Working at a doctor's office, I see LOTS of old folks. And I've given up trying to guess ages. I see old, old people in their sixties and spry, energetic ones in their nineties. And it has much less to do with their physical health than with their attitudes. The grumpy ones that seem to live life expecting to be cheated - the negatives, all seem older than they should. The cheerful ones, who seem to have expectations of good times are young no matter their chronological age. I try hard to remember and model that.