This past weekend, Graham and I celebrated our six-year anniversary. While at dinner (which I’ll get to in a moment because food boners), he said that the time had flown by, and because I am me and he knows who he’s dating, I scoffed and said “some moments more than others.”
Oh, relax. Mostly, yes, it has flown by. I sometimes think back to conversations or events from the beginning of our relationship and they seem like they just recently happened, like I can pick up talking where we left off on the same topic. But then I think about where one of us was living then, or where one of us was working, or even the people who were hanging out with us and I’m struck by how long ago it actually happened.
Six years is longer than high school. It is longer than college (ahem, for some people). It is almost as long as most first marriages. It’s a hell of a lot longer than a lot of people wait to get married in the first place, which, hey, see previous sentence. If you’re not one of those one-in-a-million soulmate high school sweetheart kind of couples, six years is a long fucking time.
So obviously we celebrated in a big way.
We went to the aquarium.
Wait for it!
And watched an octopus eat a squid.
Look, I don’t really know what to tell you. We’re both kind of dorks and we both grew up watching PBS. Aquariums and museums and learning is fun for us. Also the octopi (there were two!) were really fucking cool, and, considering we went to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium for our four-year anniversary, I think our little day trip was appropriate.
We also went to dinner at The Whale Wins, one of Renee Erickson’s restaurants. Another one of her restaurants, The Walrus and the Carpenter, is routinely voted one of the best in the country. We’d gone there shortly after we moved, and since The Whale Wins is just as close to our house and much more casual/less financially upsetting than the only other place we batted around (Canlis), we got the last two-top and had an awesome, awesome meal (copied from their menu):
Roasted Beets served with Sheep’s Milk Feta, Freddy Guys Hazelnuts & Parsley Relish
I don’t even like beets all that much. I like golden beets okay and if they’re just slightly pickled then they’re fucking aces with paté, but damn were these things delicious, and the hazelnuts with parsley relish made a crazy good gremolata that I’m going to imagine spreading on everything I eat from now on.
Caviar d’Aubergine, Roasted Cauliflower, Pine Nuts, Thyme and Lemon Peel
One would assume that if you’re going to one of the best restaurants run by one of the best chefs in the country, you’d probably have more than a passing interest in food. I do, and Graham does, and this is why we know that “Caviar d’Aubergine” is pureed eggplant (“caviar” refers to the seeds). Which is more than I can say for the old assholes who were eventually seated next to us, loudly complaining about having had to wait an hour for a table (ahem, best restaurant run by the best chef and they don’t take reservations, check Yelp ya goddamn morons) and asking the most “foodie” member of their group if “Caviar d’Aubergine” was “like, real caviar?” He said that it was, proving that at a table full of idiots, the one who doesn’t know kitchen French is king. I should add, the dish was wonderful.
Matiz Sardines, Curried Tomato Paste & Shaved Fennel on Toast
I know you think you hate sardines, but getting the really good ones dressed in olive oil and herbs is like eating the best tuna salad in the world. They’re so meaty and satisfying and I honestly don’t know why hipsters haven’t turned onto Depression Chic and started taking sardine sandwiches to work in lunch pails.
Totten Inlet Mussels, Sri Lankan Curry, Potatoes, Leeks, Cream
Mussels and I have a curious relationship, in that I continuously crave them without really liking most of the ones put in front of me. Like oysters, I love a mussel baked in cheese and cream but am not always so psyched about the slippery ones. In the case of mussels, this means sautéed or steamed until open and dressed with some liquid. Because I am a pussy, apparently. But these were exceptional mussels, and my only complaint is that the dish contained a single fingerling potato. Come on, The Whale Wins, I am a pale redhead and I clearly require all of the potatoes you have.
Salumeria Biellese Culatello (Little Backside Cured Ham) & Butter
JESUS JUMPED UP CHRIST THIS IS WHAT I WILL EAT UNTIL I DIE. Oh my god. Oh my god. I feel out of breath just typing this, but have you ever been sitting in a restaurant and some beautiful angel server brings you a plate heaped with gossamer-thin sliced ham and butter? And butter? Glorious, silky, salted butter?! AND NO BREAD, WHICH I DIDN’T EVEN MISS. I cannot even tell you how much you are missing until you get this plate and wind a daub of that butter inside of a nest of that ham and just slide it into your mouth. Forgive the trope, but it was food sex and anyone who tries to seduce you with chocolates simply hasn’t had enough pork.
There were at least four other dishes that I wanted to get, but five plates shared by two people who still have to go grocery shopping that night is enough. I don’t want to scare the staff or anything, I just think that someday I might walk down to The Whale Wins, press my boobs against the front window, and mutter “Get in me, get in me” until they do something about it. Preferably with ham.