elements of a nice weekend

culinary:
– Red Ink, a soft grassy sheep’s cheese, Appenzeller cheese, and jamón ibérico (!!!!!!). The jamón was a birthday gift from Shane, and oh what a gift it was. We have a bit more in the fridge, and I plan to savor it at some point this week. Some girls get chocolate for their birthdays – me, I get expensive Spanish ham.
– brunch at the Corcoran, which wasn’t all that exciting in and of itself, but it was a very nice atmosphere and I enjoyed the souffle.
– the always reliable veggie options at the Hut.

cultural:
– one more opportunity to see the Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the Corcoran. Our memberships paid off today when we didn’t have to wait in line for the sold out show. The galleries were packed with people, so the exhibit lacked some of the intensity of our first visit, but I’m awfully glad we went again.
– staying in to watch Helvetica and Paris, je t’aime, two very different films but both quite good.

home life:
– our new sofa arrived on Saturday and promptly exerted its dominance over our living room. I showed it who’s boss by taking a nap on it later.
– meeting a new friend at the Arlington Animal Shelter. She can’t possibly replace Sid in our hearts or memories, but she will Basil on his toes and the two of us in stitches. We’re hoping to bring her home in a few days, once she’s healed from her spaying and they’ve made sure that no one is going to come claim her.
– lots of quality time with SB. The last few weeks have been very hard, and very tiring, and it was wonderful to have a lot of lazy downtime together.

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New Years Menu Recap

Despite the day’s sad events, Shane and I decided to continue with our plans for New Years’ Eve, which is also our anniversary. We had dinner reservations for at Tallula in Arlington – for the holiday they featured a special menu with wine pairings which, while expensive, seemed like an ideal way to have a laid-back, not overly social evening. Our menu, along with impeccable wine pairings (not listed):

First Course
(choice of)

Chestnut Soup
quail egg, cinnamon guanciale, Perigord oil

or

Trio of Oysters
Oyster Stew w/ sherry froth, Fried w/chipotle aioli, Raw w/chile & lime granite

Shane had the soup, which was rich and flavorful, with the egg adding an extra amazing something. I had the oysters – the stew was served in a tiny espresso cup, the fried one reminded me of a clam strip from White Castle except much, much faster, and the raw one was, well, awesome.

Second Course
(choice of)

Seared Foie Gras
quince, Concorde grape syrup, star anise

or

Mascarpone Ravioli
5 spice, lobster claw, mango, paddlefish caviar

Shane was disappointed that the ravioli was less than perfectly formed. The sauce was delicate and delicious, as was every other aspect of the ravioli – except for the fact that everything came squishing out with the first bite. I had the fois gras because I’d never had it before and it’s illegal in Chicago and I figured I’d only want to try it once, so might as well make it NYE. It was VERY rich and not something I’ll probably eat again, but it was an interesting experience, a little bit overwhelmed by the sweetness of the quince and the paired wine.

Third Course
(choice of)

Pan Roasted Cobia Fillet
preserved lemon, lobster, tarragon

or

Seared Diver Scallops
celery root, leeks, vanilla-saffron butter

We both opted for the scallops, which were absolutely perfect in every way – delicate but flavorful, rich but not overwhelming. I could have had five courses of this and been entirely happy. I was also very tempted to lick the plate. The scallops were scored on the top and lightly seared, and the vanilla-saffron butter sauce was just incredible.

Fourth Course
(choice of)

Smoked Venison Loin gruyere potato gratin, chanterelle mushrooms, thyme sabayon

or

Braised Beef Cheeks
Perigod truffles, Yukon potatoes, braising jus

Shane had the beef, which I didn’t try because the last time I had beef was February of 1996. He seemed pleased with the beef, but disappointed that he didn’t get the venison. Oh god, the venison. It was rare-ish and incredibly flavorful, melting in your mouth, with the sabayon providing a mild savory counterpoint. The gratin was perfect, as were the mushrooms. Unfortunately for me, I was pretty full by this point in the meal, so Shane benefited from my lack of hunger.

I can’t remember the specifics of the fifth course, unhelpfully NOT described on Tallula’s website, but I had a chocolate mousse with blood oranges and a bit of Creme Anglaise, while Shane had a mango (and/or passionfruit) tart with meringue and a bit of coconut ice cream on top of a pile of dark chocolate shavings. Both were delicious, though the mousse was a bit overwhelming after the four previous courses.

All in all, it was a wonderful dining experience, and I’m looking forward to going back for brunch or drinks.

Global Warming

I knew it was unseasonably warm, but when I walked through Dupont Circle just now, the time and temperature reading on the SunTrust bank said that it’s 68F out.  That’s just a little ridiculous, Mother Nature.

A car alarm has been going off in close proximity to our apartment for at least half an hour.  This follows 2-4 other alarms earlier today.  I asked Shane if maybe someone in our building has decided to not use an alarm clock and just be woken up by their car.  It certainly seems like it, given the frequency with which we hear car alarms in the morning.

I know where we live is kind of ghetto, but it’s not THAT bad, right?

A New Day

I would be lying if I said I was anything other than really, really sad right now. SB and I have spent the last two days – the last two and a half weeks, really – trying to keep busy and cheer each other up and avoid looking at all the spots where she loved to sit or sleep or absorb heat. She was so small – especially at the end – but her absence is enormous and tangible in our little apartment. I know it will get easier, and in some ways I think it started getting easier yesterday when we left the shelter, if only because we could stop worrying AND grieving AND hoping AND making decisions and instead focus on our grief and our memories. I put her tag on my key ring so that I’ll have a reminder of her every day.

Earlier in the month I made my resolutions for 2008, but I’ve since revised them somewhat. I haven’t checked last year’s list to see how poorly I did (and it was poorly), but I’ll do that soon. My list for 2008:

1. Read two books for pleasure each month.
2. See 12 movies in the theatre.
3. Take a trip west of the Mississippi (and also west of Iowa).
4. Go to Bonnaroo or Coachella.
5. Put $5,000 in savings by the end of the year (sub item: and leave it there).
6. Finish Couch to 5K and run a 5K.
7. Continue weight training and do an unassisted pull up.
8. Finish my CAS.
9. Get published.
10. Find a church.
11. Reconsider therapy and/or medication.
12. Beat SB at Zooloretto or Alhambra.
13. Finish 2007’s Bond-watching resolution.

I guess most of these are more like action items than resolutions, but that’s probably better anyway. I really enjoy checking things off lists. A final item:

14. Bring a new friend into our family.

We don’t want to replace Sid, but there’s a huge gaping hole in our lives without her, and we don’t want Basil to forget that other animals, especially other cats, are nice. Things feel oddly off balance with just one.