Herr Doktor and I celebrated our twenty-third wedding anniversary on Sunday, and while our wedding was truly a fantastically fun weekend-long party, so many years later we had a very fine time just hanging out and going out to dinner. We went to a place called Bay Wolf (yep, a cute literary pun), one of the earliest temples to California cuisine that is still going strong.
Since this blog is about food, too, it's time for some menu porn. I started with roasted beet salad with feta and almonds and Herr Doktor had the fresh pea soup with mint, both quite toothsome. We both chose the same main course--gnocchi with mushrooms, peas and tarragon--and that was even better, especially with a nice glass of Gigondas. I'm always surprised how meaty and complex a sauteed mushroom can be, the essence of the fifth important taste "umami" (a Japanese word meaning delicious, but the scientific sense of the word is a kind of protein-rich full-bodied flavor). The gnocchi were almost fluffy and the sauce--well, you just wanted to mop it up with your baguette, it was that good. Just when I was expecting it couldn't get any better, out came the dessert course and this, naturally, deserves its very own paragraph.
Being a chocolate lover, Herr Doktor could not resist the chocolate souffle cake, while I gave in to the seductive call of the sticky toffee pudding with caramel ice cream. Can you say decadent? As good as they sounded on paper, the reality induced soft, restrained moans of delight. The chocolate cake looked like one of those flourless torte things that are so ubiquitous as to be passe, but the texture was truly heavenly in its lightness and the flavor so rich and well, chocolaty. I would have been jealous, but my sticky toffee pudding (doesn't that just sound kinda kinky?) was so amazingly complex and transcendental. The presentation was imposing--a small dome-shaped cake with caramel sauce and a scoop of golden ice cream--and I momentarily regretted my decision because it looked like such a heavy dessert. But one bit of the cake and I was in heaven. The texture was airy, not steamed-pudding dense as I expected, and the flavors blossomed into a symphony of brown sugar, butter and subtle spice. So, like our marriage, the meal just got better and better.
One question remains, however. (And yes, as you see in this photo, my house is a total mess!) If the first anniversary is paper, the twenty-fifth silver and the fiftieth gold, what is the twenty-third anniversary? Officially probably something like "teak ware" for traditionalists or "software updates" for the modern crowd, but since I got to wear my new red dress again, I'm calling it the "Red Dress" anniversary, a bit of a pun, too, in that after such a long stretch there may be a bit of redressing to be done in any couple's relationship, but the result, so silky, smooth and sweet, makes it all worthwhile.
Hope you all had a relaxing "door into summer" holiday!