Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thanksgiving and anniversary 2008

In 2008 we celebrated Thanksgiving and our fourth wedding anniversary on the same day. Well actually, we celebrated Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving and had our big anniversary the next day, but it was all one big, happy party to us.

For Thanksgiving, we picked up all our supplies from the farmers' market the Sunday before. This meant that we had a giant turkey sitting in our fridge for several days. He made himself right at home, wrapped loosely in butcher's paper to keep the skin dry so it would get nice and crispy. The Kiwis joined us for our feast. It was their first Thanksgiving ever, and I think they really enjoyed the experience. We had to work during the day and cook everything in the early evening, but it worked well. We had the full spread: turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, carrots, rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and apple pies with whipped cream. Everything was absolutely delicious. It was funny going into Waitrose the days before the big feast. You could really tell that there are a lot of Americans in the neighborhood. Just like at home, the chicken stock was sold out, it was hard to find thyme and sage, and the canned pumpkin and jarred cranberry sauce they had put out in special displays was completely ransacked. It was good to know that so many people were celebrating my favorite holiday.

The next day we went back to work reluctantly, then went out for feast number two, to celebrate our anniversary. We had reservations at the River Cafe, a perennially popular and extremely influential Italian restaurant on the river in Hammersmith, or Fulham or something. It was hard to find. It was also really far away, or seemed like it. We got dressed as soon as we got home from work and then had to hop on the tube, then another tube, then walk for about 20 minutes, first the wrong way then the right way. I actually took off my heels at one point because my feet were killing me. But we got there eventually and took our table.

Let me pause here to tell you about my outfit for the evening. I have lots of pretty dresses. They are a weakness of mine. But I wanted something really special to wear for this dinner. I had found a cool skirt at a designer sample sale earlier in the year, and I spent about a month leading up to our anniversary trying to find a top to wear with it. I've never spent so much time trying to put together an outfit, even for our wedding. But I looked fantastic. There, I said it. No false modesty. The skirt is made of a shiny black material, kind of like taffeta. It looks slightly Victorian, gathered all over so it has a tiered effect. It makes a statement. Amy helped me finally find a top to go with it: a sheer ivory blouse with black lace insets and a high neck. With black stockings and high heels, it was a striking ensemble. I felt glamorous and beautiful and romantic.

I'll get to the food in a minute. It certainly deserves its own paragraph. But first let me tell you about my CELEBRITY SIGHTING. Andrew and I had just been seated and were looking over the menu, sipping our glasses of prosecco, and checking out the room and the other diners. I looked back at Andrew to give him a happy smile, when I noticed another party being seated. "Whoa, Andrew. That guy looks exactly like Wes Anderson. He's even wearing a Wes Anderson jacket. Wait a minute, no, that is Wes Anderson!" It was, too. We spent a few flurried minutes slyly looking at his table to see if it really was him and decided it must be. I got up to find the bathroom, and on my way back I stopped at his table. I don't know if I should have, or what the protocol was, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I walked up and said, "I'm really sorry to interrupt your conversation, but are you Wes Anderson?" "Why, yes I am." "Oh my goodness, it's so nice to meet you. You've made all my favorite movies. You're, like, my hero." Eloquent, don't you think? Anyways, he was really nice and friendly, and his dining companions smiled at me, and he asked why I was there and waved at Andrew and wished us a happy anniversary. He had a good, firm handshake, too. I smiled and said thanks and walked back to the table beaming. So. Exciting. I now know that he must have been in London making Fantastic Mr Fox, which turned out brilliantly. What a guy.

Now, on to the food. This was almost a year and a half ago, so I don't think I can remember all the details exactly, but I do remember prosecco and olives to begin with. I remember a lemony crab crostini starter on my side and perhaps a mozzarella salad on Andrew's side. Then roast lamb with rosemary and anchovies and creamy cranberry beans for me and roast sea bass and fennel for Andrew. For dessert, the infamous chocolate nemesis, of which all flourless chocolate tarts are mere shadows. All the flavors were clean and crisp and delicious in a really comforting, subtle, easy way. The fact that London is such a foodie paradise today is due in some part to the River Cafe and its pioneering chefs, Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray (RIP). Their food couldn't but make you happy. It was like eating a hug. Which made it perfect fare for two love birds celebrating four beautiful years together. We had a lovely time, and after all the food and wine and vin santo, we caught a cab back home to save my feet. It was an elegant, entertaining, exciting evening. A perfect anniversary.

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