I’ve never been an early adopter. I came to this food blogging thing way after it had taken off; by the time I got a dSLR camera, food photography had already become a professional sport. And while other folks share whole chunks of their life online, the virtual snapshot I’ve created on this here blog is vague at best — taken in dim light, say, without a flash. And a low battery. I’m not one for full exposure, and D’s even less keen on it.
Well, today I take the plunge.
D and I have been together for almost five years. We met in college, spent a year together in Israel, and have made a pretty awesome life for ourselves in DC.
Since moving here together, our kitchen collection has probably tripled in size. I’m constantly buying just one more colorful plate or artfully decorated utensil. I don’t even try to resist the pull of exotic spices and salts, and we recently indulged my many powdered purchases by building an awesome under-cabinet magnetic spice rack.
I insist on making the house smell like sauteed onions and roasted garlic just about as often as possible, and D abides the smell in the early morning and the late evening way more often than she’d like. I keep this blog, which demands that I cook new, exciting, sometimes altogether strange recipes, on a regular basis. I’m sure she’d rather just eat pasta and sauce, but she always encourages me to further develop this site and add bells and whistles, and is my #1 supporter when I go off to “industry events” to try to meet other folks as crazy as I am.
In short, D rocks my world. But all that’s just prologue: this past weekend, in a fashion that couldn’t have been more “us” — think back of our neighborhood, amid heaps of fall foliage, on an uncharacteristically beautiful November afternoon…we got engaged!
Readers, I couldn’t be happier. I’m literally sitting up here on cloud 9. Care to join? It’s nice and cushy.
As if the engagement itself wasn’t adequate cause for thrill, we spent that first night at the newly-renovated Sushi Taro, and indulged in a 10-course kaiseki tasting dinner. This being a food blog, surely you’d like to hear about what we ate.
Normally, when we plunk down lots of cash to eat luxuriously, we do so at Mediterranean or Italian restaurants. We’re suckers for those big, bold flavors. Taro offered pleasure of a different sort entirely. Taro’s interior is quiet and clean, even austere. Its waitresses speak in hushed voices and glide across the room, seemingly without ever taking a step. It’s an airier space than it once was, the tables each on their own little islands. We sat next to a window in the front hallway, with a nice view of both the street below and the back room of the restaurant, which envelops an awesomely large yet oddly light chandelier made of white lantern paper.
Many of the tables around us had ordered kaiseki tastings, and that’s part of the fun: looking to your left, you’ll see a couple dipping wide brushes into bowls of brown sauce and giddily painting pristine slices of fish; you wonder what that sauce is, whether you’ll be painting fish a couple courses down the road. Look ahead, and you can enjoy a young woman’s surprise as she bites into that braised tuna you just polished off and discovers, as you did moments earlier, that it’s not piping hot as she’d expected, but thoroughly chilled. The meal is a game, and everyone’s at a different stage. Stealing glances at nearby tables lets you relive the excitement of earlier courses and anticipate surprises to come.
After the tuna, whose soy marinade aids its likeness to beef, further delights await. Take the soup course, which we’d assumed would be a bowl of dashi. Make no assumptions here; our adorable waitress perched at our table with two small teapots. Each was covered by a lid and a teacup; we removed the teacup, lifted the lid, squeezed a slice of key lime into the pot, replaced the lid, and began doling ourselves petite portions of that lovely, simple broth. When all the liquid was gone, we opened our teapots once again, and reached in using chopsticks to capture the maitake mushrooms and slices of fish that had flavored our soup. That course was so simple, and so perfect.
Just when we thought we were winding down, our waitress approached again, this time with an open menu in hand. “The 9th course is sushi by request. You may ask the chef for any 3 pieces you like.” At this point, we were both on the brink of stuffed. Notwithstanding, I reached for some inner strength and requested, among other things, a piece of toro. It’s not every day that I get to try the fatty underbelly of the bluefin tuna, and I wanted to sieze the opportunity when it presented itself. The marbling on the pink sliver of fish was truly marvelous, as was its silky, smooth texture. To paraphrase Frank Bruni, biting into that piece of toro made my cheeks flush.
And you know what else made my cheeks flush? Sitting on a stoop, on a beautiful fall day, surrounded by pretty red and yellow leaves, with the person I’ll be spending life with. There simply is no better reason to celebrate.