I Love My Birthday
If I ever run my own company (unlikely as that might be), every one will get their birthday off if it falls on a workday. You have to take the day off, can’t save it for another day. If your birthday is on a weekend, no extra day off. The point is to not have to work on your birthday.
I didn’t cook anything the entire weekend. We had house guests (Howard’s sister Sheryl and her husband Paul). We spent Saturday and Sunday visiting with local relatives, so, we were barely at home.
Sunday night, we did have an extra-special birthday dinner. We went to Craigie on Main in Central Square in Cambridge. A few years ago, we went to this restaurant in its previous location just outside of Harvard Square. It was called Craigie Street Bistro then. That meal counted as one of the “Top 5” in my lifetime. The restaurant moved about a year ago, and this was our first time to the new spot.
Our meal was excellent! The chef-owner Tony Maws procures the freshest and most local ingredients available. The menu depends on what ingredients he has. In fact, at the bottom of the menu, it said “Printed at 5:17 p.m. after the last food delivery was approved.” He has a strong commitment to local ingredients and sustainability, even more extreme than what we’ve been trying to do at home. Craigie on Main is definitely a unique and special place to eat.
We decided on the Chef’s Market Menu, the prix fixe menu. There were two choices for each course. It was my birthday, so I picked what I wanted, and Howard got the opposite. That way we could taste everything. I can’t remember all the details of what was in each dish. The menu mentioned each ingredient, but there were so many, this is all I can recall.
Here’s what I got:
Amuse Bouche: Tuna Rillettes with Hackleback Caviar
Appetizer: Ragout with Wild Mushrooms, Sausage, and a poached egg
Entrée: Venison, both medallions and sausage
Dessert: Winter Fruit Crisp with Lemon Balm ice cream and a glass of dessert wine (I don’t remember what it was, but it was flowery and perfect with the crisp)
Here’s what Howard got:
Amuse Bouche: Pork Belly & Local Mozzarella
Appetizer: Bay Scallop Sashimi with Kim Chi Seasonings
Entrée: Loup de Mer with shellfish
Dessert: Olive Oil and Tazo Chocolate Mousse with Port
Howard and I also shared a side of Brussels sprouts roasted in duck fat. And after dessert, the waiter brought us each a small cup of Valrhona hot chocolate spiced with cardamom and ancho chile to warm us before we went back out into the cold.
Howard made the reservations over a month ago, but last week, I received a “birthday gift certificate” from the restaurant. I must have given my birthday when signing up on their email list when we ate there the first time.
The email entitled me to a complimentary birthday cocktail and a parting gift. The drink menu was very unusual – nothing familiar on it. I selected one called Northern Lights. It was made with St. Germaine, Scotch, citrus, Bittermens Tiki. Our waiter explained how the cocktails from the bar were less sweet than modern cocktails, more of a pre-Prohibition style. It was tasty. When they brought the check, I got a small jar of Herbes de Provence, tied up in ribbons, to take home with me. I will think of our meal at Craigie when I use the herbs.
In case you’re wondering, here are the Top 5 meals that Howard and I have shared (in no particular order):
- Our first meal at Craigie Street Bistro for our 15th wedding anniversary
- My birthday dinner last year at T.W. Food in Cambridge (for a special wild game menu)
- Hugo’s in Portland, Maine, to celebrate Howard’s father’s 70th birthday
- Tra Vigne in St. Helena, California (Napa Valley). We’ve eaten there a few times, but there was one particular meal we both remember particularly well.
- La Campania in Waltham (both times)