Musings on Marriage (and Meals)

Last week, Howard and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. It seems that in the Hallmark world, 25 years is the more significant milestone, but we think two decades is worthy of a big celebration. We’ve been married longer than my own parents were married to each other before they divorced. On the other hand, we have some catching up to do to match my in-laws who have been married for 55 years.

So far, it’s been a wonderful journey, as long as you don’t count that first rocky year. An initially rough road is probably not unexpected when you take two people, relatively independent by nature, both of whom have each been living own their own for a while. Have them combine households into a 687 square foot apartment with a baby grand piano in the living room. Does that sound like a recipe for happiness and bliss? I don’t think so. If we could make it through that, we can probably make it through anything.

The Happy Couple

Two decades, we had two dinners to celebrate. The first was on the actual day. We went to a local favorite, Daikanyama, a Japanese sushi and noodle restaurant in our town. We usually have a taste of sushi as an appetizer and then have big bowls of noodle soup for dinner, and that’s what we did. It hit the spot.

We also like having special dinners for special occasions. For our “real” celebratory dinner, we picked Hugo’s in Portland, Maine. We went there about five years ago, and that meal has held a place in our Hall of Fame for incredible meals (there are currently only 5 spots, you can see the list here). Our anniversary seemed like a worthy reason to splurge again.

The chef at Hugo’s is Rob Evans. His food is creative, challenging, and interesting, all at the same time. Though I’ve never eaten at the French Laundry, based on what I’ve read about it, his past training under Thomas Keller shows in the menu at his own restaurant, Hugo’s.

We opted for a six-course blind tasting menu with accompanying wine matched to each course. That means we didn’t know what we were going to be served. As each course was served, the delivered dish was described in detail. The ingredients are sourced 98% locally, with all the seafood coming from the Gulf of Maine, so the meal, which changes daily, was about as seasonal as you could get. Many of the courses were things I wouldn’t necessarily have selected from an à la carte menu.

Amazingly, there wasn’t anything served that I wouldn’t or couldn’t eat. (I don’t willingly eat organs, other than the occasional chicken liver, but none were served.) I enjoyed it all. Howard can almost say that too. The only hiccup for him was the final dessert course which was chocolate (good) served with banana cake (not good). I ate his banana cake, so together we finished every morsel. (Teamwork = good foundation for happy marriage)

Certainly, a restaurant like this isn’t for everyone, but we weren’t disappointed by our choice. We were thrilled. It was a worthy spot to celebrate the milestone of two decades of marriage.

Here’s the menu we enjoyed:

Korean BBQ Winter Point Oyster, lightly poached with basil oil, fried garlic and daikon
Wine: Brut Cava (Spain)

Blue Fin Tuna Tartare with tomato water and tomatoes, black trumpet mushrooms, and fennel

Key Lime Cured Sardines with nasturtium, cucumber, radish, and olive oil ice cream
Wine: Albariño (Spain)

Cod Head Stew (cheek, throat, and tongue) with udon noodle, cipollini onion, and maitake mushroom
Wine: Versi Bianco (Italy)

Second Change Farm’s Veal with wild mushrooms, potatoes, consummé, and kohlrabi
Wine: Pinot Noir (New Zealand)

Late Harvest Strawberry Salad with spicy bell pepper granite, mint, and tarragon
Wine: Moscato (California)

Banana Chicory Cake with warm chocolate panna cotta, mascarpone, and curried hazelnuts
Wine: 10 Year Old Malmsey (Portugal)


Posted on 21 September 2011, in Family, maine, Restaurants and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I wish you guys many many years of happiness, togetherness, flavors and aromas :) Love.

  2. Happy Anniversary!! I like how you celebrated – by eating, but not just eating… savoring a unique culinary experience. How perfect! I wish you many many more as the years just get better.

  3. Betsy and Howard, congrats on your 20th anniversary! I would also add that each of you has culinary specialties – Howard with the grilling and smoking and the sou vide, and you with the soups, mains, sides, and incredible baking. Your nice big kitchen reflects that there are two cooks who live, work, and eat there side-by-side.
    The Hugo’s dinner sounds intriguing. I think Richard and I will be more predictable for our anniversary coming up, and eat at Harvest in Cambridge. We have logged some good anniversary dinners there, and had a particularly memorable meal there last year. Plus, it’s a short drive!

  4. hi. beautiful posting with many more happy anniversaries to come. hugo’s menu was certainly interesting – glad you enjoyed your milestone event. howard doesn’t eat banana cake – even with chocolate? work is progressing at the house, however, it is messy. right now everything is on schedule but that is subject to change at any time as we all know. love, helyn

  5. Happy Anniversary Betsy and Howard! I have to say, seeing the menu, the only thing I would have LOVED was the banana cake! Tim and I will celebrate 20 years married in November – guess 1991 was a fabulous year for love!!

    All the best!

  6. Sounds sort of like our Volt meal with a million ingredients. Question is, did you memorize those ingredients or write them down?

    • Ha ha! It was similar to Volt but different. The voltaggios must have spent time at the French laundry too. I didn’t memorize. They brought us a menu at the end of the meal.

  7. The menu at Hugo’s definitely seems worthy of such a milestone celebration! I was chuckling when I read about your rocky first year…memories! :) I agree that if you can get through the hard times and if you work together well as a team – you can get through anything. I love the picture of the two of you in the kitchen because from reading your blog it seems like you and Howard share a passion for food and cooking. Happy 20th and here’s to 20+ more!

  8. Congrats on 20 years of marrage! My husband and I will celebrate 4 years of marrage tomorrow, and we could only be so lucky to see 20 together. What a nice anniversary celebration!

  9. Happy Anniversary Betsy (and Howard)–glad you had a fittingly great celebration!

  10. Happy Anniversary! Both your celebration meals sound wonderful.

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