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.
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)