No, the watch isn't some kind of hokey play on words with the title. It was my birthday present from Michael. Isn't it pretty? I teased him about giving me a gold watch for 50 years of service. (I had a comment in here about it being solar-powered because that's what the box and instruction book said, but I think the jewelry store made a mistake and it's a quartz movement.)
I want to thank all of you who commented on my fifty blessings thread. The fact that it got more than 50 comments just blew me away. I'm so touched by your warmth and support.
Last night, we went out to a fabulous restaurant. For Michael's 50th birthday, we went to Carlos' Restaurant in the suburb of Highwood. It is a contemporary French restaurant that is consistently rated in the top 5 in the Chicago area and has even been ranked in the top 25 in the country at times. Michael and I love fine dining, but can't do it very often because of the cost and the impact on our health.
We decided 5 years ago during Michael's 50th birthday dinner that we would go back to the same restaurant for my 50th birthday. All this year, no matter what our income was, Michael insisted that one item in the budget was sacred—the money we'd set aside to go to Carlos'. He also urged me to just forget about my diet for the day. I've been really disciplined for three months and not really strayed from my dietary guidelines . . . until last night. And I must report that my birthday dinner was the most fun I've had in a restaurant since we came back from Paris in 2000.
Carlos' has two menus. One is a typical menu, and one is a degustation menu in which the chef basically shows off. You get 7 courses, all appetizer sized, so you can try a lot of different things. Michael did the seafood degustation. I did the meat and game because I'm allergic to fish.
So . . . (drumroll, please), here is the menu of what I ate last night. (Remember the portion of each, including the wine, was tiny.)
Grilled California Squab Breast with Tart of Spinach, and Mushrooms
with a Natural Jus
2000 Jacques Cacheux “1er Cru & Fils Vosne-Romanée “1er Cru Les Suchots” Burgundy
Pan Seared Duck and Duck Confit with Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Baby Carrots and a Grape Reduction
2006 Tohu “Cuvee” Pinot Noir Marlborough New Zealand
Grilled Lamb Chop with Ox-Tail Ravioli, Baby Spinach and a Caramelized Shallot and Sherry Gastrique
2003 Domaine de Villenueuve Chateauneuf-du-Pape “Les Vieilles Vignes” Rhone Valley
Cocoa Crusted New Zealand Venison with Caramelized Fennel, Root Vegetables and a Cherry Reduction
2005 Tangley Oaks “Lot #9” Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Grilled Ribeye with Butter Poached Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Cauliflower and a Cabernet-Rosemary Reduction
2006 Cantena Malbec Mendoza, Argentina
Symphony of Dessert
NV Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne
I told Michael that I felt like an ancient Roman at one of their incredible banquets. This was the first time I'd ever tried venison or squab (young pigeon). I never would have ordered a whole entree of either, but this was the perfect way to try them as I knew I would enjoy the duck, lamb, and ribeye.
Today is a back-to-work, back-to-my-diet day. I see lots of oatmeal, veggies, and water drinking in my future. But aaaah, it was fun to walk on the decadent side for just one night.