Five years later, I am still the President of this guy’s official fan club, and of course he’s the in-house counsel for mine. You probably think I’m going to yammer on about how grateful we feel — how we’ve grown together and as individuals — how demonic armies perish in the light of our love — plus other boring clichés, but no. Relationships are hardcore. We’re lucky to be alive.
We took this photo on October 2, our five year anniversary. I guess it’s an okay picture of a happy couple, but I know he was thinking, “It’s right over there!” and I’m like, “TAKE THE PICTURE, JUST TAKE IT” because I could see it, too. We’re smiling because of our reservation at Spinasse on Capitol Hill. And love, of course! Tasty, Italian love.
I look forward to birthdays and anniversaries mostly for the food. It’s not the gifts or recognition or the free song at Hooter’s; it’s finding one food gem within a quagmire of food gems that will eventually delight and bankrupt us. It’s going out and having food done to us, basically. We surrender to excellent cuisine.
I love researching new restaurants and keeping up with local chefs. I told a friend why we’d chosen Book Bindery for my birthday dinner — the chef had worked at The Painted Table, Taillevent, Masa’s, Per Se (not to mention all of the positive recommendations) — and she looked at me like my forehead was giving birth to a giant dancing sandworm. “I’ve never eaten somewhere because of who the chef was or where he came from — that’s a completely foreign concept to me,” she said, shaking her head. I got the feeling that kind of thinking was just too fancy for her, not to mention frivolous. But I think it’s nice to know who the hell is cooking your food. Especially when it costs more than a truckload of Top Ramen.
I picked Spinasse for our anniversary because I’d enjoyed all of the restaurants Chef Jason Stratton had worked at before (Le Gourmand, Cafe Juanita, Poppy), and I was also a fan of the chefs he had worked for and trained with. The rave reviews didn’t hurt much, either. Spinasse had also been recommended to me by Italian food connoisseurs from actual Italy, something I couldn’t overlook.
It was love at first everything. We started at Artusi next door with a few of our favorite couples — for drinks, nibbles, conversation — and headed to our reservation full of pre-delicious deliciousness. The service at both spaces was excellent, and I’m a pretty harsh critic of what passes for ‘customer service’ these days. The sage and butter pasta at Spinasse is exquisite and almost-perfect; that dish finishes first, with ‘sex’ a distant second, and ‘rock and roll’ a measly third. The only thing wrong: At some point, it ends. Then you’re left with an empty bowl of woe and a bill. And oh, what a bill.
Besides the pasta, I loved the rabbit meatballs and pork belly, but the zucchini starter and anchovy amuse bouche were lovely. I was glad to be sharing that meal with my brother and his girlfriend, too — it was really nice having food-minded family there. Funny enough, the Esq and I sat at opposite ends of each other, so we barely spoke during our two-plus hour dinner. Occasionally, I would scurry over to his side to swap food samples, but other than that, we just made moonie-eyes at each other, freaking out over the food.
We talked about that food for days — weeks — in reverent tones and wistful voices. Now we’ll dream and wish and remember and look forward to our next celebration, and the restaurants we might find ourselves in. Good food, and good relationships, are worth the extra effort.