Jeff and I celebrated our nine year anniversary. but it was a week late. on the actual day we were packing up for our trip out to CA from Jeff’s brother’s wedding. Jeff went to sleep on the couch in the basement because there was so much stuff on our bed and I stayed up late getting things packed up and cleaned up. it was a little depressing and made me long for those early days when life was simple. but live also wasn’t nearly as rich. and, I didn’t love Jeff nearly as deeply as I do now, that love is pressed into me with the weight of all our shared experiences and work and challenges and joys.
once we got settled into our ten day stay in California we took advantage of Jeff’s parents and went out to celebrate. They treated us to a gondola ride on Lake Merritt in Oakland that they got with a groupon (I love those things!) and then we went out to dinner. The gondola ride totally exceeded my expectations, it was a beautiful authentic hand crafted boat (nothing like the only other gondola I’ve seen at the Venetian), a calm twilight, a gondolier from Italy who sang really beautiful soft songs as he rowed us around the lake all light up with lights around the shore.
And dinner was great, once we ( I ) decided on a restaurant (Jeff knows after nine years that he needs to just be patient with me as I agonize over that decision). I don’t know why that decision is so stressful for me. Probably because I love to eat really good food in a good ambiance and I don’t get to do it very often, and it totally bums me out when we end up at a crapy overpriced place. We ate at the Wood Tavern in Berkley and I ordered something I won’t ever forget, it was so good. You know those kinds of finds? Maybe it’s just a girl thing, or just a me thing, but there are a handful of restaurant experiences that get stamped in my memory forever they’re so good. I hate spending money on food, but when it’s excellent it’s totally worth the price tag.
It was a salad and I’ve tried to recreate it. I’ve made it every night this week. It doesn’t taste as delectable as it did that night, but it’s pretty close. Try it, you’ll like it.
Chopped Romaine Salad
chopped romaine (chop it up real small, like you’re going to put it on a taco)
cucumber (peeled, deseeded and chopped into 1/2 “ cubes or little crescents)
good crumbled feta cheese
fresh peas (though I used frozen thawed peas)
crushed toasted almonds (the real salad had hazelnuts, which were delicious, but I can’t sacrifice the time or money to hunt them down)
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
chopped mint (not too much, it’s strong)
Dressing (basil vinaigrette)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 shallot, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped basil leaves
- 1/3 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
blend all ingredients in a food processor, adding oil last in a slow stream.
The secret to this salad is getting everything chopped right, and dressed evenly. When you do that you get all those yummy flavors in every bite.
And, it tastes so summery and fresh.
And it looks so green and healthy.
And it reminds me of my 9th anniversary with Jeff who I love deeply, even if it will take him another 9 years to decide he likes this salad.