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Last weekend, I went out for dinner with my husband of 3 years to celebrate our anniversary. You know, Daddy. Dada. “Dadadadadadadadadada!”
We left Leo at home with Aaron’s mom and step-dad (“Bobie and Popie,”—thanks guys!) and drove off to Westchester to eat at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. No, this is not the sort of thing we do, ever! When we got there, just before sunset, we walked around, checked out the greenhouses, said hello to the sheep, “baaaaa baaaaaaaa,” got intimidated by the sheepdog, “woof! woof!” and generally agreed that Leo would love the place.
Then we continued a discussion we keep circling back to, of where we would most like to live—perhaps a great place near Prospect Park, with a weekend house somewhere up on the Hudson—and where we might actually be able to buy property (maybe a small 3 bedroom on the far side of Prospect Park if we get lucky?).
Every time we have this discussion it brings Make Way for Ducklings to mind. “Quack!” The way that Mother Duck wants to find a clean, safe, wholesome place to have her ducklings, even though, as it turns out, the Duck family is an urban family, really resonates with me. “Quack!”
It was fully dark and just past Leo’s dinnertime (“waaaaahhhhhh”) when we went back to the car so I could switch my boots for black suede heels. I adjusted my dark purple wedding shawl, put my arm in Aaron’s, and we headed for the restaurant. It was reminiscent of the walk we took 3 years ago, on a farm in Queens (decidedly less fancy), me wearing the same shawl over my white dress, Aaron wearing the same deep orange tie. I guess we haven’t had much time to shop for clothes since the wedding.
Inside, the restaurant glowed and servers in blue shirts were at our elbows whenever we needed anything, and never when we didn’t. The meal began with a block of wood, above which gorgeous little just-picked, barely-dressed vegetables from the farm seemed to float. It ended with a piece of slate on which three perfect apple slices arched like a multi-hued bridge. In between, well, there was more food than the hungry caterpillar eats in his binge (“but he was still hungry…”) and some of it, like the butter, the housemade cottage cheese, and the house-cured salami, was the best of its kind that we’d ever had and probably ever will.
The best dish of all was probably the one that Leo would have loved best too: a coddled egg (“a negg! a negg!”) served in a verdant blend of minted peas and lima beans. The rich flavor of that egg yolk left me awestruck, and the perfectly silky, fresh-tasting lima beans make me want to apologize for all the frozen limas I’ve tried to convince Leo to eat (“no. no. nonono!”). I was wrong, Leo, I’m sorry about those lima beans.
We left slightly stunned (in fact, I’m still stunned when I think about the check) and arrived home just in time to slip into a farm-to-table food coma. It was an amazing, impressive, almost overwhelming meal and I drifted into sleep fairly sure that I’d never need to eat anything ever again.
Of course, by the next evening, I was wondering what was for dessert (pumpkin custard! Supereasy!). A night like that is memorable, educational, intensely delicious, and also a wonderful reminder of how good we really have it. Three years into our marriage, we have a little boy who, even though he has barely begun to talk, has taught us to see everything differently, and to enjoy everything a little more. One of my favorite of his baby words sounds something like this: “a-good-a-gooda-gooda-gooda-good!” I couldn’t say it any better.
Recipe: Pumpkin Custard