For our anniversary, on May 5, we once again had dinner at Craft, where we first went for our anniversary last year. This year was our fifth anniversary, on 5/5. How cool is that?
I would have sworn we went to Craft again not long after that anniversary even though there's no evidence of our having done so on the blog. And I would have been correct if I'd taken an oath testifying that we had. I see that I have photos from a pre-Paris birthday meal for Tony at Craft, and notes on my iPhone about what we ate,* but I never wrote about it for the blog. No doubt because I was focused on writing a freakin' huge, four-part post about Paris.
This most recent meal at Craft lived up to our high expectations. We adopted the wine strategy I wrote about in the post linked above (at last year) that we should have gone with at our fourth anniversary dinner: we ordered a rioja. (We also ordered a rioja for our second Craft dinner.) Those Spanish wines are more reliable than a prune eater's pooping schedule, and they're so inexpensive considering their high quality and complexity.
Tony and I were served the same amuse-bouche: a red beet puree with a chunk of gold beet and a leaf of (I believe) tarragon on top. I got the Mixed Greens Salad, perhaps the same exact one as I had last June, as my starter, and Tony got chunks of bacon, which were so incredibly rich and delicious.
For our main, we both got the Short Rib With Root Vegetables, which came in its own mini copper pot:
I scraped up every bit of caramelized goodness from the bottom of the pot after I had consumed everything else, including every spoonful of liquid.
For our side, we shared sugar snap peas.
After much deliberation, I ordered the Rhubarb-Almond Tart with Sheep's Milk Frozen Yogurt, partly because I was curious to try the frozen yogurt. And partly because I was in the mood for something fruity. It was a fine dish, but I would have liked a rhubarb puree on the side. I think something liquid was called for, even with the meltable FY:
We were also given a couple of pineapple gumdrop-like dealies on a plate with "Happy Anniversary!" written on it in a thin script of icing.
Here's my handsome Sweetums:
And here's me:
For his birthday in November, I had asked Zane to pick out one of the National Geographic Live! shows that were going to be presented at the Skirball Center over the next few months. Because he's into outer space, he chose Exploring Mars, featuring the very charismatic engineer*** Kobie Boykins. So he, Tony, and I caught the Mars talk on May 6.
Boykins, who works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, led or contributed to the design of major systems of the last three Mars rovers: Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. He shared photos, videos, and CGI reenactments of the creation and missions of the three space vehicles, including an image from that morning; Curiosity is still working after having arrived on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012.
I wish there had been a handout with some basic facts, because unless I'm taking notes, I'm not going to remember a lot of what someone's telling me in a presentation with a ton of information. I do recall Boykins saying that at ankle height, Mars is a balmy 70 degrees or so. Waist high, it's bitterly, deadly cold.
And I remember that the first two rovers were bounced onto the surface of the Red Planet; they were covered in inflated bags. Curiosity was guided smoothly to the surface using—I believe I'm correct in using this term—retrorockets. Or at least something like retrorockets.
Zane fell asleep on the subway ride to Park Slope and went straight to bed, so other than him saying he liked it, I didn't get a lot of feedback on that evening's entertainment. On that Friday morning, Jen texted me that Zane had talked about Boykin the entire walk to school and said he wants his job. So I feel great! I don't necessarily expect Zane to stay as enamored with space exploration through college as he is now, at the age of 9, but I'm happy we took him to something that's gotten him thinking about a potential career.
All of the Schultieses came over for dinner before T&Z&I headed off to the Skirball Center. Here's the de rigueur group shot from my end of the table:
Tony grilled pork burgers and asparagus, and we made roasted potatoes. Because Abbe and Zane are hit-or-miss when it comes to herbs and spices, we put the jar of Penzeys Sunny Paris blend on the table so everyone could choose whether to add it to the taters. And the kids did shake some on their potatoes and seemed to like it OK. There were two salt-and-pepper-only burgers for A&Z; the adults' had shallots and dried Thai basil from Muddy Farm mixed in. And Tony put Penzeys Bangkok Blend on most of the asparagus. BB—ancho chili pepper, garlic, ginger, Telicherry black pepper, galangal, crushed red pepper, lemongrass, cayenne, paprika, basil, and cilantro—has been our go-to seasoning for asparagus this spring, ever since Tony first tried it and discovered this was a magical pairing. On the salads I made for Jen, Tony, and me, I drizzled a Lime-Galangal Vinaigrette. Everything was quite delicious, I gotta say.
Earlier that day, I had made Tangelo Ice Cream, which incorporated an almost 1/3-2/3 split of tangelo juice and half-and-half by volume. I had four tangelos, which produced about 1 1/2 cups of juice. And I used two pints of half-and-half. The ice cream was plenty flavorful, but next time I make it, or a similar citrusy ice cream, I'll make sure I have enough fruit on hand to give me 2 cups of juice, so I can see whether the 1/3-2/3 split makes it taste even better and also so I can have a greater volume of the final ice cream.
The ice cream base also consisted of the zest of a couple of the tangelos, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup agave syrup, and 10 egg yolks. Here's about half of that batch in my ice cream maker after I shut it off:
The ice cream wasn't completely frozen in time for dinner. I also had Lemon Basil Coconut Milk Ice Cream and Mint Chocolate Chip (dairy) Ice Cream on hand. The Schultieses were never fans of my minty ice creams. *shakes head in sadness and in judgment of their lack of sophisticated taste* :-) They found them to be too strong. I told them in advance they might like this ice cream better because the only mint I used was chocolate mint, which has much less zing than my favorite varieties for ice cream making, black peppermint and Kentucky Colonel spearmint, as well as a note of chocolate. Abbe and Jen enthusiastically endorsed this MCCIC, and Bob enjoyed the spoonful he tried. (He hadn't brought any lactase pills, so he didn't dare to eat more than that.)
I took most of the rest of the Tangelo Ice Cream in to work on Friday to sadly-for-us yet happily-for-her celebrate the departure of Ernie, a freelance photo editor at work who's gotten a full-time gig elsewhere.
That Friday, Joyce, Jack, Tony, and I went to Alison Bechdel's keynote address at the Queers & Comics convention presented by CUNY's Center for LGBTQ Studies. Eugene had gotten tickets for T and me, himself, and a friend of his. Eugene had to cancel, and so did his friend, and so we had two extra seats to fill and so could invite J&J.
Here's a photo of everyone else before AB took the stage:
Jack had misplaced the red ticket he had been given out in the hallway to gain access to the lecture hall, so to get in with the rest of us, he quickly flashed a red tea bag he had on his person. And it worked! He's posing with both the tea bag and the ticket, which he found pretty quickly once we'd taken our seats. *says "That crazy Jack* while once again shaking his head in comedic judgment*
AB showed several panels of Dykes to Watch Out For, the long-running comic strip that gained her national attention, as well as some excerpts from Fun Home, the book that was the source material for the wonderful musical that Eugene, Tony, and I saw at the Public Theater last year and that's now made the jump to Broadway (squee!), and some comics she wrote for various publications.
At the Q&A after her talk, AB was asked to speak about the comic book versus the musical as a means of artistic expression. She said she liked that readers set the pace for getting through a comic book on their own, but she acknowledged musicals can have a very powerful emotional pull on theatergoers. She noted that she saw both of her brothers cry during the musical, but they never cried while reading her book.
Some of the questioners, before they asked a question, started out by telling AB how much DTWOF had meant to them as a true-to-life representation of lesbian existence. She indicated she was uncomfortable with the pressure inherent in having created something that meant so much to so many people, but to one questioner, she said she was happy the woman hadn't had to read The Well of Loneliness to encounter a lesbian in print.
Here's a quite frankly pretty awful (because of the distance between us) photo of AB on stage:
And here's Jack afterward with a sketch he drew of AB from his seat:
That fun-filled week was kicked off by Mark McC's (as promised in the invite) first BBQ of the year on that Sunday. It was weird not seeing Sam. Mark told us more about how he came to have that wonderful cat.
Sam was originally from East Hampton and had been found on the beach. Former neighbors of Mark's in the city, a straight couple, were going to be moving and asked whether Mark would take him in. They lived next door for a little while longer before they finally moved and never once asked Mark how the special little guy was doing. Mark had told them he was going to be leaving on vacation not long after they made their request, and they took him back into their apartment while Mark was away. When Mark returned and was at the neighbors' door to pick him up again, Sam bit the neighbor guy on the ankle. Awesome! One more reason to love that feline mensch.
Mark said Sam had been a healthy cat his entire life. Only in the month or so before he died, of a stroke, did he show signs of illness/aging. He wasn't able to jump up on furniture anymore, he wouldn't wake up Mark in the morning, and he would be asleep when Mark got home from work instead of greeting him at the door.
On the way to Mark's place, Tony and I stopped at a Verizon store to merge our two mobile phone plans, something we should have done years ago when we first shacked up. On the way to the Verizon store, we cut through Union Square and saw these pigeons and other birds in a display of "public crafting" ...
... as well as these adorable (?!) rats with bits of pizza slices:
*For me, an amuse-bouche of pea soup, a mixed lettuces salad, Wagyu Colotte, and Chocolate Truffle Cake with Gooseberries** and Pistachio Ice Cream. For Tony, a beet amuse-bouche; Beets and Tarragon Salad; the short rib; a glass of plum brandy, like he had in Finland 20 years earlier; and a couple of gratis macarons that he really enjoyed. We split baby carrots and baby bok choi as our veggie side dishes.
Here are our desserts:
And here's Tony at the start of the meal with my gluteny and his gluten-free bread:
***Who knew such a person could exist? Ha! It's like a copy editor who can't be bothered with minutiae.
UPDATED on May 19:
Yesterday at work, Nicole told me that my Tangelo Ice Cream "may be the most flavorful ice cream I've ever had. Certainly the most flavorful fruit ice cream." Woot!
Here's a photo Joyce took of my pints:
The New York Times Magazine had a well-worth-reading interview with Alison Bechdel on Sunday that I read yesterday.
I went to the Union Square Greenmarket at lunchtime to pick up something for lunch and some ingredients for dinner and saw the public crafter of soft sculpture pigeons and rats again. Her name is Tina Trachtenburg. Here are some more photos of her work and one of her:
I put a couple bucks in TT's suitcase. It seemed like she was interested only in displaying the animals as public art, not in selling them—and I didn't want to be away from the office too long—so I didn't approach her about buying one or more. But I just asked her about buying some now, through her Etsy site, which currently has no products for sale. I'd love to have a few pigeons (and/or rats) and a slice of pizza.