12 years

It continues to rain and sog here in our neck of the woods. My rosemary has rotted and the grass and hostas look like some sort of mixed-up fairly tale creation. They are HUGE. Last week was very tough and had this weekend not been a special one, I dare say I would stayed in bed obsessively playing Bejeweled.

However, my dear T and I celebrated our 12th anniversary instead. We felt so youthful and free that even our crazy-ass Uber driver last night (he demanded I get him a cupcake from Baked & Wired too; I don't think he was joking; I didn't take a chance; don't even ask me how many children by different mothers this man has) said, "Boy, y'all still have some fun."

By and large, that is really true. We do have fun together, always have. We've worked through some tough patches, hung by our tired toes, but overall, we are a great team and are deeply wild about each other, and that counts for a whole lot.

Ol has been asked to sleep over at a friend's and when that darling boy's mom found out it was our anniversary, she asked Jack to come along too. Friends, this was an epically generous, amazing gift that parents don't often get. H picked both J and O up at 2:30 yesterday afternoon!

T and I hardly knew what to do with ourselves. At 3, just because we could, we popped open a bottle of Prosecco and drank it while lazing in bed. Then, inspired by the realization that we were on no clock and really hadn't eaten much, we decided to get dressed (just LOOK at my shoes!) and head down to Little Serow, a very highly regarded, 28-seat, first-come, first-served northern Thai restaurant on 17th St NW. When you're paying $20/hour for a babysitter, standing in line for one doesn't seem as compelling. 

But when you're not? We had a ball, even in the spitty rain and on wet steps in front of a restaurant with no sign and a fairly uninspired entrance. I like joints like this.

Little Serow is owned by Johnny Monis, first of Komi fame. We ate at Komi, a much pricier, modern Greek establishment, several years ago, also for our anniversary. It's a lovely, quietly elegant spot, and while most people are beside themselves about it, we didn't find our meal terribly memorable. Truly, I can hardly recall an ounce of the evening. 

Like Komi, Little Serow offers only a set meal- no substitutions, nothing a la carte. You need to be somewhat adventurous but the lack of choice is actually pretty liberating if you know what you're getting into beforehand.

I chose the drinks pairing which included fortified, regular and sparkling wines, cider and beer. Each and every glass was a delightful, helpful accompaniment to the degree of spice and breadth of flavor in each dish, some of which fully cleared our sinuses. I love spice but I hate when all I taste is heat. Not so last night; everything was beautifully balanced. And let's give it up for crisp, watery cucumbers. 

My four favorite of the seven dishes were the: 
-khanom jin sao nahm, or dried shrimp / pineapple / fresh noodles
-yam makeua yao, or eggplant / cured egg / cilantro
-tow hu thouk, or tofu / ginger / peanut
and the
-si krong muu, or pork ribs / mekhong whiskey / dill

Afterwards to Baked & Wired and then home. At that point, feeling fat and happy, we watched All The Way, the new HBO movie about LBJ. It was quite enjoyable and well done, but I simply must say that I cannot for the life of my find any positive feelings for Melissa Leo. 

After enjoying anniversary coffee and a Nutmeg snuggle, waving lovingly to T as he left to pick up the kids and take them to swimming lessons, I decided that as it was still raining and still chilly, tonight would be a great one for family gumbo dinner.

Gumbo is a foolproof kids meal in this house, and it never fails to make me happy and sated in a very deep way. I also made my rhubarb-cherry-hibiscus crumble (rhubarb and Bing cherries don't overlap in season for long, y'all; go get some and make this!) and some almond whipped cream to go alongside, and we opened more champagne, just for fun because today is our actual anniversary. Cheers!



Morning of cooking

Fortunately, I'm out of puzzles to do, so after taking the boys to camp, I went to the market and then returned home to cook (for the Grands, and for friends who are coming over this evening) and clean. I pitted and halved plump, sensual Bing cherries; their juices ran in rivulets through my fingers and down my arms. I steamed and chilled dainty French beans and patty-pan squash, and then put together a layered roast beef salad which they'll accompany later. I've mentioned this salad before; its provenance lies with my dear pal, Donna, though she may have discovered it in the kitchen of a friend, as I did with her. It screams summer eating - a cool salad on a hot night- and is marvelously simple to prepare: shaved roast beef, slivered red onions, avocado slices and a wonderful dressing that is no more than oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. summer beef salad, layer 1

The night I first had this, Donna had steamed veggies and nestled those and some fresh tomatoes alongside, maybe some couscous too. It was many moons ago, but suffice it to say that I don't do anything differently than what I recall from that meal. You simply layer the beef, onions and avocados, perhaps three times, pour the dressing over and chill for at least a few hours.

I'll also be making a grilled ciabatta with olive oil, garlic and fresh tomato slices as well as my cherry-rhubarb-hibiscus crumble with some almond-infused whipped cream. Beautiful, (mostly) healthy, and delicious!

It must be Day o' Crisps!

My dear pal, L, just emailed to congratulate me on my Rhubarb Cherry Hibiscus Crumble being honored with a Wildcard Win today on Food 52. I'm very flattered and happy to have this beautiful photo by the talented James Ransom. em-i-lis' rhubarb cherry hibiscus crumble, photo by james ransom

Now off to photo and taste the gorgeous blackberry-peach concoction that just emerged...