As intended, I wore my new skirt on Tuesday for my 53rd birthday lunch, creating a new tradition in the process as is the second year I have made and worn a new birthday skirt. Although I had no intention of being repetitious, apparently I wore the same shirt with both skirts. Last year's look was a bit more sophisticated though. Oh well, I am thoroughly enjoying my new skirt, even though G commented that I was going for "peasant chic" when he saw me in the skirt with the flat sandals.
When I made the skirt I had a strong suspicion that it would go well with my birthday present from G, a pair of tourmaline earrings and a bracelet, not matching as they are made by different designers, but very similar in color and feel. The skirt also goes well with these favorite gladiator sandals, which I have had a few years. The coarseness of the fabric complements the raw leather of the sandals, which is good because although I love the sandals I have had trouble pairing them with outfits at times. I rather like the mixture of the pretty, feminine print with the coarser leather, and I am tickled that the colors of the skirt echo the colors of the daylilies I planted last fall.
This year I opted to go to lunch instead of dinner, partly because it makes the day seem more relaxed and I have that option since we are both retired, and partly because G is simply brighter in the afternoon. Once again we went to the Culinary, this time to the American Bounty Room, where we hadn't dined since we had lunch with Marji last fall.
I had the duck confit salad which was incredible, even without the crusted goat cheese, which unfortunately has gluten in the breading, followed by the salmon and smoked scallop roulade, which was lusciously light. The combination of the salmon and the scallops, at once tender and sweet with just a hint of smokiness and deeper flavors was perfectly offset by the lobster butter, and the most delicious artichokes I have ever eaten. They were simultaneously astringent and tart, and full of nutty, earthy artichoke flavor combined with a rich buttery intensity, perhaps from the lobster butter, that almost a symphony of complimentary flavors. I judiciously parceled my artichoke pieces around so that I could savor them slowly. I ended with the banana white chocolate creme brulee, which was just perfect, and only just sweet enough, not as overwhelmingly sweet as I had feared, despite the combination of often too-sweet white chocolate with sugary bananas.
G had the crab cakes to start and ended with the modern baked alaska, which is a lemon sponge cake topped with strawberry gelato and then baked with a meringue topping. I couldn't sample either but he raved about the dessert enough that I am seriously considering making a gluten-free version at home. For his main course he had the grilled smoked pork tenderloin which amazed me because although it had all the tenderness and silky texture that I associate with well prepared pork tenderloin, the flavor was rich and complicated and far more intense than I expected with that cut of meat, having all the flavor of a rich slow-braised, caramelized, fattier cut of pork, except wrapped in the tenderloin package. I would love to know how they did that.
While we were eating I was trying to pay attention to the flavors and enjoy the moment, but I was also thinking about how I would describe the meal, and thinking about all the food and travel blogs where people post photos of the delicious things they have eaten. I found myself thinking "how do they do that?", when of course, I know "how" they do it. They simply take photos. Just as I was thinking this, and thinking that I couldn't really bring myself to interrupt a lovely dining experience and conversation by pulling out my camera and photographing my plate, the food was brought out to a group two tables down from us. As soon as the waiters departed, the entire table stood up and pulled out their cameras and smart-phones and started snapping, playing musical chairs as they moved around the table photographing each other's plates. It seemed like a game and a dance. The flow of the restaurant was unchanged; no one seemed to notice. I probably would not have noticed had not been thinking about that very subject. But I still couldn't do it. Perhaps it is a generational thing like the tables of young people I see at otherwise fancy restaurants, interrupting their meals or their conversations to text.
And there you have it. At 53 I do not feel old although I acknowledge that I am on the tail-end of middle-age. And yet, I am old fashioned and out of date. The habits of the young sometimes seem completely foreign to me. I do not disparage them, I simply recognize that my views are becoming passé. I am not yet ready to give up my standards, nor am I willing to withdraw, but I also realize that everything changes, that time and culture marches on, and that the world will, inevitably, pass me by. I can interact with the world and continue learning, I can remain youthful in spirit, but I cannot become young. No matter how much I grow and change, the building blocks that form my perspective will never be the same as those that form the basis of this brave new world, just as the framework around which I built my life was foreign to the perspective of my own parents and grandparents. As I celebrate my birthday, so I celebrate being able to be a part of an ever-changing world.