Two meals, yes, two meals framed this week.
It's a wonder I haven't destroyed all my hard work at the gym this season in one fell swoop. And this was definitely not a week in which to have a cholesterol test. Or a weigh-in.
'Tis the season. Lots of birthdays, lots of birthday traditions.
M. was born on the Fourth of July. Growing up, he was told that all those fireworks were exploding just for him. We try to find an evening to gather and celebrate his birthday when our varied plans and harried schedules manage to coincide.
Most years Tim and I spend the Fourth down in New Hope, enjoying the new summer greenery, breakfasting daily at Snedden's in Lambertville, hanging out poolside, outlet shopping, and drinking and dining at the Raven on a nightly basis. Oh yeah, and making new friends. It's been a tradition for us for most of the past decade. This year, due to the way our holiday schedules meshed with the holiday itself, we stayed home. Good thing. Both Lambertville and New Hope were completely flooded by the Delaware River that weekend; both main drags totally submerged. We couldn't have gotten there if we'd tried.
M. always wants to try something new, but somehow we always wind up at Keen's. I'm not complaining. Some of the new (for us) places have panned out, others have been total busts. We have some rather basic requirements for restaurants serving celebratory dinners. It has to be casual, as in jeans & t-shirts. It has to serve an excellent cocktail. Years ago, a former friend who was then included in the celebration moaned: "Does it always have to be about Meat?". The answer is a resounding yes. It should definitely include a large portion of cow. Or whatever four-legged creature can be hewn large, thrown in a fire and slapped on a plate for our delectation. Proximity to a gay bar for post-prandial birthday beer is optional; that's why God invented taxis.
This year M. had three requests: Peter Luger, Angelo's of Mulberry Street and Keen's. I procured reservations for Saturday night at two out of three. Can you guess which one could not seat us, even though I called exactly a month before? That's right, Mr. Luger's establishment. Then, when M. shattered his wrist in a fall from his attic over Gay Pride weekend, comfort and familiarity won out, and we headed for Keen's.
We met up in the lovely bar, under the watchful eyes of Miss Keen, peering out nakedly from her rather oversized portrait. Cocktails were consumed, and we took our table. We knew one of our waiters from our many previous visits. The other waiter was quite friendly, smiling and winking at me all through dinner, all but climbing into my lap. The service was impeccable, as it always is.
I wish the New York Times would get over it's current love affair with Keen's. A whole new crowd has poured forth since the Times reviewed the restaurant favorably, and has continued mentioning it on a fairly constant basis. Instead of the usual crowd of carnivores, there seemed to be no end of picky people with special eating requirements and demands.
As M. was wounded and in a cast I announced, to our waiter's great amusement, that I would play Daddy, and serve everyone. In fact I actually said I would be SuperDaddy, but I blame that on the second Martini. I dished out the large seafood plateau, cracking lobsters with abandon, and helped him cut his share of the of the Porterhouse for Two that he and Tim enjoyed. I ate the Mutton Chop all by myself. More drinks, coffee, desserts and we trundled out into the street, spectacularly sated.
In keeping with the familiar, we walked up to the Townhouse, which was boring beyond belief. I ran interference for M., who was concerned that a passing drunk might crash into his cast. None did, though several tried. We had a few drinks and headed home.
My trainer was away on Sunday. Out of guilt, I worked myself out so hard I was sore for three days afterward. My stomach might have been a bit distended, but my arms looked damned fine.
I saw my trainer again on Tuesday and Thursday, which was a necessity, as my sister and I took my Mom out for her birthday on Wednesday at her favorite restaurant. Yes, you guessed it. Peter Luger.
The family, consisting of Mom, my sister and her husband as well as Tim and I, assembled at the bar at the appointed hour for a birthday toast. No sooner were the drinks half finished, then we were seated around a rough wooden table in that room that resembles nothing so much as an Upper East Side beer hall. The waiters were nowhere near as flirty as they were at Keen's but equally excellent. We have the meal down to a science. No menus are needed, nor are they proffered. We share appetizers of shrimp, tomatoes and onions and, of course, smoked bacon. Two orders of Porterhouse for Two, and of course, the usual steak house sides. More drinks, of course.
It must have been beef-driven testosterone that caused my brother-in-law to unbutton his shirt to show me just how buff his summer body was. It must have been that same surfeit of testosterone that caused me to unbutton the top four buttons of my
shirt, and flex my hairy pecs back at him. He gulped. I wasn't done. I pulled back the sleeve of my short-sleeved shirt, and flexed my bicep at him. He turned ashen. My sister, who was enjoying this, asked to see to see my tricep. That's the real deal, she claimed. I complied. Tim rolled his eyes. My poor brother-in-law had to concede. "I win!", I announced happily. As I was rolling down my sleeve, I realized that one of the gentlemen seated at the next table had been watching our little show. He nodded and mouthed the words "You do
win!" at me, and winked. I turned as crimson as the medium rare steak in front of me.
It looks like I'll be living on lettuce leaves and lemon juice for the next few weeks before we head up to the Cape. Perhaps I'll allow myself a Diet Beer or two.