Happy birthday, honey!
Yes, people, today is Kurt’s birthday. Thirty-five years ago, he became his parents’ first-born son, the eldest of three boys altogether. He was named Kurt Thomas, Kurt because his parents liked the name, and Thomas after his paternal grandfather. (I call him by both names, so don’t be weirded out when I call for “Thomas” when only Kurt is around.) He was an average-sized baby, weighing in around seven pounds, but grew into a good-sized man at 6’3″ and 250lbs. Grace loves to point out that he’s got “long monkey arms” to reach things off the highest shelf that I can’t, and his height means he’s lovely to lean against and savor being hugged by him.
Grace and I hit the jackpot when it came to gifts for Kurt this year. He’s notoriously hard to buy for — not because he’s picky, but because whenever he wants something, he buys it. Not only that, but he has such general interests. It’s not like he collects train paraphenalia, or books of some kind, or really anything. So each year, I have to wrack my brain to come up with something he’d want.
One day, I was poking around in the NEX, looking at all the souvenirs for sale, when I finally noticed the Historical Flag department. I’d been wondering where it was! I stayed in that department for a good thirty minutes, looking at all the old flags and reading their descriptions. Then I remembered that Kurt loves the Navy Jack:
And so Grace gave it to him for his birthday! Coincidentally, the Metallica song “Don’t Tread On Me” is one of Kurt’s favorites. He seemed very pleased with his gift and made sure to get this flag flying as soon as he had a chance.
From me he received a piastra, which is a granite grilling stone. It’s useful for grilling flatbreads, seafood, fish, and even veggies. He was so excited about it that he wanted me to cancel our dinner plans and let him grill something. I told him he can grill tomorrow; tonight we had company so I made a lasagna. My very first one — and it was very successful! The recipe came from America’s Test Kitchen and involved a homemade tomato sauce with no-boil lasagna noodles. It sounds complex, but it really wasn’t, and it was really very good. I received several compliments on it. I also made my own balsamic vinaigrette from my aged balsamic vinegar (thanks again, Andrea!) to dress a salad, plus I roasted zucchini and yellow squash in the oven and made homemade breadsticks.
No one went hungry tonight!
There’s just been too much excitement around here lately. Last night Kurt and I had a fancy dinner out, so much so that when I ordered my half-bottle of wine, the waiter opened it in front of me and let me taste it first. Yummy! We ordered from the 5-course prix fixe menu. Kurt the swordfish and I got the steak, and of course the waiter got us mixed up and wanted to give Kurt the steak. Kurt just isn’t a huge steak guy. He will always find something else on the menu he’d prefer, whereas I’ll order steak rather frequently. And almost every time I order steak and he orders something else, the waiter tries to give him the steak.
Hmph. Girls like steak too!
The meal was absolutely divine. We had five courses, ranging from porcini mushroom soup to a divine salad with goat cheese and shallots to a very strongly flavored lemon-basil sorbet to clear the palate to the meat course served with a very upscale mac n’ cheese, and finishing up with caramel gelato served with a pot of chocolate sauce. Plus they found out it was my birthday (this night out was part of my birthday present, just two weeks late), so we got a piece of flourless chocolate cake that was absolutely delicious.
I felt like a fish out of water in such a fancy place, though. But I think I did all right! I went from the outside in with my flatware, and kept my left hand in my lap with my napkin. And I managed not to spill anything on myself. Score!
After dinner it was off to the Providence Performing Arts Center to see Yo-Yo Ma kick off his US tour with his group, the Silk Road Ensemble. He had this idea that since the world is getting smaller, we should allow our music to reflect this. To this end, Ma and his group use whatever instrument they think would be best in a particular song, thinking outside the box and having Western instruments, like the violin and the cello, side-by-side with Eastern instruments such as the pipa, the sheng, and the tabla (click on each word to see a description of the instruments). The result is very creative, and very beautiful. I had never heard any of these instruments before, and they were the ones the drew me in during the performance. I kept wanting to know how the tabla worked, how the drummer was able to change the sound of the drums with just his hands. It was so fascinating.
And talk about amazing to get to see Yo-Yo Ma in concert! He seems to be such a humble man, asking us with his gestures to applaud the musicians, not so much him, as he’s got more of a supportive role in this ensemble. He was totally willing to let everyone have their time in the limelight. A few musicians spoke about the pieces beforehand, and he kept in the background. It was very refreshing to see a celebrity who didn’t have to be front and center.
But what an amazing and wonderful night. Delicious food, excellent music, and great company in the form of my dear hubby. I’m so glad we were able to partake of it all.