The day before Mother's Day we had all of our parents over for a nice brunch. It was just supposed to be a little thing and then everyone was going home. What Tammy did not know was that I had asked her parents to spend the night at our place, so that I could take Tammy to a bed and breakfast up in Door County. So we all enjoyed lunch and sat around the table chatting while I impatiently was stealing glances at my watch. Finally my parents left and I got up to do the dishes. I said to Tammy, "I will take care of the kitchen if you get the clothes off the line and then pack an overnight bag."
She just looked at me, a stunned expression on her face and said, "Uh. Okay?"
About 30 minutes later we were driving away. She didn't know exactly where we were going until I pulled up in front of the White Lace Inn, a beautiful old Victorian home located in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. We checked into the Main House Room 4 and then walked to the small downtown for a nice dinner at the Inn at Cedar Crossing. She had wild mushroom ravioli and I had the braised pork rib, and together we finished a bottle of wine (which is more than we usually drink in an evening.) That wine probably accounted for a stop at a candy shop and buying a LOT of candy, which included dark chocolate covered bacon. (I wanted the dark chocolate because that is healthier than milk chocolate!)
We strolled back the inn, and relaxed with a second bottle of wine. When we arose, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast that included an egg bake, and chocolate chip muffin, rice pudding with warm fruit compote and what my son calls "cr-orange" juice (cranberry and orange juices mixed.) It was a very calm, relaxing and fun evening. It was also very out of my norm. I have never planned a surprise getaway like that, not arbitrarily chosen the inn for us. But it worked. We both had a wonderful time.
There are many more bed and breakfasts in Door County, and we will begin explore them.
That was a month ago. About a week ago, I received a text from Tammy which read simply, "Please note on your calendar that you are busy on Thursday June 14 from 5-8pm." That's it. And she wouldn't say anything else about it.
I tried to be cool about it, but I was really curious. But she didn't let on anything other than she wanted to eat as good as possible earlier this week because she wanted to really enjoy this evening. From that hint, I deduced that food was involved somehow! But there are many restaurants in Green Bay, so that really did not narrow it down at all.
Today while facilitating clinical experiences for the students, I kept running ideas in my head. Dinner and a movie? Sushi and a crafting event at a local DIY shop (coincidentally called DIY.) Maybe a dinner cruise on the Foxy Lady (a 90 foot yacht--aka floating bar--that cruises up and down the Fox River.) Maybe dinner at one of the area brewpubs? Or maybe a dinner at a new wine bar that recently opened?
It got to be 4:45 and she asked me if I wanted her to drive. I said that since I didn't know where I would be driving, that would be fine with me, but she handed me directions printed from Google. Hmmm. Suamico? Could it be a dinner at Chives? We've never been there before.
It was Chives. But my wonderful wife didn't settle for just a dinner at a very nice restaurant. When we arrived, she told the hostess that we were there for a 5:30 reservation. The waitress ask for the name and she said, "LaRene." The waitress looked at the book and then said three little words.
"The Chef's Table."
When I heard that, I almost started giggling with excitement. I LOVE food (in case you haven't yet realized that) and I love watching it being prepared. I read regional cookbooks just for enjoyment. I love watching cooking shows and talking to chefs whenever I can. And tonight I was able to sit in the kitchen and have Chef/Owner JR serve us. It was six courses of some of the best food I've ever tasted. I don't have recipes for the food, but will describe the ingredients and dishes to the best of my ability.
The starter was a grilled scallop on a bed of grits and topped with a piece of pork belly with creole seasoning. Every bite was a little taste of heaven. And right as I swallowed the last morsel, Tammy said, "Too bad you didn't take a picture of it." (D-ohhhhhh!)
But not to worry. I took pics of everything else. The salad was fresh from the vine tomato slices, topped with feta, red onion, olive oil, cherry tomato, grape and mint. (My phone did not take great pics, but it will give you an idea.)
The next course was fresh gnocchi, with duck confit and hen of the woods mushroom. Absolutely delicious. I wish I could push flavors through the blog to you. It was wonderful and the diverse textures from the soft gnocchi to the rich duck and the mushrooms with their earthy bite ... words do not adequately describe it.
Then we move to the fish course. I had never even heard of Alaskan Black Cod (also called Butter Fish, according to the chef) but I will never forget it now. It was marinated in miso and then baked, and served over a bed of grilled young broccoli stalks, with a cucumber-ginger salad and a drizzle of Chinese hoisin sauce.
The meat course was another dish that I had never eaten before, a lamb t-bone. It was served on a bed of creamed spinach and home fried potatoes in a Parmesan cream sauce and a little balsamic reduction as a contrast flavor. (I'm drooling a little just thinking about this.)
The finale was dessert. The pastry chef made two individual fudge cakes, but they would not release from the pans. She could not get perfect portions, so she went with Plan B. A lemon curd tart, with fresh passion fruit sorbet and strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Being served by the chef and watching the food being prepared (as well as listening to the chef talk to his staff about the new restaurant he will be opening) was an awesome treat. Sitting with my wife and enjoying this meal was even better.
She wanted to pick something that she thought I'd like. She didn't realize that I had been wishing we could go there and sit at the chef's table since I heard that they offer that service several years ago. This was a gift that was more exciting than she expected. I honestly almost jumped out of my skin when I heard "Chef's Table" and I stayed that way through the entire meal.
I logged everything on LoseIt. Sort of. I have no idea what the calories were, or the fat content, or the sodium content. And I don't really care. This was a very special meal and sometimes you need to say "who cares!" and just enjoy it.
I came home to a son with a flat tire. And even that did nothing to dampen my excited and enthusiasm. Tonight was a wonderful evening, full of great food, exciting activities and most important,a wonderful dinner partner.
Now. What am I going to do for next year's Mother's Day? I need to start planning!