I thought this was the day that my streak of celebrating would come to an end. It almost did. I had plans to celebrate today – we were going out to dinner to celebrate my brother’s fiftieth birthday and that is definitely a celebration. However, despite what my brother thinks, it’s not really considered a national holiday. While the mission of this quest remains to celebrate every day and enjoying a dinner with family in honor of a milestone birthday is indeed celebrating, the essence of the quest has been to celebrate the National Days. That’s where the streak of consecutive days of celebration was up against the wall. It was looking bleak, even as I was sitting at a table raising a glass and toasting a fine human being.
As usual, my schedule was tight today. I was working at 9 am and would be there until about 7:15 pm, then I had to go home and shower and head back to Newport with Lola to meet my family for an 9 pm reservation. They knew I was working, so everyone was ok with a late dinner to accommodate my schedule so we could join in. That was nice. Dinner at 8:30 in a restaurant seemed so late to us. When thinking about it, Lola and I both went back and forth. It’s late for us, but it’s only 9:00 – the night is young. It was a strange little clue that led us to the conclusion that we were old. But we aren’t that old. We rallied as did our family and went with the late dinner like we were sophisticated New Yorkers. With my hectic schedule, I didn’t have much time to participate in one of the National Days of celebration of today. First, it was Apple Strudel Day. That’s an Austrian pastry that, if Maria is right, goes well with cream-colored ponies. I didn’t have time to make one and it’s not something that’s typically in your local bakery. There are things close to a strudel that’s in your bakery like apple danishes and apple turnovers, but not a strudel. On my way home I made a quick stop at Clements to see if they had any and, as suspected, they did not. It was also Cherry Tart Day. This too was something that I did not have the time to make at home nor was it on the shelves at Clements. It’s also one of those desserts that there are similar foods to it (cherry pies, cherry turnovers), but not exactly a tart. I was out of luck on both the apple and cherry front.
It was Stewart’s Root Beer Day too which was oddly specific and in fact, I did not even see it mentioned on Stewart’s website. Still, it was right there on the National Holiday Calendar. Stewart’s is a soda brand out of Ohio where Stewart’s began as a local restaurant chain. I have seen their products before and they stand out as one of quality. I vaguely recalled seeing them in the supermarket, so as I began my day, this was going to be the holiday I would celebrate because I could just pick it up at the store. But then I went to the store and they did not have any. They had all kinds of specialty root beers – Virgils, Dr. Brown’s, IBC – but no Stewart’s. This made me start to worry about how to celebrate. I was running out of time now and still had to get in the shower and back to Newport. My plan was to hope to God that the restaurant would serve Stewart’s Root Beer or Apple Strudel although in my heart, I knew they would not.
As a final search, I realized it was National Eat Your Vegetables Day. I know I just celebrated Eat Your Veggies Month earlier this month, but this was the actual day for it, and it was my last chance to call it a celebration. The restaurant we were going to was the Midtown Oyster Bar which has a great reputation. My plan was to find whatever their vegetable of the day was and order that. I know, not much of a celebration, but it was all I had left. To be honest, I don’t normally order an a la carte vegetable. I usually just stick with my entree. So if I opted for the veggie, it would really be in the true spirit of the day that decreed to eat your veggies. It may have been rationalizing, but it was making more sense to me and I was feeling better about the celebration. Then I looked at the menu and there was no side orders of vegetables. Panic.
Midtown is one of those places that has a couple of different menus. The dinner menu, the special menu, the wine list, the oyster menu. It was like sorting paperwork on my desk. However once I figured out the system and looked behind one of the menus that were kept together on a clipboard, I found the list of sides and there it was – asparagus, my old friend. I was going to make this work. For dinner, I actually ordered a couple of appetizers – their crackling (which was fantastic), Mussels Frittes and a side order of asparagus.
They do a great business at Midtown and are famous for their fresh local seafood. I’m sure they don’t get much chatter about their asparagus, but for a day when I was trying to Eat My Veggies, their asparagus was ideal. It was cooked perfectly, it was plentiful an it was a nice accompaniment to the saltiness of the crackling. It’s not something I would have ever ordered were it not Eat Your Veggies Day, so this was my celebration, and it was delicious. The whole dinner was fabulous although the company and conversation was even better. We could have eaten at the IHOP and had a fun time (although it might be hard to find fresh veggies there). I finally got to try Midtown too which is a place I’ve heard so much about and I could see why. We did have one little concern while we were there which I won’t discuss here, but it was something you don’t often see in a fine restaurant. Still, it wouldn’t deter me from going back.
It was actually a nice night of celebration, despite me trying to shoehorn my National Eat Your Veggie Day into the mix. It’s rare that we can all get together like this and relax. My sister and her husband were staying over at my brother’s house, so they weren’t racing to get home. They even had Kate (my niece) come pick them all up at the end of the night so there was no worry about drinking and driving. It was fun. It was later than we are used to and when I got home, I fell asleep in the chair while I was waiting for Lola to brush her teeth. I’m not sure I would have done that as a younger man. Nonetheless, it was a great night to celebrate and I even got to eat some veggies to keep the steak alive. That’s a win in my book.
Next up: National Go Fishing Day