Saturday, August 9, 2014

Anniversary Dinner

My wife had had a bee in her bonnet about a place called Roy's which is supposed to be some sort of Hawaiian fusion eatery. She's been to eat at one in Bonita Springs with a friend and I was none too sure about this idea. In my head I was imagining a Hula themed Gilligan's Island feeding us spam and sticky rice "sushi" and drinks with umbrellas in them. I was a tiny bit off the mark. And we had a reason to celebrate so she had to be obeyed.
I about died when we walked into the restaurant in Naples and the waiter wished us a Happy Anniversary. I hissed at my wife that I was about ready to kill her as she knows I hate a fuss and the idea of waiters gathering round singing Happy Anniversary and blowing out candles would kill me. She smiled an angelic smile and told me to get stuffed. Opening the menu didn't help:
But you know what? This place is actually very cool. The chef came out and handed us an amuse bouche in this case a scallop garnished with tomatoes and ginger and it was delicious, full of distinct flavors and textures. Hmm, I had to admit this was not looking tool bad at all. No Spam anywhere.
To mark twenty years of struggling to make sense of life together we bought a $90 bottle of Pinot, which oddly enough I had just been reading about in Wine Spectator that day. They really liked the Monterey Marinus and our bottle of the 2009 vintage lived up to billing, smooth peppery and perfect for the meal we pulled together.
I have never had fried calamari in a kung pao sauce but if the idea sounds odd the execution was excellent. Peanuts and squid make a great combination.  The red curry chicken samosas were also nicely done though the curry sauce was more creamy than sharp and I wouldn't have minded a little burn from it.
August in Southern Florida is low season, with families back in school and a few Europeans on vacation taking the sun. It was a quiet evening midweek at Roy's and that was fine by us. I figure this place must have lines out the door eight months of the year, but this time iof year is for locals. 
The main course normally we would share but to mark the occasion we had a steak which was an unusual choice for my wife and I wanted meanwhile to try the ossobuco, a classic Italian dish of meat on a marrow bone. This assemblage was unlike anything seen before (a theme at Roy's apparently) with tender, almost shredded beef clinging to the bone with the Brussels sprouts and potatoes underneath this volcanic creation. It was odd, different and delicious. The steak was perfect of course and naturally we had to bag half our main course for dinner at home the next day.
 We reminisced about the past two decades, marriage in a friend's garden in Santa Cruz, California which should have been a hippy affair but instead turned into a great party after a ceremony composed of Jewish components officiated by a Catholic priest. John Hester was a wild man in some ways. "Next week I'm marrying a Catholic and a pagan" he said after our ceremony. Then of course I got my itchy feet and dragged us off on sailing adventures. We actually honeymooned in the Caribbean renting a sailboat in Grenada for two weeks and cruising the Grenadines  which gave my wife a taste of the cruising life as we got rained on, had to walk miles for groceries, bought jugs of moonshine from shady grocers, and got lost after dark in a rental car (the first of many throughout our lives) on a goat trail somewhere in St Lucia. We survived that and other driving adventures later in life.
Over the chocolate souffle we remembered driving for three weeks round Eastern Europe shortly after the end of communism and getting lost on a foggy night in Poland. We bought wine by the jug in Eger in Hungary and flew home with it in a manner no longer permitted in our strait jacketed world. Then there was the time I got stopped for speeding in Croatia (I get stopped everywhere for speeding, I've lost track in how many countries) and my wife got out of the car and brought my police id with her. Why didn't you says so? the officer with the radar asked.  Because I was embarrassed I said. I rather fancied seeing what a speeding fine looked like in this alien place.
Then as we demolished the souffle further, along with the raspberry sauce decorations my wife wondered how we managed in Bosnia in another rental car, and with no map, we got lost in the Republica Serpska where the Serb rebels smiled like protoypical toothless bandits in the Yugoslav mountains and  we drove through a National park wonderland abandoned after the civil war, that we came across quite by accident in a chasm reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, on a much smaller scale. 
We have had some remarkable journeys together over the years, driving across country in a two door compact car with two giant dogs and no air conditioning.We took turns driving the Geo Metro hatchback, the driver with one dog on the passenger seat and the other sleeping in the back with the second dog, Labrador or Husky. At a gas station we swap and the driver would get out and release the passenger and the second dog from the hatchback. That got us a few odd looks from passersby all the way from Santa Cruz to Key West.
We had a great evening at Roys, attentive staff but not intrusive, great food and we left with our doggie bags and a framed photo they took of us at the table. No candles no singing and no fuss. I was happy.
Cheyenne  got her walk in this rather peculiar artificial development reminiscent in some ways of the fake plasterboard theme park hotels  found in Las Vegas Nevada.
I tried to be generous to my dog but thirty minutes in this spic and span world yielded not much of interest which would be good news to the residents. It was not exactly the rough and tumble street life of Key West filled with scraps of interest for my shameless dog.
 No, this is a land of Venetian lions, fountains, brick paths and not so much as a blade of grass out of place.
I rather liked it. No smell of stale beer either and that's not all bad.