Monday, October 24, 2005


The Anniversary Waltz

So about a year ago, I found myself involved in a conversation with this guy I'd been seeing a lot -- let's call him Ed, since that's his name. In the course of this conversation, we agreed that just maybe there was a little something more than a pretty darn good friendship going on between us.

Looking back, it seems like that was simple to say, not to mention easy to see. But that was probably the singlemost important day of my life, at least until June when Ed proposed. So we're getting married next spring. And this past weekend was our time to celebrate that moment when we made it crystal clear to each other that this relationship was something special.

Ed planned a surprise, something he hinted at in his blog, if you saw it. He's a great surprise-planner. I know this from the weekend he proposed, and this anniversary celebration... well, it was one surprise after another, and it was a lot of fun!

The surprise started with a short road trip. Unlike last year at this time, the day was clear, and the autumn scenery was simply gorgeous. Beautiful colors in the trees this fall. The first surprise: a visit to Keystone at the Crossing, a mall that has several stores that sell beautiful clothes... and had sales on. We found some good deals, but I lingered too long to make a decision. Still, we shared a couple pieces of Godiva chocolate, found some excellent bread with pesto rolled into it and a tasty spread to top it, and may have come across - quite by accident - a new perfume for me and a necklace to wear in the wedding.

The next stop was The Russia House Restaurant. To keep the secret and prolong the suspense, Ed asked me to close my eyes as he drove through town, and once we arrived I did manage to get out of the car without stumbling, even with my eyes closed. I had had lunch at this restaurant once before a few years ago with friends, and I'd been wanting to return ever since. The food is great, a wonderful reminder of the Russian cuisine I grew accustomed to while living in Moscow.

The chef pulls his menu mainly from Russian, Moldavan, and Georgian specialties. We had two appetizers - lightly breaded and then fried zucchini served with a sour cream and dill sauce, a healthy serving of the Russian vinegret (beets, potatoes, onion, carrot, peas, pickles, and a light dressing of vegetable oil), which was full of flavors that transported me back to Moscow - and we shared a Russian wheat beer, the Baltika No. 8, which I'd highly recommend.

For his main course, Ed selected vareniki, a crock full of dumplings, some of which he chose to have filled with potatoes and mushrooms and others which were filled with a soft farmer's cheese that's similar to ricotta. The vareniki are served with a light sauce that is flavored with dill and sour cream and onion. I had a similar dish, pelmeni: meat-filled dumplings served with butter which you then top with sour cream. Excellent stuff! We topped off dinner by sharing a slice of apple cake, which was also delicious. Everything was just yummy, and I got to get some practice in with the Russian skills in order to verify that Ed's food would be vegetarian-friendly. We were also pleased to see that the small restaurant was quite popular; by the time we were leaving, having had dinner reservations for 6PM, nearly every table in the place was full.

From there we walked over to a store called Half-Price Books, where we scored a used copy of the most recent edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. Quite exciting, but you'd probably have to be a big geek to understand why!

A dash over to the hotel - The Marten House Hotel, which has a cool tie-in with a local hospital that kind of makes your hotel stay a philanthropic venture - allowed us some time to moan and groan about being over-stuffed with yummy food before we headed out to the final surprise of the day.

We navigated our way some 70 blocks through town to find The Morris-Butler House, where a special event was going on: From Dark Pages. Ever heard of a progressive mystery play? Neither had I. But we were greeted by H.G. Wells, then led about by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his literary creation Sherlock Holmes, and in each room of the historical mansion (and sometimes even the staircases), scenes involving Queen Victoria, Ophelia, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her creature, the witches from Macbeth, Christine Daae, Meg Giry and the Phantom, a medium called Madame Alexandra, and Jack the Ripper and Mary Kelly unfold. It turned out to be a haunted house, only missing the gross-out factor. We really enjoyed it.

Any time we spend together is always enjoyable. But this weekend was especially lovely; everything made for a wonderful way to remember another special time in our lives, when we took the tiniest steps towards building a life together.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by