It could be true that I had a kid for only two reasons: birthday parties and Halloween. For 13 years, we celebrated Cole’s birthday with a large kids’ birthday party and a family and friends party. You name it, we did it, from panning for gold in the living room to carnival games. No ponies, but we did have a giant lizard, which is way more fun at a boy’s party if it makes your girl guests squeal. Those were the days! We hoped they’d never end (kind of). But when Cole blew out 13 candles, we knew we were celebrating our last large-scale birthday party. Teenagers move on. What we didn’t know, of course, is that Joe would be the ultimate party pooper and move on too. He died before Cole’s next birthday.
The following year, we celebrated Cole’s birthday at a Chicago steakhouse.
And the year after that, we chose a different steakhouse to celebrate. Chop Chop! A new birthday tradition was born. We also continued to celebrate with family on a smaller scale.
On March 7, 2017, my teen turned into an adult. Turning 21 is a big deal. PARTEE! But Cole didn’t want a party. WHAAAT!? When your dad isn’t alive to toast your first legal adult beverage, turning 21 loses some of its magic. BRUNCH! Cole didn’t want a brunch. Perhaps, a little tête-à-tête? No, thank you. I know! I could charter a plane, and we could fly to Paris and have dinner at La Soufflé. Meh. A little relieved about that one. It was time to allow 21 to be a sad birthday. But not too sad. Where there is food, there is happiness.
I made a reservation for three (including Cole’s best friend) at Everest. It’s not Paris, but it’s close. And you can Uber there. Everest offers world-renowned French cuisine. We ordered the seven-course dégustation* menu. Our beautifully presented meal was delicious from the first course through the seventh. It was also a fun and light-hearted evening. Can you imagine sharing a fancy French dinner with a 20-year-old and a 21-year-old? It takes a sense of humor. Not mine. The wait staffs. They even gave Cole the crumb sweeper from our table when he mentioned he’d always wanted one. Turning 21 also included a drink with his best grown-up pal and fine dining at his aunt and uncle’s house. It was a bittersweet birthday.
Cole loves the taste of exotic flavors and new foods. He took his first bite of caviar at the age of two and never looked back. I taste new foods with my eyes first. If it looks beautiful, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. The Everest left us both wanting more exotic foods paired with artistic presentation. We started saving our money for birthday number 22.
This March 7, Cole turned 22. The weekend before and the week after, he had one fantastic meal after another. Gene and Georgetti steakhouse with best friends. A delicious dinner made by his bon viveur aunt and uncle (they are responsible for his lust for good food and exotic taste buds). And Alinea with his mother.
Alinea. Named the Best Restaurant in America three times and the only three-star restaurant in Chicago. The whole dining experience is centered around you and your dining happiness. The menu is seasonally driven, and each course is more amazing than the one before. They incorporate surprise, emotion, and provocativeness into their presentation of the food. For god’s sake, I ate pigeon and eel and almost liked it. The service is beyond the beyond.
I took lots of pictures (slideshow below). But the composition is bit messy. Who wants to spend time composing through the lens of a camera when beautiful food is in front of you? Well. Me. But not for long. Did they judge us for our picture taking and videoing? Consider it a distraction? Not at all. They wound it into our experience, making sure there were pictures of both of us. And of course, the whole experience was picture perfect. I bet you are wondering where we will go next year.
It’s under discussion. Cole is already in research mode. Savings has begun. His birthdays might not always be happy, but I am pretty sure they will always be tasty!
Odd Loves Company,
(you probably knew this word. I had no idea) *Dégustation is the careful, appreciative tasting of various foods, focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company. Dégustation is more likely to involve sampling small portions of all of a chef’s signature dishes in one sitting.
And the best is yet to come…another fabulous birthday dinner prepared and presented by Cole’s Aunt and Uncle. Or as we fondly call them The Gourmands.
Birthday Cherry Tart!
This Kid just gets better and better. And I am not biased–just ask