On not taking pictures…
On Sunday Ananth and I had a early, meandering, all out dinner to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our first date. We did all the things we don’t normally do- we chose a restaurant weeks in advance, made a reservation, had four courses (including dessert!), and ordered an entire bottle of prosecco. Usually this kind of measured effort to celebrate results in a lackluster experience, but to the contrary it was one of the most delightful meals we’ve ever shared outside our home. And I didn’t take one picture.
I love eating. I love good restaurants.I love aesthetics. Because I love them I want to honor and share all of these things, but sometimes I don’t want to take pictures. Taking pictures in my kitchen, over my red cast iron dutch oven and surrounded by my cookbooks and little window, feels like honoring a moment (like when my dog climbs on top a couch pillow and is sleeping, beautifully, with sunlight streaming on her back). Taking pictures in the kind of restaurant I like most (small and intimate with dim lighting, dark corners, and little tables) can feel like yanking the sheet off a kid’s fort or inviting a mariachi band in to sing just for me. Sometimes to most honor a meal, and those who worked to create it, the cameras need to be left off the table.
We choose (or rather, I choose) Bondir in Cambridge for our Sunday celebration. Bondir was the perfect place for so many reasons- not least of which because it is just the kind of space I love with just the kind of food I love. The staff were welcoming but also gracious- they made time feel as if it were moving in slow motion but all the while the glasses were filled, the bread to soak up last bits of sauce provided, and the napkins refolded. They anticipated our needs, and in doing so we were allowed to focus on the food.
Oh, the food…There were a few dishes, like the Scituate scallops (with roasted romanesco cauliflower and celeriac, pickled garlic scapes, and coriander froth), that we wished would never end. There were also dishes that I’m not sure we got at the time, like the smoked salt brined Rhode Island fluke (with roasted vegetable consommé, jerusalem artichokes, escarole, wheatgrass and bitter herb mousseline) but that opened us up somehow. The brisket and the lamb brought us home.
Chef Jason Bond and his wife Monica showed us out with “Congratulations!” on our ten years. The two of them recently celebrated their tenth, they said, right where we stood. Ananth and I joked about how far we’ve come- for our first anniversary Ananth took me to a Olive Garden in Poughkeepsie, New York. At the time nothing could top that, “I think it was the bottomless glass of peach ice tea with a real (frozen) peach,” I explained, laughing in a way I hope conveyed my embarrassment that I was even mentioning a restaurant where food comes frozen in plastic bags while standing in front of owners who change the menu daily and work directly with their producers . “You know,” Chef Bond said, “That’s not a bad idea. I might have to try that.”
We finished our night as we’ve tried to live the last ten years: smiling, full, and a little giddy with alcohol and humor. We don’t have any pictures, but something tells me we don’t need any.
Bondir is located at 279A Broadway in Cambridge, MA. Go.