sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2017-09-11 02:25 am

When we live undersea like we ought to

By now [personal profile] rushthatspeaks and I have evolved a ritual for our anniversaries: we find a really good restaurant and then we look for the sea. To mark our seventh year together, we returned to SRV, Boston's only Venetian-style bacaro and one of the best restaurants we have ever eaten at together. We were pleased to see they had not only survived their first year, they were jam-packed and humming on a Sunday night and still play their music at a volume that does not impede ordinary conversation, which is like hen's teeth for restaurants around here. Tonight they had the interior doors closed, but the street side of the restaurant open. The painted lion of Saint Mark still looks over the maître d's shoulder, wings out of shot. We started with cocktails: a Bergamot Brass for Rush (like lighter brandied apricots), the Bicycle Thieves for me (I can take or leave neorealism, but I like mezcal). Their nine-course tasting menu, the Arsenale, had amazed us last year. It did not let us down this year, either.

Two of the appetizers made welcome repeat appearances, the world's best bar snacks—pork-and-beef polpette in a red sauce so savory we waited for the bread to arrive just so we could sponge out the last of it—and the baccalà served on crostini ocean-black with squid ink and lightened this year with a dusting of sweet herbs. The soft squares of white polenta topped with shrimp in orange olive oil were new to us, but a keeper, citrus-clean without being oversweet. So were the calzoncini, improbably light little deep-fried packets of sweet cheese glazed with honey and chili flakes. The salad was butterhead lettuce and radicchio with contrasting cubes of peach and ricotta salata. Neither of us especially prefers bluefish, but it was irresistible lightly crisped on one side and poached on the other in a tomato broth with sweet corn and musky chanterelles. We were equally impressed by the brined chicken dressed with figs, green olives, and cucumber, a combination which sounded like an unworkable stunt and resulted in me trying to clean a plate of hot balsamic dressing with a slice of raw cucumber. The pasta was knockout: the pillowy tortelli folded over robiola should have been dairy-heavy and instead played really sweetly with slices of eggplant and shiitake, while the strozzapreti with pork sausage and daubs of spicy pesto were a strong, savory finish that reminded me how much I like cauliflower when it isn't soggy. For dessert, they brought us the improbable-sounding but non-gritty polenta gelato with huckleberries (and decorative strands of corn silk, which Rush and I both accidentally ate before realizing they were not strictly speaking food) and an astonishing panna cotta topped with tiny quartered figs and verjus granita. Rush had one of SRV's after-dinner cocktails, the spice-and-orgeat Tocco di Pera, and I got a glass of the Zucca Rabarbaro, the smoky rhubarb liqueur they had introduced us to last year. They were very good about observing Rush's onion allergy and we left them appreciative notes when we paid our bill.

And then we drove out to the sea, which we found this year on Nahant after forgetting that Point of Pines is resident-permit only. Too much of Nahant also appears to eschew public parking, but as we came up over one tantalizing sea-cliff view we saw a huge copper-red half-moon laying down faint gold on the night-crimped water and exclaimed out loud. Eventually we parked by the causeway, walked out onto the wet sand that must have been the furthest ebb of the tide because it ran out far into Nahant Bay, cobbled with half-shells and tangled strands of seaweed and a living clam which I lifted from the surf to show Rush-That-Speaks, who had never held one before. It was cold and heavy, larger than my fist, the sea's wet, ruffled heart. There were two figures farther down the tide-line from us, mostly glimpsed as silhouettes against the moving water, but I lost track of them before we turned back; they went back to the sea, maybe, while we went back to the car. I love the sea-fog that gathers around the streetlights, the way night water glitters, but a flat strand shines. The moon reflected like a broken spill of gold in the wet agate bands of sand. Low tide never smells unpleasant to me.

And Rush drove me home, and I am listening now to the new music which they sent me, and Hestia tried to persuade me that my husband had never, ever fed her or her brother, not even an hour ago, definitely not, and Autolycus sniffed me solemnly and I said nothing about bluefish or gelato.

Happy anniversary, my night-driver. Many years more.

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