Sunday, July 8, 2012

Celebrations in July

Before we moved to Australia, we had decided to keep celebrating American holiday, albeit in a toned down fashion.  We had a mini-Thanksgiving - yet still were eating off leftovers for quite awhile.  So when it came around to the 4th of July we decided to have some other people over, even though it was a different culture.  This became less of a concern when the Rehberg family began attending our church a few months ago.  Like us, they are ex-pats from the US.  Sara stays at home, taking care of Natalya and is currently pregnant with a little girl.  Her husband, Shane, is an engineer.  They are a lovely family that have quickly become good friends, and I'm certain we'd be friends even if we didn't have our "home" in common.  Since she was able to take more pictures at the party, I'm linking to her blog post on our Independence Day celebration.

Brian and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary today, July 8th.  We actually went out to dinner on Friday night to a lovely restaurant called Ritual.  I had been hearing wonderful things about dinner there, and it did not disappoint.  I will do my best at explaining, but I would strongly suggest clicking on the above link to hear the owner's description of the restaurant.

Ritual is very into the science of food and taste.  They believe it is more important to base someone's meal on their taste, instead of just having the diner pick from words on a menu.  Prior to each course, the staff brings you two spoons with the main flavor of the options.  Based on whichever taste you preferred, food was prepared for you - without knowing what you would be receiving.  For example, for our entree course we had a bite of seafood and smoke and a bite of tequila, citrus, and Tabasco sauce.  Both were wonderful and it was very difficult to choose.  I eventually picked the tequila and citrus, partially out of deference to Brian's shellfish intolerance issue.  I was presented scallops done three different ways.  These were by far the best scallops I have ever had.  Everything about them, from the actual flavor to the texture, was phenomenal.

For the owner and chef, this was not just about the taste of the food, but the presentation and science as well, attempting to give you the best food experience possible.  As an appetizer we were given a complete soup in one bite.  It was presented on a spoon and looked like a red egg yolk.  You placed the entire bite in your mouth and were rewarded with an explosion of flavor.  The chef even explained the process to us at the end of the meal, as several of us were curious.  Brian's main course was presented over a Zen garden and included a Tree of Life made out of wire, with dried red cabbage and a dumpling-ish item hanging down like leaves.  It was beautiful and he did take a picture of it with his cell phone.  I've been urging him to put it on Facebook, as I can't do the description justice.

One thing I discovered was that it's not that I don't like duck, I've just never been served good duck!  I even was game to try the Bruleed Pate, and it was delicious as well. 

The whole meal went for about 3 and 1/2 hours.  We were seated at a large table with three other couples.  It was great fun to talk with other people we probably never would have met otherwise.  It would also be a blast to go there with a group of friends, and we are hoping to organize a dinner around Christmas with several other couples.  I plan on bringing my camera with me, as it is impossible to do justice to have lovely the dinner was.  It was an incredible way to celebrate our marriage!

None of this would have been possible without our friends Emmy and Gavin.  Our babysitting situation went pear shaped at the last moment.  What a wonderful feeling to know we have several good friends that we could call on in a pinch - of course we are happy to babysit their two girls at any time! 

On Saturday we went to the Hunter Valley Gardens for Snow Days.  I can't wait to go through my pictures and share them with you.  Who knew you could find a place that had "snow" and orange trees with fruit on them at the same place!

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