...well actually last Friday night.
I don't normally post things here of a personal nature because, well, I simply know too much. (Yes that's a joke for those who don't really know me.)
Red Green said it best:
Red Green: Pretty soon, you're going to find yourself going on and on about every topic under the sun, and you're going to wonder, "Why am I suddenly the Encyclopedia Britannica in shorts and a T-shirt? And why this urge to tell anyone with ears?" Well, you're a middle-aged man now. And middle-aged men know everything. Oh, yeah. Middle-aged men know the best route on any highway from one place to another place. We know how to fix stuff. We know how to cut the lawn properly. We know everything. But you got to keep this knowledge to yourself, all right? I know that you know that your neighbor is planting that shrub the wrong way, but don't say anything. I too have seen my wife wallpaper the bedroom the hard way. Just keep your mouth shut, all right? Because when they find out how smart we are, they get jealous, all right? I don't know who said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing," but I'm guessing it was a middle-aged man. So whatever it is you know - and I know it's a lot - keep it under your hat and you'll be able to keep your friends. Believe me, I know.
I will temporarily set aside the sublime Mr. Green's words of wisdom and share some advice.
I turned 50 last week. My 40s had their up and downs. Could give details but the bottom line is, as my good friend Paul Calhoun told me in 2004, "it's just life." I did manage to convince a fantastic woman to marry me though. Karen has upgraded my life in many ways but two of my favorites are enjoying wine and fine dining.
Friday night Karen got some friends together and we all had dinner at Everest. Everest sits on the 40th floor of the Chicago Board of Trade building. Chances are very good, if you have watched any movie in the last 30 years, you will recognize the building or at least its most often-filmed street.
Karen and I have been to Everest before as well as other fine restaurants in Chicagoland and have even dined at some of the finest restaurants in the world (see honeymoon travelogue.) Even though this was not our first "fine dining" rodeo, the meal Friday night was really special.
It goes without saying that the food was awesome and the service was stellar. The two highlights of it all for me though were the friends and the wine. The friends Karen invited really enjoyed the experience and I was so glad they made the effort not only to come into Chicago (bit of a drive for all of them) but to let themselves enjoy something luxurious that is out of the norm for all of us.
DISCLAIMER: One look my my physique should tell you two things: I sit at a desk a lot and I don't pass up stopping at too many McDonald's. Point is I definitely enjoy a burger...or Italian beef...or Polish sausage...or...where was I? Oh yes...and I love beer so I am not what one could really call a snob but please forgive me if this post sounds snobbish.
Disclaiming done...one of the great things about going to a real hoidy toidy restaurant is the wine list. Everest is essentially French so their cellar has tons of French wines. Wines you very often just can't find or have actually ever heard of. It was really thrilling to order a 1976 Trimbach Gewurztraminer (white) and to finish off their last two bottles of 1996 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape (red) but for me the thrill of the wines was that I finally got to taste some Château d'Yquem (Sauterne). Yquem is a ridiculously expensive white wine that has set price records and ever since I heard of it I have lusted after it. Sadly for Karen I ordered a half bottle of the stuff (just kidding...the dinner was her gift to me and she was thrilled that I ordered what I wanted.) Really nice to have finally experienced it. A spectacular way to end a meal.
THE ADVICE: I know the concept of "fine dining" is not really everyone's thing but if you have the opportunity to do it, try it. I highly recommend it. Challenging food? Maybe. Very expensive? Typically. Something you'll want to remember forever? Done right, you'll cherish the memory of fine friends, fine food, fine wine and a fine time forever.
Oh and by the way...the 1997 Yquem...yeah, it was that good!