Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Very Spirited 25th Anniversary

 Twenty five years ago yesterday, about 125 people came together at L'Auberge in Sedona to help us celebrate our marriage. It was a big old time for sure, but we're a tiny bit more "mature" now and decided to celebrate in a somewhat more subdued fashion.
  We first thought to return to L'Auberge for dinner, but the place seems to change staff every two months and the current management have the reputation that ogres aspire to, so we demurred. The Yavapai Room at the Uber NewAge Enchantment Resort had a very interesting menu. We "applied" for a reservation (I am not making this up) and upon being accepted were informed in no uncertain terms that "resort casual" attire was required for men. "Slacks, closed shoes, and a collared shirt." I emailed them back and cancelled the reservation saying  "sory but i don own no shirt with no collar and at yer prices i darn shore can't aford won, pleez give my table to sum other sumbitch".
  We realized that in the times we'd been to The Asylum restaurant up at the Jerome Grand Hotel we'd never had a meal that we could find fault with. I can find fault with almost any meal, in 25 years' marriage I've learned to keep my criticisms to myself until after the meal so as not to spoil things for Kate. She's much more forgiving. I'm sure that aspect of her personality is a big part of why she's still putting up with me.
  Our friend Tony, who manages the place, got us a great table. For those unfamiliar with the Grand and Asylum, it's the creepy old Jerome hospital where countless miners and other residents of the Verde Valley were "treated" for generations. There are unsubstantiated reports of people actually surviving the experience and getting better. The hospital rooms have been converted to hotel rooms with antiques and period furniture. The old lobby at the hotel's side entrance has been re-imagined as the Asylum Restaurant. It's beautiful inside and there are tables facing the windows which at this time of year are open to the breezes and look out over the valley lights at night.
Somebody say mojito? Arrrrrrr matey
  Reputedly haunted, the staff has gone WAY overboard decorating for the season. Tony tells us that doors regularly slam, books fly across the room off shelves, bar bottles are rearranged over night to some other-worldly tippler's preference. Maybe the ghost is looking for Rye Whiskey. See below. It's been on a number of TeeVee ghost hunter type shows.
  The menu doesn't change much, but everything is well done and though pricey, first rate.

  While we chatted with Tony, Kate had a nicely made Mojito. Personally I don't know what the big deal is with Mojitos, but the're apparently all the rage right now. Rum, sugar, club soda, mint. Meh, it's like an unblended daquiri. Sadly, our server didn't know what rye whiskey is and when sent to find out, came back with the news that there wasn't any behind the bar. Not surprising. You can't even find Old Overholt in stores around here. So I settled for a very well poured Knob Creek. I don't know if it was because the manager was sitting with us or what , but that straight up bourbon was at least a double and a half. Knob Creek isn't bad for corn likker.

  I had a top notch 12 ounce New York, grilled to the extremely rare way I like my steaks. Around here; reputedly beef country, a grill man who's not afraid to cook a rare steak rare is rare indeed. Kate had a prickly pear jam glazed and grilled pork tenderloin. Again, sometimes it seems like all the cooks who didn't get the memo about pork no longer needing to be cooked into shoe leather to be safe live in the Verde Valley. None of them work at the Asylum. Kate's tender was just barely pink and very juicy. Both meals came atop great garlic mashed potatoes and nicely done local sauteed vegetables. Mine had the additional crunch of deep fried sweet onions and a tasty horseradish sauce. Our wines were a glass of a decent but forgettable Syrah for me and a new discovery for Kate. Monkey Business Zinfandel. A fruity, spicy Lodi, California zin that I've got to get into the store. At a suggested retail of 16 bucks we'll sell a lot.

  A nice meal well prepared and served. I've heard complaints about service there. Maybe from people who expect to be chatted up by their wait-person. Our server was competent and blessedly silent. I don't want to know my server's life history or hear about the book he's writing or the locavore gluten-free restaurant he's getting ready to open. Bring the food. Be invisible until we need you. If I want to gab with a server I'll sit at the bar or go to Denny's.

  The Asylum turned out to be the perfect place for Kate and I to celebrate a quiet, peaceful 25th. If I make it to our 50th, chances are someone will be feeding me gruel with a spoon, so we won't wait that long to go back. Here's a link to the Asylum's website. Take a look at the hundreds of wines on their wine card. Impressive by pretty much any standard but a real rarity around these parts, where supposedly everyone's a wine connoisseur.  I'd recommend it to anyone. Salud!