Mark Turns 39

Yesterday was my birthday, and while in many ways it felt like any other day of quarantine, a few things set it apart. Cuisine, in particular, stood out, as for breakfast Sonja made an “11Worth Cafe” style meal, cooking the hash browns in bacon fat and the whole nine yards. After, I opened a box from my parents that contained three promising books, including one by Joyce Leader who, twenty-six years ago, had just left Rwanda after serving as ambassador.  I took the books up to my office with me.


Much of the rest of the day was business as usual. I emailed constantly with students and colleagues, recorded a video lesson with my friend Carl Wilkens, the only American to stay in Rwanda in 1994, and wrote some more. By the time I got done with everything at 5pm, I was beat. I went downstairs to watch The Lion King with Titus and Zooey while Sonja, who had had her own long day of work, made me a special birthday dinner.


The first course was lobster bisque, and Sonja makes a really great one. My all-time favorite wine pairing is white port with lobster bisque, and we had a bottle of Tom Meadowcroft’s “Let It Bee” open which I served in Riesling glasses. The pairing was fantastic. I may have it again today!


For the second course, Sonja made some excellent New York strip steaks in the cast-iron skillet, complete with burgundy mushrooms, and I paired a wine I’d been sitting on for quite a while, a Duckhorn Cab Sauv from my birth year. The ah-so made short work of the ancient cork, and while the fragrant wine took substantial time to open up, it had been decanting an hour and a half when we started on the steaks and it was pretty solid. Amazing to think that wine had been around as long as I have!


Titus and Zooey had spent most of the day talking about how excited they were for birthday cake. In this picture, Zooey is seen mean-mugging me because my desire to take a photograph is slowing the process down. Sonja had baked an excellent cake and handmade the frosting, which was phenomenal as well. I pointed out to her that there were a few too few candles. The cake we paired with a fortified wine we had open. It was a Vincent Arroyo 2007, a gift from my friend Jerry a while ago, and served in glasses we were given for our wedding by our friends Dave and Andrea.

Dinner lasted late into the night, my phone buzzing with kind messages the entire time, the snow falling hard outside until at last it covered everything. Eventually we got the kids to bed and settled down in front of the fire to finish off the ancient bottle of Cab.

So that’s it — I’m thirty-nine. And while we usually go to a favorite restaurant for birthdays, Sonja easily made one of the best meals I have ever had so we may need to reevaluate that tradition. As always, thanks for reading. Stay safe in your quarantine, drink some good wine, and happy Friday everyone!




4 responses to “Mark Turns 39

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