For my eighteenth birthday – which fell during the summer in between high school graduation and moving off to college – my dad took me to a fancy dinner at a fancy French restaurant in Richmond, Va.; I believe it was called La Petite France. I had wanted to go there for some time. I will never forget that dinner. My dad, a man of few spoken (and even fewer written (sadly, a trait that I in no way inherited )) words, gave me a watch. He knew that I valued any evidence, trinkets, tchotchkes, what have you, of his and my mom’s marriage (they divorced when I was 3, but have remained close friends to this day). The watch, he explained, was given to him by my mom before I was born. He had worn it for decades. The back of the watch was inscribed with his initials and the year 1972. He also went on to explain his interest in the concept of time – how our perception of it changes. I didn’t really understand what he meant at the time. But then I remember thinking a year was such a long time, and Summer vacations were always forever away. Now, a year is like a second, a blip.
Back in Virginia pimiento cheese was standard fare, especially at my house. More often than not occupying a spot on the shelf in the fridge between Mrs. Marshall’s potato salad, Dad’s egg salad and, well, the mayonnaise. I don’t actually remember Mom or Dad making it, although one or the other did. While this was a place and time where pimiento cheese roamed freely in the dairy section at most markets, I had none of that. Why, you ask? Lucky me, I had only to open the refrigerator and voila! there was pure pimiento ambrosia to be enjoyed most often on soft, white sandwich bread sometimes garnished with a few slices of Hanover tomatoes. But also very tasty on crackers or perhaps smushed into a celery stalk (very Southern). Me, I go for the sandwich, crusts and all.
Well, well, well… To my absolute delight Dixon treated me to dinner on my birthday! Not surprising as it has become our tradition; I take Dixon to dinner on his birthday as well. Included in the tradition is that it must be a new (or, at least, new for us) and exciting spot. We had both been curious about Palate since its opening about a year ago.