41 years!

January 29, 2009

My parents celebrated 41 years of marriage this December!  My sister suggested that the three of us do something super special and brought up the idea of an incredible dinner at the famous Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago.  Since my brother and I live in South Carolina, we decided it was best to let her make the plans and keep us informed on what would be planned for our parents gift.  My sister Sarah explained that Charlie Trotter’s is more of a dining experience than just having a great dinner.  The plans were made and we gave our parents all the information during Christmas.  Then my big mouth had to blurt out “you even get your menu personalized with name and Happy 41st Anniversary!”.  Whoops, I think that was supposed to be a surprise.

Well, our parents went about a week ago and I got such a warm & fuzzy feeling when I heard how much fun they had.  Dad even wrote us all an email giving all the amazing details.  After reading it, I called Dad and said “I have GOT to put this on my blog”.  So here goes…

“Hey everyone, here are the skinnies on our dining experience. I have the menu in front of me, which is a good thing since ‘I spell like a gorilla,’ to use a line from an old Ed Harris movie.

Trotter’s is an unassuming brownstone; there are no glitzy signs and such to let you know that you have arrived. Once there a valet opens the door, a maitre d’ greets you at the door, a hat-check person checks in your stuff, then a waiter takes you to your table–ours was on the second floor overlooking the lower level. The entrance area is simple, just a small bar and a sitting area; it’s all very elegant though, but not flashy. Each table is covered in white linen, silverware, water and wine glasses, and a small candle. Once we were seated a waiter formally greeted us, he wished us a happy 41st anniversary, asked if we had been to Trotter’s before, then he explained how it all worked. He gave us a wine list that was huge with selections starting at $100 a bottle; incidentally, there were only a few wines at that modest price, eg when you got into the Cabernets, Merlots, and other types of wines that I couldn’t pronounce the prices went up quite a
bit, eg the cheapest glass of Cabernet was $47. Anyway, we selected a glass of very nice, much-less expensive Pinot that we sipped on throughout the entire two-plus hours. The menu is frameable; it is personalized with ‘Happy 41st Anniversary’ at the top. Each night there is a meat and a vegetarian menu–we chose the meats–and each course includes these incredible rolls that are all different and very distinctive in taste; plus there is a whipped butter to smother them in. Each of the following selections were served as if you were starting completely over, ie new plates, new silverware, and a new presentation:

Hama Hama Oyster with Almond & Cherimoya

Maine Day Boat Lobster with Yellow Beets, Bull’s Blood & Italian Chestnut

Steamed Wild Hollan Turbot with Manila Clams & Kaffir Lime

Whole Roasted Squab Breast with Maple, Black Trumpet Mushrooms & Devil’s Club

Wood Grilled Ribeye with Date, Ginger Bread & Pomegranate

(now the desserts)

Clove Cream with Clementine & Sauternes Jelly

Honey Crisp Apples with Cider Granite & Ginger

Mild Chocolate Semfredo with Carrot, Star Anise & Red Wine

Plus we had a dish of six different homemade candies that were arranged side by side, one for each of us, and each had a completely different flavor, texture, and appearance; also, we had some amazing coffee served in tiny cups.

Each serving was done by two waiters who presented the plates at the same time; once they were placed on the table one of the waiters would explain what it was. Overall, we had three ladies and four men waiters. All of the plate shapes were very different–some had small centers with wide sides, others were long and narrow, others were wavy, etc; no two were the same yet all were the same theme.

After dinner a lady took us on a tour of the kitchens, the wine cellars (Mom touched a $35,000 bottle of Bordeaux) that contained over 18,000 bottles from everywhere in the world; they were all dated and had colored stickers for inventory purposes. The main kitchen had six chefs and each one handled a different food. The kitchens were spotless and the chefs looked like the just came from the dry cleaners. There is one table in the kitchen area that can be reserved for dinner; there happened to be four men at the table when we walked through. We thought they were there to critique the restaurant.

Charlie Trotter’s was a two and one half hour culinary delight that we’ll never forget. Than you all again!!”

WOW, sounded truly amazing.  Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad – we wish you many more years of exciting new experiences.


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  1. Hung Do Chi says:

    It’s great to take a look at your blog. very well organized. Thanks for showing!!!

  2. aww great story sounded like they had a fabulous 41st anniversary 🙂

  3. Amy McWatty says:

    Can I adopt you and your 2 siblings so I can go to this restaurant? I’m salivating over that $35,000 bottle of red. That was so cool of you guys! I know your parents loved it!!!

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