Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's a full life: 26 years together, old college comrades and Tony Bennett

It's been a curiously full week or so here at the head of Narragansett Bay.

A week ago this last Thursday Susie and I celebrated 26 years of marriage by going south toward the ocean but stopping short in Bristol.

We had an aperitif at the DeWolf Tavern overlooking the Bay and then dinner at Persimmon just up the street from the water.

Owned and operated by Chef Champe Speidel and his wife Lisa (she oversees the front of the house) we enjoyed an incredibly good meal and a glorious evening overall. We started out with a half bottle of Veuve Clicquot bubbly and for apps Susie had the crab salad and I opted for the risotto with fresh wild mushrooms. We both had the swordfish for the main course (plat), wahsed down with a Sancerre from the Loire Valley. For dessert Susie went for the banana cake and I had the cheese platter (one French and two American varieties). The service was on the same level of quality -- superb attention to detail, pleasant and welcoming all amidst a cozy environment made for a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Good value as well, with prices generally in the same range as one would find at the better Providence eateries.

Saturday turned out to be another day of discoveries -- actually a renewal of an old college friendship from the days at Charlottesville. It turns out that Nick Petrov, one of my graduate school colleagues and another former cold warrior, teaches at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown. We reconnected online a couple of weeks back and on Saturday afternoon Susie and I drove down to meet with him, his wife Ally and their two sons.

Nick had not changed one iota in more than 20 years (so it seemed to me) and his wife was proved to be generous, warm and friendly. But it was their two boys, one in college and the youngest getting ready to leave for UVa this month, that amazed both of us. Their politeness aside, it seems they have been taking care of their grandmother, Ally's mother who lives with the family now and is largely incapacitated. This capacity for compassion and understanding of the needs of a helpless family member coupled with their overall behavior and demeanor struck Susie and I as not only very European -- in fact the family has lived in Russia -- but as incredibly mature, intensely aware of what their priorities should be; qualities sadly lacking in much of our culture today we thought.

What had begun Thursday concluded with a bang on Sunday. Late in the morning Susie and I packed a few things in a backpack, hopped in the car and drive a half hour or so down to Jamestown where we caught the ferry in the direction of Newport but alighting in Fort Adams.

We were on our way to the Newport Jazz Festival -- and spent a glorious day under overcast skies -- but no rain -- listening to Dave Brubeck and finished off by Tony Bennett.

You can see a nifty slide show of images from that event right here:

Wish you had been there.

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