HAVING SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED the first year of my tenth decade it seemed appropriate to celebrate, and with whom better than the Contessa and the dear old friend who introduced us to one another over sixty years ago.
Friend lives nearby, and suggested a hot new restaurant everyone seems to be talking about. We met early, at 5:30, when it was still possible to converse for a while, and warmed up with Martinis.
Then it was time to order. The Contessa and I split a Caesar salad, declining the waitress's offer to withhold the anchovies; and I went on to the pork chop you see here. I learned a valuable lesson: when the waitress asks how you would like it cooked, do not answer "no more than necessary." I don't like to order pork rare; it strikes me the result might be in fact rare pork; I like it rosy. This, as you see, came quite thoroughly cooked: the meat had good flavor but was dense and dry. My fault, the Contessa's expression seemed to say.
No matter: we're celebrating tonight. The succotash on the side was a nice touch, and we had an old favorite for our beverage, a wine we used to drink fairly often, when it was still affordable, but which we hadn't had for decades — and which turned out to taste just as it used to:
•The County Bench Kitchen + Bar, 535 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa, California; 707-535-0700