In some ways it's really hard for me to believe that I have been married for 20 years (the years flew by!). Yet in another way, when I look back and think about all the different things we've gone through together -- how we've both grown, changed, and experienced so many different chapters together in so many different ways -- then it does feel like it's been a long time.
I met Bryan when he was 17 and I was 19. We were mere kids, not really knowing anything about our futures, where we would go, what we would become. We got married soon out of college, still figuring out our directions in life.
Marriage is truly a step of faith and also commitment (especially when you're really young and you still don't really know yourself!).
We got married on September 1, 2001. It was ten days before the horrific attacks on 9/11 that changed America and our lives forever. We were on our honeymoon in Italy at the time, and started out our marriage stuck in Brussels for days before finally catching a flight to Montreal and driving down the Boston.
I thought it would be fun to reflect upon how we have celebrated our anniversary over the past 20 years. Of course, our 20 years of marriage is defined by so much more than just food or annual celebrations. However, it has played an important part of how we enjoy time together as a couple, and (of course), it is the focus of this blog. 🙂 Enjoy!
2002 was a different time, define by a post 9/11 world and yet pre-digital and pre-social media. Although we received our first digital camera as a wedding present, I woefully have very few photos from that era, and I can't remember for the life of me how we celebrated! All I remember is that I gave Bryan a coffee grinder and Illy espresso cups for our first Valentine's Day, which we use to this day.
2003 - 2007: Staying Put in Boston
I changed careers in 2003 and started attending law school at night and working full time during the day. Needless to say, we started out our marriage being quite busy! Although my weeknights were filled with classes and weekends full of study, we still played in our church band together, ran a Bible study group at our home, and enjoyed local trips around New England.
2006: I love biking, and one of my favorite activities is to bike the minuteman trail (from Cambridge to Lexington) for ice cream at Rancatore's, and then bike back for a nice dinner in Cambridge. This time, we took a day off of work and ended the day with a French meal in Harvard Square.
2007: Tiny Urban Kitchen is Born
When I graduated from law school, I was so ready to explore a plethora of hobbies (after being "cooped up" for 4 years studying law during my freetime). I threw myself into trying new activities, such as sewing handbags, oil painting, running, capoeira, cooking, and starting a food blog.
In the early days, the blog had no photos (!). I really just wanted to keep a journal of the restaurants I ate at, and also my mom's recipes. Because of that, my write-up of our 6th anniversary meal at Craigie Street Bistrot (one of the earliest blog posts at Tiny Urban Kitchen) is shockingly photo-less.
As life would have it, as I became "freer", Bryan started traveling more and more for work. At our first anniversary apart in 2008 (due to one of Bryan's many business trips), Bryan sent me roses at work for the first time.
Tiny Urban Kitchen is Christened
In 2009 I started to blog more seriously. Bryan had bought me a lovely little camera that took really good photos of food. I changed the name of the blog, joined an ad network, and started to write more seriously about both my cooking and my dining out.
That year, we celebrated our anniversary with a lovely meal at Boston's classic No. 9 Park.
2010: 9th: Menton
2010 was a momentous year. I won Project Food Blog: The Next Food Blog Star, and I started blogging a lot more. We celebrated our 9th with a lovely meal at Barbara Lynch's flagship restaurant Menton, where we enjoyed New England inspired food elevated to the highest level Boston had ever seen.
2011: Las Vegas
For our 10th anniversary we did something crazy. Our friend, a wedding photographer in Las Vegas, offered to treat us to a photoshoot in the desert! We brought along my wedding dress and took all sorts of fun photos, the below being one of my favorite.
We also enjoyed a mind-blowing meal at 3-Michelin starred The Mansion at Joel Robuchon. Truly an unforgettable meal.
2012: 11th Uni Sashimi Bar!
2012 was a special year because Bryan's parents retired that year. Bryan had so many airline miles from his years of travel that he gifted his parents a choice of two first class tickets anywhere in the world.
They looked on a globe and picked the farthest location they could find: Australia and New Zealand. Oh, and they wanted to go together as a family. In 2012, we took a 3+ week vacation (longest we'd ever taken!) and traveled around that stunning region. I woefully have never given it a proper write-up on the blog, but there are a few food posts I was able to write.
Due to the crazy travel in November that year, we took it easy for our anniversary (and also for Christmas), not traveling at all but just resting and staying put. We celebrated 11 years of marriage with a lovely Japanese-inspired meal at Uni Sashimi Bar, back when it was just a small corner of Clio, pre-Tony Messina. How things have changed!
2013: 12th Sonoma!
I have such, such fond memories of California's wine region. I got to know the region when I used to travel there annually to cover the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competitions. For years we went back annually, savoring the beautiful scenery, amazing food, and in Sonoma and Napa. I have many, many fond memories of those trips, and am so thankful for the numerous opportunities we had to visit that amazing region.
2014: 13th Berkshires!
Boston's own backyard, the Berkshires, is a lovely place to visit in the summertime. For our 13th anniversary, we finally enjoyed a picnic while listening to a concert at Tanglewood, the quintessential New England summer experience!
2015: 14th in the Midwest and Around the World
Our friends asked us months earlier whether we wanted to make a special trip to Chicago just to dine at Alinea, one of the most famous fine-dining restaurants in the US. It had been years since I had visited Chicago, and I fell in love with the city! I guess my Midwestern roots are still strong, and perhaps a part of me felt at home there. The meal at Alinea was also really special, especially because we got to spend this anniversary with some of our best friends.
2015 was also memorable for me because that fall Bryan took me on an "Around the World" trip to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was a momentous and crazy trip. We visited wineries in Bordeaux, explored museums in Paris, sampled white truffles in Alba (even went on a truffle hunt!), learned all about the barbaresco and barolo regions, savored Tokyo's food and culture, and also stopped by Hong Kong, Bryan's favorite city in the world. At that time, we never would have ever imagined that we would move there some day.
Finally, I started a new job as head of IP at a biotech start-up in Cambridge, which was super exciting. What a year!
2016: 15th Saison San Francisco
In 2016 I got to enjoy one of my favorite meals (ever) in the US, our anniversary dinner at Saison in San Francisco. I loved how the chef incorporated so many Japanese concepts and ingredients into the tasting menu.
2017: 16th Bergamot Boston
2017 was an unique year. It was the year I moved to Hong Kong. At that time, Bryan had already moved to Hong Kong first and had returned to Boston right before our anniversary to wrap up our move. For our anniversary, we visited our favorite hangout spot Bergamot and enjoyed a boisterous meal at the bar with close friends.
2018: 17th Bergamot Boston
After moving to Hong Kong, we started to value and cherish our times at Bergamot more and more. We returned again in 2018 for yet another anniversary celebration at the same bar. Little did we know that would be our last time . . .
2019: 18th Anniversary in Amber
We couldn't make it to Boston for our 18th anniversary. Instead, we decided to book Amber in Hong Kong in the midst of an intense time of social unrest in Hong Kong. It was a crazy story of how Bryan barely made it out of the airport (which was overrun with protestors) right before the police locked down the airport. Many people were stuck in traffic for hours. I was so thankful Bryan was able to make it back in time for us to celebrate together. I am even more thankful he had the foresight to book a night at the Landmark Mandarin so we wouldn't have to worry about how to get home afterwards.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been the most upended, unpredictable, and crazy year to date. 2020 meant we had been "locked in" working from home for close to two months. In late August, Hong Kong finally started to open up a bit. We ventured out, cautious, celebrating our first "socially distanced" dinner out at Xin Rong Ji.
2021: Our 20th Anniversary
Happy Anniversary!!! Here we are at our 20th. We are so, so thankful that the Covid situation in Hong Kong is quite good, with no local cases in months. We've been enjoying an extended week of celebrations, visiting some favorites such as Sushi Shikon, Ando, Mott32, and Din Tai Fung, just to name a few.
Sometimes it's shocking to me how little we knew ourselves and each other when we took the plunge and decided to tie the knot at such a young age. However, I truly believe it's because of God's amazing grace that we have been able to grow so much as as couple these past 20 years.
The 20th anniversary gift according to tradition is China, while the modern version is Platinum. It's fitting, considering we currently live in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, and Platinum is the material we chose for our wedding bands and my engagement ring so many years ago.
I feel very, very thankful and blessed beyond measure.