02 August 2009

Birthday shenanigans.

I've had just about a week to settle in to being 31. It's not so bad. In fact, it's pretty much the same as 30. But I've been thinking a lot about what it's like to be in your 30s, versus what it's like to be younger, at least for me -- even the differences between 30s me and mid-20s me. And as much as I joke about being old, and being old sucking, and my occasional woe-is-me-I'm-old-sick-and-jobless days, I'd take 31 any day. I like to knit and bake and sit on benches at parks and go for Sunday drives and stay in on Saturday nights watching Dateline and go antiquing and window shop. I'm a calmer more content person at this age (yes, it's true Brad, so shut it), and here's to hoping I can remember that through all the craziness!

As a 31-year-old, I am also very lucky to have so many loving people in my life. While some are far away (boo!), I'm so glad to have friends like I do, and a pretty awesome husband to boot. Many of you helped me celebrate this year, and I'd like to think a good time was had by all. Now, let's talk about cake!

Have you ever seen anything like that before?! Brad enlisted Lisa Z's awesome cake-making skills, and we were all shocked (not in "I can't believe she pulled that off" way, rather a "no one else but Lisa could pull that off!" way) with the outcome. A mini-ish birthday cake, an individual Mr. Hootie cupcake, and hordes of matching owl cupcakes. I'm still in awe. Of the thought, the detail, and, of course, the deliciousness. And I'm still pretty sure there was some sort of wizardry involved in the making of the rainbow cake. A million cake kisses to my Lisa!

As for snacks, I tried to keep it low-key, but, as I mentioned, it was hard for me to stick to my "just hot dogs and chips" plan.

If you haven't discovered Great Harvest, I suggest you get on it. I picked up some Guinness cheese bread and jalapeno cheddar corn bread, and I can't recommend them enough. Cornbread is certainly a favorite of mine, and then you add in cheddar and jalapenos? Perfection. I also couldn't resist the gigantic watermelons I spotted at the farm stand across the street from the dog park (and I'm so glad there was enough to share with Petunia the piggie!). Thanks also to Melissa S. for bringing what I like to call "the best brownies in the world." Half cookie, half brownie, I could seriously live on them.

Honorable mention goes to Tabi's Dan who supplied the J├Ąger
for all the July birthdays. :)

We ended the night with an anniversary showing of Birthday Bloodbath. I sense the start of a tradition! (But even with yearly hugs and kisses, I still can't possibly convey my amazement and awe and smooshiness for this movie and those of you sneaky sneaks involved! xoxo)

A few days later the real birthday came and I was officially IN my 30s. Brad woke me up with a very special birthday gift... A chicken sponsorship! After seeing Food Inc. and having food guilt, especially chicken guilt (I still haven't eaten any meat except for accidental chicken broth and perhaps a bite of pork at Chinese last week), Brad sponsored a chicken for a year at Sasha Farm. I got a little package introducing me to Marti the chicken, including pictures and a certificate indicating what the sponsorship entailed (food, vet care, and, most importantly, general feather styling!).

Seriously! How sweet is that Bradford of mine? He'd also taken the day off, so I got to spend the day with my no. 1 guy. We got bagels, went to the bookstore, went to Gallup Park and watched the geese and hummingbird moths (have you ever seen anything like that? Crazy!)... Then, in true senior citizen fashion, we went to Vinology at 5:30 -- but hey, we caught happy hour and each got a 1/2 off glass of wine!

I'd been hesitant to return to Vinology after hearing of Chef Johns' departure and the medicoreness of their restaurant week meal. But we've loved it for so long, my heart still skipped a beat when Kristal and Rick presented me with a gift card (smooches!!!). And, I must say, my worries have been completely shattered. The menu had almost all new items (I was worried they'd stop changing it with the seasons) and I was excited before I even ate a bite.

Yes, that says cheesy poofs!

I could have easily ordered nearly every one of the small plates, but I narrowed it down to three, and a salad (I'm a sucker for anything with pine nuts and dried cherries!). I ordered my items and the bartender (we like to sit at the bar, that's young and hip, right?) started to walk away. Silly man! That was just for ME!

I like that Brad's arm looks like the Lobster Boy.

I, of course, HAD to get the goat cheese-stuffed squash blossoms, as their run on the menu is always so short, and, obviously, because they are delicious. And still are. I was a nice girl and shared these with Brad, who loved them, too. Much better than when I try and duplicate them at home. I don't often order scallops, but I had an immediate hankering for them upon seeing them on the menu so I went for it. They came with a lemon risotto, which was just to die for. And very lemony, very very lemony. I'd never have thought it would taste so good, but I could have eaten a whole meal of that alone. And finally, a wild mushroom tartlet, which was so sizable and filling it could have really served as a meal with a salad. I couldn't place the exact seasoning (and had forgotten what the menu said), but the flavors were very reminiscent of the wild mushroom pizza at California Pizza Kitchen (that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement ha ha but I mean it in a good way!). Unfortunately it also had a good enough amount of garlic that I could actually taste it (usually I can't) so I wouldn't order this again, but the good news is that I enjoyed it while eating it and it only caused the mildest of tummy aches. And then..... (and no and then!), free dessert. The best kind.

I don't eat donuts, I can't. It's like instant death. But as soon as I saw homemade donuts on the dessert menu, I knew I had to have them. My stomach was already a little upset, so I figured what the hell. And I'm so glad I did (they did not, I'm happy to report, make the belly any worse!).

Warm, just out of the oven. And in a bag! How cute is that? Chocolate sauce, cream, and raspberry -- all delicious, but, of course, chocolate was my number one. By far (and that's saying a lot) my favorite dish of the night. For now, Vinology will have to remain a special occasion restaurant, but I'm so glad to know it's still as yummy as ever.

We were home by 7:30, with plenty of time to work on my knitting. :)


Rachel said...

Yum! I love that CPK wild mushroom pizza! And I love this post! So many Stephtasticness to this birthday. Here's to many more! :)

Lady Lisa said...

So glad you had such a lovely birthday, and can't wait for you to turn 32!

queen b said...

Can't. take. the. food. posts. any. longer. :) Must. have. stuffed. blossoms.

I'm STILL jealous of that meal. Even after a week. Will make the boy take me there sometime soon and then I will text you and describe all the wonderful things I'm putting in my mouth. Heehee.

Sara said...

It was all perfect! Cake, chicken sponsorship, and summer food at Vinology. Even the jager. hahaha. And I'm totally with you on the 31 lifestyle. Although I've been like that since I was 21. Maybe even 11. hahaha