My birthday was February 28th. I’ve always maintained that the older you are, the longer you get to celebrate. So, even though I started early and am past the actual date I’m not quite done yet. Birthday dinners were a big thing in my family. Regular readers will hardly be surprised by this statement. The deal was that although we couldn’t afford fancy dinners out, Mom and Dad were willing to cook whatever we wanted.
Being blessed with a birthday timed to hit all the post Valentines Day seafood sales I was indulged. I developed a fondness for crustaceans early and never let up. I also happen to have a birthday perfectly timed for Restaurant Week. It’s slow this time of year so Monday-Friday participating restaurants offer a pre-set menu of typical fare at significantly reduced prices. It’s a great way to try out new restaurants, and a good excuse to get folks to take me out.
On my actual birthday I stayed in and cooked. I was thinking about ordering pizza, but Orion wanted steak so I went for it. But in another “good timing” gig, our celebration for the Goddess Lucina happens to fall on the first Sunday of March and that’s also a food rich event.
I have eaten out A LOT celebrating my birthday. So far I’ve had:
Picking up Orion at my folks they made me birthday dinner of sea scallops in wine sauce with pesto linguine. The recipes aren’t as full of butter as they used to be, but still very tasty.
Dinner at Fogo de Chao with Karina and courtesy of Orion: including smoked salmon, cheeses, and asparagus from the salad bar and about 17 different preparations of chicken, sausage, lamb and beef. The best cut of meat hands down was the special Brazillian cut. Desserts were a definitive Brazillian flan, a molten chocolate cake, and a turtle cheesecake. Orion sang me Happy Birthday in Portuguese.
Lunch with Judy: produced homemade rye bread fresh out of the oven along with roasted cauliflower and a lovely mushroom and sausage quiche.
Dinner at Campiello with my 50+ women’s meet-up group: I had meatballs in the house marinara with fried basil leaves, fresh butternut squash ravioli in browned butter and a baked chocolate mouse cake with salted carmel gelato and caramelized peanuts. The food was excellent, the company a lot of fun and the service exquisite. They handled a bunch of rowdy women like pros. The staff answered all our questions (even the ones about other restaurants) and accommodated our dietary quirks. A really fun evening (and how I really spent my birthday money).
Dining in with Orion: I made fillet minion, which I cut off the tenderloin and wrapped in nitrate free hand sliced bacon from the coop. I paired it with roasted asparagus sprinkled with parmesan and a baked potato. Not too difficult and very satisfying.
Dinner at Piccolo with Karina: Karina and I have established a history of fine dining and conversation about the details of the food we eat. We’ve dished dinners all over town, in New York City, in Washington D.C., in Florida, on cruise ships and anywhere else we’ve traveled. I started her early (she was maybe 5 on that cruise). When we talk about our separate vacations the conversation usually revolves around the food we tried. It’s hereditary. My Mom’s travel logs all detail our vacation dining as well.
We had the tasting menu, starting out with a lengthy debate about who was going to get what. Clearly we needed to avoid duplication and taste everything! Our waiter stepped in and answered questions about how the food was prepared. Karina stuck her head into the kitchen a few times to watch them prep and ask questions there as well. Piccolos focuses on locally sourced food, lots of small bites and beautiful presentation. We were in foodie heaven.
Piccolos is actually a small little neighborhood kind of venue. The decor features stacks of books about food. I noted the coffee table book on Olives in the bathroom and the Oxford Guides to Food and Wine. The cookbook that we snuck to the table was an Italian cookbook by a local author, The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper with post-it notes stuck all through it commenting on the recipes. The waiter thought she’d probably left it visiting the owners previous restaurant. Clearly it remains a favorite. It kept us entertained between courses and now I have to go find a copy! (Karina wants one too.)
Lucina’s Day brunch is set up as a pile of finger food and conversation among the women followed by dinner with the families. The ladies I celebrate with cook so it’s always a treat. I brought wine and pesto stuffed mushrooms. We also had olives, pita, dried oranges, lots of cheeses, dolmades, figs, chocolate and orange cakes, nuts. Perfect food to chat over. Dinner added beef ribs and chicken and brie stuffed mushrooms. Stuffed was the word of the day.
Maybe this week I’ll get around to making myself a cake.