Saturday, November 5, 2011

Birthday Presents

For my birthday, I got everything I wanted.

1. The BA B-day 10k.
This is just braggodocio, but it's my blog and I'll brag if I want to.
Like so many things in my life, this idea was inspire by KP and it was one of my (many) gifts to myself. KP ran 10 miles on the morning of her birthday in July. When she was recounting the experience at her birthday party, her exact words were "It wasn't easy and it definitely wasn't pretty, but now I look back and I know I DID THAT". 
I'm not nearly so advanced, but I figured I could do 6.2 miles, which is about a mile longer than I have ever asked myself to do before.
I went to the gym before work on my birthday and, while listening to Mahler 3, pounded through 6.25 miles in 73 minutes.
It was not easy, and it was NOT pretty. I huffed and puffed and sweated and grunted my sloppy way to the finish line. But I. DID. IT.
Of course, I then had to work a full day, but my coworkers bought me doughnuts and they all sang to me and it was completely worth it.
So here's to me and my Awesomeness. Cheers.
But enough about me.

(Warning, the next two entries are plagued with extremely poorly taken photos. The only excuse I can offer is that it was MY FREAKING BIRTHDAY SO LEAVE ME ALONE.)
2. Family Love and Flopping Ween
Who doesn't want to get serenaded by a saxophone duet and then take jello shots in a dimly lit strip club in a seedy section of town while watching a naked yawning gay man vaguely swirl his hips with a decided lack of luster?
KB and Sara both play saxophone incredibly well and they gave Kenny and I a front row seat for their first performance together. Bravo!

I'm convinced that the reason we went to a gay strip club was so that now I can't get a pass on "Never have I ever been to a gay strip club" when we play Kings. At least I've still never eaten KFC.

3. Casbah
Before this year, I had a list of the three most delicious meals I have ever eaten. Now, the list in closer to 10 and this is one of them.
Thrill and Aaron got us a reservation as Casbah, a restaurant in Shadyside that has always been surrounded in a cloud of mystery for me. I had never heard anything about the actual cuisine there but everytime I talked to someone who had eaten there, their eyes just sort of got misty and they burbled about how amazing it was. Interest Officially Piqued.
So we dressed up, had a cocktail, and gorged ourselves on no fewer than 8 different kinds of animal:

Sea Scallops with Prosciutto, Calamari and Rock Shrimp, Lamb Shank, Duck Breast, and Lobster Ravioli with Veal.

I consider myself something of a calamari connoisseur, and this was at the top of the list. The three of us passed each of our entrees back and forth until not a single bite was left. The cherry on this delicious sundae was the homemade salted caramels complete with a chocolate scripted birthday wish. Perfection.

After which we adjourned to their house for some of my favorite activities: sitting in the parlor listening to records, enjoying whiskey and
Prantl's Burnt Almond Torte.

I won't lie, I ate almond torte for breakfast for the next several days. I'm going to have to make this a tradition.

4. Birth-toven Day:
Mimosa, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Crabcake BLT at Habitat + Beethoven 3 + Cody Sweet = success

Cody got us tickets to see the PSO play Beethoven 3, and came with me despite the facts that 1) he doesn't really like Beethoven and 2) had all ready been forced to endure it twice that weekend. Having never seen Beethoven 3 live before, despite how much I love it, I greatly appreciate his selflessness. I had also never been to Habitat despite the fact that it is in a building owned by the company I work for, and is literally yards away from where I spend 5 days a week. The food was excellent and the concert was divine; I squealed quietly with delight more than once. I'm hoping for many a repeat of the symphony/Habitat combination.

5. A Homemade Meal:

I love being taken care of and I love having a fuss made over me. When done correctly, these two things usually manifest in perfectly cooked comfort foods.
Perfectly Rare Beef Roast, Spaghetti Squash, Garlic Mash, and Roasted Brussell Sprouts
Thank you, Thrill and Aaron and Kelly and Katie.

6. Flowers:
It may be perpetuating an antifeminist stereotype but I love getting flowers. It makes me feel like a special princess.

In addition to the amazing meal pictured directly above, they got me a bouquet and a sea salt caramel dark chocolate bar, which I later consumed in its entirety in one sitting after a particularly grueling rehearsal.

Also, O sent me white roses. To my work. On my birthday. Every single woman in the office squealed when they showed up.

7. A Plethora of Popcorn:
K had a huge box of 15 different varieties of gourmet popcorn delivered to me, also at work. So freaking good.
Thanks to the ineptitude of the Popcorn Factory shipping department, I got this a week after my birthday. A giant box covered in blue marker, with a sticker on the outside that said "I don't know who remembered your birthday, but it probably wasn't Fhdwgads". Treat for me, I got to keep receiving presents at work a full week AFTER my birthday. I felt incredible special and my snack drawer overfloweth. That's not a problem any more because you better believe I have been eating popcorn like it's my job.

8. Power Lunch:
One of the the things I love about working downtown is my proximity to Kenny. Among the reasons I love Kenny is that he tells me I'm pretty and gives me kisses, which is pretty much all I've ever wanted. Also, he takes me to lunch at McCormick and Schmick's, where I get this beauty:
Ahi Tuna Nicoise.
Isn't is gorgeous? It tasted pretty awesome, too.

9. Trip to Philly:

Some highlights
~I ate a burger made of elk! @ Teresa's, the restaurant where my dreams come true.
~Leisurely breakfast made at O's house. I've never been able to pinpoint exactly why, but making breakfast at home with someone else is one of most soothing and pleasurable experiences I can imagine. The road to my heart lead directly through Breakfast.
~The Gryphon (duh). PBJ on yummy bread.
~Sour Ale! If Sour Ale were an acceptable breakfast beverage, I would be the happiest person alive.
~Lorenzo's Pizza. There is some pretty good pizza in Pittsburgh but it has been years since I've had a slice of REALLY GOOD PIZZA. and this one was the size of my head. We ate them while walking around South Street in Philly before going to the mosaic labyrinth.
~Home Brew and a delicious chicken dinner chez Buozis. Mike made a dry rub chicken, Allison made perfectly simple sweet potatoes, and we each built our own salad. We got to enjoy one of the last beautiful nights of the year on their back patio. All around delightful.
~Chocolate and Almond croissants.
~Chorizo and Avocado pizza at Christopher's
~Getting to see O.

10. My Edible Self
This one is a little ridiculous.
K is a woman of many many talents. She can quote movie lines after one viewing, she has a knack for making perfect similes, and has a beautiful alto voice. One of the stranger talents that she is developed is personifying the people in her life through recipes, or, as she has so punnily called them:

She has been doing this for a little while now, and I was simultaneously pleased and a little offended that my essence had yet to be translated into a dish. "I just cant decide what you should be" she said "I can't narrow it down." Then one day, the universe threw her a bone and handed her these beautiful babies:
These are blondies with white and dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes and hazelnut. They are a combination of a bunch of wonderful things made more wonderful by their togetherness. They are versatile and sweet and warm and just a little bit complicated. They are my edible self.
On top of all that the corresponding blog post (You're in my heart, you're in my stomach) is the most economic and touching summary of my connection to K. 
I have never been more flattered.

11. Zucchini
Shaira and her sister Ruby gave me two HUGE zucchini. Which is perfect because I love all squash and I love local produce.
I used them to make two unprecedented and somewhat unscripted recipes: Zucchini Fritters and Zucchini Muffins.
The Fritters are topped with the plum vinaigrette, an idea which I had many moons ago and just never follow through on. The fritters a little crisp on the outside, the vinaigrette was tangy and sweet, and the sour cream blended it all together.
The muffins were sort of a departure. I got the idea in my brain to replace the sugar in the recipe with molasses, and basically completely modified a normal muffin recipe to accommodate it. They were dark and moist and spicy and absolutely nothing like what I expected.

Zucchini: The gift that keeps on giving.

My friends,
I have waited my whole life for a love like yours.
You have given me so many things. You make me smile, you make me laugh, you make me feel like the queen of the freaking world.

I love each and every debauch one of you.


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