Monday, July 13, 2009

My Birthday: The Celebration in Food & Drink

My birthday this year (7/11) was marked by absolutely delicious food. I ate supremely well all week & weekend, with more birthday lunches & dinners lined up for this coming week!

First up was sushi with my friend Michael at Mt. Fuji the Sunday before my birthday. They have amazing happy hour specials but the atmosphere is definitely not my style, with Daughtry playing in the background & all. Their Spicy Girl roll was great!

Tuesday I ate sushi again with my friends Hunter & Kevin at Obento-Ya just off the U of M campus. It was good but their happy hour specials were not so special. Next time I will go for a bento box; they seemed to be the most popular thing there.

Friday I went to Barbette in Uptown with Aaron. Bless his soul, everything on the menu scared him. He ended up getting the pork loin with apple ginger sauce & really liked it. I got the seared salmon with orzo pasta salad with dill pesto and it was unbelievable. More to come on that on Heavy Table this week (along with a picture!). We split the small order of pommes frites as an appetizer, which is probably what got me so full & the reason why Aaron didn't complain too much. I was rolling out of there by the end of my meal! I haven't had fries in ages & the fries at Barbette were good enough to break that fast. We had to stop to rest on the walk back home because I was so full!

Aaron was looking quite dapper! It distressed me how many people were eating out at places like Barbette & Chino Latino with cargo shorts and flip-flops on. Make an effort!

Saturday I woke up early to seize the beautiful day and head down to the Mill City Farmers Market to see what I could see. My first stop was watching Tim McKee work his magic doing trout sliders in celebration of the market's Trout Fest that day. They were just right; the buttery, grilled potato roll, trout with slightly crunchy skin, aioli sauce, and field greens all came together to create the perfect little morsel. Maybe as a bon voyage dinner before I go to Paris, I'll stop there with my most financially stable and seafood-loving friends.

Next up was some delicious chocolate courtesy of French Nugget. I love these things! They don't melt and have just the right amount of sweetness. They taste healthier than regular chocolate too. I don't care if they actually are! I got Almond Heaven and Oatmeal Dream; both lived up to their names.

After that I got a strawberry shortcake from what I think was Solomon's Snacks & Bakery. I didn't end up eating it till I got home, but it wasn't the best or the worst shortcake I've ever had. There definitely needs to be work done on the strawberry-to-cake ratio. Too much cake!

I was still craving some sweets so I made the obligatory stop at Chef Shack to try their beet ice cream. Boy, was it good! Just the right hint of sweetness & beet flavor. Keep in mind that this is coming from a vehement hater of beets, even. I can't wait to try their carrot & corn flavors when those veggies are in season. I was so tempted to buy a bison burger or cow tongue taco or Indian spiced donuts or vegan brat or... okay, everything they had listed for sale. I'm a sucker for good food! I'll be back.

With my final dollars, I bought some fresh raspberries, a mix of red & black. They were perfectly ripe and filled my mouth with that pleasant zing that comes with well-grown berries.

After an intense work out in the afternoon, I was ready for my birthday dinner with my parents at Good Earth in Edina. I had the hardest time deciding what to get, since absolutely everything on the menu looked amazing. I ended up going with the shrimp club, which hit the spot just right. Spicy from the shrimp, refreshing from the tomato, crunchy from the toasted sourdough, creamy from the avocado; a good balance of flavors. My little field green salad was a good accompaniment. I hope to make it back there many, many, many times. Soon.

After dinner, we wanted to wait to indulge in dessert until my brother got home from Colorado with my grandparents. In the downtime, my mom and I decided to go out and pick all the black raspberries that were along the bike path in my neighborhood. We actually found a ton, with plenty more on their way to becoming ripe. I doubt we'll do anything with them; I'll gobble them all down with my breakfasts before my mom decides.

When I had to choose what to have my mom make for my birthday "cake", I had the hardest time figuring out what I wanted. I finally settled on another pear pie with Gruyere right in the crust. My mom found an amazing recipe and made a bomb pie, although it was a little undercooked. I blame our oven; we've been having a lot of failures lately, leading me to believe that our oven temp isn't up to snuff anymore. Even so, the pie was exactly what I wanted!

After pie I was off to my birthday party at my friend's apartment in Dinkytown. I had lime curd from making a previous confection (post to come) and wanted to use it up to make a dessert for all my friends. I settled on lime curd cookies. They weren't the best-looking - the dough was much too stiff and never spread out in the oven - because of a funky recipe, but they sure did taste good. I brought over two dozen and they were gone in half an hour. Everyone was chiding me for baking on my own birthday, but why not do something I love on a day that's all about me?

I also indulged myself with a bottle of chardonnay (among other drinks) at my party. I would have gotten absinthe but apparently it only comes in large, expensive bottles at MGM.

The next day, I woke up, took a nap, and headed out to sushi at Osaka in Eden Prairie with some high school friends. It was happy hour & they had great specials. My friend was paying, so we indulged in some veggie tempura. I also had a spider roll & Alaska roll. I am forevermore sitting at the sushi bar wherever I go, because the chef gave us this at the end of our meal, without even knowing it was to celebrate my birthday:

Despite the treat, we still headed to Scoops in Bloomington for dessert. They've got Sebastian Joe's ice cream, so I decided to get the raspberry truffle. I don't think I'll be getting it again. It wasn't the right combination of raspberry and chocolate that something like raspberry chocolate chip is. Next time I'm headed straight for Pavarotti.

Tomorrow I'm hitting up Loring Pasta Bar, with promises for more sushi later in the week. Next weekend (not this coming) I'm headed to Chicago, where cupcakes and gourmet grilled cheese await. Life is good!