Birthday cake number one: self purchased. I met my friend Andrea for lunch and discussed angsty issues discussed in my pre-birthday post. She was also having some Being a Grownup Is Hard-itis so it was gratifying to talk to her. We decided that we ought to have some cake.
I ate about 3/4 of this magnificence over the course of the afternoon as I continued to work on a paper (yes, shockingly, grad school did not give me a dispensation from all of my assignments for my birthweek)
The cake was splendid, though. From Weaver Street Market, and vegan! You never would’ve known- it had all the decadence, density, and moisture one would expect from something packed with cream and butter. The first ingredient was coffee, which I think really helped keep it moist and give it a depth of flavor.
As for my birthday itself, October 7th- lucky 7!- Steve took me out for an un.believable. dinner at Lantern. Never mind the lovely ambiance (the eponymous lanterns were all over the restaurant’s ceiling; as the sun set, they cast a warm glow over everything) or the attentive service, the food was ridiculously delicious. Fancy and tasty and requiring way too much cheffy technique to ever imagine making at home.
Steve had heard the dumplings were good, so we split an order of the veggie ones.
And a second appetizer, these unbelievable shrimp. First of all, they were cooked with their shells on, so you ate them whole, explained our waiter, like you would a soft shell crab. They were perfectly cooked (no hint of rubberiness that can happen with shrimp) and flavorful. Best of all, however (avert your eyes, Malindi) was the flash-fried cilantro on the side. Woe to you, cilantro-haters like my dear sister, because this stuff was innnnncredddible. Rich and crunchy!
As we nibbled on the appetizers, the drinks arrived. WHOO this cocktail. Hibiscus-infused vodka, lime, and thai basil. Herby, citrusy, and not too sweet. Everything I like in a cocktail! So delicious. Beautiful, too.
For my entree, I got the North Carolina sturgeon. Dude, have any of you ever eaten sturgeon? I had NOT. I wish I had known what kind it was, since sustainable seafood is important to me and the Monterey Bay guide is a little fuzzy on this fish. Crossing my fingers it’s a sustainable choice, cause DANG it’s good. It was smoked (swoon, I love smoked fish) so it had delicious smoky flavor and was not at all dry (which is always the danger with fish). Its accompaniments were, circularly, sauteed shiitake mushrooms, steamed black sticky rice, and baby bok choy, all topped in a miso butter. The bok choy was like buttah, the black rice was perfectly starchy and chewy and flavorful, and I could’ve eaten ladlefuls of the miso butter.
I feel like at restaurants I often prefer appetizers, but this was definitely the best restaurant entree I’ve ever eaten, and both the most substantial and most delicious part of the meal.
Unpictured is the cake Steve and I split to end the meal. Demonstrating that almost four years (!) into our relationship Steve is still capable of surprising me, HE picked dessert! I am always the Team Dessert member in our relationship; he is Team Eat More Of The Main Course. We split a flourless chocolate cake, which came with slightly salty, slightly crunchy peanut ice cream, mmm.
Then there was MORE cake! I was innocently lounging on the couch watching Parks and Rec with Steve, thinking my birthday celebrations had ended for the day, when there was a knock at my door. Who should it be but Myra and Alex and their puppy Lochsie! (Who promptly peed all over Alex, who was holding her, because she was so excited to see me. Heh.) With them was caramel pecan cheesecake whaaaaaaa?! So delicious. We hung out on the day spa deck and had a lovely, relaxing end to my birthday. Lucky, lucky lucky me!
The penultimate cake of the week (there was another in my birthweekend, when my mother and sister came to visit, but that’s a separate post) was provided by my classmate Sophia. Sophia is the ish! She, like so many of my peers in my program, has such an interesting background. A little business and fashion, a little culinary school, an obsession with the microbiome and healthy fats. She was appalled to discover that it was my birthday on facebook only at the end of the day, after she’d already had a few classes with me. She called me at dinner to personally apologize (so adorable). Then, my next day of class with her, she led the whole class in a round of “Happy Birthday” and gave me this carroty piece of heaven.