I was very spoiled on my 27th birthday. I was nervous about it. Which was silly. In a good year, birthdays are an opportunity to realize how many wonderful people are in your life.
I arrived to school (I had biochem on my birthday, yeurgh) and had all these wonderful things waiting for me.
One friend gave me a wine glass full of goodies (a carrot cake cupcake and lots of chocolate!) and some pumpkin tea. And my adorable sister Malindi lives with my classmate Claire. Malindi packed up a plate of goodies (candy and cookies and gummi worms!) and Claire biked to school with them. Don’t know how she did it!
Then after class I went to a happy hour with my coworkers (I have a job helping on a research project for one of my favorite professors. The project’s about healthy eating and food attitudes during pregnancy. I love it!) We went to Glasshalfull, which is now one of my favorite restaurants!
I got an amazing cocktail that involved jalapenos and fruitiness. Like a margarita, but spicy and not sweet. True confession: it was at this point on my birthday that I came to terms with the fact I was sick (I had just gotten back from FNCE and one of my classmates had been suuuuuuper sick for the whole conference, so it wasn’t really a surprise).
Was a cocktail a good idea? No, probably not. But the spiciness soothed my throat, and I got tipsy hilariously quickly.
Also fun about Glasshalfull- my buddy Nate works there! And he was our waiter! He was nice enough to bring me a free birthday dessert- pumpkin flan. Yummmmmm. We split it three ways and it was awesome.
I’d already made plans with my sister. I called her, slightly abashed, and went, “Uh, why don’t you pick me up since I’m not in driving shape right now?” So she did, and we went to Hillsborough for a lovely pizza dinner! I like Radius Pizzeria a lot. They have a big ol’ fancy pizza oven, and a beautiful patio. On the patio we got to bond with a sweet and friendly dog named Lulu for a bit.
I got a pizza with goat cheese, artichokes, wild mushrooms, and oven roasted tomatoes. PERFECT crust with bites that alternated between chewy and crispy.
Malindi got ravioli, and then insisted that we also split a side of mac and cheese. It was carb and cheese heaven. We split a dulce de leche bar for dessert.
A few days later, I went out with my buddy Camille. I decided I wanted to go to my new favorite, Glasshalfull, for the second time in the week!
It was a wonderfully girly meal. I got a great glass of wine. They do 3 oz pours, which I really like. Ostensibly it means one can try a bunch of different types. In my case, it just means that I can get a lightweight-sized portion! This was a South African red and I swear it tasted like barbecue!
We also shared the girliest things ever- brussels sprouts (flash fried with peanuts on top- God, so good!) and a cheese plate. Then we each got individual desserts!
There was lots and lots of chit chatting with the meal. I feel so lucky to have formed some really good friendships in this program.
The following weekend I continued the birthday joy with my cat friends at the cat refuge. Every time I go there, I spend the next week thinking about how much I want all those sweet kitties to have lovely happy homes and individual attention. But if I carry that to its conclusion I’d have 400 cats, which would be a problem.
We spent two and a half hours at the refuge! An hour of which was spent in the kitten cabana. The kittens love to play Arm Game, which consists of attacking my arm. I forgive them. They’re so damn cute.
When one is in Pittsboro, it’s never a bad idea to stop at Phoenix Bakery, which has wonderful donuts. I’d been enjoying them for quite some time until I realized they were baked, not fried! It’s okay, I forgive them. This was a pumpkin cream filled donut, and it was swell.
Then the following week, fall break began on Wednesday, so I got to go hoooooome! To my mom. And my own cat 🙂
We ate kind of absurd amounts of delicious food. It felt nourishing, physically and emotionally.
We took a long walk along my old fave, the W+OD trail. Just off the trail in downtown Vienna is my beloved The Pure Pasty. My mom and I each got a cup of soup (she got cream of celery, I got butternut squash) and we split a seasonal veggie pasty, which contained potato, squash, celery, parsnip (<3) etc.
It’s hard for me to convey how much I love this place. It’s not fancy at all, but the quality of the food is incredible. They really respect the vegetarian option, and it varies by season and always tastes really fresh and awesome.
And the crust! One time I interrogated the owner about how they make the crust, and it’s definitely complicated. I know they use organic Spectrum shortening, and organic King Arthur high protein flour. I also love the tang the dough has, and the owner said they use the scraps of the previous batch of dough (which have been able to ferment to tanginess a bit) into the new batch of dough. It’s just so flavorful and flaky and toasty and incredible.
We also split a dessert pasty, which was full of almond paste and jammyness. It was good, but not great.
Then we continued our walk and took our usual kombucha break at the whole foods along the trail. I love grapefruit ANYTHING, and was super excited about the grapefruit kombucha. But the grapefruit taste got lost.
My crazy mother reclined for a bit in the Whole Foods parking lot. I guess she enjoyed a nice relaxing fall break, too!
Another night, we went to Korean Barbecue WHOO! We sat down and there was, as always, an incredible selection of pickled things. Then the menu was kind of confusing but it was basically “pick an animal, decide if you want a semi-huge selection of food, or a colossal all you can eat selection of food”. We went with a semi-huge amount of cow. They gave us brisket, bulgogi (regular and spicy), ribeye, and the BEST FLANK STEAK I HAVE EVER TASTED.
When I’m in NC, what I miss most about the DC area are good Korean food and good Ethiopian food. I’m happy that I got to have BOTH on this trip!
My mom and I split the veggie sampler with all of the good stuff. Of course injera is beneath the whole thing and on the side (the amazing tangy Ethiopian flatbread). And then on top, from 12:00, there were collard greens, cooked cabbage n carrots and potatoes, pureed lentils, yellow split peas, potato salad, injera salad (with hot peppers and tomatoes and seasoning), raw cabbage salad, and spicy lentils in the middle.
I also enjoyed peaceful times at home, a lot of which consisted of my cat keeping me from doing anything. The old tail on the newspaper maneuver. The old, “You can’t go anywhere, I’m on your lap” trick.
I was studying biochem in bed (yep, that’s my life) and Sheila came and was so adorable I had to awkwardly angle my laptop and take a Photo Booth picture of us. (So my keyboard cover fell on top of me. It is orange, like Sheila).
I love this cat so much.
So I’m 27. My eggs are probably dying, and I’m in this weird life holding pattern while I’m in school, and sometimes I watch too much Netflix. But hopefully I’m a little wiser?