What a lovely birthday weekend. Too late in the week, Elizabeth and I discussed the fact that I should not be working on my birthday (Friday, 9/11 in case you've been under a rock). I say too late because our admin at work had already asked me what I wanted for my birthday dessert and sent out the appropriate email announcement to the rest of the office.
As fate tends to be kind to me, I finished my work on Friday at 1:56, just in time for my office dessert to kick off the birthday weekend, and I consciously finished my work day but did no further work. Happy Birthday to me. For the office dessert gathering, I have a theory. If the admin likes you, she bakes something herself. Truth be told, I think she likes everyone, just some, less so, and they get store bought. Me, she likes. My answer to her query was peach cobbler or pie with vanilla ice cream. She made a peach cobbler in a 13X9 baking pan and I can't even hazard a guess about how much butter she used, but I can safely say it was definitely an all butter crust. There was about a 4 inch square left over and as I walked past her desk to leave on Friday afternoon, she asked, "You didn't like your cobbler?" I just rolled my eyes to acknowledge she was crazy, and she told me I had better go get my leftovers. I threw it in the fridge when I got home knowing I would eat it before the weekend's close.
Elizabeth had asked me what I wanted to do for dinner Friday morning, too early to know for sure, but I had been jonesing for the cornmeal crusted fried shrimp and cheesy bacon grits appetizer from Shade. Regardless of what else I might think I want, Shade is always a good bet. Their menu changes with what's seasonally available, but it is always been fabulous. We should be going there at least once a month. I ordered the shrimp and the trio of soups. The trio changes with the soup chef's mood I think (or at least with what is available) and usually there is one soup I think I want and two that I think, eh, not so much. The waiter rattled off the three soups and they all appealed, so an easy choice. There was a carrot ginger, potato bacon, and a tomato/shrimp/rice. All three were excellent, and the tomato had a bit of zing. The shrimp were also dipped into the carrot ginger. tres yumm all around.
My entree was a scallop and shrimp dish that was in a ginger saffron broth. It included rappini, chorizo, fennel and vermicelli. Oh my. If scallops are on the menu, I am likely to be ordering them. The only scallops I have enjoyed more were from Tupelo Honey in Asheville, NC. I am not likely to be having that any time soon and these certainly make my tummy happy. Elizabeth had a salmon dish that she thinks was just divine and she rarely orders fish, so there you go. If you are in Houston, you need to be visiting Shade.
The waiter came and handed us the dessert menu. We promptly handed it back. Was he insane? We were just too full to even look at the dessert menu.
It was still pretty early so we went on the next leg of the birthday adventure. elizabeth had told me that her plan involved going domewhere and dropping about $300. Now this is pretty vague. She said we could do it at any point during the weekend and since we had planned to go in to work on Saturday, and it was still early enough, we would go do it then and there after dinner. At dinner she looked over at me and said, "Go ahead and guess..." I always do (she mentioned this, too) and it always makes her pout, but I always then tell her how it goes toward our fated compatibility. How to soften the blow...hmm...
"Well," I gingerly offered, "If there is a choice of places ( a small clue she had offered, that it is a specific thing she wants to buy me, but really, I need to pick) then my first guess (deliberately a throw away to ease her pout) is a yarn store." Her smile brightened and she said "No!" We all know that yarn stores are already closed by this time on a Friday night. So my second guess (really my first), was Williams Sonoma (or Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel). Bring on that cute little pout.
About 5 years ago for xmas, the boss gave me a WS gift card and I used part of it to buy a six inch Wustoff Chef's knife. I had seen an episode on FoodNetwrk where Sara Moulton had gone over different kitchen knives and how some were so much more useful than othere. She particularly waxed poetic about how much more useful she, as a woman, found a six inch chef's knife as opposed to an eight inch or ten inch. Her babble sold me on the idea, and I was woefully lacking in a decent kitchen knife and found mydelf more and more leaning toward cooking fresh at home. I had done a little research and decided that Wustoff Classic was where I should begin. I totally heart that six inch chef'f knife still, and it has just recently become in need of sharpening.
The Wustoff Classic legacy has continued in the form of a bread knife, paring knife and utility knife as well a diamond steel. I have been eyeing the paring and utility knife for some time, but other things bump it down the list. No more. Unless I get worked up over a particular kind of cooking that rrequires a particular knife, I think I am set with just these four. I don't want miscellaneous knives that I just won't use.
shopping is exhausting. At least it serves a purpose. It allows the fabulous dinner to settle enough that you might think that you can consider dessert. We stopped on the way home at Brenner's. When it's your birthday, 2 exits past and u-turning is definitely on the way. I ordered the croissant bread pudding and elizabeth ordered the chocolate mousse cake. We both had only about three bites and had the remaining boxed up. I also had a Praline Freeze cocktail. Tuaca, Frangelica, Cointreau, all blended with vanilla ice ccream. Essentially a Tuaca Milkshake in a martini glass. I could have one of those every night and I might just stock the ingredients on the next visit to Spec's. The bartender also poured a sample of a Black Muscat dessert wine. Too sweet for Elizabeth, but it didn't go to waste.
So here it is, the end of my birthday, and we have three luscious dessert leftovers in the fridge. Oh my.
On Saturday, we went to work from 10-4 and then on to Empire cafe to continue the birthday merriment. I had the salmon salad and some shrimp bisque. Elizabeth had a chicken dish. Very yumm and very filling. I hit the ladies room before we left, and on the way there passed the counter of cakes. Since we stood in line to order, they had put out a new one, the yellow cake with chocolate buttercream. I was too full, but that is my favorite cake there these days, so I got a slice to go. Saturday evening I was knitting away and when it occurred to me it was time for something sweet, what I really wanted was two chocolate cremem oreos. Four awesome desserts in the fridge and I wanted Oreos. I could have played the bday card and asked Elizabeth to go to the store. She would have. But reason and sense converged and I had some cake. I ate a good portion of it and the saved some for later. So, so, good.
Sunday morning and it was time for my peach cobbler. I put all that was left in a shallow pasta bowl and hit the micro. Not only did I heat up the cobbler, but I used a plastic spatula to scrape out all of the pan juices. The peach gravy. Once I ate it all, I set about the tak of licking the bowl clean. Yes it was that good. I put the dish on the counter and thought about putting a post it note on it to confirm it was dirty. I confessed my misdeed to the cook this morning as I passed her desk and thanked her heartily once again for my awesome cobbler.
Phase two of birthday merriment begins on Thursday at 6pm when we load up the car and head to Sedone. We'll be spending a few days amidst our people, the gays. Woohoo for continued bday merriment.