This past weekend was a whirlwind of birthday activity. It has taken me until today to recover from it. I spent my birthday exactly how I pictured it: with Friends, Family and Food. And maybe a few drinks...
Friday night was supposed to be a quiet night in anticipation of Saturday night's festivities. Dinner, wine, and a movie if I could stay awake that long. So you understand my surprise when at 4am I found myself elbow deep in two grandma slices from Bleeker Street Pizza. What the heck happened? Lets rewind the tape:
Our first stop was Cafe Katja, a tiny, unassuming gem that serves upscale Austrian fare with an array of rare imported beers. It started off innocent - a glass of a biodynamic white wine (I'm so in vogue) and a hot soft pretzel (okay, maybe not). It was a solid start. The problems arose when the pretzel came served with what can only be described as the lovechild of Butter and Cheese. Hold on it actually gets better - it's whipped and lightly dusted with chives! Okay, now you can breathe. This heavenly concoction was called Liptauer Cheese - and thankfully they don't call it Liptauer Butter, because it sounds more socially acceptable to eat an entire bowl of cheese than an entire bowl of butter, right? Right?!
Next up was an enormous platter of cured meats, spreads and pickles, which is what I imagine I'll encounter when I walk through the Pearly Gates. Low and behold, guess what it was served with? Oh hello, little bowl of creamy goodness. I spread Liptauer cheese on everything in sight - bread, pork belly, pickles, directly on my tongue (hey, it was my birthday!). It was getting out of hand. Luckily our entrees arrived: an apple/cabbage slaw in a light lingonberry dressing and a hefty serving of brats and kraut to really put the nail in the coffin - well and the various 'nightcaps', celebratory shots of tequila and two slices of late night 'za. Sigh.
But what DID help matters was the incredible breakfast I woke up to. A little elf ran about the West Village and gathered up some of my favorite pre-noon eats:
Soft scrambled eggs, hashbrowns and the best croissant in the city from Out of the Kitchen
The featured brew from Joe's Coffee - smooth and dark
Dipped Fruit Bouquet from Edible Arrangements (the perfect hangover aid and as it turns out, late night snack)
In a state of sugar, fat, and caffeine induced bliss, I launched into a day of shopping in Soho with a long lost girlfriend who came to town for the weekend (lost to the world of marriage in Michigan, but couldn't be happier for her!) Eventually we needed to rev our engines, so we ducked into Faicco's Pork Store on Bleeker Street for fried risotto balls, broccoli rabe with sausage bread, and one of the best Italian subs I have had to date. We chased down our lunch with a bottle of Brunello, which was given to me as a gift from the friend I visited the actual vineyard with, called Fattoria dei Barbi. Alongside the vino, she also gave me a vintage 1946 edition Le Cordon Bleu cookbook, which I will report back on as soon as I can see straight next week:
With a solid foundation of booze and food, we took a quick nap to prepare ourselves for the night ahead. Dinner was at Lil' Frankie's, the (larger, louder) offspring of Frank's in the east village. Known for it's brick oven pizzas and hearty pastas, Lil' Frankie's had me at hello with their burrata cheese appetizer. Next up was an array of pizzas, though the showstopper was more of a focaccia with robiola cheese, procuitto di parma and a drizzle of truffle oil stuck in between two thin pizza crusts. It must be shared or be prepared to sweat truffle oil all night - unless you're into that sort of thing, (which I could kind of get into too). For an entree, I chose a light dish of spaghetti limone: butter, parmigiano reggiano and a squirt of lemon juice, which I will undoubtedly recreate at home.
Based on the remnants of red sauce on my plate, it appears I made my way around the table testing everyone else's dishes before diving into my own (typical). And after all of my extensive research, the polpettini ragu (mini meatballs) takes the cake:
Speaking of cake...it was chocolate, it was decadent and it was shared 10 ways:
You'd think I'd be full, but yee have little faith in the Heat! Sunday I was treated to a homemade Bo-saam at my sibling's abode. What is Bo-saam you ask? Basically it's the Asian answer to bbq pulled pork. Except this time you wrap it in lettuce leaves with sticky white rice, a slathering of ginger scallion relish and dollop of hot sauce. We used David Chang's recipe off NYMAG.com, and while time consuming (you slow roast the pork for hours), it is a fairly easy recipe to master and perfect for a hungry crowd. For sides we had home pickled red cabbage, jalapenos, and skewered hoisen shrimp with pineapple.
And it's not a birthday party without a cake! Angel food with fresh berries to be exact - washed down with our last drops of Prosecco and lulling me into the deepest of birthday slumbers.
Thanks to all for the warm birthday wishes! And for those that forgot, I'd like a bucket of Liptauer cheese, please,