Wednesday, April 9, 2008

31 Flavors

I am no longer 30. I am now in my thirties.

How do I feel?


After throwing a big bash last year, I was happy to have a low-key experience today with intermittent phone calls and e-mails wishing me well.

Glam, Bax, and Giggles treated me to a yummy fun lunch at Pete's Cafe and Bar, a favorite of Glam's from her old days downtown.

It's interesting how friendships are formed and how they grow. It's also interesting that sometimes you can meet a person and just know you will be good friends.

And that's how I felt about each of these three girls from day one.

The greatest thing is that the four of us are extremely different, but we get along swimmingly. One common factor is that we all love to laugh. A lot. And we did precisely this at lunch.

I was an idiot and forgot to put my memory card into my point-and-shoot for the second time this month, so Glam came to my rescue with her cell phone, and Giggles and Bax assisted by reminding her to snap before we dug in. Could I ask for better pals?

Glam is officially in nesting stage now. She brought a huge bag (adorned with Hello Kitty stickers galore, so lovingly affixed by her five-year-old son), which I enjoyed opening.
Treats included a Hello Kitty card signed by Glam's adorable boy, tiara and matching clip-on earrings, Auntie Em's cupcakes, and a Tarina Tarantino Pink Head necklace! Ahh! Too much, Glam! Too much! I think I'm going to wear and photograph the necklace tomorrow. So overwhelmed by my friend's thoughtfulness. Thank you again!

We shared the most amazing fries -- cheddar bacon and bleu cheese. They were perfectly crisp on the outside and soft and potato-y on the inside. The cheese was a beautiful light glaze. These were not your run-of-the-mill, heavy-handed cheese fries. These were constructed with thought and infused with dairy love. Two thumbs up.

Glam ordered mac & cheese. I had a blackened salmon sandwich. Giggles opted for an ahi tuna sandwich. And Bax dined on a cheddar mushroom burger. Love. Comfort. Food. Felt. Very. Comfortable. Mmm.

The best ending to a comfort food lunch? A comfort food dessert! The bread pudding was warm and delectable, slathered with the best vanilla and caramel sauces.
The rest of my work day was rather packed. I've been really busy recently. I'm adjusting to an increased workload, as well as learning more and more about my new industry.

The end of the day came rather quickly, though, and I was off to another food adventure.

Mr. Monkey, Brother Monkey, Torry, and I dined at Grace tonight.

If you haven't been to Grace, I recommend it, especially on a Wednesday (you will see why Wednesday is a great day later in this post). The ambience is elegant and understated. The service is unpretentious and warm. And, while you may not have the best meal of your entire life, you will definitely have a good meal and leave happy. We all walked out full and content.

Out table's water reminded me of lab.

I had a luscious cocktail called the Eenie Meenie Minie Moe with peach and passion fruit essence.

Even when we're not eating family-style, our family eats family-style, so we can all try everything. That's just how we Monkeys roll.

Butter Lettuce Salad: buttermilk blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, smoked bacon, bleu cheese vinaigrette ($16). Tasty, especially the bacon, but not out-of-this-world good.
Spinach & Arugula Salad: endive, candied walnuts, fried feta, grilled onion red wine vinaigrette ($17). Superior to the butter lettuce salad. The fried feta was incredible.
Lobster Cavatelli: Maine lobster, cavatelli pasta, English peas, chanterelle mushrooms ($22). Creamy and perfectly textured. Yummers.

The boys each opted for the seasonal tasting menu, which was a steal at $70. Brother Monkey enhanced his experience with the wine pairing ($45). Here were four of their five courses.

Dungeness Crab Salad with peas, mint, and lemon vinaigrette. Simple, clean, and delicious.
Spring Morel Mushrooms with pencil asparagus and green garlic flan. Sort of a throwaway dish, but well executed nonetheless.
Slow Roasted Wild Halibut with orzo perlato, swiss chard, and tomato saffron nage. Almost ambrosial. So mild and delicate, unlike any other halibut I've ever had. My favorite savory dish of the night.
Grilled New York Steak with potato gnocchi, romanesco, baby carrots, and red wine sauce. Good meat done right.
Torry and I decided to go with less traditional game.

Bacon-Wrapped Saddle of Rabbit with sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes. The only miss of the night. So salty! So bad! So sad! We all agreed it was rather surprising how sodium-laden this was.
Grilled Tenderloin of Wild Boar with roasted Brussels sprouts, herbed Yukon gold potato spaetzle, violet mustard sauce ($35). Quite something. Tender with a kick. Perfectly paired with its accoutrements. My second-favorite savory dish of the night. Happy boarthday to me!
Then it was time for dessert. The boys' fifth course was a Lavender Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta with fresh fruit and pistachios.
That was nice and all, but the best was yet to come.

You see, every Wednesday at Grace is "Doughnut Shoppe Night."

Oh. Mah. Gah.

We ordered All Donuts & Three Ice Creams ($25). Torry and I pretty much squealed through the whole thing. So freakin' scrumptious.
Filled donuts included butterscotch, caramelized banana, Boston cream, and lemon meringue. Glazed donuts included buttermilk brown butter, black and white, cinnamon sugar, and bourbon caramel.

See how happy we were about this mountain of hot, fresh, sugary, fried dough?
Accompanying ice creams were caramel, cream cheese, and brown butter. Sinfully awesome.
Brother Monkey still isn't smiling in photos, but he and Torry are cuties anyway.
Brother Monkey ran into a fellow writer/producer while we were there, who said he comes on Wednesdays just for the donuts. While Brother Monkey was chatting with the loyal donut fan, we were giving Matthew Modine sideways glances. He was sitting right next to Mr. Monkey for most of our meal.

'Twas a delicious day.

And tomorrow there will be more....


  1. Dude! Happy Birthday! (Even though I'm late. :)

  2. Mmmmm I love donuts and those sound so incredible! Glad you enjoyed your birthday! And I bet the festivities will continue throughout the week. . . Very cool!

  3. O.M.G.

    Food. Overload.


  4. some friends took me to grace a few months back during restaurant week (totally got side-tracked and never blogged about it) and i absolutely loved it! we opted for their special rest. week menu and our meals were delish!!

    glad you had such a great birthday! :)

  5. happy belated birthday!! it sounds like you had a fabulous day. i loooove grace and am drooling over your dinner selections. i apparently need to go on a wednesday! did i read correctly?? brown butter ice cream? oh man.

  6. Happy birthday, late! I'm sorry I missed it!!!! Sounds like it was a wonderfully gastronomic and giggly time (perfect)! Happy 31!

  7. Happy birthday! Looks like an incredible day!! Wishing you all the best this year!!!

  8. you had me at fried feta.

    i was waiting all entry for the donuts.

    torry went short, too! :)

  9. YAY!!! Happy Birthday. Donuts for dessert on your birthday: what could be better?

  10. That shirt is sass-o-matic! What a beautiful boar-thday girl! And I would kill right now for a Boston Cream Pie doughnut...

  11. You have the bestest friends - and I was obviously directly on point with my card yesterday. Nice dessert choices!


    First of all you look BEAUTIFUL in in your thirties - the top, the hair, the jewelery, the makeup. ME LOVES!!!

    Second, I love girlfriends who celebrate you (with HELLO KITTY, no less.)

    Third, JESUS YOU GUYS ORDERED ALOTS OF FOOD. I heart Grace. I heart family style eating families.


  13. YAY for a birthday celebrated well!! You looked awesome and I am in LOVE with your necklace. :)

  14. happy belated birthday to you too! didn't realized our bdays were so close.

    wow! your food was way better than our hot pot!

  15. Hooray! Happy Birthday!! Yay for new friends, fab food, and donuts with the fam!

  16. What a nice birthday!! I'm so happy your enjoyed. And OMG, I love Grace! My mom and stepdad took h and I out there when we got engaged. Such a classy, cool place.

  17. happy birthday!! you always eat at the best places, Grace is on my list, but the hubs not interested

  18. Happy Birthday! Can't wait to see the rest of the celebration.

  19. i'm so, so, so late, but happy birthday! the 30s are quite fabulous - so way better than the 20s.

    i'm drooling at all the food pics, and giggling at "monkey" written in sauce on your dessert tray!

  20. OMG. Fried Feta. Donuts. Ice Cream. Drooling.

    I'm happy to see you had a nice birthday. :)


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