Azur in Lexington, a meal so spectacular it deserves its own post (to come, I promise).
Thanks to Stephie of Small Girl Adventures and her boyfriend Brett, I finally ate at A Tavola in Over-the-Rhine. After tasting their wagyu meatballs with goat cheese (truly, The Best Meatballs in the World), I am looking forward to trying their wood-fired pizzas. And everything else on A Tavola's menu.
Dear Stephie even baked me birthday cookies! She is building her own baking and catering business, Small Girl Delights, and you should check it out now!
Stephie's sweet treats were almost enough to mend my broken heart when Chef Edward Lee got booted from Top Chef this week, just shy of going to the finale. But I will console myself by dining at his Louisville Restaurant, 610 Magnolia, next weekend. Ed did a great job of representing himself, his adopted city, and the caliber of cooking going on here in the middle of the country. (Here's the podcast he did with my blogging teammate Laura Kluvo on AllTopChef - one of our best exit interviews all season.) I've been proud to root for Ed, and I can't wait to taste what he does in his own kitchen, free of the constraints of the goofy Top Chef challenges.
My Louisville weekend will also include the Anthony Bourdain/Eric Ripert traveling road show, for which I now have an extra ticket, if you know of anyone who is interested . . .
Cincinnati Winter Beerfest, the craft-beer capper to Cincy Beer Week. Lucky me, I'll be spending my b-day at the 5B (Believers in Better Beer, Bites and Blogging) blog conference. Looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting in person some bloggers I've so far only had the privilege of getting to know online.
One of my dearest long-distance blogger friends, La Diva, who also has a February birthday coming up, was kind enough to think of me when she received an extra copy of Lucky Peach, the David Chang/McSweeney's quirky quarterly quasi-food magazine. It's a publication filled with compelling personal writing on topics that go beyond food. The design and illustrations are fresh and fascinating enough for me to recommend it to my artsy friends who aren't foodies. It's a hefty tome of print worth holding in your hands, turning off your phone/fb/twitter/pinterest, and settling in with. It may remind you of where your first love of books came from, and it's edgy enough to keep you flipping the pages.
After one horribly depressing birthday in my early twenties when I lived in NYC, I decided to take charge of coming up with my own ways to celebrate, big or small, sometimes just indulging in nerdy things of my own predilection. It's a strategy that has worked pretty well the last 30-odd years. Still, a true surprise is one of the best birthday gifts ever, and I've received one this year, thanks to Boxer, whose papier mache, puppy porn, gorgeous photos, and big heart always lift my spirits and remind me why it means so much to me to be part of the blogging community. She checks in on me to make sure I'm ok when I haven't posted in awhile, and lookie what she made for my birthday. Yep, it's Eggy meets Mr. Potato Head meets Archie McPhee, courtesy of my favorite PNW gal!
Big thanks to all my blogger friends who share their corners of the world, and the unique corners of their minds. You keep me going through my rough patches, and always inspire me with your talents, your wide-ranging interests, and your kindnesses.
I'll be back with more tales from my birthday adventures. Meanwhile, I'm just gonna experience them :)