Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Birthday, I Would LIke You To Dance

So, yesterday was my birthday. I'm 27 now. I feel pretty much the same way I felt last week. I'm at that stretch between 25 and 30 where birthdays don't really mean that much and tend to blend together. Still, any excuse to celebrate...

Melissa and I celebrated on Sunday, so we'd have more time to enjoy it. I got some very cool books and a lot of camera equipment, including 2 new lenses to take to Disney World next month. I can't wait to really put them to the test! That night, she took me to dinner at Ciudad downtown (the restaurant of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feninger from Too Hot Tamales on Food Network). As you know, I've been on a real "fancy food" kick and Melissa decided to indulge me. Sunday night is All Tapas night, which I found a little disappointing at first, but it really seemed like it was basically a tasting menu for the restaurant. It was a fantastic meal.

It started with the host bringing us an amuse bouche from the Chef since it was our first visit. This is the first time I've been somewhere fancy enough to actually have an amuse bouche and it made me feel all important and junk. It was a shot glass of spicy green tomato gazpacho that really showed me the level of quality I was in for. Melissa and I each ordered a flight of wine (she the South American flight, I the California- $12 for 3 glasses- very reasonable) and our first round of tapas. The housemade chips (a blend of potato and plantains served with a light aioli) was a pleasant start, and the goat cheese fritters were delicious (even if it was just fried goat cheese). But the highlight of the first round were the two "rotating" dishes - the Farmer's Market inspired special and the Ceviche. The Farmer's Market was a watermelon salad with delicious sweet melon, watercress, string cheese, and a desert wine reduction. It was sweet enough to be a dessert, but worked very well as a starter. The ceviche that night was mussels and mahi mahi (and one other shellfish...maybe clams?). Very strong tastes of cilantro and lime- I could have eaten much more of this. Even Melissa liked it and she was skeptical of the uncooked fish. Just wonderful.

The second round we ordered more hearty fare. Some LA douchebags a couple of tables over (guys in spiked hair and tank tops, girls on their phones the whole night) were loudly declaring that the steak was "the best fucking thing [they'd] ever tasted." Assuming they meant the Tri-Tip Picanha, I decided it was worth a shot. Now, maybe it's because they were so drunk, but they may have been over-exaggerating just a bit. Which isn't to say it wasn't good- the layer of char on the steak was especially tasty - it just wasn't mind-blowingly epic. The Portuguese Linguica Sausage, however, was. The sausage itself was cooked just right and had a nice blend of spicy and sweet to it that paired well with the fried onions on top. What really put it over the edge, though, was the sauce. The sausage was sitting in a sauce of brandy and honey that I wanted to bottle and put on everything I ever ate again. If I was a douchebag, I would have been swearing and yelling about the sausage as much as those guys at the other table. But I'm a gentlemen, and I have some dignity, so I celebrated my ecstasy quietly at my table with my wife.

We finished with a plantain split desert. I'd only had fried plantains before, and was surprised at how sweet they were served raw with ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was a nice end to the evening.

Last night, on my actual birthday, we went to Carney's (which I've mentioned before) with a group of my friends. I had a chili dog and a Chicagoan polish and some of the best conversation I've ever had. Melissa and I sat at an outdoor table with 3 "couple" friends of ours (Hi Mike and Shannon, Mike and Bailee, and Josh and Aubrey!) and enjoyed ourselves to no end. We talked for what seemed like hours and I could have stayed much later into the night (though it was, believe it or not, getting a little chilly). I got some lovely and thoughtful presents and cards, but the highlight of the night was just hanging out with my friends. I felt like we were 8 people who just got each other- no pressure, just lots of laughs and good times. After a long day at work, I couldn't have asked for a better evening. It makes me smile just thinking about it now.

Ok, hopefully this food-heavy blog has whetted your appetite for the next installment of Selzer & Smuckles, which is set to resume tomorrow. I only have 2 or 3 recipes planned for this week, but I think they'll be fun ones. See you then!



  1. Happy Birthday, Eli!


  2. There was good times had by all although it isn't hard to celebrate a man that has an appreciation for a good hot dog.

  3. So happy you have such good friends :)

  4. I'm glad you had a good birthday, Eli! :)

    Miss you & Melissa!