Sunday, July 31, 2011

Birthday Celebrations

I love birthdays and think that one should make the celebration last as long as possible.  Especially as one gets older and is une femme d'un certain âge.  So, my birthday came and went this week with lots of celebrating.
Starting with a pedicure gift from the BFF--
(I am learning to love orange...)
Then moving on to a dinner out at Vin Rouge, a restaurant I've written about before and dream about.  It is that good.  The Ex-Ex and I have gone there and I've been there a couple of times with friends.

This time, however, I was invited to go with a childhood friend and former across-the-creek neighbor, someone I hadn't seen in years, but reconnected with on Facebook.  I rarely see or keep in touch with anyone, other than my family, from my Spruce Pine days.  I am not sure why except that I moved away and moved on.  So, when Miss Mary suggested dinner at Vin Rouge, I was quickly accepted.  Then, add to the mix her son, Aaron, who would be there, she was bringing some girlfriends, and I would get to meet Chef Matt Kelly. Miss Mary and Matt go way back.  Aaron worked for him in the past and now is back for more Durham food adventures.  (More about that will follow as soon as I get another chance to talk to him and we make his grandmother's fried chicken!)

The BFF had never been to Vin Rouge, so she needed to be there, too.  I was so proud of her... she ordered her first escargots!
They were délicieux.  I love Chef Matt's pork rillette, so there was no question what I would choose as my appetizer.
What a beautiful plate.  A work of art.
Someone else ordered oysters.
Aaron ordered oysters gratinées and I ate one (without taking a photo first-- too greedy).  Oysters, leeks, bacon, and gruyère cheese.  Hard to go wrong with that combination.
Next came caramelized onion and goat cheese tart for the BFF.
And because I am such a creature of habit or maybe just a shameless carnivore who cannot pass up a perfect steak, I went for the hangar steak with bleu cheese butter, medium rare, melt-in-your-mouth perfect.
The BFF and I shared bites.  I would have been tempted by the Duck Confit salad, but they were out of it.
And birthdays aren't complete with a candle stuck in something really good.  In this case, a lemon tart and whipped cream.
Our wines were a Côtes de Gascogne, Domaine des Cassagnoles 2009 and an Alsatian Riesling, since Vin Rouge is celebrating Paul Grieco's Summer of Riesling.
Cheers, Birthday Girl!
But that's not all.
The next day, my "real" birthday, I was taken out to lunch by the BFF.  Summer vacation and eating lunch out is such a treat.  We went to Bull City Burger and Brewery.
French champagne was involved.  BCBB was celebrating an important milestone, the main reason for a glass of French bubbles from Wine Authorities. (There has been no summer slump at BCBB-- the place is breaking records.)
I am seriously addicted to their deep-fried pretzel-crusted pickle chips served with  an aioli dipping sauce.
And although I am a documented meat-eater, the BFF suggested the Market Burger.
She knows me well.  I have gone on and on about polenta recently on our early morning 3-mile walks.
It was excellent.  Beautiful inside and out.

My final celebration was a night out at the Durham Bulls baseball park for a game against Gwinnett.
It was arranged by my pretend daughter, Nat.  She and her husband, parents, brother and sister-in-law were there, along with me, the Ex-Ex, our college-bound son and his girlfriend.  Dollar hotdogs, peanuts, and Carolina Brewery's Bullpen Pale Ale.  The Bulls lost, but are still in the lead, as we head into August.
Following my grandfather's tradition of bringing birthday cake to his grandchildren on his birthday, I made zucchini lemon crunch cake for my new friends, the teachers and staff of Student U.  I've been lucky to work with them this summer and see what they do to make a difference in the lives of Durham students.
I did save one piece for the Ex-Ex's breakfast.  And he brought me lovely pink flowers to work on my big day.  What a sweetheart.
(Thanks to Skitch for rescuing me again-- the flowers are on my desk at school and I haven't photographed them yet!)

The "guys" at school showered me with food gifts.  Tomatoes fresh from their gardens.  (I have already consumed more than one tomato sandwich...)  I plan to make penne pasta with "popped" tomato sauce for dinner tonight.
And a certain security guy brought me a peach milkshake from Chick-fil-A.  With little pieces of fresh peaches in it.  Soooo good.

Bon appétit, family and friends! You make my life worth celebrating!

1 comment:

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

I was watching a Food Network show today called The Best Thing I Ever Ate and they did a story on Vin Rouge in Durham and how much one of the chefs liked their baked macaroni with Gruyere cheese. Anyway, that is so funny that your post was about the same restaurant. I will have to put together a road trip and try that restaurant out sometime soon!