You Say It’s Your Birthday

Birthdays are so underwhelming.

You spend at least a month (if you’re like me) thinking and trying to plan fun stuff to do. And then (if you’re also like me) you end up with no good ideas. Then the day comes and your happy and excited. You check your Facebook constantly to see who has wished you a “happy birthday”. You get friends together for food, drinks and go out to your favorite bar. But at the end of the day, it just seems like any other day. You don’t really ever feel “different” like you always expect to.

Not trying to bring it to bummer town, because I DID have a fantastic birthday…just some insight ๐Ÿ™‚

The weekend fun started on Thursday, where I celebrated my birthday dinner at KitchenBar, which you can read about here.

On Friday, my birthday was celebrated at work with my fav cake (yellow cake with chocolate icing). A co-worker also took me out to lunch. We had heard about Vida de Cafe for awhile and finally decided to try it. Vida de Cafe is a small vegan/raw cafe located on Pass-a-Grille. The service could have been better, but the girl who waited on us actually said she didn’t work there and was just helping out…?

I had the Vida de Salad, which was huge and topped with corn, pico de gallo, peppers and “meat”. Everything tasted wonderfully fresh and the colors were so pretty! Not sure what the “meat” was, but it tasted a bit nutty. It came with a chipotle creamy dressing. I don’t know what’s wrong with me…I don’t like chipotle, yet I always seem to order it in some shape or form…as if I’m trying to force myself to like it. It hasn’t worked yet. I would have preferred a more ranch type dressing.

Coincidentally an after work happy hour was also planned that day. Lucky me ๐Ÿ™‚ We all met up at Harry’s Beach Bar at Sirata, which I’ve never been to…pretty neat place! I had a glass (or cup) of Chardonnay. Snacks were ordered…Gorgonzola cheese and balsamic drizzled chips and every flatbread on the menu. I tried a small piece of the BBQ chicken, muffalatta and a veggie.

I left after an hour since I had a friend’s dinner party I had to attend. After a quick shower and change at home I was off. My friend was hosting a girl’s night in party with Pampered Chef.

I’ve never heard of Pampered Chef, but the party sure was fun. Low key and just what you need on a Friday night. My friend had put together and adorable spread of finger sandwiches, cheeses and bruschetta. Wine and Skinny Girl margaritas were also in attendance ๐Ÿ™‚ I enjoyed the Pampered Chef presentation, but didn’t end up buying anything. The Chef pretty much handles all kitchen purchases. Even though I was tempted to get a few things…adjustable measuring spoons? Genius!

Saturday (my actual birthday) was low key. The Chef took me to breakfast at Cassis. I’m in love with their andouille sausage and shrimp ragout, although it was not the best it has been on Saturday.

I also treated myself to an April in Paris drink. Elderflower liquor, Absolut pear vodka and champagne…delish.

After our meal we headed to Fresh Market so The Chef could stock up on supplies he needed to make for food for my party. I tried to help all day, but he insisted that I not lift a finger since it was my birthday. I finally convinced him to let me clean though ๐Ÿ™‚

My friend graciously hosted my party at her apartment complex’s common room, which is a great space and has its own kitchen.

The spread…

The Chef made sausage stuffed mushrooms, panzanella (inspired from KitchenBar), sundried tomato dip (at my request) and chicken satay with a peanut dipping sauce ย (also at my request).

My birthday cupcake ๐Ÿ™‚

Friends slowly trickled in and a good time was had by all as we just sat around, talked and enjoyed one another’s company. Eventually we had to clean up and head out of the common room. There was only one place I really wanted to go…Wine Madonna! Newly opened, Wine Madonna is located next to The Ale and the Witch. A perfect pairing for ladies like me who love wine and whose boyfriends love craft beer ๐Ÿ™‚ Luckily, my friend lives downtown so our destination was only a short walk away.

It was very cute inside, smaller than I thought. Despite the huge crowd at Ale and the Witch there were only a few wino patrons in Wine Madonna. I ordered the Sauvignon Blanc despite my excitement over their wine flights. I was just too full from all the goodies and the presecco I had been sipping on all night. Everyone else decided they wanted drinks from The Witch…but when I asked the guy behind the bar if my friends could come in with their drinks they said “of course” and stated they had an agreement with The Witch. Good to know. However, shortly after my friends entered we were asked to leave because we were too loud. There were only about 6 of us and we were in no way being rowdy, but I’m guessing everyone talking at once was too much for the few patrons that had already been in there.

A mexican restaurantย and a sushi place is set to open in the same plaza, which is exciting. I love to see local businesses flourishing and glad to see this gem of a plaza being occupied after being empty for so long. Since BayWalk is still eerily quiet…

The next morning I had to go into work for a few hours, but The Chef got creative and made a yummy breakfast with some leftover panzanella.

And a smoothie!

It was a wonderful birthday weekend filled with good food, good friends and good fun ๐Ÿ™‚

KitchenBar

Flavor, as defined by dictionary.com: taste, especially the distinctive taste of something as it is experienced in the mouth.

Chef Jeannie Pierola’s latest pop-up restaurant, KitchenBar is all about flavor…the flavor of meats, fish, spices, vegetables…how they taste by themselves and with each other.

Our visit to KitchenBar was my birthday dinner ๐Ÿ™‚ In attendance was The Chef and two of my dear dear friends. The KitchenBar menu has a variety of dining options. You can choose from a five course tasting menu or order a mix of small, medium or large plates. Our table decided to order and share a few small, medium and large plates to really get a full sense of the menu.

Duck Rilette Toasts

Rilette is similar in to a pate in that the meat is chopped, salted and cooked slowly in fat until it’s able to be shredded and then cooled with more fat to form a paste. Ya, not very healthy ๐Ÿ˜‰ The duck spread on grilled bread and topped with raspberry jam and mustard seed was the perfect marriage of salty and sweet with the mustard giving a small heat factor.

She Crab Soup

By the time this dish came out I was feeling pretty full. But after a few bites of this soup I had no problem polishing it off. Thick with rich cream, topped with the freshest of crab meat and sherry brown butter drizzled over the top. My only complaint would be less soup and more crab ๐Ÿ™‚

Diver Scallops

Two huge diver sea scallops in a star anise jus and tropical fruit compote. The fruit paired very well with the seared scallops. The jus was a nice addition, but was almost not needed.

Prosciutto di Parma Zeppole

This was one of my favorites. Definitely not your average prosciutto and melon dish. Fresh prosciutto topped rosemary donuts and was sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Screw the meat…those doughnuts were heaven and I could have eaten those by themselves quite easily.

Tenderloin Tartare

Another favorite. Plenty of tartare to go around the table and served with hericots verts and a nice mustard. Also on the plate were deviled eggs, which were nothing special, but I never pass up a deviled egg. The dish was also paired with french fries. Also nothing special, but they were good fries. Could have definitely lived without them.

Burrata

I have never heard of Burrata before, but have heard numerous ravings about this dish on KitchenBar’s Facebook page. So it was a must order even though I didn’t know what to expect. Burrata is a type of Italian cheese…it’s mozzarella on the outside and mozzarella and cream on the inside. It’s very soft with a smooth, silky texture. Topped on top of an eggplant puree, tomatoes, basil and a lemon pine nut vinaigrette the dish tastes light and lemony. The cheese was also wonderful spread on top of some extra toasts we had.

Crispy Duck Confit

One of my friends chose this dish as her main entree. I had one delicious bite of crispy duck, potato and bacon marmalade. Even though I only had one bite, this dish was one of the most flavorful, where the duck, potato and bacon came together in an excellent form of comfort food.

Black Grouper

My other friend ordered the Black Grouper. This is the only dish I did not get a taste of. Partly because I was full. Partly because it was a dish that just didn’t appeal to me. Fresh grouper is aplenty in the right places in FL. And I’m not a big clam fan. However, I did taste a bit of bacon foam for the hell of it. Foam is cool and all, but I’m really feeling that it’s a bit pretentious?

Charred Kobe Flank Steak

Another one of my favorite dishes of the night. The Chef ordered this as his entree and I shared. The medium rare steak was perfectly cooked with a charred edge. The side of panzanella was a perfect match, with crunchy croutons, micro tomatoes, cucumbers olives and capers. The dish was also served with bone marrow, which was another exciting highlight of not only the dish, but our whole menu of the night. Bone marrow is very gelatinous and has a lot of flavor…just think meaty butter. I spread some on a piece of steak. Yes, it was good. No, I did not wan more for a fear of instant artery clogging.

Stone Fruit Tart Tatin

By the time our plates were cleared we were all wishing we had worn clothes that were one size up. But leave without dessert? It didn’t seem to be an option. Looking at the menu there was only one dessert that spoke to us. The Stone Fruit Tart Tatin came out as type of flakey pastry topped with a small scoop of bleu cheese ice cream. At first I thought the scoop of ice cream was a bit skimpyย . But after a small bite I could see that that small scoop was all you needed. The bleu cheese flavor was VERY strong. As it melted on top of the tart it mixed with the honeycomb and almond flavors nicely. This was good, but not my favorite dessert ever.

With so many flavors throughout our meal we left fully satisfied and pleased not only with our food, but with the experience. My favorite part of dining out is always who you share your meal with. It helps form your final opinion of wherever you are dining. And with such great company at KitchenBar, I now have a wonderful memory of this once in a blue moon opportunity.