Why? Because it was my birthday! As if I need an excuse!
A dear friend treated me to a birthday eve meal at one of our favorite haunts, New York City's Tea & Sympathy. The mushroom shepherd's pie with peas and carrots, $13.95, and a pot of decaf Earl Grey, $4.50.
A Mrs. Bucket-approved dessert: Victoria sponge cake, $8. Loved the post office tea pot, and thought of Hyacinth's poor postman. She only uses first class stamps, you know!
I always save one vacation day to take my birthday off. Do I want to spend my birthday in my cubicle? No! Instead...
At the Rutherford Pancake House in Rutherford, New Jersey, I shared vegan sliders with a tamarind date sauce, $5.95, and vegan cheese quesadillas with roasted red peppers, spinach and portabella mushrooms and the most sweet potato fries I've seen on one plate! $9.95.
At all-vegan Sweet Avenue Bake Shop, also in Rutherford, a Boston cream cupcake, $3.50. Kind of makes you want to move to Rutherford, doesn't it?
To go: their classic white room cupcake - vanilla cake with vanilla bean frosting, $3. There's something so timeless and comforting about vanilla, isn't there?
Toasting to a California sparkling rose at the The Kitchen in Englewood, New Jersey, which celebrates the cuisine and the era of the 1930s. Love this unique concept, and the BYOB saves a fortune. I don't care if it is organic, I'm not paying $12 for a glass of wine anywhere.
About five complimentary passed appetizers come (they accommodated vegetarian), and I also had a small taste of their daily soup (roasted garlic and cauliflower soup - some of the best soup I've had in recent memory). Then it was time for the entree.
The vegetarian gratin, with butternut squash with faux bacon, caramelized onions and greens, $19. Entrees come with two sides: sweet potatoes with nuts and marshmallows, and collard greens. Classic comfort food, done right.
I know, the apple cranberry crisp is more seasonable, but the caramelized banana napoleon, $8 - just so tempting and delicious.
An aside about how good the food was at The Kitchen - a lively table was next to mine with about a dozen people also there for a birthday celebration. When the food came - silence soon followed. A man at the table declared, "It must be good - the conversation has ceased!" Ever notice how when the food is amazing you zone into your own little world? I also smiled thinking about how food brings us together - yet another reason it is one of life's great pleasures.
Depressed about being another year older? No way. Remember the words in P.S. I Love You expressed by Harry Connick Jr.'s character, "We're so arrogant, aren't we? We're so afraid to age. We do everything we can to prevent it. But we don't realize what a privilege it is to grow old."
I'm privileged to celebrate another birthday, and hope you view your own next birthday and each one after with a happy and grateful heart.
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