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Feliz Cumpleaños

36 Ah, it’s the one time of year where I willingly post a photo of myself. I don’t know when I decided that it would be a good idea every July 25th (yes, I know it’s the 27th now) but it’s a not-terribly-useful habit I’ve stuck with. So, this is 36. It could be worse.

Friday, I had a birthday dinner at Dovetail, which was odd because I never eat (or do anything) on the Upper West Side. The food was likable, service was a little strange. More on that later.

Last night I had a low-key party with a Spanish-ish food theme. As to be expected, I drank too much (it’s all I can do to get these words out in a semi-coherent fashion). What I didn’t anticipate was receiving a copy of Sing Blue Silver, which I foisted on my captive audience.

Now that I’ve come to terms with my aged status, I can openly reminisce about the big deal it was when this Duran Duran documentary aired on MTV a full 24 years ago. I recall having to use the timer on the VCR and being scared to death that it wouldn’t record properly. DVR had changed my life.

I also received a soda siphon, the two liqueurs I’ve been meaning to track down: crème de violette and maraschino, a Sephora gift certificate, Vosges bacon chocolate bar, plastic Japanese food containers with anthropomorphic characters, a few bottles of wine including a Riesling in a crazy pink cat shaped bottle, a Spanish grammar book (from my Spanish teacher, duh) and a few more items.

Back to the food. The more I looked at last month’s alfresco feature in Gourmet (this month’s has totally upped the ante, by the way) the more I realized how good the recipes sounded. I’m not a hater, so I borrowed two dishes. I must point out that they were consumed completely indoors.

I couldn’t bear to also use the white sangria recipe included with this set menu and opted for a Thai basil infused sangria from Food & Wine that ended up having zero basil flavor.

Manchego and olives

Manchego with almonds and green olives

Cauliflower red pepper salad

Roasted red peppers and cauliflower with caper vinaigrette


While still not a greenmarket convert, I will concede that you need quality tomatoes if you’re going to make gazpacho. I wasn’t thrilled about spending $35 on the summery ingredient, but it had to be done. I did have to nix serving Serrano ham to keep within a reasonable budget. I didn't expect the color to be so orange. I did throw in a few yellow and green-striped tomatoes, which could've toned down the more typical ruddiness. Update: hmm…I brought leftovers for lunch and just noticed a strange bitter undercurrent, likely from too old garlic. I didn't taste much of the soup on Saturday so I didn't catch it, and it's not like there would've been anything I could've done about it anyway. It's a shame, though.


Boquerones are as easy as buying them and placing the vinegary fillets on a plate. I was actually surprised that these disappeared so quickly because people are generally anti-anchovy.

Chorizo cooked in cider

I braised chorizo in hard cider with a bay leaf based on a recipe from The New Spanish Table. This was also insanely simple.

Spanish cheeses

Murcia, mahon and cabrales were served with membrillo and fig-almond cake.

There was also an Oreo ice cream cake from Baskin Robins (I didn’t grow up with Carvel so Cookipuss and Fudgy the Whale mean nothing to me) that I neglected to take a photo of.

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