Happy Birthday to Me!

Last week was my birthday – and this year I decided to celebrate it thrice. I had a “Murder Mystery Birthday party” the Saturday before, a pizza & cake party the evening of, and a tea party the Saturday following it. Plus my friend Regina took me out for brunch the day after the first party. Cool birthday week 🙂
The murder mystery we played for the first party was Free Form Game’s Curse of the Pharaoh, a role playing game situated in Egypt in the late 19th century. I didn’t really want to serve an Egyptian menu – I lived for a year in Egypt and I wasn’t terribly fond of the food – but I still wanted to keep with the Middle Eastern theme – while keeping things as easy as possible. So I served an array of spreads: flavored hummus and Tahina sauce from Trader Joe’s, leftover bulgarian red-pepper and eggplant spreads, homemade cucumber-yogurt salad (salt diced cucumber and let it drain, mix with plain yogurt, crumbled dried or fresh mint, chopped garlic, season with salt & pepper) and pita bread. I also added some stuffed olives, also from TJ’s. For dinner I made my famous Chicken Tagine with honey and apricots. This is a relatively simple dish to make and it’s absolutely delicious. It also escales well (I doubled the recipe to serve 13, and we probably had enough food left over for 4), it’s exotic yet accessible and works great for company. People loved it. I served it with buttered couscous.
For dessert there was birthday cake – a little chocolate & almond cake from Just Desserts I got at Costco. It was $15 – the same price as their larger chocolate cakes (which I was going to get before I saw these ones) – and much, much better. The cake was quite moist and very rich, and it fed 13 of us with several leftover slices. I served it with vanilla ice cream.
In all, the food was excellent, the game a lot of fun, and the company couldn’t have been better.
Thank you Mike for organizing it, and Regina, Lola, Iggy, Vienna, Frank, Victoria, Geoffrey, Penelope, Ramiro, Desiree and Grant for coming and making it possible!

The day of my birthday I had a small party to which a few friends who couldn’t make it to the mystery party came. I got stuffed pizzas from Zacchary’s, which are, of course, my favorite. This time I ordered a Mediterranean pizza for the vegetarians among us and it was quite good – it has feta cheese, artichoke hearts, olives and peppers. Of course, I got a cheese one for the kids and a chorizo one for the meat lovers among us. We were all in cheese heaven.
I also made my mixed greens salad and I actually ate quite a bit of it 🙂
For dessert I got a Safeway three-mousse cake. I’ve gotten this cake several times before and it’s always a crowd pleaser. Nobody can believe it actually comes from Safeway. It’s also about $15 and it feeds 12 quite easily (it’s also rich so you don’t need to serve huge slices).
In all I had a great time, and I was quite happy to be able to share this time with friends.

Finally, last Saturday I went to tea with my usual gang of friends, though this time Boris also joined us. We went to the Garden Court at the Palace Hotel and, of course, I had a great time. I already wrote a review which is waiting Mike’s editing but in summary the place was beautiful, the food was amazing, the teas were high quality, but the service was rushed and we felt unwelcomed to linger. That’s too bad as otherwise it could have been a superb experience.
Afterwards we went to the Ferry building and tried some olive oils. I was too full to try anything else, though Charlotte actually managed to eat a whole hotdog! It was a nice afternoon.
Now my birthday is over, but Sunday is mother’s day so I still have something to look forward to 🙂

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