Cubano Panini with Fries

Tom’s Birthday Week 2021

posted in: Cocktails, Dining In, Dining Out, Drinks, Food | 0

Yes, it’s been 2 years since either Holly or I posted anything here. Because our last post was about my birthday, I decided my birthday this year could be a good excuse to restart posting here.

Although this first post back will be about our food adventures related to my birthday, one of the impetuses for getting back into this blog is to note some of the changes to our eating lifestyle due to the pandemic and the ways in which we emerge from the restrictions of our self-isolation when we get our vaccinations and feel safe going out again.

One of the main self-imposed restrictions is that we have been reluctant to take advantage of any of the dining in options offered by restaurants, whether outdoor seating or limited indoor seating. We feel it would be hard to enjoy ourselves while wearing masks when not eating and knowing that we’d be potentially putting waitstaff in risk.

We have taken advantage of takeout and delivery options. Pre-pandemic, we rarely got takeout or delivery so this has been a significant change for us.

Since my birthday was on a Sunday, we decided to make it a long weekend, taking Friday and Monday off.

As often happens, we had a sort of “unofficial” start to the festivities. We have been treating ourselves to one takeout or delivery lunch a week. The Wednesday before our long weekend, I opted to get something a little more decadent. In general, we have been eating healthier for our lunches since most days we have some home cooking and aren’t going to food trucks 2 or 3 days a week.

My decadent treat was the Cubano Panini from On Point Bistro. Holly got the Falafel Wrap. We had been to On Point Bistro a couple of times pre-pandemic and enjoyed it, but after getting delivery from them a few times now, they have emerged as a favorite place. We’re really looking forward to going back there now that we’ve tried more of their menu.

On Friday, we went for a long walk to the Delaware River since it was going to be the only decent day of the long weekend.

I brought along 2 of my film cameras and haven’t finished both those rolls yet, but I’m sure I’ll post about those on This Creative Midlife later.

We have been doing a takeout or delivery “date night” on Fridays. I chose to get dinner from Kanella Grill to more officially kickoff our weekend. We love Kanella and miss going there, especially for brunch (which I hope they will resume once they start doing in-person dining again).

For dinner, we selected more food than we knew we could eat knowing that we’d enjoy any leftovers. We got their Syrian Olives, trio of dips, Spanakopita, octopus with giant beans, and Lahmajun.

Brunch on Saturday was less fancy but no less delightful. We got some sandwiches from Café Lutécia, one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants and another place I can’t wait to go back to. We’ve spent many a morning there lingering over coffee, eating good food, and chatting with the owners.

I got a ham, swiss, and eggs sandwich on a baguette, and Holly got a ham, swiss, and tomato sandwich.

In the afternoon, we tried a new cocktail: Clarified Bloody Marys from The Cocktail Guy by Rich Woods. Neither Holly nor I are big fans of Bloody Marys, mainly because we find them too heavy and viscous. The process for the Clarified Bloody Mary is to cook tomato juice with spices, then freeze it. The next day, you let it slowly melt through a coffee filter resulting in a thinner tomato base for the cocktail.

Clarified Bloody Marys from The Cocktail Guy
Clarified Bloody Marys from The Cocktail Guy

Although it was a fun and promising experiment, neither of us were in love with the result. It still had too thick of a mouthfeel for our liking but it might be a more palatable variation for those who like Bloody Marys.

Saturday night, we cooked at home. A couple weeks prior, my brother had suggested cooking “together” sometime virtually. I thought doing something like that for my birthday would be fun, so we arranged to cook and eat the same meal together via Facetime.

Although I talk to my brother fairly often, we haven’t seen him in-person since we went out for my birthday last year. Cooking together online certainly isn’t the same, but it was fun and felt birthday-ish. We made the Pasta e Fagioli variation of the Tuscan Bean and Kale recipe from Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat which we have made a few times before along with the Ribollita variation. We love that soup and it felt like the right level of difficulty for cooking with someone virtually: difficult enough that we would have plenty of time to chat while we prepared it but not so difficult that we would be spending hours working on it. It was a fun event, so much so that I didn’t even think about taking any pictures.

Part of our birthday weekends is cooking for each other, usually one dinner and one brunch with the birthday celebrator choosing the meals.

For the past year or so, Holly has been eating more vegan meals, many of which I have also enjoyed. Although she’s willing to cheat for special occasions, I wanted to make sure she could enjoy whatever I asked her to cook so I looked through some of her vegan cookbooks for options.

For Sunday’s dinner, I chose the Nirvana Enchilada Casserole from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz which turned out quite tasty. We ended up with plenty of leftovers so we had a few easy lunches for the week.

The next morning, Holly made us Carrot Cake Pancakes which I also selected from Isa Does It. They were delightful.

That night, we kept things simple and just had leftover soup and Spanakopita.

Thanks to the pandemic, it was an unusual birthday, but we did what we could to make the best of it. It seems like we should be able to enjoy more normal birthdays by the time Holly’s comes around in December and certainly by my next one. I’m even hoping that we can visit my brother for his in September.

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