I’m a September baby, but you wouldn’t know it since I had my birthday party this past weekend. It all began when four of my august friends (see what I did there?) banded together to plan a group celebration at Le Lupanar. “It’ll be fun,” they gushed to each other. “We can take over the place and dance all night and…” “Ok-ok-ok, I’m in!!” I sighed like they had been begging me to join for ages (simply ages, dah-ling). Four pairs of eyes swiveled toward me in surprise and they struggled for a polite way to ask 1. who I was and 2. when my birthday was. I switched tactics. “Something something falls on Labor Day, and everybody’s always away that weekend, blah blah pity on me,” I said intelligently. They patted me on the head and told me I could be part of the August birthday party as a pity fifth. Score!
On the day of the party, my good friend Ctina treated me to an early birthday dinner at db townhouse because she knew how much I loved dining there during Restaurant Week. I revisited the Sea Scallops Benedict for the starter, I just had to. The salt-water tang of the scallops melded with the sharper savoriness of thin slices of chorizo sausage, which all got mellowed out by poached quail eggs laying on top. I broke their yolks with my fork and watched deep yellow rivulets slide along the smooth round surface of each scallop, pause at the edge, and then creep over and run thickly down its sides to pool upon the plate. An airy lobster foam completed the dish and melted like a dream in my mouth. I started thinking about how the foam was so light and the quail egg yolk so thick, that they were opposites, and I was simultaneously tasting the air and the earth. Or maybe that was just the wine talking! For my entree, I had seared medium rare tuna on a bed of couscous and tiny grasslike mushrooms. The waitress solemnly poured warm broth over the dish, bathing me and Ctina in a fragrant cloud of lemongrass and beets, light and vegetable sweet. When we somehow found room to attempt dessert, we sampled an Orange Blossom Panna Cotta (heavenly) and a Strawberry Shortcake Sundae (your childhood memories, one-upped by a master chef). True caffeine junkies that we were, we had several cups of coffee before heading out to the birthday party I’d muscled my way into.
Le Lupanar was amazingly fun! I worked for 5-1/2 years in book publishing before Black Wednesday hit, and the night was full of reunions with friends from all of the major houses. It was also a chance to mash all my groups together so that socializing could be easier (I love y’all but I’m lazy, yo). Alas, friendships were not to be forged since, as always, the night devolved into a series of dance-offs. Well. Not dance-offs in the sense that anyone actually knew how to dance. Hence the “off” part of that statement. There we were, publishing nerds in cocktail dresses or button-up shirts and khaki cargo shorts, pretending we knew how to crump. It was quite a sight. Meanwhile, at the bar beyond the dance floor battleground, one friend found a way around my No Shots policy by buying me many gin martinis (straight up with a twist, and I would prefer stirred not shaken, but trying telling that to an intimidating Manhattan bartender). Next time, I may just accept the shots. It would be less alcohol. In my gin-soaked haze, another friend appeared and presented me with a $2 bill upon which he penned a personalized haiku. Fitting, since we’re in the same writing group. Hours of “dancing” later (it feels more honest to include those quote marks), the best present of all arrived in the form of a car ride home. Whoo!
Gosh I wonder what’ll happen in two weeks when it actually is my birthday?