Thursday, October 11, 2007

I have a cold...

which is so annoying. It started yesterday morning with some sneezes and sniffles. Since I was anticipating Scotty's surprise birthday party with great glee, I was determined not to succumb. However, I kept sneezing. I did this after I got home yesterday and got a delightful response from Ali.
Ali, "Bless you!"

Now, about that birthday party. About a month ago Stephan called to tell me he was planning this party. Actually, Scott was at my house on the phone with him and he asked to talk with me, then told me to walk away from Scott so he could get my phone number- he's so tricky. We've been secretly talking all month about the party, and I couldn't say anything to Scott. One funny result was that last week, when Scott and Jeana came for their standing invitation but don't always make it Thursday night dinner, H got a call from Steph asking him to remind us not to spill the beans. So when I got home to find Scott pulling into the driveway, H was cleaning the house, having been forwarned.
In an attempt to throw Scott off, I've been trying to pin him down for our own time to celebrate. Then he called meon Monday asking if I wanted to go to the restaurant on Wednesday night for a quiet dinner in celebration. I said that Leila was having a pizza night at her school and I had to help out. I didn't actually say it was this week (it's next) but I gave him that idea. Then I called him yesterday to wish him Happy Birthday and lament not celebrating with him. After I hung up I cackled loudly.
H was going to go, but being Ramadan, he can't be around people drinking. Of course, with a four course menu there is a wine to go with each dish.
Amazingly enough, we managed to surprise Scotty- all 36? of us. Friends from work, brothers and wives, old and new friends were there. Steph put together a slide show with pics we sent him or he found by hoook or crook. Toasts were made and champagne flowed freely. Then we sat down to the four course dinner.
First we had a delicious butternut squash lobster chowder, served with a white wine. (Unfortunately, I left the menu, so this is recreated from memory.) The waiters served the three women at our table in unison, and then the three men- they were good!
Then we had chilean sea bass with a tamale pie. A slight crunchiness before it melted in my mouth- fabulous- with another white wine.
Next was a desert salad- my name for mixed greens with a sweet dressing, mini pears poached in wine, spicy nuts (walnuts? pecans?), a lacy flute of blue cheese, and a pot of fois gras. (I just dipped into that- trying to avoid the food hangover.) This was served with a sweet white wine that pairs beautifully with the rich fois gras. (By this time, I was just tasting the wines, not imbibing them- trying to avoid the other kind of hangover.)
The meat course was lamb- not my favorite meat usually, but wonderful prepared this way. It rested atop a crunchy piquant potato ball and a spicy cranberry salsa. Here we had our first red wine of the evening.
The portions weren't large, and my waistband wasn't tight, but I was sated. Then came desert.
THe lights lowered, the doors to the kitchen were opened, and the blow torch came out. Actually, first they tried with a little lighter, but they had to pull out the heavy weight torch to light off the baked alaskan. This was carried in state to Scotty's place, where he, wisely, realized he couldn't actually blow it out. Then the waiters brought us chocolate- a sampling plate of global flavors- single origin Columbian (sic) mousse, Venezualen white chocolate foam, Tia Maria Mexican ice cream (just like the hot chocolate but cold), flourless Oactlan cake, and a chocolate pudding whose fancy name I can't remember. I tried a taste of each, but I devoured the piece of passion fruit icecream baked Alaskan that each table got a taste of. The people seated next to me were in deep conversation, so I just never passed the plate on to them for tasting.
It's great to see so much love for a friend on his birthday. Steph pulled together a good group of people and did the seating arrangment very thoughtfully, so that everyone had great conversations with the strangers or friends they were seated with. The table across the room was laughing so hard that we started laughing with them, unable to hear the joke, but carried along on the whoops of gaiety.
I rolled in the door around midnight- feeling glamorous and great, as I always do after a night at Stephan Pyles.

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