Tara’s birthday is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s an opportunity where I get to celebrate her entirely. Because birthdays are a big deal for her as well, it always extends for the entire week. It also stretches me to be unique and creative with each one that I get to be a part of. To read about last year’s birthday, click <<<here>>>.
Her actual birthday this year fell on a Tuesday (July 30th) which was good and bad. With it being in the middle of the work week, we had to wait till Friday to really do something BIG with friends. It did, however, give us an opportunity to do some small little things throughout the week.
This year I feel like we’ve hit a new stride personally as true NYC locals. Last year, our first in NY, we hadn’t really developed any close friendships in the City so we ended up planning a big birthday bash with her FL friends and family. Thanks in large part to the small group we started at our church, our “network” of close friends has grown quite considerably since the beginning of 2013. This is how the birthday week unfolded.
It just so happened that it was the closing night of our small group season. We had almost everybody at the group that night (which has grown from 12 to 20 people).
Last year for Tara’s 30th, I had a cake made by the fabulous KaraBoo Bakery and we
included on the cake 30 things that defined Tara.
Karaboo always hits it out of the park. I was bummed that I couldn’t fly in a cake
from them. In an interesting twist of fate, I ended up meeting a cake maker, Amy Noelle of Sugar Flower Cake Shop, on the Friday prior to Tara’s birthday week at a networking meeting in the City. She is extremely talented, creative, uses local ingredients and does not use fondant on anything. She was showing pictures of her work on her iPad and after I left the meeting, I e-mailed her to see if she could take on making my wife’s cake. She accepted and we came up with a local NYC cake idea. As I said earlier in this post, I feel like this year we’ve really settled into our NYC life. We don’t feel we’re tourists anymore and we’ve embraced this City as our own. So here’s the cake we had made to represent our “local” status in the Union Square area and I surprised Tara by bringing it out on that night to share with our group…our NYC friends.
As for the cake ingredients/flavor, here’s the breakdown. We decided on a Champagne Cake with chocolate buttercream filling and NYC Honey Icing. Champagne cakes are all the rage this year plus that’s one of her favorite drinks! The honey is sold in the Union Square farmer’s market (Andrew’s Honey). Andrew has hives all around Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn and keeps the harvests separately. The variety they are using right now is the Chelsea honey. The chocolate was Valrhona dark chocolate. Since chocolate doesn’t grow in the state of New York, she had to look outside and use one of the best quality French chocolates (which was great because Tara has a personal affinity for all things French!). The champagne is a pink champagne which fit in with the purple and green color scheme.
This was the actual birthday. I got up at 5:30AM to wait in line at Dominique Ansel’s Bakery, the inventor of the Cronut (more on this in a future blog post as well). I was able to score 2 cronuts when the bakery opened at 8AM and deliver them to the wife at work as my “surprise” gift that day. The cronut had a blackberry glaze with bits of pulverized berries mixed in and it was rolled with a mix of coarse sugar and lime zest. It was filled with blackberry-swirled vanilla cream. Every month they change flavors. It tastes every bit as good as it sounds!!
We went and ate at Pierre Loti, a wine and cheese bar in Union Square – one of Tara’s favorite things to do. It was great to spend some time with her out on a date – just the two of us. We tried a few different plates and shared a bottle of wine.
We had dinner scheduled with some friends of ours from a few weeks ago, so before we went, I gave her a card with 2 plane tickets to the Dominican Republic. We have not taken a vacation at all this year. So this will be a great break for us in the Fall (even if it is just for a weekend) before my travel/gig season gets crazy and hopefully we can come back with some good looking tans for the winter!
Finally a night at the house just to chill and catch up on some DVR shows. But to make the night a little special, I had ordered some ZD wine (T’s favorite) to be shipped in from Napa and it came in that day so we enjoyed a bottle with dinner.
I had a DJ gig on Saturday so this was our night to live it up! We went out with our good friends, Cameron and Leslee, to Beauty and Essex on the lower East Side. I will do a separate blog post on that location later on but let me just say, this place blew our mind! From the outside, you wouldn’t have any idea what the vibe is like. You actually walk THROUGH a pawn shop (the front door) and it opens up to this massive 3 story space. It’s very trendy.
They are known for their FREE “champagne bar” that is INSIDE the ladies restroom and you better believe that Tara and Leslee took FULL advantage of that. Did I mention that it was FREE?
*NOTE: The men’s restroom, was not at all furnished with that type of amenity.
The food at B&E is very tapas style. We hung out there, shared some amazing food, drank some quality wine and had great conversation.
Afterwards, we went out to a hole-in-the-wall bar called Nurse Bettie for a night cap and then finished eating tacos out of a taco truck called Tacos Morelos (Cameron and Leslee’s first DATE night spot in the NYC -TRUE story and yes, this is one of the many reasons why we love them)!