birthday dinners

I used to not really like having a birthday on January 2nd – people are worn out by the holidays, event-ed out by New Year’s Eve, and ready to get back to some order by the time my day of the year comes around.  However – as my dear buddy Kath has campaigned for years – this just means that my birthday spans the whole month of January, as folks spread out the love taking me out for lunch or drinks for weeks after ‘the day’ (or go do things like Olympus Spa – thanks Lori!) .  This year, I happened to get several lovely dinners in my honor that are worth noting here:

Shawn and I had a lovely lingering multi-course meal at Anchovies and Olives.  I do really like Ethan Stowell’s restaurants, but I feel like every time I’ve left one, I seem to have had one dish that was overpowering in some way (like way too much parsley in a risotto once at How to Cook Like a Wolf).  Anchovies and Olives was not this way however!  Each dish was a more subtle mix of flavors of the sea at this Italian-seafood spot.  The oysters were so well accompanied, my beet salad was so well-balanced between crunch, green, beet and anchovy dressing.  My shrimp polenta took the prize however (second from right) – creaminess spiked and balanced with a rich savory broth.  As with all of his restaurants – the space is lovely too!

My buddy Alison took me to Artusi (thanks Al!) – the charming little Italian ‘apertivo’ bar attached to Spinasse.  We had some great small plate snacks (outside of  being a tad surprised by the tuna ‘salsa’ they had with the beets).  I will go back for the fried capers alone and the pickled Jerusalem artichokes made me think of my southern grannie’s infamous pickles of the same root.  The drinks were the stand out for sure though.   I tried the ‘Marinetti’s Automobile’ (above, left) – rye, fig vinegar, some liquors, a touch of cayenne and a cherry, which sounds all over the place as I type it out, but was smooth and fabulous.  The Amaro I finished off the meal with took me right back to that quarter spent in Italy where several meals ended with the Italian bitter liqueurs (the server was spot on with her recommendation of finding something a little off the beaten path – but I can’t remember the name of the one I got!).  Also a lovely space to tuck yourself into when looking for a light meal or drinks.

There was also a  lively meal spent with the gang at KushiBar – a casual spot focused on Japanese style street food eats.  A variety of skewers, ramen and udon – it is a great place to please a group without the typical costs in most of our city’s Japanese restaurants.  The popcorn, the veggie skewers and the squash tempura are the standouts for me.  Thanks so much for all the birthday celebrating this year everybody!