Sunday, March 17, 2013

Birthday Celebrations

Last Monday was my birthday.  My 35th birthday, to be exact.  Which sounds so much older than 34.  I mean, at 35 you round up to 40 instead of down to 30.  And that's just trippy.  Anyway, March has always seemed to get awfully busy, so carving out some celebration time can be a little difficult.  However, with the date of my upcoming oral surgery looming ever closer and closer, I was determined to take the opportunity to eat in public for the last time in what might be several months.  A good friend offered to pick up my youngest from preschool, so I was free to meet up my mother and sister for several child-free hours out.

First, we went for pedicures.  I initially wanted to go with a bright green in honor of St. Patrick's Day, but after some hemming and hawing, I ended up with a mint green base coat and some sparkles on top.  (My sister thought it would be helpful while I was drugged up to have something flashy with which to amuse myself.)  It was lovely and relaxing and now I have happy, pretty toes. :)

There just so happened to be a DSW in the same shopping center as the nail salon, so we popped in for a few minutes.  And my sister (yes, it's always, always her fault - love you, sis!) tricked me into buying some really cute red wedges.  I've never really cared for wedges, but these are just adorable.  They were on the clearance rack for 40% off, and then with my $5-off-on-your-birthday savings they were only $20!  A total steal!

By then we were getting hungry, so we headed down Division to try out the lunch buffet at Taste of India.  I really enjoy ethnic food and it had been a while since I'd had good curry.  We were not disappointed!  They had fabulous curry, both chicken and lamb, as well as a mushroom matar, chicken tandoori, and several other dishes.  And naan, of course, and a garlic naan, and a fried naan that I ate waaaaaay too much of.  And a half dozen chutneys including a mint/jalapeno one that was so good, and an onion chutney, and raita (a cucumber yogurt sauce).  For dessert, there was a rice pudding and these soft donut-like dough balls, that I can't remember the name of, with a sweet honey sauce.  I had to be rolled out of there, I was so stuffed.

And sweet husband drove all the way to the other end of town to bring me a birthday dinner at one of my favorite restaurants!  Cafe Italiano opened up on the north side of Spokane a couple of years ago in a small store front that used to be a Papa John's.  They were originally called Greek Street (because the owner's family is actually from Greece) and since, as I mentioned above, I love ethnic food, I stopped by a month or two after they opened to try it out.  I fell in love immediately with their incredible spanakopita and the best gyros I'd had since my semester abroad in Europe.  And then I tried their pizza - bar-none, the absolute best I'd eaten in more than a decade in Spokane.  The owners were always unfailingly friendly and welcoming.  They struggled at the northside location for a while and decided to change their name to Cafe Italiano, which was the name of their original restaurant in Colville, Washington, and focus on more traditionally Italian foods.  Last fall they had the opportunity to move to the South Hill into a much larger location with better traffic flow and visibility, so they left me!  (And to make matters worse, the kitchen at the new location doesn't have room for the huge pizza oven, so even when I make the trek to the South Hill, they no longer have pizza on the menu!  Oh, the tragedy! [Note: they just announced on their facebook page that they have perfected their pizza recipe in the new oven and pizza will be returning to their menu!  Huzzah!!!]) My husband brought home chicken parmesan, pasta primavera, and seafood paella.  All three were a-maz-ing.  I really am thrilled for the Karatzas family that they are finding the success they so richly deserve, but I'm selfishly sad that Cafe Italiano is no longer my little neighborhood pizza place.  It's still totally worth going to, so if you ever find yourself on Spokane's South Hill, stop in and tell them Emily says hi!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable birthday.  Lots of good food, quality time with two of my favorite women in the whole wide world and my family, pretty toes, and new shoes.  I'll take it!

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