Monday, May 14, 2012

My Birthday Bash

Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest-Father Larry Lorenzoni 

Hunger is the best sauce in the world- Cervantes

They say that it’s the most recognized song in the English language.
And no one has ever sung a more famous rendition as Marilyn Monroe did when she sang it to President Kennedy.
The song of course is “Happy Birthday to You”. Probably, it was last sung to you while you were seated in front of a frosted cake blowing out candles on your birthday.

Now, chances are that your birthday is in September.  
Research shows that September is one of the busiest months for birthdays and that September 16 is the most common birthday in the U.S. 
But that not the case in our family. That honor goes to the month of May.
My wife, our daughter and our granddaughter all celebrate birthdays in May.  My dad also celebrated a May birthday. And did I mention?
May 4th is my big day.
I’m a lucky guy when it comes to birthdays.  Between friends and family, my birthday celebrations spread out over weeks. This year the festivities started in April and culminated this last weekend on a camping trip to the beach.   I did a lot of fine dining along the way. Here are some of our culinary highlights as I ate my way through birthday festivities, in no particular order, because celebrating is not always orderly.

This year I didn’t have traditional cake. We went lemon bars. Courtesy of our good friend Mary, Each bite holds an initial taste of gooey sweetness and tangy lemon tart.  But the signature taste is in the rich butter flavor of the flakey crust.  
And do you know what? 
I didn’t miss the cake.
Mary’s Butter Crust Lemon Bars
The cookie crust:
2 cups flour
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

The filling: 
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
8 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated lemon rind from 1 lemon
4 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. baking powder

1. Preheat oven 350 *
2. Combine 2 cups flour with the butter and confectioners’ sugar and press into a 13" by 9" baking dish.
3. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly done but not browned.
4. Beat eggs with a mixer.  Add sugar; blend well. Add lemon juice and lemon rind; beat well. 
5. Add the baking powder and 4 Tbs flour and beat well.
6. Pour over hot crust; do not let the crust cool
7. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown
8. When cool, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares

The World’s Best Bread
My wife planned a camping trip to celebrate our birthdays at our favorite place; the beach.  Along the way, we stopped at The Village Bakery to buy a couple of loaves of what is arguably the very best bread in the world. If you don’t believe me, stop by and try a loaf for yourself. I’m referring to the Seeded Sourdough bread they bake.
Makes incredible toast and pairs with anything.
The Place: Village Bakery, 7225 Healdsburg Ave, Sebastopol, CA 95472, (707) 829-8101
The Bread: Seeded Sourdough. The seeds are sunflower, poppy, sesame and flax.

The World’s Best Fish and Chips
“Sure, sure”, you say.  But if you are ever on the north coast in California, you have to make a point of stopping here. We’ve tried fish and chips around the world and the Boathouse is one of our favorites. I’m not a big on French fries so I substitute the fries for onion rings.  
This is the only place I have ever had oysters. I tried them here and discovered how great they are.

The Place: The Boathouse; 1445 Highway 1; Bodega Bay, CA 94923; (707) 875 3495
The Fish: Rockfish (3 pieces to an order)
The Batter: Made with Miller Genuine Draft beer; the batter is light, crispy and tasty with a flavor that compliments the fish and not competes with it.
The Tartar Sauce: Made fresh daily with mayonnaise, relish, red onion and a touch of Tabasco sauce.
The Rings: Real onions.
The Oysters: Fresh and cooked to order. Shucked just before they’re barbequed. Served with a tangy sauce.  
The Location: Bodega Bay, California on Highway 1. Need I say more?

Zintillating, Zintastic, Zinfalicious Zinfandel
Did you know that if California were a country, it would rank as the fourth leading wine-producing nation in the world, only behind France, Italy and Spain? We have more than 107 distinct wine grape growing areas in California, driven by the different microclimates that provide the state’s rich diversity. We recently enjoyed an amazing California Zinfandel. In 2009 I was gifted a bottle of Napa wine.  We decided to take it for birthday celebrating on our camping trip this month and what a pleasant surprise we had. The wine was a bottle of Silverado Vineyards 2007 Zinfandel. 
The wine was dark, rich in berry fruit flavor tones and had a smooth finish. I tried to find it retail but found that it is only available directly at the winery or by shipment for members of the Silverado Wine Club. But if you like red wine, I think you might enjoy this Zin.
Paired excellent with our rib eye steaks; pairs excellent with life!
What: Silverado Vineyards Soda Creek Ranch 2007 Zinfandel
Where: 6121 Silverado Trail Napa, CA 94558 | (707) 257-1770
Cost: $35.00

Here’s How Sushi Rolls: Raku Sushi
My wife (whose birthday is the day before mine) and I were treated out to Sushi.  A new to us place located in West Sacramento; one great price for all you can eat. 
Here’s what we had; the Howie Roll (cream cheese and spicy tuna), Volcano Roll (deep fried with tuna, jalapeno and crab salad), Lion King Roll (California and grilled salmon), 49ers Roll (shrimp tempura, salmon and topped with a lemon slice), Salmon Lover's roll (in the shape of a butterfly) and of course their signature roll, the Red Heart (spicy tuna and tuna).
The tempura was served hot and included a variety of shrimp and vegetables.   The fried bananas were fantastic and for dessert, Raku will serve you a hot, freshly made donut. Yum!
Where: Raku Sushi; 2915 West Capitol Ave., West Sacramento, CA 95691, (916) 372-6168
Cost: Dinner - $15.95

Thanks for joining me on this guided tour through some great eats I have enjoyed.  Birthdays are meant to be celebrated. Food will always be part of that celebration. But as Abraham Lincoln said, “And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years”. The true measurement of age will always be the friends and family that celebrate my birthdays with me.

Sorry that I have been a little slow in writing.  Between job searches, interviews, traveling and teaching at a community college, time has been as hard to hold on to as a greased pig.
Well, I’ve still got a couple of phone messages to return. Who knows, maybe I’m not quite done celebrating.
Now go explore!


Alida said...

Ciao Mario! Those lemon bars look divine. Thank you for sharing this yummy recipe.
The rest of the food makes me hungry!

Unknown said...

Ciao Mario!!! adoro quelle "lemon bars".. bravo!! baci

mary said...

I want to wish you Happy Birthday again Mario, just because I think you deserve it! I loved taking a walk down your "Memeory Lane of Food Celebration"! What a grand walk it fact I "walked down it twice" just for the pure enjoyment! Thank you for your "100% Fantastic" Blog! Always so fun and interesting to read! :-) Mary

Unknown said...

Hey there Mario, glad you drop by in my blog, ya why not? It would be good if we could share/exchange recipe, i love cooking... and i sometimes created my own recipe based only on whatever things left in the fridge :) nice to have you in my blog do keep in touch and i have followed you ^_^ have a blast THURSDAY

author casulo-online said...

Is a little late but happy birthday to you, Mario!

Unknown said...

Greetings from Malaysia... Visit you again... do read my latest entry OH MY ENGLISH!!!!!


Lilly said...

Mario!! Happy (belated) Birthday!! Seems like you've had a blast. I can't believe all the food you ate. The lemon bars look amazing! I think I need to give that a try.

And oysters from the bbq...I've been craving that for ages now. Here in Holland there is a place where you can pick up your own oyster. They grow in the wild and they are TASTY! I’ll have to go and pick up some soon. Take care and remember…every day is a celebration!

Smareis said...

Hello Mario, my friend!
Commenting in your language.
I was happy with his visit.
I loved your post. His family is to be congratulated. Month of May is a month to make excellent birthday.
I loved this recipe Butter Lemon Bars Crust Maria seems deliciosa.Obrigada for the tips, your wonderful post.

Big hug and great week.

mangiawithmario said...

Alida, the lemon bars ARE divine. I can eat them even when I'm not hngry. Thanks for the visit.

Luisa, grazie per tua commento. Tu sei molto gentile. Baci!

Mary, thank you for the birthday wishes and thoughtful words. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

Hi Pari, thank you for your comments. I agree with you, some of the best recipes come from the leftovers in our fridge!

Cris, thank you so much for the birthday wishes. Belated wishes are always accepted here!

Lilly, every day is a celebration! Thank you for the sweet thoughts. Maybe some day my wife and I will visit Holland and pick out those oysters ourselves!

Smareis, obrigado! The month of May is a wonderful month for birthdays!
And those lemon bars are muito deliciosa.

Smareis said...

Olá Mário,

ótima semana meu amigo!
Beijos no coração!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, these look scrum-diddly-umptious!

Cass @foodmyfriend said...

Those cupcakes look yummy! I love my birthday for the fact that I get taken out. Mine is the 2nd Jan though so its at a bad time of year. Everyone is all partied out. The food looks great :)

mangiawithmario said...

Smareis, desejo-lhe uma semana maravilhosa, demasiado! Obrigado!

Love2Dine,what a great word; scrum-diddly-umptious. May I borrow it?

Cass, thanks for the visit and comments. Why not party on your Half-Birthday? July 2nd?

Precy Larkins said...

Sorry this is super late, but Happy Birthday!! I love lemon bars, too. I'd be happy to take lemon bars over cake any day. Sounds like you had fabulous time with family and friends. That's how birthday celebrations should be--full of fun and joy and spent with the people you love. :)

Megan Elizabeth Rose said...

My finals went great, thank you! A very happy birthday to you! This week was my birthday and we went out for indian food. I'm a big fan of Tikka Masala. Also that sushi looks delicious! I recently discovered a roll called "summer lover" which has mango and avacado in it and I am in love! Think its time I go eat dinner, this is all making me hungry!

Unknown said...

Mario your blog always gives me the best ideas and makes me wish I was eating with you :)

I am always inspired by you. So when I found out that I got to nominate someone for the Illuminating Blogger Award, I knew that I wanted to nominate your blog.

Keep inspiring

Renata Fagundes said...

Seja bem vindo Mario!

Obrigada pelas belas palavras.
Se a fome é o melhor tempero o olfato deve ser o melhor talher.

grande abraço

Drizel said...

Happy belated Bday Mario, Seems like you had a great time. My daughter sings happy Bday every single day. She is only 2 and a half now, but I do love when she sings it....:) Have a wonderful day.

Terence said...

Very lovely and awesome post.

llimaverda said...

hola Mario, encantada de saludarte, tienes un blog muy interesante,aquí me quedo, besos!!!!

Manju Modiyani said...

Hello Sir. Wishing you belated happy birthday!

Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. Its really encouraging.

You too have a lovely blog. I loved the picture of lemon crust bars, and other pictures too. The food looks really tempting! Will surely join your blog. :)

Do visit my other blog-

Have a great day!

LUCIA said...

mi querido amigo MARIO gracias por tu visita que me a dado tanta alegría,
mucho tiempo sin visitarnos verdad?
pero ya veo que tu no paras de hacer estos dulces tan ricos, pero yo estoy a dieta y me muero por comer y sentir el placer en la boca siempre que entro en tu blog es una tentación,
te deseo una feliz semana amigo y un gran beso.

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table said...

Happy belated! That looks like a wonderful "best of" birthday food tour. :)

Ese oscuro objeto de deseo . said...

Me encanta tu blog y buenas recetas ¡¡¡¡¡ Gracias por pasarte por el mio

Un abrazo fuerte desde Cartagena España

Abrazos mil ¡


Gara said...

Hola Mario!

Felicidades atrasadas!

Menudas fiestas de cumpleaños que disfrutas durante días. Así da gusto. Las recetas deliciosas sobre todo, la barra de limón. Me entra por los ojos ... je je je

Gracias por tu visita y comentario en mi blog. Te sigo.

Un abrazo

Noelle Dunn.... A Poet in Progress said...

I missed your birthday!! Happy Birthday. I have been so absent from my writing and my blog. I am back though and plan to post once a week and catch up on my blogger friends. I so wish I had a cupcake right now!!

Angela said...

That opening quote made me laugh - shame on you to make me noisy when the babies are sleeping;)

wanayu said...


mangiawithmario said...

Angela, thanks for the visit. And sorry about waking the babies.

Noelle, thanks for the birthday wishes. A belated wish only extends the celebration! And glad you are back to writing.

Jessenia, gracias por tu visita y por las felicidades. Disfruta las recetas! Abrazos!

Gracias por las commentarios desde Cartagena España! Abrazos desde California!

Hi Laura, and yes indeed! The food was marvelous!

Ciao TALIÁ, gracias por tu visita y comentarios. Como siempre tu eres muy amable con sus palabras y pensamientos. Gran abrazos!

Manju, thanks for the birthday wishes. And yes, those lemon bars are the best!

Llimaverda, su visita y comentarios se agradecen mucho! Abrazos!

Drizel, thank you so much for the kind birthday wishes. How sweet that your daughter makes everyday a celebration of life with her song. I love it!

Renata,obrigado por sua visita e comentários. Sim, deve ser verdade que o olfato deve ser o melhor talher. Eu sei que deliciosos aromas Faça-me com fome antes de eu ver alimentos. Grande abraço!

Kasey, you are so encouraging. Thank you, my friend.

Elizabeth, happy belated birthday to you, too! I love tikki masala! And your summer lover roll sounds incredible. Enjoy an extended birthday celebration!

Precy, I agree! I prefer lemon bars over cake, too. Thanks so much for the kind words and it is absolutely true that real celebrations are about spending time with the ones we love. Hugs!

jenskie said...

oh goodness. Looks so yummy!!! yum! yum! yum!

Happy birthday and may you have more birthdays to come :)


Anonymous said...

Hello Mario, I Just Wanted To Stop By To Say Hi! Have A Great Day!

Anonymous said...

Ciao Mario! Hope all has been well! Happy belated Birthday to you. It looks like you have had a wonderful day. Lemon bars are my own opinion they're better than cake too.

Take care,

Miluna said...

hola Mario ya estoy por aqui,,
que delicia de recetas esto no se hace que una quiere ponerse a dieta jajja..

te dejo mis besos y mis sonrisas..

MAYTE said...

Your blog is so nice!!! :) Thanks for your visit

Shirley said...

Hi Mario - the buttern crust lemon bars look wonderful. I'm already getting out my baking stuff!