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A few weeks ago, a dear friend somewhat cryptically asked me what my birthday plans were. She asked if I’d save her a day because she had somewhere to take me. I do love surprises and such advance planning and readily agreed that today would be her day.

M picked me up this morning and ferried me down to Union Market, a year-round indoor market in Northeast. What a perfect idea! Rows of food and drink stalls line three main aisles: meat; fish; bread; cheese; wine; pressed juice; Korean; Mediterranean; the still-ubiquitous cupcakes… We decided to eat our way and commenced with a stop at the juice bar, Goshen (I had a fabulous carrot-ginger-lemon concoction), before detouring through a fun housewares store, Salt & Sundry, where I bought the best item: a travel tin of Maldon finishing salt. After I waxed rhapsodic about Maldon, M bought one too. Isn’t this charming?!

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Maldon travel tin

Then it was on to Rappahannock Oysters Co, yes! the same as that at the farmers market where I bought the clams last Sunday, where we chowed. Raw oysters, red snapper tartare with sorrel juice, crispy chives and some fabulous citrusy business, and a beautiful white gazpacho with cucumber, grapes and Marcona almonds. It was absolutely delicious, and the plating was top-notch. Doesn’t this all look incredible? It was.

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white gazpacho

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red snapper tartare with sorrel juice, crispy chives, beet dust and those fab crunchy citrus things

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oysters at Rappahannock

We also did an olive oil tasting at All Things Olive; there I bought a bottle of Frantoia oil from California. It’s got an intense peppery aftertaste that made me cough in such a delightful fashion. I used it atop some mozzarella di bufala tonight for a super-caprese: perfetto! Fresh bread was bought at Lyon Bakery (and seriously enjoyed tonight), Turkish Delight and ful medames at DC Mediterranean and finally we ambled towards M’s car.

Can you believe the two days of cool experiences I’ve just had? Thank you to my wonderful friends.

With today’s goodies, I made and we just devoured this magnificent salad plus the ful.

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mozzarella di bufala caprese

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mozzarella di bufala caprese

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I have felt awash in friends and love today; boy am I lucky. After my little ones wished me a lovingly loud Happy Birthday as I ascended the basement stairs and I dropped them at school, I had coffee with a friend and his precious baby daughter (got a nice baby holding fix there!), worked out, received a call from another friend who sang to me, came home and opened some cards, heard from my parents and sister + more friends, was taken to Dumbarton Oaks for a private tour with two pals, then to lunch at Blue Duck with said marvelous pals, picked up the kiddos, made whipped cream-mascarpone frosting for the strawberry cake and cupcakes I made yesterday and am now in repose with a glass of pink champagne. Thank you so much, to everyone, for the happy wishes! I appreciate your thoughtfulness more than you know.

Photographic evidence of today’s beautiful (though cold) bounty (on principle, I refused to wear socks and was vaguely sorry to have done so):

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a perfect tulip

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elderly, magnificent tree

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this fig vine is ancient and amazing

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intricate artisanal brickwork

Blue Duck was without the Brussels sprouts but I’ll let it go because they still had the grits on menu. Our food overall had some misses -lemon ice box cake, deconstructed? sometimes you just want a hunk of cake, you know? when we ordered it, we were unaware of the deconstructed element- but also some serious highs; wow on the cracked spelt salad with roasted grapes and Meyer lemon, and the three of us felt positively giddy to be “ladies who were lunching”, hair brushed and all!

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mushrooms with olive oil croutons

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asparagus salad with pancetta and fried egg

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deconstructed lemon icebox cake

 

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Just as I was about to commence making my springtime shrimp and grits, T called to say he needed to work late. Plan B was another fab-o kale salad, chock full of garlic-n-toppings plus a wedge of Humboldt Fog just cuz. Delicious! And, because it’s almost my bday, I indulged in two glasses of the magnificent Pinot Noir from Iron Horse and read the entire Science section from today’s NY Times. Bliss.

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damn, I love me a kale salad

Who else feels they’ve not seen this picture ↘ enough lately? Moi! So, here it/he is! I’m telling you, if those eyes came a’purring towards me….

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch

Because really, is enough ever enough? I’d ask for BC for my birthday, but I think I’m getting a chaise lounge for my backyard + a tortilla press which, obviously, together make the closest second a gal could imagine.

I’ve had just enough wine to be on the right side of caring that snowflakes are tiptoeing from the sky -they’ll be gone by morning- and am off to jump into, gasp!, the front section of today‘s paper.

Miracles.

 

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I needed to stay in today anyway -hours of writing and edits and cooking to do- so am really enjoying the rainstorm we’re having. Have been having. Are to continue having. Percy and I took a walk during a dry interlude and at one point I also donned my magenta raincoat to quickly cover my favorite delicate plants with a wide variety of bucket, but right now, my gutters are overflowing, the pets are snoring next to me on the couch, and I’m in a peaceful yet productive stupor, lulled by the concert of white noise coming at me from the outside.

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vanilla fig scones

I finally made a batch of the vanilla fig scones that I love and having been dying for, finished a first-round edit of a lengthy doc for school, bathed Percy, kinda tidied up and am about to make a strawberry cake. I noticed that my Perfect Coconut Cream Pie is featured in a Food 52 article on 12 Eats for Easter. Nice!!

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Ok, while watching Jack go for the gold during his Red Belt testing this evening, I snuck a glance at Facebook and saw something horrifying: a wintry mix is purportedly going to strike DC tomorrow night.

Night

Rain / Snow / Wind Early

31°Low

Rain / Snow / Wind Early

Now, as if the possibility of MORE snow after we’ve all put our warm clothes away (and good riddance, thank you very much) AND just planted hopefully and watched everything come up and bloom AND started recovering healthy psyches and such isn’t awful enough, my birthday begins at Wednesday’s dawn. Has there ever been a girl in the world who wanted anything for her birthday LESS than this forecast? I think not.

It goes without saying that I am actively ignoring the weather “experts,” even the ones who actually seem quasi-capable (thank you Capital Weather Gang), and planning, as I already was, to wear shorts on Wednesday.

Fortunately, Jack is now a Red Belt, I made a great kale salad for dinner, and though T broke my iPhone home button while repairing the cracked screen, the screen is so lovely now. Too bad I have to use the special button that’s nose-sensitive in the meantime. Shite!

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With the bag o’ clams we bought this morning at the farmers market -thank you Rappahannock Oyster Co!- and the homemade pasta T whipped up while I was in my writing class this afternoon, I made a vat of spaghetti alle vongole (it was more like fettuccine as T rolled it thick) for dinner tonight. As always, it hit the spot. Seriously, this dish is one of my all-time favorites, and it is so unbelievably easy to pull together: olive oil, garlic, clams, peperoncino, parsley, salt and pepper. It just wreaks and rolls and ensorcells you with flavor. I always overeat -as I did tonight- because although my stomach is beseeching me to put the darn fork down, my taste buds are pleading for one more bite of pasta slicked with clam jus and garlicky parsley oil. Remarkable use and confluence of the simplest flavors!

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spaghetti alle vongole

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