We are safely in Florida and having a marvelous time. We arrived around 1p and got picked up by my mother at the airport. We almost immediately found a Quizno’s for lunch because we were hangry. I ended up with a chicken Milano on rosemary parmesan bread with a side of BBQ sweet potato kettle chips.
I also snagged a whole small cup of pickle slices to satisfy my salt cravings. I love pickles! The sandwich was good too, by the way.
After lunch we moved on to my Grandpa’s home. It was great to see all of my family again. We’re spread pretty far and wide so it’s always nice to see each other all in one place, especially for such a special occasion: my grandpa’s 80th. With that in mind, the afternoon was a time spent catching up on each other’s lives. We broke around 6ish to go to dinner at my grandpa’s favorite local place (and we’re talking like less than half a mile from his home) for Italian cuisine. All the tables started off with some delicious rolls spread with garlic oil. I might have had three of these…
Our table (basically my mom, dad, Jack, and I) was the only one populated with wine. The boys and I had glasses of cabernet sauvignon and my mom stuck with her traditional white Chardonnay.
For my food I ordered the cheese ravioli with a Louisiana crab sauce. Seriously, the sauce was like a better version of a buffalo chicken dip and the raviolis were awesome.
The sauce was mopped up with the extra bread and I couldn’t have been happier. The wine may have helped with that too! Dessert came to the table in the form of a cannoli and a slice of chocolate raspberry cake to share.
After these yummies, the dinner came to a close and we rolled on home to settle on the couches and chair to watch the Olympics. We were one heckling group, let me tell you. It was funny.
The next morning started off with some cereal and yogurt before I headed into the house (we were staying in the motorhome on the driveway) to whip up some caramel frosting to apply to the caramel cake I had made the night before. I was in charge of the birthday cake so I went big. We’re talking goat’s milk gourmet caramel big!
It was a bit more semi-sweet than traditional caramel which actually ended up working beyond perfectly because the frosting more than made up for it. I piped on some happy words and “Semper Fi” to honor my grandpa’s Marine Corps days.
I went for a run after finishing the cake. It was only two miles and it was bloody hot outside. I kind of felt like a failure but I suppose I was still lapping everybody on the couch, right? I do love that Pinterest pin. After a shower, we all headed to lunch at a local place called The Shack. Jack and I split two sandwiches: a reuben and the lobster roll.
I cannot tell you how yummy the lobster roll. It was so light and delicious. Usually the lobster salad is heavy and mayo-drenched but this was just all sorts of flavor. I sort of wanted to keep the whole thing to myself but I was glad for some of the reuben. The fancy rye bread was great. The three granddaughters who were present at the reunion stopped to take some pictures before heading back home for the afternoon of house set up.
We spent the hours before the birthday party setting up tables, chairs, throwing linens, folding napkins, and dressing the wet bar.
Then came time to change and party. I’ll admit I didn’t take a ton of pictures because my hands were pretty much always full with a plate, a wine glass, or I was buried in conversation with old family friends and new friends of my grandpa that were interested in putting a face to a name (apparently my grandpa talks about me a lot). What I did take a few pictures of was the food of course. When planning the party we settled on bringing in a private chef to cater the whole event straight from the house kitchen. What a great idea it turned out to be. We had an appetizer spread first consisting of crab or sausage stuffed mushrooms, veggie or shrimp/veg spring rolls with spicy Asian sauce, and a fruit platter.
Dinner was served an hour and a half later. We had two entrees: salmon with dill sauce (by far the runaway favorite of everyone) and chicken and sauce Provençal. The sides were a couscous and roasted vegetable medley of corn, purple potatoes, zucchini, squash, and brussel sprouts.
We also had a spinach salad with warm bacon dressing and garlic knots with small pearls of mozzarella cheese embedded. A fantastic dinner to say the very least. We loved it all. A few more glasses of wine later, it was time to get our sweets on. I lit the candles on the cake and we sang Happy Birthday.
Always the patriarch, Grandpa got up to give a speech (while the candles were burning and dripping on the cake!!) about how much he appreciated us all. It was moving and the crowd was rowdy!
We all had huge smiles. When I went back to cut the cake, the personal chef had started rolling out the desserts. Boy were they good though I was told the homemade cake was the best! Victory.
By the end of the night, we were all well-fed, well-watered (or alcoholed if you please), and well-nourished by friendship and laughter. There was even some embarrassing singing of American Pie though I can’t remember for the life of me why that song was chosen.
The night wound down at 11ish and we were all beat. Sleep came in short order only to wake in the morning and clean the whole house. Blah! It was also the last day with a bunch of the family so we spent the rest of the morning saying goodbyes. The afternoon saw only my family and grandpa remaining so we had a quiet few hours doing crosswords, sudokus, and naps. Near happy hour we watched the Olympics and then had leftovers for dinner. We also downed another couple bottles of wine as my grandpa’s lady friend joined us. The conversations only got louder and louder, funnier and funnier. =D
Monday morning we all went our separate ways. Jack and I came home and instead of going grocery shopping, we went out to dinner. Lazy maybe, delicious yes. We did a German restaurant and both had beers. I chose one that was supposed to have caramel, toffee, and cocoa notes in it. Not sure I tasted all that but it was good regardless.
For apps we split a small Caesar salad and the onion dill bread. Holy smokes splendid. I could have had a whole other plate of that bread.
For our mains, I had the pork chop with a raisin, apple, and walnut sauce with sides of spatzle and 7-bean succotash. Jack had the stuffed strip steak alongside spatzle and German potato salad.
We split some bites and really liked everything. Finally dessert was a piece of German chocolate cheesecake (with an Oreo crust and a fudge layer on top) and a slice of Black Russian cake a la mode.
While both were awesome, the latter was the clear winner. I couldn’t get over the Kahlua flavor. And it was incredibly moist. I was blown away. Sadly that good mood didn’t follow me to today. I spent the whole morning and some of the afternoon working on catching up after taking off Friday and Monday in Florida. There was so much to do. It was nuts. Thankfully I was able to get a bunch done. Made some progress. Prepped patients. Faxed letters of medical necessity. Yea, lots. Then I went to work for two hours and by the time I got home I was just ready to get some more blood drawn and grocery shop. This is where stuff started to get really bad. First, I get in the car and try to get out my GPS so I can make it to the blood draw lab. Only there was no GPS. Nope, it was stolen from my car while it was parked at the airport. I didn’t want to believe it but then I got out of my car and I found little scratch marks by the door handle and a pried open indoor panel.
Okay so no GPS. Screw that. I finally get to the lab and the frakkin’ orders aren’t there. The office never faxed them over. So I couldn’t have my blood drawn. I drove all the way there and couldn’t do anything. Oh man I was so angry. However, I was already all the way out of my way (by 25 miles for the lab) that I went frustrated grocery shopping while blasting my iTouch. It did a bit to help my mood but in the end, this find helped the most.
Now for bed peeps. I’m sorry I’ve been so distant but vacation combined with craziness at school has made it hard to find time. I promise to try harder to be around a bit. Tomorrow is a What I Ate Wednesday so I’m not planning on missing that. Deliciousness to come I think!
Questions: What do you think about the idea of a personal chef catering a party in your house? Ever tried the new JIF flavors?