Birthdays, Birthdays, Everywhere!

This weekend was chockfull of birthday celebrations. Well, two of them, at any rate, and both on the same night! Saturday night my family went out to dinner for my brother‘s big ol’ 2-8, and afterward I met up with Sarah to celebrate hers!

You better believe we got in some family portrait-taking too.

And yep, there you have the big reveal of my self-haircut maybe-mistake. I say “maybe” because I still haven’t decided if the bangs are terribly fashionable or just terrible.

I’ll let you all be the jury on the hair though. Sidenote: I finally got Instagram! Be my friend!

Maybe I’ll get used to the bangs after another drink?

Anyway, back to dinner. The meal was really fantastic, with a small, unfortunate coda that we’ll touch on later. We went to J. Gilbert’s, a steakhouse in McLean. I had been there only once before (during Lent for a work lunch), and had a less-than-thrilling experience (mostly entirely due to the fact that I had gone vegan for Lent, and was, y’know, at a steakhouse.)

To start, we got a bunch of appetizers to share! There was an unpictured order of calamari, the above tuna, avocado, and mango dish (AMAZING), and these awesome pretzel-crusted onion rings:

For my main dish, I got a surf-and-turf combo that included a perfectly cooked piece of filet mignon and a crabcake.

My sides were mushroom risotto and roasted asparagus, which was delicious, though skimpy. I only got like, 4 pieces of super skinny asparagus!

Ah well, let’s be honest, this plate wasn’t about really about the asparagus. The steak was cooked absolutely perfectly, and the risotto? Omgah. I die.

After dinner, the family headed back home for cake and presents. I’ll have more deets on the awesome cake (double layer! Homemade icing!) that I baked in Thursday’s post (Ben’s actual birthday!) After the festivities subsided for birthday number one, it was time for me to head out again!

Happy actual birthday today, Sarah!

I joined Sarah and her friends at Vermilion, a very nice restaurant in Old Town Alexandria for dinner #2. Well, if you can call another glass of sparkling wine dinner, since I was still too full of steak, cake, and deliciousness to eat anything else. Other than the itsy-bitsy amuse-bouche that we were all served, that is.

I love tiny food.

I had a great time at both birthday celebrations! Unfortunately, my night didn’t end on such a high note. I got food poisoning from something I ate (through deductive reasoning we figured it was probably the crabcake, unfortunately) and my delicious dinner did not… stay with me. Hehe, ew. Needless to say, it was awful. Even after I stopped being actively sick, Sunday was pretty iffy for me. I’m feeling much better now, though I still feel a little bit “off” digestively. I’m planning on limiting my dairy and meat for the next day or so, and hopefully that’ll set me back on the right track. In the meantime, at least I have an excuse to eat more carbs? Hahaha.

Does getting sick after a meal turn you off of a restaurant completely? I keep thinking that I should feel more put off at the thought of eating at J. Gilbert’s again, or be put off of crabcakes in general, but honestly, the meal was so good that I don’t feel that way. I would definitely go back, and I will probably have crabcakes again in my future, just… maybe not the crabcake AT J. Gilbert’s, eh?

Early Birthday

Birthday Man

Happy almost-birthday to my papa!

Aren’t my parents adorable?

After all, when did it ever hurt to be a bit early?


Our family celebrated his “29th” birthday last night at Clyde’s in Tysons Corner, since both my parents and I will be in Ottawa on his actual birthday later this week.


The food was good, though the decor was a little awkward (see the statue above) and the service was unfortunately super slow. We were seated right next to two other big parties, and there was only one server covering all three tables. It didn’t end up being too big of a deal since we weren’t in a rush or anything, but just a word to the wise that Sunday nights might not be the best time to schedule a big group dinner there.


But back to that whole food thing…

Vino GrigioBreaded

We started with some wine (pinot grigio, my favorite!) and the non-oyster selections from the oyster menu. My dad’s allergic to oysters, and I’ve never even had a raw one (though I had Oysters Rockefeller at the beach wedding I went to last month – delicious!) Shrimp and crab claws, on the other hand…

Mad shrimp cocktail love.

Herro Friend
Herro friend.

For my starter, I got a salad with apples, goat cheese, pancetta, and walnuts. It originally came with arugula but I haven’t been vibing that particular green lately (who says stuff like that?) so I asked them to substitute romaine instead. It was a great decision. The salad also came with a crostini with even MORE goat cheese smeared on top!

Would you like some salad with that goat cheese?
Goat cheese HEAVEN.

My entree was the pumpernickel crusted salmon, served with potatoes and this AWESOME pickled red cabbage. The cabbage was so, so good — I must find a recipe. I also pilfered some broccoli from my bro-in-law’s plate for some green (which was clearly cooked in butter, but we all have to make sacrifices. Ahahaha.) I practiced some highly uncharacteristic self-restraint and actually only ate half my plate! Needless to say, I’m looking forward to lunch tomorrow.

Rock Lobstah!
One guess as to what my mom ordered, haha.

In between our starters and entrees, my dad opened up his presents which is obviously the best part of any b-day celebration! (Does it come as any surprise that I can’t wait for my own birthday?)

Birthday GiftsBirthday Onlooker

I got him the Game of Thrones book set — does anyone watch the HBO show? I’ve only heard vague (but good!) things about it, so I’m wondering if it’s worth getting into. Maybe after reading the books, my dad can give me some insight?


Naturally, we couldn’t leave the restaurant without cake!

Chocolate Birthday

My mom picked up a small pumpkin mousse cake (yes, as awesome as it sounds) from Natalia’s, a local Falls Church bakery.

Candles & Cake
Make a Wish!

It was light, fluffy, pumpkin-y, and delicious! And for my second uncharacteristic food-act of the night, I didn’t even go for the remaining piece. Well, I did make a move for some of the extra chocolate shavings on top. I’m only human, after all.

Pumpkin Cake

It was a fantastic way to cap off the weekend!

Other weekend POPIs (Points of Potential Interest): I did, in fact, make it to just short of 4 miles with my pops Saturday morning. Race training forges ahead! I also FINALLY got around to donating four full trashbags of too-big clothing to a thrift store, and I took Daxter to check out Shirlington Dog Park as well. It was great! It’s long and fairly narrow, with lots of trees and TONS of dogs, including lots of small ones for Daxy to play with. The only thing is that it’s relatively far away compared to the dog park I usually go to (which is walkable from my house) so I hope that I can motivate myself to drive my crazy pups out there more often.

What’s your favorite kind of cake? For your birthday or otherwise? I really dug the pumpkin mousse cake that we had for its lightness, and I’m a lover of strawberry as a flavor. But what really takes the cake (ZING!) is the almond-pistachio cake that I had at Icebox Cafe in Miami. Seriously. That cake. Changed. My life.