birthday fiesta

July 12, 2010

Round these parts, we know how to do it up.

It’s been quite the weekend, let me tell you.

It started Friday night with birthday dinner number one for my boy at The Strip Club in Saint Paul. Get your mind out of the gutter. It’s an awesome steak house that not only wins at steaks, but also at cocktails and at life in general. If you’re in the area and have an occasion to celebrate, I suggest you do it up in style there. I ate grilled filet mignon with a ginger, scallion, red chili, sesame and soy sauce. As good as it sounds. Probably better, actually.

Saturday was party time. It featured delicious burgers on the grill with a side of a million bug bites. Ugh. Plus cheeses, breads, olives, hummus, and beer. A lot of beer.

There were also 26 of these:

Magnolia’s Traditional Vanilla Birthday Cupcakes
from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Place paper cupcake papers into a muffin tin
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually, and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition.
  6. Spoon the batter into the cups about three-quarters full.
  7. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched, about 20-22 minutes.
  8. Remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on a rack before icing.

Magnolia’s Traditional Vanilla Butter cream


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • food colouring (optional)


  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and the vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (you may very well not need all of the sugar). If desired, add a few drops of food colouring and mix thoroughly.
  4. Use and store icing at room temperature, as icing will set if chilled. Can store in an airtight container for up to three days.

These are really vanilla-y and really good. The end. Oh except that lighting 26 candles and then walking straight through the breeze of a fan is not advised. I never said I was smooth.

Don’t forget the pinata…there had to be a pinata. Oh! And games! It was game night. Dominoes, baggo, speed scrabble, cribbage and other stuff. So fun.

Sunday was the birthday proper and it brought along a nice late breakfast (it may have been 1pm but it was breakfast, k?) at Al’s. If you live in the Twin Cities and have never been to Al’s then….well, the more fool you. Get yourself there.

Things you should know about Al’s:

> Al’s has been around since 1950.
> Al’s has 14 seats.
> Seriously. There is just one bar that people sit at and a tiny amount of standing room behind them for those waiting.
> The wait can easily be half an hour. Easily. Don’t go hungry. The smells will kill you.
> I drank tons of coffee.
> I ate “fancy scrambled eggs” aka eggs caked in oozy amazing smokey cheese.
> I had a side of hash browns.
> And a side of bacon.
> Oh and I also shared two of their incredible blueberry pancakes with the birthday boy.
> Biking over to watch the world cup final afterwards was….painful? Bloated for sure.

So, yeah. Al’s. Go there sometime.

The foodie fest did not end there. Hell no! Birthdays mean crazy good dinners. That is how we do in this household. To Haute Dish!

This is what Haute Dish says about themselves: “HauteDish is a unique culinary concept that both embraces and reinvents classic Midwestern cuisine”

What does this mean? It means General Tso’s Sweetbreads, Charcuterie made up of amazing pâtés and head cheese. It also means Tater Tot HauteDish with short ribs and fried chicken like nothing you’ve ever tasted. Oh and brie cheesecake. Normal.

Shall we take a smart phone tour? I think so…

Tater Tot HauteDish

Done and doner. I actually licked the plate clean so this is unrepresentative of doneness.

brie cheesecake with crystallized lavender and sour cherries

strawberry lemongrass sorbet

So, yeah. I don’t need to eat ever again. In case you were wondering.

I leave you with one last grainy, late-night look at cake and beer:

Sheer class.

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