December 29th, 2012


random catch-up since my birthday

as much as i begged, there was unfortunately no palanquin this year, but joe threw me a lovely belated birthday party with christopher, mika, travis, girlgoth & magnus, landon & his girl, & cowgoesmootwice. we went to shiro's for sushi, where i'd never been. (it's right across the street from marrakesh, so we've never noticed it due to marrakesh tunnel vision &/or marrakesh food coma.) joe & i had their omakase "dinner style", featuring items from their dinner menu, including broiled black cod belly & some particularly exceptional nigiri uni. afterward, we went back to our apartment for cake from macrina bakery:

Tuxedo Cake
A bittersweet chocolate cake moistened with brandy syrup with alternating layers of ganache and white chocolate buttercream. It is frosted with white chocolate cream cheese buttercream topped with chocolate curls.
(two slices are removed in the pic; someone made off with the first before i could take the photo!)

one of joe's coworkers had this same cake for a birthday early this year, & joe had brought me a hunk - it was SO AMAZING i immediately claimed it for my own birthday & made him send a long string of emails to figure out where it had come from. (& yes, i was surprised it didn't say something horrible on it, haha.) testing4l attended remotely as i cut, & 1" slices were plenty; joe bought the 9" & it served everyone, plus three slices for our freezer, two for the fridge, & several more for folks to take home. (sheeep couldn't come due to babysitter issues, but mika brought an unexpectedly hilarious birthday card jes had made for me, & i made sure she received a nice slice in thanks.)

joe gave me the silk comforter, wrapped in silver & black paper with black duct tape accents & a bloody red bow. (he'd ordered the duvet cover i liked earlier in the day.) we played cards against humanity with decreasing attendance until 2am - i lost the game overall, but my two favorite wins were "the miracle of birth is a slippery slope that leads to a pyramid of severed heads" & "instead of coal, santa now gives the bad children a bleached asshole." a good birthday party indeed.

despite the amazing cake, sic737 was too sick to attend, but a week later he took me out to a wonderful dinner at voilà. i had the peppercorn roasted monkfish with lemon shrimp risotto, & swapped bites with chris to finally taste pork safely served medium rare - it was surprising & delicious & somewhat taboo after 30+ years of being told pork cannot be served pink. we split an order of rather good profiteroles for dessert. chris & i just haven't seen nearly enough of each other in the past year, & we decided to improve upon that with a regular Fancy Dinner Night every six weeks; the trick is to always plan the next one at the end of the current one.

a couple weeks later, joe & i finally rode the giant ferris wheel that i see every day from my office window (i charmed our way into five rotations instead of the usual three), & then went to another omakase meal on the cheap at nijo. eight delicious tiny courses, but the most spellbinding was the nasu dengaku - grilled eggplant with sweet miso sauce. OMG SO good, & very timely as i've been experimenting more with eggplant recipes. mid-week date nights rock!

i've found other photos of our china trip popping up here & there. (& yes, the group is respecting my photo-related wishes.) for those who read my travellogues, i'll note who's who.

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so on to our anniversary! first off, yes, i posted Collapse )

i mentioned getting this deal, but we ended up unable to use it as joe can't get into canada for a while. fortunately, travis bought it off us (& the subsequent less-fancy hotel night i'd purchased), so i reworked our anniversary to stay at the queen of the valley inn in their africa room. it was... not great. :/ oh well, they can't all be winners.

we drove up to bow for dinner at the chuckanut manor seafood & grill, which was wonderful. our server there was a total sweetheart, & really entertained by us. they gave us some kind of delicious flat cracker-like bread (like matzo & oyster crackers had a baby) & spinach-artichoke dip to snack on while we decided. we split the appetizer of totten inlet mussels (steamed with lobster tomato saffron broth) & were then brought a really nice 7-grain wheat bread. already near full, we tried to split two mains: the seafood sauté (clams, mussels, prawns, scallops, oyster, dungeness crab, fish, bell pepper, onion, tomato saffron broth) & "today's pacific whitefish", a nicely prepared halibut (mushroom broth, herb salad, caramelized onion, cannellini beans, spanish chorizo). we ended up with a ton of leftovers, & so it only made sense to also order dessert - chocolate toffee mousse cake... to go. we each managed a few bites in the hotel room & saved the rest to go with our leftovers.

the next day, we drove up to bellingham, where i dropped off joe to hike the chuckanuts, & i continued alone up to canada to add to the Grammy Memorial Tattoo. i met up with travis at adorned precision - he came along partly for company & partly because he'll be getting his first tattoo soon & is a bit scared. nomi chi, my artist du jour, put him at ease immediately (though granted travis was fairly well transfixed by her beauty & likely to believe anything she said, haha).

as canada is a country that grammy & i had visited together, we added the name in an "intentional" blue - meaning a shade that doesn't look like a crappy old faded black. nomi & i picked a thick sky blue that'll work with similar blues in other countries to come. a few minutes of her careful work later, i learned how canadian tattoos differ from the US - i was bandaged with tegaderm?! sure, why not. apparently it's a new thing they're doing, & it was suggested i remove it 24 hours later in the shower. chinese stencil oil & canadian tegaderm... this memorial is proving to be technically interesting on top of presenting some cool experiences &, of course, being all kinds of heartwarming.

yes, so! on to the photo:

(for those from the future, the above is a permanent image link for all country additions.)

it's below & to the left of China, still making sure France will fit into the space above. i didn't put it next to China, as i'm sensitive to capital letters, & i don't want to notice weird acronyms when i look at it. i can't wait to find out what will be added next!

travis had backpacked through europe last year, & was pleased to join me to shop at euro-food. he found his favorite coffee & favorite european oatmeal cookies, & i acquired plenty of delicious russian candies & cookies for joe & i to split - & some fancy stone ground mustard as a thok present.

we had lunch at the bellaggio restaurant - holy crap the pollo club was great! chicken, prosciutto, mixed greens, tomato, mozzarella & basil aioli on their homemade flatbread baked in the pizza oven... & served in a reasonable portion size. thank you, canada.

after that, i drove back to the states. the guard at the border crossing was VERY interested in my new tattoo (they ask why you were in canada) & kind of neglected to check my ID - eh, i guess it doesn't matter who comes into the US anymore. i'd arranged a coffeehouse north of the mountain as the pick-up point, with the understanding that joe would text me if he arrives first, or i'd text him when i arrive, then hang out with the wifi & wait for him to report that he's down off the mountain. then i'd collect him on the road (with a nice warm mocha in hand) so he could avoid the boring street stomp back into town. he got there first by a couple hours, so i couldn't mocha surprise him, but i made it only a few minutes after our estimated meet-up time of six. the coffeehouse closed AT six, but the d&d geek shop next door was open, so we met there to compare notes of the day & look ridiculously out of place & adorable. for two very independent people, we missed each other more than is polite to say... but hey, it was our first time being separated by international borders.

we made it home without incident & sleepily played bioshock 2 until i had no more consciousness left.

what else? oh yes, i did this:

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& here are some random gudu pics, including joe, me, & the return of kitchenbutt!