Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Guess who's officially approaching her thirties now!!!

Okay, well... technically I just turned twenty - but that means the next big one is the 3-0.  As you can tell, I'm already experiencing the quarter life crisis.

You know what helps?  A day full of your all-time favorite things to celebrate another year :)

So... Sister and I went to Costco yesterday.  And, of course, we had to pick up a Vanilla and Butter Cream sheet cake that feeds 48 -- or possibly 6 hungry people.  We broke into the birthday cake after dinner last night because we just had to.  I mean, we kind of needed a head start.

This morning was spent running around.

Easy 10 miles spent listening to my new favorite Glee songs!!
Chiropractor appointment.

Picked up Sister and headed to one of my all-time favorite restaurants: PANERA BREAD.

I don't know what it is... but Panera's had my heart for a little over three years now.  I think they caught me with that cinnamon crunch bagel and reeled me in with the Thai Crunch Salad and Half a Tuna Sandwich on Honey Whole Wheat.  I wish it was "You Pick 4 and 1/2 a baguette" instead of the you pick two...

Then we went grocery shopping for some ingredients -- it's Christmas Cookie TIME!
What?  How did these end up in our cart... and then my mouth?

Follow up cookie baking with a nap and Crazy, Stupid Love? and my birthday was already perfect.  Howeverrrr -- we had some prime reservations for Birthday Dinner!!!

I had Yelped "Best Carrot Cake" in San Diego.... and I chose my restaurant based on the cake alone.  Little did I know that the food would be just as spectacular.

Truluck's in La Jolla -- best seafood and steak ever.

Any place that starts you off with a warm loaf of some whole wheat nut bread and a loaf of french bread is already a winner in my book.  While we munched, we analyzed the menu (there were wayyy too many amazing choices... it took me longer than a minute!)

I had some great company, which is truly what made my birthday special.
Mom and Arnie (Arnie treated us to this divine meal sent from God himself).

Gram and Ryan (Gram was obviously too excited to sit still).

Sister!! We got those Twilight eyes going on...

After we ordered our appetizers and our entrees, it was time to open my presents! I already opened presents from my mom (VITAMIXER!!!) and my sister (KATE SPADE WALLET SET!)

But I got this ultra cool apron from my Grams:

A really gorgeous Alex and Ani Ring from my mom (she spoils me) -- although she was more excited about her pro wrapping job than the present itself.

And GODIVA CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES + Jamba juice + Starbucks gift cards from Brother! Obviously my family knows me well...

Our appetizers arrived just as we were done goofing around.
We ordered some Salt and Pepper Calamari with this amazing sweet & sour sauce... the calamari literally melted in your mouth!

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes which were probably the best thing I've ever had.  Well, until our entrees came... the crab cakes were basically all fresh and buttery crab meat (very little bread crumbs), which is a sign of some high-quality cakes!

Sweet potato fries -- which are always delicious!

Just judging from the appetizers, we knew we were going to be in for a treat once our main courses rolled around.  The waitstaff informed us that all of the seafood had been fresh caught within the last 24 hours, never frozen, and caught by their own boat & crew.  Straight from the sea to my dinner plate?  This place was top-notch!

Sister and Mom ordered the jumbo shrimp with roasted brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and portabella mushrooms. Look at the size of those babies!! WOW.

I ordered the Cioppani -- stewed tomatoes in an herb sauce with mussels, fresh fish, calamari, and shrimp.  Grilled bread for dipping! Um the mussels were so big we were joking that they were genetically altered... kind of like Frankenstein.  And the fish was falling apart in my mouth! AH!

We also got two orders of Crab Cake Mac and Cheese for side orders.  Okay, this is one of the most decadent and most delicious things I've probably ever had!  Home made, creamy mac and cheese with some buttery crab cakes mixed in?  Winner.

Brother got the South African Lobster and Gram got the Miso Glazed Sea Bass with Crab Fried Rice -- I think Arnie got the Seared Ahi Tuna, all of which I sampled and fell in love with.  There honestly wasn't a single "loser" dish!

Our waiter - Andrew - surprised me with a birthday card signed by all of the cooks and waitstaff who made my meal AND a chocolate cupcake and a carrotcake cupcake!

I made a pretty great wish and I'm hoping it comes true this year :)
If not, there's always my back up plan: live in my wealthy and successful sister's basement with her dog and her future husband....

You would think we would be either stuffed or content with our jumbo cupcakes... but there was no way I was going to miss out on dessert.  After all, that was the reason we came in the first place!

Coconut Cream Pie with a Shortbread Crust and Whipped Topping. This was perfectly dense and fluffy AND the shortbread cookie crust was kind of to die for... Mom dominated this sucker.

My Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Candied Pecans, and Caramel Sauce. UM, Arnie almost lost a finger when he tried to get a bite from me -- sorry, Arnie! -- I was all over this dessert.  This is the carrot cake that dreams are made of. 

And the "Chocolate Sack" -- a container made of semi-sweet chocolate and filled with sweet cream, pound cake cubes, fresh berries, whipped cream, and chocolate morsels. Topped with melted milk chocolate. 

OH MY GOOOOOODNESS.  I kept joking that if we died and went to heaven, I'd have to request two burial plots because I would no longer fit into just one.  Damn desserts... sooo good.

There was some joking around after dinner, as usual.
And some family photos!

Over all, I'd have to say this was truly a special night, thanks to a perfect dinner and my perfect family.  To be honest, I could have eaten at McDonald's with this group of people and still enjoyed every moment...


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