Small Round Foods

Birthday Smorgasbord
Usually for my birthday, I like to go out for sushi. This year, I didn’t really feel like going out, but I still wanted to have a variety of small foods from which to choose. So I pulled out the various recipes for appetizers and sides that I’d bookmarked on Foodgawker and put together a menu of small round foods. I’ve often wanted to do a meal with a few of these, but figured it was a bit odd. As birthday girl, though, I could get away with odd! I enjoy cooking, so this was also something fun for me to do. I spent all Monday afternoon and into early evening cooking each of these small food items. Garlic balls and eggplant balls, zucchini and olive pancakes, shrimp cakes, broccoli tikkis, chicken pieces wrapped in bacon and coated with honey mustard, Asian-flavored meatballs coated in rice, corn, goat cheese and leek fritters, and shrimp salad in phyllo cups. Sparkling wine to accompany it all, of course.

It was a fun way to celebrate a birthday I wasn’t particularly excited about. There was birthday cake, too, of course. A big round food! Last year I had thought about making a German chocolate cake — my favorite — but ended up going the chocolate and raspberry route instead. This year I was determined to make my favorite. It’s not quite the same appearance, but it tastes close enough to keep me happy! So despite the snow that started my day, rather than the bright sunshine I’d been hoping for, the day ended up quite cheerful and fun and delicious. The sun even came out later in the day!
Birthday [Day 66/365]


Yesterday was my birthday and my first one to be celebrated in the Netherlands. Since cake isn’t as popular here as pies and pastries, I figured I’d make my own — although I probably would have made my own, anyway. I’m not a huge fan of baking, but I do enjoy making the occasional cake.

I knew I wanted chocolate cake — it’s my favorite — but I wasn’t sure if I wanted fruit added in somehow, or if I wanted my beloved German Chocolate Cake. Since pecans aren’t as easy to come by here, I decided to go the fruit route. I went with raspberries, since they have a nice subtle tartness that I thought would offset the chocolate. In the end, I made a three-layer chocolate cake (the middle layer had bits of chopped up dark chocolate added in, just because), with raspberry compote between the layers, all topped off with a cream cheese icing. I think icing is the better term, rather than frosting, as the cream cheese mix was a bit on the thin side.

I spent much of the day making the cake — with a pause for Giovanni to surprise me with a fun new watch — and the rest of the afternoon doing very little. As has been the habit now for the past five or six years, we went out for sushi for my birthday dinner. We stopped in at the Potdeksel for a fluitje, while I decided which of the two sushi restaurants to try. Since we had been planning on going to Graaf Floris on the Oude Gracht for an Irish coffee after dinner, I ultimately decided on the restaurant on Voorstraat, since it’s a bit closer to the Oude Gracht. Unfortunately, it’s a small restaurant and there were no tables free for at least half an hour. With that news, we decided to try the new sushi place on Nachtegaalstraat. Fortunately, they had a table and the food was really quite good. It was much better than the sushi we’d had at the restaurant on Mariaplaats.

After a lovely dinner of salmon, tuna and eel, among other things, we decided to head to Graaf Floris to get the much-anticipated Irish coffee. Sadly, as soon as we stepped outside, we realized it was raining quite heavily! None of us had an umbrella and the wind was blowing quite strongly, so we decided to head back to the Potdeksel for an Irish coffee there, instead! At one point, the wind was blowing so strongly that we ended up with the rain blowing sideways, straight into our ears! Fortunately, by the time we left the Potdeksel — the cake was beckoning — the rain had stopped.

We went home and cut into the cake. Delicious, if I say so myself! Well worth the time and effort! In all, my first birthday here was a low-key but pleasant day. In other words, a pretty good birthday!