Well, that was a birthday weekend. And somewhere in there, I actually found the time to complete two recipes! They both barely count as recipes, but so does about 50% of this book, so let’s take what we can get.
On Friday, I was let out of work at noon in honor of my birthday, and, not two minutes after leaving the office, I was in a liquor store. Gwyneth DEMANDED that I buy the highest quality tequila, but I wasn’t willing to spend upwards of $60 on a bottle of tequila (arguably my least-favorite liquor), so I got some 1800 and decided that was good enough.
I also stopped at a grocery store to get some agave nectar and limes, as well as a six-pack of Hop Czar, which is a fantastic beer and shame on you for not having tried it yet. Friday, by the way, was probably the nicest day Portland has seen since last summer, and I have to admit, I felt like a bit of a stud, strutting around the city on my birthday, with a completely free afternoon ahead of me, a six-pack of beer in one hand and a bottle of tequila in the other. Either that, or I looked like someone who was just fired from his job and was going home to drown his sorrows.
The beginning of a lot of really terrible decisions. Thanks, Gwyneth.
When I got home, I started to work on Margarita Granita, the only alcoholic recipe in Gwyneth’s book. I juiced a few limes and mixed the lime juice, a bit of zest from one lime, agave nectar, and tequila in a pie pan. Then I stuck it in the freezer, and that was basically it. A laughably easy recipe, once again. You just freeze the granita for an hour, and scrape it with a fork. Keep freezing it for two more hours, scraping with a fork every 15 minutes. This is kind of obnoxious, but at the end of three hours, you’re left with what’s basically a margarita slushy.
Sam got off of work and came over, and she, Lindsey, and I enjoyed the granitas, which were awesome. I mean, margaritas are always delicious, but the agave nectar really added to the taste. I bought too many limes, and I have nearly full bottles of agave nectar and tequila, so I certainly plan on making more of these in the future.
And then, birthday mayhem followed. Happy hour for more magaritas, followed by a night out downtown. Things get blurry from here (I mean, I did start drinking at 3 PM), and I’m not going to go into the details because, come on, my grandma reads this thing, but a lot of fun was had by all. Someone who will remain unnamed definitely did a lot of vomiting, and that same person may or may not have peed in sinks in two separate bars. I may have gotten cut off at the last bar we went to, which is the first time that has ever happened to me. And on the ride home, I was later informed, my friends shouted out the car windows, “WE HAVE A BLOGGER IN THE CAR!” which, you have to admit, is a pretty hilarious thing to scream about. And that’s all I’ll say about Friday night.
Saturday, I was obviously in terrible shape. But somehow I got dragged to the Farmer’s Market, where a breakfast burrito made me feel slightly better. I retrieved $60 from the ATM, fully planning on dropping a lot of money on either crab, lobster, or duck, figuring it would hurt a lot less if I did it when I was experiencing such an extreme hangover. However, there was no lobster to be found, and the only crabs I saw were dead (Gwyneth specifically insists your crabs MUST be alive for a recipe, because I guess she’s a sadist).
I then approached a butcher and tried a long-shot: “Do you have any duck bacon?” I asked. “What?” she responded, looking at me like I was insane. “Um, never mind. Do you have any whole ducks?” She informed me that they usually do, but right now the ducks are too small, holding out her hands to helpfully suggest the image of a tiny, baby duckling in the palm of her hand. “In about a month, they’ll have grown enough to eat,” she said. This HORRIFIED me. I mean, I know where my food comes from, and I know the meat I eat was at one point alive, but I’ve never had it made so visual. Right now, somewhere out there is a cute little duckling, happily quacking along beside its mother, completely unaware that it’s destined to get its head chopped off, only to be begrudgingly purchased by me, after which it will be cooked, dissected, and consumed, and that’s only if I don’t completely screw it up and end up having to throw it in the garbage. And all of this because the lady married to the dude from Coldplay decided to write a cookbook. The world is a cruel, awful place, little duckling, and I’m sorry for your future.
Long story short, no duck today. I went to another butcher’s shop on Sunday and inquired, and he said I could get a duck with some advanced warning, but that they don’t have them in-store this time of year, because, “No one wants to cook a duck when it’s hot outside.” Thank you for your veiled patronization, sir, but some of us have no choice.
Anyway, Saturday night was our book club meeting, where we were discussing our latest book, Jay-Z’s autobiography (entirely coincidental, but Jay-Z and Gwyneth do happen to be good friends, or so they claim, so at this point it seems like my entire life is sated with Gwyneth Paltrow). Pulled pork was on the menu, and we needed coleslaw. Well, Gwyneth to the rescue! I offered to make Deli Coleslaw, thereby knocking out another recipe.
Unfortunately, this meant I finally had to track down some Vegenaise. Ugh. The company’s website informed me Whole Foods would have it, so I went on down to Whole Foods and looked around. Of course, they didn’t. Ever since this project began, I’ve made sure to inspect every grocery store I enter for Vegenaise, but I have yet to see it. Gwyneth also says that you can’t find Vegenaise in London yet, so what are the chances that anyone will be able to find the crap in their hometown? And if Whole Foods doesn’t even carry it, there’s truly no hope for any of us. I’ll keep looking around Portland, because someone has got to carry it in this vegan-crazy town, but I’m not optimistic. Thankfully, Whole Foods at least had a knockoff brand (Nayonaise, an even dumber name than Vegenaise), so I just purchased that. I still had a massive headache, and was in no mood to cavort around the city in pursuit of fucking Vegenaise. I’ll need to make the slaw again at a later date, so I’ll have a chance to redeem myself for the Vegenaise loyalists.
The slaw was only marginally more work than the margaritas. I grated a head of cabbage and a carrot, and mixed it up with the stupid Nayonaise, some salt, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. Then I let it “get to know itself” (ugh, Gwyneth, really?) in the fridge for a couple hours, until it was time to eat. People seemed to enjoy the slaw, although I found the taste of the fake mayo to be kind of off-putting. Other than that, I mean, it was just basic coleslaw. Nothing special, but perfectly adequate on top of pulled pork.
I also finally got to go to Tasty n Sons yesterday morning for brunch, which is notoriously difficult to eat at, since they were recently rated Portland’s restaurant of the year or whatever. There is literally a line stretching down half the block before the doors even open in the morning, and your wait time will be anywhere from an hour to three. They only take reservations for groups of six or more, so we organized a group that large and made reservations almost a month ago. They warned us that if we were even a MINUTE late, or if we didn’t have every single member of our party, we wouldn’t be eating. You also have to have a secret code or something that they give you? It was all very covert, and once we informed the hostess we had arrived and she verified we had all members of our party, she whispered in the ear of a server, and we were granted entry. Um, relax, Tasty n Sons? It’s just breakfast. Clearly, Tasty n Sons is managed by a relative of the Soup Nazi. Anyway, the food was great. A million nice things have been said about that place, so I don’t want to be redundant. But, yeah, a highly enjoyable place to eat brunch, as long as you don’t mind waiting a long time or jumping through a convoluted series of hoops.
And that, my friends, was my birthday weekend. Yikes.