The Birthday Festivities Continue!
Topic: Personal Commentary
As is the tradition during the International Week of Aron’s Birthday, we delivered meals to shut-ins after the kick-off parade. Our friend Claire recently had surgery so Suzanne and I volunteered to prepare a few items. The Wife was on deck to prepare her Suzanne’s World Famous Cheese Grits. I’d be grilling up Aron’s Regionally Acclaimed Pork Tenderloin.
When I arrived home from the airport late Friday evening, I was greeted with the warm, cinnamon goodness of freshly baked apple cake.
“You baked me a cake!” I exclaimed with exuberant glee as I dropped my bags.
“No,” Suzanne said. “That’s for Claire.”
I came around the corner into the kitchen finding the beautiful apple cake cooling on the rack. My bride had used our cathedral cake pan providing it a divine aspect that mandated appreciation and consumption.
To do less would have been a sin against God and nature.
“I thought she was getting grits and tenderloin?” I asked.
“She is,” Suzanne answered, “But after our chat earlier today, I thought I’d make her an apple cake, too.”
The Wife and I spoke that morning regarding her mother. My mother-in-law, Bettye, passed away many years ago. I know her only from stories that Suzanne and her sisters share. She’s a woman I’d like to have known.
Bettye is the namesake of our Rat Terrier.
Friday was my mother-in-law’s birthday. She’d have been 73 years old. I asked what kind of birthday cake Bettye would have liked. Suzanne thought on this answering a chocolate cake. Or an apple cake.
Mmmm. Apple cake.
That’s all the nudging Suzanne needed. Cake baking ensued.
“But it’s my birthday,” I complained reaching for the knife to cut off a hunk.
The Wife’s eyes went black, fixing me in her gaze. Receiving such scrutiny from her is to know the dread fear of the mouse before the cobra. “That’s for Claire.”
I set the knife down, deciding to try another tactic, “Does she know she’s getting an apple cake?”
“Then I can have this!” I smiled.
“It’s for Claire.”
Sighing, I accepted the inevitable and resolved myself to a cakeless weekend, absent of the warm joy only apple cake can bring.
The tenderloin grilled up beautifully. Some terrific caramelization. Claire’s meal was at risk. For long moments I entertained the meal we were providing. Much like Hitler eyeing the Sudetenland, I considered annexing Claire’s meal. Tenderloin, cheese grits, and apple cake. How mighty and wonderful the empire of my belly would be with such a sumptuous feast!
Unlike Chamberlain, Suzanne was quick to disabuse me of the notion. No policy of appeasement here.
Suzanne and I aren’t glory hounds. We’re not about the publicity. Against our publicist’s urgings, we delivered Claire’s meal sans paparazzi.
After that, the Wife took me over to Turtle Creek for lunch at Sushi Zushi.
Now, I’ve long been an ardent fan of home town favorite Piranha. Bar none, Piranha has the best sushi anywhere. In my opinion, their signature rolls are the finest, freshest, tastiest sushi on the planet.
Paradigm shift time.
Piranha is now my second favorite sushi place.
Sushi Zushi made a great first impression. The restaurant is chic, stylish and well-appointed. More important, they have Kirin Ichiban on tap.
I had the big glass.
Suzanne and I started off with Sushi Zushi’s Gyoza, a pan-seared Japanese pot-sticker. These dumplings were delicious having a slight crunch where they had been kissed by the heat of the pan. The pork filling was a savory delight.
We scarfed them pretty quick.
We ordered three sushi rolls for lunch: the Cosimo Roll, the New York Roll, and the Godzilla Roll.
Our waiter was complimentary of our order, stating that he didn't need to recommend anything to us because we have impeccable taste. While this is true, I usually feel that the waiter is blowing smoke up my kilt when saying something like this. But in retrospect, I think he was sincere. Because lunch was freakin' amazing!
The Cosimo features fried shrimp, avocado & cream cheese, rolled uramaki with a tempura finish. It's topped with "Tampa Bay Sauce, Eel Sauce and Sesame Seeds." The bottom of each piece is flash fried providing a hot on the bottom, cold on top finish. Fantastic!
The New York Roll combines unagi eel, avocado & cream cheese. It too is rolled uramaki style with chunks of crab, Kani-Kama Tempura on the outside and covered with eel sauce. Again, most wonderful.
The Godzilla Roll, the terror of the dinner table, was my favorite of this sushi triumverate. Fried crawfish, cream cheese, Toreado Serrano Chiles, chives, wrapped in avocado and topped with spicy Sriracha sauce combined for a truly spectacular flavor. One of the benefits of supping on sushi for me is the clear sinsuses the wasabi provides. Between the serrano peppers and the Sriiacha sauce, this one set this Texas boy with a taste for heat on fire. Hello Kirin Ichiban!
I still love my Piranha, but Sushi Zushi is my new favorite.
Afterwards, Suzanne browsed around World Market while I made a quick pass through Zeus. Then it was off to the Meadows Museum.
I've lived in north Texas all my life and I am a little embarassed to say that I have never been to the Meadows Museum. It is situated on the campus of Southern Methodist University. I always had a vague idea of where it is, but had this unfounded notion that it's a tiny gallery displaying less than fantastic works.
Oh how wrong I have been.
It's a large, beautiful facility with spacious galleries. There were several collections on display such as Tile Design in Valencia: From the Middle Ages through the Early Twentieth Centure (interesting) and A Tribute to Texas Art (sucked hard). But the stand out show was Medieval & Early Renaissance Spain: Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Centuries old retables from spanish altars adorned these walls. Bold textures and delicately detailed tempera on wood boasted God's magnificence. I could have gazed upon these masterpieces for hours. Simply and utterly stunning.
We returned home where I complained about the continued absence of a cake. Suzanne apologized and soon both of us fell asleep on the couch. The plan had been to head out to Fort Worth for mexican food, but as I groggily wakened I asked Suzanne if she still wanted to go out.
"I'd be happy ordering take out," I said with a yawn.
Suzanne shrugged, "I dunno."
"Either way," I said.
We wound up heading out for tacos and cerveza. Suzanne had her sights set on a margarita.
We arrived at The Original Mexican Eats Cafe. I was pleased to find that there was actually a place to park up front. Usually, that's not the case on a saturday night.
I was starving, so I was annoyed to see that Suzanne was steeing us to the bar.
"Let's get our drinks at the table," I complained. "I'm hungry."
"Well we could do that," Suzanne acknowledged, "Or we could go to your surprise party!"
I was greeted by something in the order of twenty-two friends and family members.
Before long, I had a big Dos Equis in my hand and was mingling with the crowd.
Carole, on the left, came in all the way from Mexico just to see me! Okay, maybe she came to the States to see her daughter Susan, on the right, but then she came to see me!
Lisa (left) and Irene (right) patiently await more guacamole.
From left to right, Suzanne's sister Teri, our brother-in-law Greg, and our niece Monica.
Well, now I feel bad. I gave Suzanne hell all day long about their being no cake. There was cake. Red Velvet cake from Arlington's Red Oven.
I am presented with an image of myself next to the Millenium Falcon with signed comments from party attendees. Gary's on the left and Rodger's shaking my hand.
Towards the end of the evening, we had gotten a bit goofy. Left to right, Rodger, Gary, The Birthday Boy, The Wife, Julie, and Greg (we had two Gregs in attendance).
I later came to learn that Suzanne had been coordinating this whole affair since July. She never tipped her hand, which is amazing since in our almost eight years of marriage she has been unable to keep a secret from me. When she was planning our surprise destination vacation a few years ago, she let slip, "Well, when we're in Santa Fe... D'oh!"
She's grown much sneakier since then.
She coordinated a rather sly, covert op assigning Gary to gather the cake and Irene to decorate and play hostess until we arrived.
I didn't have a clue, not even an inkling that The Wife had been planning such an extravaganza. What a terrific gathering of folks. I'm blessed with a great bunch of people in my life, most especially Suzanne who - despite all the many ways I irritate her - loves me very much.
Thank you, Suzanne, for the best birthday ever.
I love you!
Posted by Aron Head
at 11:06 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, 27 October 2007 11:46 PM CDT