Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Banana splits for lunch

Of course I had to go to bastard work on my birthday, for the first time ever as I recall. It took the edge off the day but at least I managed to guilt everyone into taking me to Baskin Robbins for lunch and singing Happy Birthday to me. Indeed the rendition appeared to carry unusual sincerity and was - in fact and much to my surprise - mildly touching. I had a banana split with Jamoca® (coffee), Winter White Chocolate® (White chocolate ice cream with chocolate-covered cherry pieces and a cherry ribbon) and Tiramisu ice creams, topped with hot (chocolate) fudge sauce, whipped cream, cherries and chopped nuts. Try getting that at Pizza Express. Go on, try, you poor benighted fools. Yes, you may have a free press and democracy, but I've got Baskin Robbins, Ben & Jerry's and the Coldstone Creamery all within wobbling distance. See what a heavy price you pay for your precious ideological principles? Poor saps.

On this culinary theme, my Mum and Dad bought me a KitchenAid Artisan mixer for my birthday. In the purest ginge of course (though they call it tangerine). It's a design classic, essentially the same as it was back in the fifties, blending form, function and ingredients with equal aplomb. It looks great amongst our other ancient appliances and creates a batch of brownie batter far smoother than I can muster in about a quarter of the time. Brownie baking is my new hobby, a quintessentially American art which I intend to master on behalf of the Commonwealth. It takes guts - chutzpah perhaps - to remove that batter from the oven before it's cooked, relying on residual heat and the dark powers of the brownie elves to bring the mixture to a solid but divinely gooey set.

Of course having my birthday on a Monday gave me a good excuse to draw out the festivities over an entire weekend. Friday night took us to Jakes Crawfish - my favourite restaurant in the city; I had a dozen oysters followed by seared tuna and finished up with their upside-down walnut-crusted caramel apple-pie with cinnamon ice-cream. On Saturday we caught up with several back episodes of 24 accompanied by a bottle of Chateau Magdelaine '95. That is probably a first, I would imagine. We also went to the Portland Cat Show. Not as impressive as the Earl's Court equivalent of course, but plenty of handsome specimens to be sure, including several ginger Somalis. There was also an absurdly pointless "agility course"; a fenced-off subsection of the arena where overly optimistic owners attempted to entice their darlings around an obstacle course which would have been somewhat more at home at Crufts. Fences, hoops, a tunnel, steps, a chicane - you know the drill, but the cats don't. They are easily distracted and really can't be bothered anyhow. Enough animated dangling of bright objects on fishing rods eventually gets them around, some minutes later.

On Sunday we went to no less than two Superbowl parties after receiving assurances that we wouldn't have to pay any attention whatsoever to the game. Only in America - or Lewes - could a one hour game take over 3 hours, but at least it gives one plenty of time to survey the canapes. For some reason Safeway had a special on asparagus that morning, $1.75 a bunch as I recall, so I pretty much ate that all day. On my birthday we went for sushi, but had to be back home at 9 for 24 of course.

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