Happy birthday to me
Saturday was my birthday, a day that I seem to remember looking forward to a lot more than I do now. Orbiting the sun 42 times changes your perspective on things like that I guess. Perhaps I should heed the words of one of my friends, who reminded me that, at my advanced age, I should celebrate each birthday heartily, because it was a miracle that I made to another one. Um, thanks.
Anyway, a birthday is really just a good excuse to get a baby sitter and hit up my three favorite places in Orlando, starting with Park Ave CDs, where I loitered in the vinyl stacks as long as my patient wife could stand it. I walked out with The Clash eponymous’ effort and a wish list that is several pages long.
After quenching the vinyl jones it was off to our reservation at Ravenous Pig (shocking, I know). I’ve written literally thousands of words in praise of the Pig, so why not do it again? I’ll at least give you a somewhat abbreviated version this time. I started the evening off as is my custom there with their Ravenous Old Fashion, which has bacon infused bourbon. I get a little giddy just writing that and seeing it in print: bacon fat infused bourbon. So good.
After a short but pleasant wait in the bar we were seated promptly at 7:30 and immediately put in orders for two of our favorites, the Gruyere biscuits and a charcuterie, a big, beautiful carnivorous cutting board filled with house-made meats, cheeses, mousse, and an utterly fantastic jar of pickled, curried cauliflower. Any trip to the Pig that you make without ordering one of these is any opportunity missed. Just lovely.
I later told my friend Rob that I really enjoyed the mousse. He replied, “Hmmm, I’ve never had that but I hear it is good,” thinking that I was talking about moose, like Bullwinkle. After I explained it was really chicken liver whipped up into a creamy, frothy goodness he visibly gagged, recovered enough to smile weakly and then said something like, “Oh yeah….” before trailing off and quickly looking into another direction. What can I say, I dig the offal.
We spent a good bit of time leisurely enjoying the charcuterie, before deciding on two small plates for dinner, an appetizer order of smoked lamb ribs and a half order of potato gnocchi with scallops. Both were exceptional and just the right size.
I always prefer this type of small plate dining, where you get small portions of several dishes instead of a Man vs. Food style portion, and Ravenous Pig excels at this type of experience, which is one of the reasons I enjoy their tasting/pairing dinners so much (though they currently do offer a mammoth 20 ounce pork porterhouse that will challenge even the most adventurous of eaters.) I highly recommend ordering a couple of different small plate options and sharing amongst the table for getting the most bang and flavor for your buck.
It being my birthday, of course we had a dessert: we ordered the BPOTGs (Bread Pudding of the Gods). The folks at Ravenous Pig aren’t conceited enough to name this dish as such but I am doing it for them since I absolutely adore a good bread pudding and this is miles beyond anything you can get in Orlando (and I say that with utmost respect and much admiration to the previous title holder, Kevin Dundon’s Ragland Road).
After dinner we met up with some friends for a night cap at the best beer bar in Orlando, Redlight, Redlight. Some fine craft and import drafts were had, including a vintage tapping of Terrapin’s Wake n’ Bake (a 2009 keg maybe? The details are fuzzy) as well as the MWF Sour Ale (details definitely a little fuzzy there, I may be making that name up completely. Gordon, any help?). Good times all around and before you know it they were kicking us out into the cold Florida night. I snagged a couple of photos before we left, and even consented to have a rare photo of me taken to mark the occasion.
Anyway, it was a really fun night, even though it is becoming more apparent that I’m too old to be closing down bars. Doing it once a year is good for your soul though. Now it’s on to a couple of short fitness rides this week in preparation for my first half century ride attempt on Saturday. Should be interesting, but I’m looking forward to kicking the training into high gear. I should mention that is the last high end food and drink post I’m making for a while, as chicken liver mousse and sour ales aren’t included in the training diet that I’m implementing between now and the end of April. So you’ll need to get your food porn elsewhere for a while.