Friday, we snuck out of work for lunch and cheese shopping in Concord. At Trail's End Cafe, we loved the meyer lemonade and basil limeade, and their roasted portobello mushroom sandwich with olive tapenade, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and arugula was fantastic. (Just don't bother with the peach gazpacho)
After lunch we drove over to The Cheese Shop, cheese-lovers heaven with towering stacks of cheese wheels, wine, crackers, and other imported goodies. The shop owner helped us choose a Sao Miguel cheese from the Azores off the coast of Portugal, a Brillat-Savarin triple-creme from France, and a firm French goat cheese whose rind is rubbed in Jurancon white wine called Tomme de Chevre au Jurancon.
After work we opened a bottle of wine and teamed up in the kitchen to make Grilled Flank Steak Chimichurri Pinwheels (recipe to follow shortly).
Then to continue the celebration, we curled up on the couch, popped some champagne, and had cheese for dessert using my pretty new Laguiole cheese knives (an early present to go along with the birthday cheese). Such a fun evening!
Saturday we drove up to New Hampshire to visit Kurt and Nina. We spent a laid back afternoon in the pool, grilling, and eating birthday cake, my husband's famous gooey butter cake (fulfilling a promise he made about 3 years ago to make me one for my birthday. Better late than never!).
That evening, we went to the Southern New Hampshire Brewers Festival hosted by White Birch Brewery in Hooksett, NH. We were happy to be back for the second annual festival!
White Birch is a relatively new brewery that's seriously doing it right. The highlights of the festival were the White Birch Berliner Weisse, a sour German wheat ale on cask, a cigar tent thanks to 7-20-4 Cigars, and a smoked (whole) pig served up as delicious tacos from Burrito Me.
The next morning was officially my birthday! And when staying in Manchester, NH there is no finer way to start your birthday than with breakfast from the Red Arrow Diner!
I had their famous pork pie, hash browns, and over-easy eggs. And of course diner coffee. I'm not sure why diner coffee always tastes so good, but boy does it.
After breakfast, we bid Kurt and Nina farewell and drove back to Boston. It was finally time to open presents! I felt truly blessed with so many thoughtful gifts. My husband got me a beautiful new Chemex coffee maker and pourover coffee kettle (the Hario V60 Buono) that I can't wait to play with!
After an afternoon taking to family on the phone and watching a Firefly marathon on tv (it was so nice of the Science channel to schedule that in honor of my birthday), we headed into town for a very special dinner at No. 9 Park.
We love No 9. Park, one of Barbara Lynch's fabulous restaurants (we also have her to thank for our once-in-a-lifetime experience at Menton and for Drink, recently voted as the World's Best Cocktail Bar). We started with their most popular (for good reason) appetizer of prune-stuffed gnocchi with seared foie gras. It's rich and decadent and heavenly. Finally, once all the plates were cleared, we couldn't possibly eat another bite. Full and happy, we took a stroll past the State House and through Boston Common on our way back to the car.What a wonderful birthday weekend, made so special thanks to notes from friends, calls from family, and finally, that dear sweet man I'm married to.