Sunday, November 15, 2009

Family and friends: the makings of a delicious weekend!

The best part about birthdays, aside from the celebration, is how much they serve to remind me how blessed my life truly is. I was fortunate enough to spend a great weekend filled with friends, family (who came in from out of town!), and a lot of laughter. Each of those aspects alone would have been enough to make me a happy girl, but, to top it all off, I got to partake in some really fine dining! Now, that is the mark of a truly extraordinary birth"day" (weekend)!

One of the most rewarding parts of my weekend, was the occasion for me to see how far I have truly come this year in my relationship with food. Unlike years past, just because it was my birthday-weekend didn't mean that I used that as an excuse to splurge every time I sat down to a meal. Instead, I stuck with a well-balanced, nutritious diet. I certainly allowed room for indulgence, but I chose my treats more carefully, and consequentially, enjoyed them more completely!

I argue that having a birthday on a Saturday is good reason to celebrate the entire weekend. So, naturally, that is exactly what I did... until, whoops, back to reality on Sunday. Supposedly, professors don't agree with my theory of weekend-long celebrations.

Friday Night
Dempsey's Irish Pub and Gourmet Burger Stand.

Friday night I met some friends downtown for a casual dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Dempsey's. The atmosphere is a perfect blend of laid-back and energetic. We were able to play some pool, throw some darts, watch our team go onto another basketball victory, and enjoy some of the best food in town. The Pub is operated by the same people who own a high-end gourmet restaurant in town. They opened Dempsey's up to offer what is still gourmet food at moderate prices and in a relaxed environment... and I'm grateful for it!

Romesco Burger Salad:
A veggie-lentil burger patty topped with roasted red pepper sauce, feta cheese, slivered almonds, and green beans.
Served atop a bed of romaine and micro-greens with pickled onions and cauliflower.
Dressed with a citrus vinaigrette.

I've been to Dempsey's before, but, despite the amazing menu, I simply cannot bring myself to order anything else! This burger salad is pure perfection! I almost completely satisfied with my meal... though I'll admit to stealing a few sweet potato fries and truffle fries from friends. Hey, I just needed to approve!

After dinner, the group headed over to one of my friend's houses to hang out for a while. A few hours later, people were beginning to feel hungry again. Since I was yet to indulge in dessert (and by that time it was technically my birthday), I considered it acceptable to go out for a treat... and, in the moment, nothing sounded better than pancakes! Without having to do much convincing, everyone agreed to go over to the local IHOP; somehow, pancakes places after midnight become so much better!
Whole-Wheat Create-a-Face Pancake:
bananas, strawberries, yogurt, whipped cream, and sugar-free syrup.
This is before I added the yogurt "hair"!

Though a slightly boisterous bunch (everyone in IHOP was informed it was my birthday), we quickly made friends with the waitress. She agreed to allow me to break the rules a bit by ordering a whole-wheat create-a-face-pancake. Definitely a great way to kick off a new year of life!

In preparation for a big day ahead, I turned in shortly after IHOP. Birthday morning, I woke up and went on one of the best runs of my life. I've actually had to overcome a lot of obstacles with running, and it's been a long time since I've felt confident enough to call myself a "runner." However, the weather was perfect, my music selection was upbeat, and I had enough determination not to allow myself to cop out early... I ended up running my fastest 5K in years, and felt great doing it. Honestly, it was the highlight of my entire weekend.

That afternoon my family got in from out of town to go to the big rivalry football game. Eating throughout the day was a little more sporadic than I usually prefer, but, distracted by catching up with family, it didn't really bother me. After a close game, but unfortunately loss, my family cleaned up and went downtown for dinner. Again having the luxury of getting to chose where to eat, I opted for bit more formal restaurant called Genovese.

The food was, as always, absolutely amazing. However, the portions are mostly family style, and everyone dug in before I thought to take any pictures. I ended up splitting a butter-leaf salad with artichoke hearts and vinaigrette with my mom. Despite some great meal options, I couldn't resist ordering a side of roasted butter nut squash. It wasn't exactly stepping outside my comfort zone, but it was absolutely delicious. Fortunately, I was able to steal a few bites of my sister's spinach fettuccine with peas and light cream sauce and my mom's spinach and cheese ravioli.

My parents not-too-deceptively schemed with the waiter to bring me a dessert topped with a candle. I wasn't about to argue; what is a birthday without a chance to blow out a candle, anyway?

Raspberry Torte with Pistachio Crumb Topping... post-birthday candle.

My family follow suite and ordered a few more desserts to split amongst the table. I gladly shared my dessert for exchange of a bite of my mom's creme brulee and dad's vanilla gelato.

So ended a great night, and even better weekend. And, it was all without post-meal splurging regrets!

Maybe getting older really does mean getting wiser...

1 comment:

  1. Happy belated! Love your IHOP story—everyone needs one, it makes your college experience complete!