Woohoo! Break out the confetti and bring on the cake! It’s Birthday Week in our house!
This past weekend, we celebrated my husband’s birthday. Later this week, we celebrate my son’s birthday. We have a lot to be thankful for, our little family, and I’m always grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the lives of these two amazing boys in my life.
Make This Chocolate Tart
And as we do, we celebrate with something deliciously sweet to start. My husband is a HUGE fan of chocolate, and instead of a layer cake, this year I made a chocolate tart for his birthday.
For once, I actually followed a recipe almost to the exact ingredients and measurements. I made the Chocolate Tart recipe from Gourmet magazine (September 2008), except I didn’t have chocolate graham crackers, so I made a quick and easy substitution.
SUBSTITUTION TIP: if you don’t have chocolate graham crackers but you do have regular honey or cinnamon graham crackers, simply add a tablespoon or so of unsweetened cocoa powder, plus an additional teaspoon of sugar and one more tablespoon of melted butter to the original chocolate graham cracker crust recipe.
This chocolate tart recipe is probably my favorite. It’s dense, but not too thick that you can’t dig into it easily. It’s rich and sweet but not too sweet. It’s the perfect mix of textures with a creamy rich filling, nice ganache glaze, and sweet, slightly crunchy crust.
Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill
The kids and I took my husband out to the Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill for lunch. It’s one of the few places closer to our house that we frequent. The food is good, the service is spotty (and I take great issue with the ridiculous lack of clothing their female waitresses wear there, but that’s a rant for another day), but they have a good kids’ menu, there are always lots of families there, and their prices are decent.
We love the pretzels and the bacon-wrapped prawn appetizers.
They have a good selection of beers, ciders, and wines. I loved the Wyder’s Dry Cider; here, they serve it with a slice of pear and it’s perfectly refreshing for hot days.
The kids went to their grandparents’ house for a sleepover that night, so Alain and I could have a night on the town for his birthday.
We kicked off the evening celebrations in style, thanks to Blacklane Limos.
When Blacklane Limousines approached me to try out their services, I knew that my husband’s birthday would be the perfect occasion.
Founded in Germany, Blacklane Limos offers premier chauffeur service in 140 cities in 47 countries. Making reservations online was super fast and easy: simply put in your pick-up location and destination, the dates, and times, and the site will calculate your price for you. Within 36 hours of our reservations, I received an email confirmation. Then, an hour before our reservation start time, I received another email and a text stating that our driver was on his way. Exciting!!
Ten minutes prior to our reservation start time, this sweet Platinum edition Escalade pulled up to our street.
The car featured clean and comfortable leather seats, individual entertainment systems, a spacious third row, great sound system, and comfortable air conditioning.
Our driver was friendly and welcoming, and after some chit chat, we were off for the birthday boy’s celebration!
Ringside Fish House
Once again, I requested that they have a Vesper martini for the birthday boy when we arrived, and once again, they happily complied. Hubby was happy: apparently, Ringside Fish House makes the best Vesper martini in town (thanks, Ringside friends!!).
They also left another nice birthday note. While we were there, parties kept passing us discussing birthdays and anniversaries. Looks like our favorite special occasion spot is also popular with many others in Portland!
Dinner was, as it always is here, impeccably done. The Maine Lobster Soup was delicious.
Three extra large, perfectly Seared Dayboat Scallops were served on a bed of sweet corn, red peppers, fava beans, and crisp pancetta with basil oil. This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite classic combos, and Ringside Fish House does this exceptionally well. Days later, I am still salivating over the thought of these scallops.
We also enjoyed a 2011 St. Innocent Pinot Blanc, and were so pleased to discover what is sure to be a new favorite wine for us. The 2011 is interestingly so much crisper and brighter than the 2012 (yes, we had a 2012 to start . . but hey, it’s his birthday, and we weren’t driving! Cheers, folks!). We happily corked the remaining half bottle of 2011 St. Innocent Pinot Blanc and took it home. Can’t wait to get our hands on more of this delicious Willamette Valley wine!
From a well-lit, subdued and sophisticated intimate dinner to a disco-light, black interior, loud karaoke spot with 10 of our dearest friends. That’s how we do birthdays, folks.
When we go out to karaoke with friends, we have one rule: no videos. So you’ll just have to trust me when I say that we had a great time, and if you’re looking for a great karaoke spot where you can sing in a private room with good friends without Weirdo Slimeball Regular Karaoke Guy leering at you from the corner of the bar (there is always at least one, am I right?), you will LOVE Voicebox. There are two locations in Portland: one in Southeast and one in Northwest.
Voicebox allows you to bring in your own cupcakes or cake for birthdays, so I brought the rest of our chocolate tart, which went well with the house Syrah and the house Malbec. Just so you know in case you bring in your own chocolate cupcakes or cake when you visit ;)
Many Thanks to Blacklane Limousine!
Our Blacklane driver was very accommodating when our party ran over by an hour, thanks to the unexpected arrival of another dear friend — who later finessed their way into another stranger’s birthday party with 1/4 of our party. I LOVE our friends! They’re so much fun. Seriously, we won the lottery in the friends department; as hectic and wack-a-doodle as life gets, our friends keep us smiling and laughing.
So an hour later than planned, our guy got us home safe and sound, and it was so nice to not have to worry about driving after a fun night on the town with the birthday boy and our dearest friends. I would definitely recommend Blacklane for not just helping to make birthday celebrations and anniversaries extra special, but even for those before-sunrise drives to the airport when you’re traveling, or to pick up special guests from the airport who are arriving during work hours. Their service is truly top notch, the car and driver were fabulous, and I’d use them again for sure. Tell them Marlynn at Urban Bliss Life sent you! ;)
Now onto Birthday Celebration #2 . . .
And now, we look to my son’s birthday tomorrow. He turns 10. TEN! Double digits! I still have to write his birthday letter, and do some prep for his birthday party this weekend. He’s having a Legends of Chima party, and I’ll be posting more about that next month.
In the meantime, I’m going to offer a pre-emptive apology if I am slower on responding to emails and posting as often as I normally do over the next month Work has stepped up several notches and my crazy schedule just got c-r-a-z-i-e-r. In a very GOOD way! But, I promise to be here on the blog as often as I can. There are a LOT of fantastic things that I do already have planned for you on this blog in the coming months . . . can’t wait to share! Here’s to a busy and exciting June ahead!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blacklane Limousines. Thanks so much to the kind and generous folks at Blacklane limousines for helping to make my husband’s birthday a safe and fun night out! All opinions and photos are, as always, my own. I wouldn’t write about them, if I wouldn’t recommend them.