Happy Birthday to Me!
Yes, today I'm another year older. No, I won't tell you how old I am.
It's been a busy week. I've been off for three days, back to work tomorrow. Not sure I'm quite ready though! But I'm happy I was able to take time off. It's been really nice. Wednesday I tried to clean the house, and I started on my birthday cake. Thursday I spent with one of my friends. We walked and shopped, had dinner out. Got comped desserts, though we didn't say anything about my birthday. The things you can get when you wink at the server (thanks to my friend!). He brought us a white chocolate cheesecake with an Oreo crust and a flourless chocolate slice. Both were more wedges than slices though.
My parents mailed me gifts, which arrived as early as yesterday and I'm still waiting for one. I was quite tempted to open it, but I waited until today. As I took photos of my presents I got a little sad. I wish that they were here to celebrate with me. I'm surrounded by gifts when I want to be surrounded by family and friends. But I'm keeping my chin up and thinking of them all day.
My birthday started at the gym. I joined almost a week ago, and let's just say that I needed it. The walking isn't working anymore. I had an appointment with a trainer and I asked her to take it easy on me and I'm glad I did because when I walked out of there (did I say walk, I meant wobbled), I felt like I'd climbed the side of a cliff. I walked to the post office, where I picked up one birthday gift and something I'd ordered about two weeks ago. After working my arms it felt like I was carrying around a couple of boxes of rocks, but I managed to get home somehow. Stopped at Whole Foods and said hi to a few friends, and to rest my arms a bit. I also went into the little international bookstore and picked up a couple of French magazines that had Baby Shilos's photos. I missed the American publications that featured the photos (don't know how that happened). I finally returned home to finish my cake. I'd baked and assembled it Wednesday and it was in the freezer for a day so that the Japonaise layers could soften up (and also to keep my hands off of it). It's a nice cake and I'm proud of it. The only thing I would do differently, this is my first impression, would have been to use a smaller tip to pipe out the decoration pieces. They seem to be a bit big, but other than that, I'm pretty happy.
What kind of cake does a pastry chef (assistant) make for herself? Well, that was a little bit tricky. I've always loved the Opera torte, but I also wanted to do something a little different. It took me several days to decide what to make, but at least I narrowed it down to two flavors: chocolate and hazelnut. I ended up using an idea I found in the book Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme, the Concorde. I made three layers of Japonaise, a hazelnut meringue, two layers of chocolate mousse, topped with bittersweet chocolate ganache and decorated with bits of piped Japonaise. It's pretty, though the photos are a little bland. I haven't been keeping up with my photography, but then I haven't been baking or cooking anything to photograph lately. The only thing I would change so far, would be to use a smaller tip to pipe out the decorations. Going into it I didn't think that they would be so large. Maybe I would add another element to make the cake more interesting, but I wanted something simple and I didn't want to get stressed out. Sometimes my ideas are great, almost so great that I lose myself in the process.
Oh, so you want to know what I got from mom and dad? I got the book Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow, a necklace with an apple turnover charm from Pagliei, three culinary inspired books from my mom, and a really interesting tea infuser from my friend. According to my mom, I should be receiving another box, probably tomorrow. I was like a kid, really, excited and delighted. Now I have to get ready, maybe go to the lake. I've dinner reservations at Kevin Restaurant and then out with a few friends.
I should have photos up on Flickr in the next couple of days. I think I'm going to take a nap so I won't be tired tonight. I couldn't get to sleep last night, the excitement was getting to me.