Today is my birthday and I went out for breakfast. Birthdays bring back a lot of memories. Memories like:
the year we were going to ride the carousel but I unintentionally (I think) ran into the neighbor girl on my bicycle while we were playing outside and had to sit in the corner. Time out, at my own birthday party…
The year my parents took a small horde of little girls to see Beethoven in the movie theater.
When I was 9 and had to have an “adult only” party because I had chicken pox.
The year my birthday fell on Easter and I couldn’t go to Old Country Buffet for dinner. The other year when I turned too old for the kid’s price at OCB, but my dad told the hostess I was younger and I almost blew his cover (let’s face it, she figured it out). A couple years ago when Mr. R took me back to OCB for a birthday dinner*. It was really just an obsession with unlimited black olives, umlimited french green beans (still slightly tinny tasting from the can) and unlimited vanilla soft serve.
The year my birthday treats at school had to serve double duty as “welcome home” for a boy I thought was annoying. It wasn’t his fault, I thought all boys were annoying.
The year my parents tried to ease me into real cake by buying one of those DQ cakes that substituted the chocolate ice cream for chocolate cake. I was not pleased. I let them know it.
When I turned 16 and my parents walked into my English class at 11:27 carrying a rose and singing Happy Birthday. I was blushing and embarrassed, but all my classmates thought it was sweet.
The other year my birthday fell on Easter and my sister and I drove from Maine to Boston trying to find a place to have birthday cake.
But most of all, I remember the song my parents woke me up with every birthday morning. I’d usually wake up before I could hear them coming down the hall; but I’d lay in bed waiting, pretending to still be asleep when they came through the door. I was humming it to myself this morning:“How beautiful is this morning; and our hearts are light and gay; as we sing this song of blessing; to awaken you today! So many stars in the heavens, all we need are two for you. One to greet you in the morning, and the other to say adieu. The sun is now appearing, as the day begins anew. Arise now and greet the morning, that dawns with joy for you!”
I use my birthday as a reason to go to fancy restaurants with talented pastry chefs in Chicago (Mr. R uses his to guilt me into seeing movies I don’t want to see). Last year we went to Spiaggia. I remember the dinner was an amazing three course Italian meal, I remember the atmosphere was a bit stuffy and masculine, but most of all I remember the 3 scoops of delicious gelato served in tuille cookie cups sitting on a swath of luscious pastry cream flecked with vanilla beans. I licked the plate. It was my birthday.
Since my birthday is today and dinner isn’t until Saturday, it’s the perfect excuse to double up on the birthday desserts. Instead of having an entire ice cream cake dangerously tempting me in the freezer, I made these macaron ice cream sandwiches filled with DQ soft serve.
Last time I made these was an accident. I overmixed some pistachio macaron batter and the cookies turned out flat and footless, sad puddle-like specimens of macarons I was embarrassed to share. But macarons are expensive and time consuming and despite disappointing appearances should never go to waste, so inspired by the macaron ice cream sandwiches in Jeni’s Slendid Ice Creams, I bought a quart of vanilla soft serve, sandwiched those suckers, and stuck them in the freezer. They were gone in two days. I inhaled an embarrassing number of them in one sitting…it was not my birthday. This time I’ll share.
*Just to be clear, we were on I-94 between Madison and St. Paul. It seemed like the perfect excuse to revisit old birthday traditions for overly salty, overly processed foods kept warm for indeterminate amounts of time under strangely orange lamps without calling my current tastes into question.