Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's my party and I'll share if I want to...

So Stephanie sets this month's blogging theme as 'birthday' and I think “result” with it being my birthday and all. And then I realise it can't be all about me even though I’m an expert at being a 'birthday queen' so I'm happy to share my birthday blog party with all the other Virgoeons (and whatever comes after Virgo, Libra I think). So I'm going to extend a special diamond encrusted invite to Stephanie and promise some non meaty and alcohol free treats to toast your birthday also. And of course a pink fluffy invite to KK who shares a birthday with me and wasn't feeling well enough to enjoy her own pink 2nd birthday cupcakes. I'd offer you one of mine but as will be explained later I don't know if mummy would approve! And for my dearest DD, only a few short weeks until we're back at ‘our table’ in Union Square Café sipping Kir(a) Imperials and nibbling those nuts. Oh the divas are back in the Big Apple again, be very afraid! But birthday food is just not enough; it just needs a little more hence me deciding to give my 'birthday' party a little more heart-shaped, sparkly, diamond dusting to it. First the important fact of the cake, well miniature cupcakes seemed to be perfect and of course chocolate ones in particular. In fact I went for chocolate brownie cupcakes as all my cupcake recipes needed milk and I don't generally have any in unless I'm expecting MC and the brownies recipe was milk-less. And they looked ever so cute in their leopard print cupcake cases! Now if I'd left it there it might have been okay but I considered that they needed that little more pizzazz and for the occasion I had procured some edible black glitter, black sparkly candles, dug out my heart shaped silver candle holder and even adorned a black plate with some suitable heart-shaped bling. Yes just a little more juzzing to make them officially 'diva' cupcakes. The edible black glitter had the requisite sparkle, added an extra sweet crunch and to my horror turned my lips and mouth black! Ah, happy birthday to me! Well maybe it's because they're still warm from the oven, maybe by the time I pack up the two dozen leopard print jacketed brownie morsels and get them to the office the alarming sooty lip staining effect will have subsided. Well at least I hope so. I don't really want to booby-trap my birthday cake for everyone! When my team starting tucking in I was on the phone so wasn't able to warn them, apart from a hasty mumbled hint at their 'unusual properties'. But looking around after a few had vanished none of them looked like they'd been snacking on coal so indeed the comedy effect seemed to have diminished. Well, at least unless the last few! I'd just done the rounds of the office with the plate and was discussing with dh my birthday plans when I noticed her lips and then teeth were distinctly inky blue. Oh my! These are joke cupcakes, but with an intriguing Russian roulette element. Either it's a freaky chemical reaction that only some people have (a little like the infamous asparagus one) or some of the bite-sized cakes just bit back! So feel free to grab one or two but at your peril!
As well as cake it had to be jelly and ice cream but with that extra ‘je ne sais quoi’ again!
But first before the sugar high I thought I'd better squeeze in some savoury nibbles. I'd been desperately trying cast my mind back to birthday parties of old to recall our chosen party fare. But my main memory was a wasp caught inside the large carton of orange squash and the 9-shaped birthday cake having my name spelt incorrectly. I'm sure there must have been more for my be-ribboned party guests to scoff but I can’t really recall. I'd take a bet at crisps and peanuts and maybe some skinny possibly slightly curled at the edges sandwiches or finger rolls. It would have never ever been marmite at my party but perhaps hard boiled egg, potted meat or cheese. I am fairly sure of cocktail sausages or sausage rolls. So perhaps I can bring these three sandwich fillings up to date, lose the bread and give them a little gourmet canapé treatment. So instead of potted meat or meat paste (that even sounds evil) I opt for considerably more delicious beef Carpaccio enveloping cubes of Grana Padana cheese and spiked with the evitable diamond picks, well when I have a theme... And they were certainly a fine little nibble.
So that's the meat and cheese revamped, now the egg! And the modern take on the old favourite hard boiled egg was little glossy quail eggs and a miniature mound of celery salt, again impaled with the bejewelled sticks. All these lovely food needed capturing and writing up but therein lies the problem. My laptop had done the thing it did last time and just refused to switch on so I rang 'if your computer is ill call Phil!' again and he relieved me of my dead HP for a little open heart surgery. But that's where all my photos live of all the fabulous foodie excursions I've indulged on and haven't yet blogged. I guess there's always my work laptop, it wouldn't have my photos but at least I could write my blog. But sadly my work IBM being such a homebody doesn't really like leaving my desk. Even if I take it into a meeting room it sulks, refuses to connect to the wireless network and flatly refuses to do anything useful until it is back safely in its docking station. It’s like a moody teenager, if there's a computer equivalent to the 'whatever!' attitude then annoyingly my laptop has it. But ignoring its proclivities, needs must so I took it home. Big mistake! There was a little run in with some torrential rain, part of the 'glorious weather we've endured all summer' and the laptop went bang! Well it turned out to be the power pack and the wall socket it was plugged into. Yes, a stroppy teenager, one that has now resorted to downright vandalism! So it seems no laptop, no access to the internet and no blogging for me! But during the hiatus I've been visiting a host of fabulous extremely blog-worthy establishments and now am even further behind with all the catch-ups. When I finally get my laptop back at the beginning of the week, I am then utterly embroiled in trying to prepare for a work presentation so yet again no blogging for me. And then I had to wrestle with some heart-shape jellies, hastily post the photos to the blog, pack for two trips and leave to run for my train. I’m sitting on my train writing the words to accompany the hurriedly uploaded images and wondering when I’ll be able to release it all to the world. Seemingly the computers I am coming into contact with at the moment are determined to misbehave and M’s is no exception as it has itself been convalescing for the last month at another home of a PC doctor and therefore she is also internet-less.
Whilst I have been denied access to the world-wide-web I did find some time to embellish a crystal martini glass for my birthday-blog party drink. I was veering between some sort of Chambord-Champagne combo but I thought I’d be alcohol free this month in Stephanie’s honour and made some sort of raspberry liqueur laced (hmm maybe a tiny percentage of proof in there) and sugar-free Red bull. It was actually a great combination; it’s a cut down version of The Chambord Energiser which would normally have a healthy slug of vodka. The original drink recipe normally uses sugar-ful Red Bull but personally I find this a little too exuberant for my tastes. The advert does say that ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ and that’s probably the intention to give you a little head-rush but the combination of the excessive caffeine and sugar is a little too stimulating for me. In deference to the recipe change, I’ll change the name and in honour of the rather fabulous glass I’ll call it a Chambord Sparkler.
I also had to consider how to add a little glamour to the obligatory ice cream and jelly. The ice cream was an easy one – after several previous canapé productions for blog parties where I spent way too long trying to corral rapidly melting ice cream into something attractive I decided just to just serve small porcelain spoons of the finest Belgium chocolate ice cream scattered with the tiniest of silver sugar balls served on the canapé platter I bought back from Portugal. The balls were so small I feared I may have inadvertently bought ball bearings but no these dots of ‘robot dandruff’ were indeed edible – phew and they didn’t turn your mouth silver or black!
My final birthday bite was the jelly; I’d been determined to make some heart-shaped raspberry jelly studded with fresh raspberries. Firstly I had to track down a silicone heart-shaped ice tray mould, and ignoring the fact that I’m sadly allergic to it (that’s the silicone bit not the heart-shapedness of it!) I then got the raspberries but sadly work stuff and birthday stuff got in the way and the raspberries became a little furrier than I’d like before I had a chance to encapsulate them in jelly. So new raspberries procured and time rapidly running out, I arrived home on the last train and in the wee small hours thought I’d make the jelly and pack. In a moment or creativeness/insanity I made up the jelly mixture with more Red Bull and then dropped a plump raspberry in each. After nowhere near enough hours sleep mainly due to some last minute furious emailing (you know who you are!) I awake to find the jelly is still very much liquid but hope that a quick burst in the freezer will allow me to turn out the perfect jelly little hearts. Just in the nick of time I was able to turn some out in the manner I’d envisaged and produce a rather tasty little morsel, though I did feel I was having my monthly virtual feeling of waves of disbelief coming from the direction of D, if she had been there there would have been much head-shaking and eye-rolling. Even since the debacle with the mini chocolate Magnums I can sense what her thoughts are on the bizarre machinations I conduct in the name of a diva-esque canapés each month. Well, a girl's got to have a hobby!
I would recommend jelly with Red Bull, it certainly gives the jellies and intriguing kick and a subtle fizz on the tongue. Maybe not entirely ideal for children's parties however, as you may have to scrape the little darlings off the ceiling if they have more than one!
All in the all, despite the last minute panic (would it be me without one?), the catastrophic failure of all technology around me and the incredible yet selective mouth-staining brownies it was a glittering birthday affair. Now leaving a little trail of black fairy dust in my wake, I must finally extinguish the birthday candles and find a working computer. Cupcake anyone? Happy birthday to me and Stephanie and all the rest of you that celebrate this month.
See you on Saturday...hopefully - if of course M's computer rises from its deadbed - cousin A, I am depending on you!


Natashya said...

Wow, what an array of delightful treats. You outdid yourself this month.
I seriously need to find some of those diamond cocktail sticks, they are great.
So nice to see you at the party.

catering equipment said...

Those cocktail sticks are fantastic. It all looks amazing!

J said...

Dear Natasha and Catering Equipment,
Those fabulous (faux)diamond cocktails sticks (or picks) are made by Mudpie and I bought them from eBay. Last time I looked there were still a few sets available.