Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Paul!

So, so late on this one!  Paul's birthday round up post: commence!

On Paul's birthday, we each took a vacation day and started it out with brunch on the patio at Victor's 1959 Cafe.  From there, we pretty much lazed about for the day.  Don't think we are losing our birthday celebration mojo, though.  We took it easy on his birthday because we were recovering from the full, day-long birthday eating and drinking extravaganza immediately prior to his actual birthday.

To start off the festivities, I made my first ever quiche.  Holy decadent, batman.  Ingredients included comte cheese, caramelized onions, cremini mushrooms and thyme. I have already lost track of which recipe I used, but I do know I made it with the other half of this batch of pie crust.  It DID improve by sitting in the freezer!  We enjoyed this intense quiche with salad, fresh cherries and iced chai.  A delicious way to start off Paul's birthday celebration day.  And, it was good for the next few days, too.

Our day included a drive over the river and through the woods...to New Richmond, Wisconsin.  The "over the river" part took an ETERNITY because we went over the Stillwater Lift Bridge during the dreaded weekend tourist season.

We got stuck in the bridge traffic on the way back, too, so I am very grateful that I built buffer time into our schedule.  We were almost late for our very important date!

It was worth it, though, because Paul had no idea what we were doing when we drove over an hour and then pulled into the parking lot of a building in an industrial park.  To make matters more confusing, our destination was sandwiched between an area of strip malls and a newly developed outer ring suburban housing development.  He really had no idea what he was stepping into!

He was pretty excited when he realized we were at a distillery for a tour and tasting!  I chose 45th Parallel Spirits because they are a small distillery that creates their product from grain to bottling on site.

the needed grains arrive in these giant tubs from a farmer down the road - different grains depending on the spirit
Our guide walked us through the process, discussing their sourcing history, how they ended up in New Richmond, what they make, how long it ages, what they do with their spent grains (answer: get local livestock tipsy) and so much more!

aging oak barrels
ready to go!

A few of their spirits are not made from scratch, but rather enhanced and bottled by the distillery.  The photo above is of limoncello.  They handpeeled all of the lemons to make the batch.  With a peeler.  By hand.  100s of lemons.  Even though they didn't make the alcohol, I still think they deserve to put their name on it.

Paul got to climb up and see inside to where the grains were fermenting.  We are grateful he did not drop his cell phone in there while taking a picture.

I am still not sure I understand exactly how a still works but it is certainly a work of art.  I now know that there is a part called a dephlegmator and I like knowing that that word exists.

After the tour, we moved into the tasting room and got to sample the full line of available spirits.

I took tiny sips and let the birthday boy have as much as he wanted.  He really, really liked the horseradish vodka so that was the bottle he took home.

Next up, we ventured a few miles down the street to Brady's Brewhouse for lunch where they may or may not make their wood-fired sourdough pizzas using spent grain from brewing.  I wasn't able to get a straight answer on that, but the experience was good, nonetheless.

Paul had to study the list and make his selections wisely as he had a bunch of options and 8 glasses to fill on his tasting flight.  Kind man that he is, he ended up allocating one spot to an in-house root beer for me.

Unfortunately, on his birthday I was still suffering from my health issues.  In order to rally and really enjoy the day, I set aside my dietary restrictions.  That meant the alcohol, dairy, sugar and flour were such treats for me.  As a result, I am not in a place to judge this pizza fairly.  From my recollection, this pizza was really, really good, but that could be the deprivation talking.

After another eternity in the car going back across the bridge, we got home to take care of Tchazo.  We both had a moment where our hearts stopped when we were coming in the door.  Before entering the house, we heard Tchazo's scared/fear yelps and didn't see him at the door per usual.  We quickly figured out that he had locked himself in the bathroom, likely by turning around with his giant cone of shame and shutting the door on himself.  He was really scared and had made a big mess of the bathroom.  After we got him outside and gave him his dinner, he seemed over the ordeal.  We were very grateful that we didn't have to deal with more pet drama as we had feared when we heard his yelps.

After we hung out with Tchazo for a while and Paul opened his presents (we now have a wagonbarrow!), we ventured out for one last bit of culinary delight at Gardens of Salonica.

The mushroom saganaki wasn't on the menu that night, but was the main reason I brought Paul there for dinner.  I was really grateful when I inquired about it and they were able to make one for us.

And with that, this man that I WAY more than like is now smack dab in his mid-30s.

Happy, happy days to you, my Paul!


  1. I just love your birthday celebration posts--even though they make me hungry. Such a great way to take time to enjoy your partner in life.

    1. Thanks, Gale! Birthdays really are the greatest holidays.

  2. Thank you for introducing "dephlegmator" into my vocabulary. It *is* a great word! Even after looking it up, though, I can't help but think that it somehow removes the phlegm from the spirits-in-progress. Which would be a good thing, I suppose.

    1. I totally agree with your definition!


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