My Birthday Party! (and need people for a another party…)

Note: This event was taken place last Saturday…I know it’s late but I was actually waiting for a few of Robyn’s photos (which I will credit and link to when it occurs) since I had relatively little photos of the party-goers since I was busy playing hostess of sorts toward the second leg of the party.

Edit (11/17/07) : I NO longer need people for my other upcoming party…but thanks for a few of you who have responded!

I threw myself a birthday party…a day later. Since I have to take care of family and school stuff that I can’t go out and party for a good portion of the day on the day of my actual birthday. Anyways, I’ve invited 8 friends (Adam, Ariel, Doug, Jessica, Julie, K, Kim, and Robyn) for a large get-together and do what I (or we) do best, eating! We all met at the Highline since it’s been suggested by a few Chowhounders that their food is pretty good and it can accommodate large groups.


Since I was the first to arrive, I sat down in one of the large communal style tables toward the back of the restaurant on the ground floor. The decor isn’t what I was expecting after viewing their website. But at least it’s not terribly distracting and there’s no music blaring in this place that I won’t be suffering from laryngitis at the end of the lunch.

Anyways, as my guests slowly arrive, we greeted each other and eventually talk about food since it’s about 1:30 PM, and we’re starving.

Lunch prix-fixe menu
The lunch menu

We ended up ordering pairs (or three) of the same things. (Methinks we all think alike or have similar tastes.) For appetizers, Doug had the salad; Ariel, Robyn, and Julie ordered the fritters; Jessica and Adam had the dumplings; Kim wanted the veggie rolls, while K and I had the pad thai spring rolls.

When the appetizers came out, they all look so photogenic. I haven’t tried Doug’s salad since it’s basically a bunch of greens with a basil-balsamic dressing and a sprinkling of what looks like pignoli nuts around the various lettuce leaves.

Simple Green Salad Doug’s Greens

I haven’t tasted Jessica’s and Adam’s dumplings because they were at the other end of the table…it’s difficult to reach over a couple of people’s plates to reach for a bit, you know? But judging from the photo, it looks good.

Jessica’s and Adam’s Dumplings
Jessica’s & Adam’s Dumplings; taken by Robyn

I haven’t tasted Kim’s appetizer since it was tiny and hard to split. But I tasted the hoisin-tamarind dipping sauce that accompanied her veggie rolls, which was sweet and tart. Come to think of it, it vaguely reminds me of what I had at Bon Apetit’s Supper Club a few weeks ago when I had Govind Armstrong’s Tropical Rolls except the dipping sauce was sweet-spicy rather than sweet and tart.

Veggie Rolls with Tamarind-Hoisin Sauce
Veggie Rolls

For something that I have tried, I tasted one of Ariel’s fritters and it was quite good. The outer shell was crisp, the inside was a bit moist. The filling was composed of ground/finely chopped chicken meat and shrimp. The mint-tomato salsa that accompanied this appetizer was good but I don’t really taste it; only toward the finishing note I only had that feeling of freshness that’s coming from the mint. That sauce tastes predominantly of tomatoes, onions, and a slight kick from the peppers.

West Side Fritters
Fritters

The spring rolls were pretty to look at and it was fried to perfection: light and crisp. It wasn’t a dense grease-bomb that would make anyone feel disgusting. In terms of flavor, it’s fine but nothing extraordinary.

Signature Pad Thai Spring Rolls
Pad Thai Spring Rolls

In terms of drinks, Ariel ordered the Longboat cocktail, while Doug ordered a bottle of beer. What Ariel told me about this drink was that it was quite delicious. It’s lemonade based with a hint of ginger (as you can tell there’s ginger in it as there’s a huge slice as an embellishment for this drink).

The Longboat
The Longboat

Doug’s Beer
Doug’s Beer; taken by Robyn

As we ate, table’s been cleared, and conversed our own conversations, our second course came out. The popular items for the table was salmon either encrusted with sesame seeds or crushed, toasted peanuts; or the “black rice towel” dish (I will explain this dish in a bit). I haven’t tasted either salmon dishes but again, looks mighty delicious.

Black & White Salmon
Black & White Salmon

Peanut Crusted Salmon Peanut Crusted Salmon

The Black Rice Towel dish (ordered by K, Robyn, and Kim (she has the beef)) is basically ho fun that is stir-fried with your choice of meat or tofu with dark soy sauce and what looks like gai-lan, which is Chinese broccoli. The silky, slightly greasy, chewy rice noodles matches the chewiness of the meat or tofu. Quite delicious.

Black Rice Towel with Tofu Black Rice Towel with Tofu

Black Rice Towel with Beef
Kim’s Black Rice Towel with Beef

Julie ordered the Talay spaghetti. I have no idea what this taste like since Julie’s sitting on the other end of the table, so it escaped the possibility of her noodles entering my mouth. According to the menu, it’s made with Thai chili, red bell pepper, and basil.

Talay Spaghetti Talay Spaghetti

Ariel is not really enamored with fish unless he’s going to Le Bernardin (which he will very soon) or a particular fish dish sounds really intriguing. Anyways, he ordered the N.E. Steak. Don’t ask me how the restaurant name some of their dishes but it’s basically marinated, grilled steak that’s been sliced and dressed with a spicy-tart sauce, with the addition of steamed string beans, broccoli and a dome of rice on the side. The steak was fine and the complexity of the sweet, tart, and savory components was good, but I’m not exactly blown by it.

N.E. Steak
N.E. Steak

I ordered the pineapple red curry duck. It’s basically duck (a leg and a few pieces of its breast meat) spiced in a red curry sauce and mixed in with bamboo shoots, red bell peppers, and basil. Quite a kicker but I feel a bit deprived of meat since the leg meat refuses to release from its bone. And since I’m wearing a cream colored dress and sweater, I don’t want to dare pick it up with my fingers…or my dry cleaner will love me at the end of the day.

Pineapple Red Curry Duck Pineapple Red Curry Duck

Here’s a few photos of the people who’ve joined me (that I managed to take photos in the restaurant)…

Ariel's Smiling!
Ariel…he’s smiling!

Doug and Kathy...
Doug and K! Apologies for the out-of-focus photo.

After we finished eating, we hanged out here for a bit discussing about random things like politics, movies, etc. Eventually, we asked for the check and paid. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised how inexpensive the meal was and how good the food tastes.

In case you haven’t noticed, I was swooned from the last time I went to How Sweet It Is. I told everyone that desserts on me since it’s kinda my way of saying “Thank you” for everyone getting out of bed on a Saturday, and actually celebrate my existence on Earth for 22 years.

How Sweet It Is

After lots of discussion and contemplation amongst most of us for a good five to ten minutes, everyone have finally made their decisions of choosing one dessert. After blitzing the two women who were working at there at this hour (whom I haven’t met before despite visiting there three times) with our orders, I’ve paid and we all migrated over to K’s place.

We walked only over a few blocks to her place, which was convenient since we’re running a bit late and it’s getting quite cold. After walking six flights of stairs to get to K’s place, everyone managed to cram into one room and get acquainted with her place: the tiny kitchen, the cool food photos she placed along the wall off her room, and Robyn’s fascination with the mugs I’ve brought over to K’s earlier this morning (which I nearly passed out from hauling them amongst a bunch of other things. Did I mention that there are no elevators?). Then I started to make espresso for the group, since I can’t have dessert without coffee or water.

Cups & Milk for Kathy
Colorful mugs and milks…

We all then sit in a large oval in the kitchen/seating area of K’s place and break out the desserts, the highlight of any good meal or get together. And most of us whipped out our cameras and started to take photos of the food and/or the people.

Gathering We want sweets!; photo by Robyn

Photo taking We’re taking photos; captured by Robyn

So, here’s what we’ve gotten. We ordered two goat cheesecakes topped with candied kumquats, two Opera cakes, two sheep’s milk honey caramel panna cottas, a Guinness spice cake, a Devil’s Food chocolate cupcake, and a Banana Foster’s Cake.

Dessert Tasting Plate 1 Dessert Tasting Plate #1

Dessert Tasting Plate 2 Dessert tasting plate #2

Despite the fact that we had almost two of everything, most of us just did a tasting of sorts that we take a bite or two of our desserts and passed them around for others to try. My odd joke about this was that we’re “indirectly kissing each other.”

Here are more people photos enjoying their desserts or just chatting…

Adam talking to Jessica Adam

Jessica eating...
Jessica

Kimmy concentrating on her cupcake...
Kim

The other end of Kathy's We’re happy… taken by Kim

Since it’s about 4:30, I have to leave the city and go home and have to abandon the hot chocolate project with everyone. Also, a couple of others have to get going too. We’ve exchanged hugs and said our goodbyes…leaving Robyn, K, and Doug at the apartment.

This was one of my best birthday parties I’ve had in a long while. And now I miss everyone terribly. Thanks to everyone who’ve attended my party! You’re the best! And we have to hang out soon…

Addresses:
Highline

835 Washington Street
New York, NY 10014

How Sweet It Is
157 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002

I NEED PEOPLE!!

I need two more people for an upcoming party on Saturday, December 1st. We’re going for the BO SSAM at Momofuku Ssam! (In case you haven’t read my post about my previous experience, here it is.) If you’re in NYC by then and want to go, drop me a comment on this post or e-mail me (with your legit e-mail address), then you might eat with me and a bunch of other foodies and my friends. It’ll be fun!



There are 10 comments

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  1. thewanderingeater

    Graeme: Awww…swing by the States or NYC sometime!

    Thanks for the birthday wish! :)

    Angel van: Everything was yummy! At least what I’ve tasted or eaten…

  2. dana

    on dec 1st i will most likely be sitting in a meeting making a blasted fool of myself, as I shall be doing every weekend/day until mid december! all the more devastating as this means I’ll miss this fantastic chance to you (all).

    those desserts look ravishing. There is just nothing like that around here.

  3. Kim

    ah! the food was wonderful that day! and thank you for not mentioning my little sugar high :) I’m glad you had a good birthday and I wish you many more! You looked Bea-U-tiful!

  4. danny

    that salad bowl looks pretty cool.

    when i first saw the pictures you had on flickr, i was like, “why are all these people sitting on the floor… eating dessert…?” haha.

    party on!

  5. thewanderingeater

    Danny: The salad looks good…but I don’t think I would care so much to eat it.

    We’re sitting on the floor because Kathy doesn’t have any chairs in her tiny apartment! So, we made the best of the space and sit on the floor (which she and her flatmate cleaned the night before).

    Yeah, party!! :D


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