Two weeks ago I celebrated my golden birthday. According to Wiki:
A person’s Golden or Grand Birthday, also referred to as their “Lucky Birthday”, “Champagne Birthday”, or “Star Birthday”, occurs when they turn the age of their birthday.
The thought of climbing up in years didn’t make me feel lucky. In fact, I dreaded my birthday so much I cancelled plans. I woke up on my birthday feeling like I was on the edge of something, as if my world was hinging on some huge unknown… melodramatic, I know but I got the feeling this year would be memorable.
Last year was an interesting year. Last year I:
- Had a death in the family
- Was unemployed for 5 months
- Stopped blogging
- Hit a period of depression
- Gained 30 lbs
There was a point where I thought it could not get much lower. I think I was right. Last year was hard but so far…:
- I moved out from my childhood apartment (and in with my boyfriend in one fell swoop)
- I started taking hold of my Career Development at work — networking, setting goals, documenting my successes, etc.
- I lined up a monthly Freelance gig with the Editorial Department
- I started a second part-time
- My relationship with my parents is changing, evolving and getting stronger
- My relationship with J is also changing, evolving and getting stronger!
So far… you can say my golden year is off to a good start– full of anxiety but very promising. It was fitting then that J took me out to try to very different but delicious eats on my birthday: Red Rooster Harlem and Jubilee. The first is super trendy and comfortable while the second is sophisticated and adventurous!
It’s a no-brainer I had to make a trip to my favorite Chopped judge’s restaurant. Everyone told me Red Rooster Harlem was well worth the visit so imagine my excitement when J finally told me where we were having brunch! For the end of February, it was oddly beautiful and sunny– the kind of day you want to spend brunching! The vibe inside of Red Rooster is laid back with snazzy dressed people hanging around the bar as you step through the doors, and the gentle notes of jazz in the background. The inside decor is eclectic but embodies Harlem wholeheartedly– vintage black and white photos, colorful designed plates on the wall and chalkboard scrawled recipes pay homage to the rich cultural background of the neighborhood. With Red Rooster Harlem Samuelsson hit the mark on sophistication, still managing to keep the dining experience homy and intimate.
J and I started brunch with cornbread. Unexpectedly, the cornbread starter comes with two large pieces,–great for sharing!– honey butter, and tomato jam. While the honey butter coats your tongue with a light candied aftertaste, the sweet undertones of the tomato jam pair incredibly well with the hearty bread pudding like texture. If you love corn then this is definitely the cornbread for you, as soft kernels fall straight out from Red Rooster’s cornbread. So delicious. And just as equally delicious?
The Bird and The Egg– Red Rooster’s fried chicken and waffles (I got my sans the red eye gravy). Oh, that bird and that egg! I’ve only tried chicken and waffles once before and while at the time I thought it was good, Red Rooster’s fried chicken and waffles wiped that opinion clean! The chicken, oh the chicken was so SO crispy! I was blown away by the crackle in every bite. There was none of the greasiness that comes with fat laden fried chicken. Even better than anything, there’s not a bone to be found in the chicken. Not one. I hate bones in my chicken! Do you know how happy that made me? Sometimes it’s just the little things but there was no bones in this succulent, juicy and crumbly chicken and underneath a sweet and crispy waffle. I wish I could venture back into Samuelsson’s kitchen and see the finesse that went into what seems like such a simple dish. The mix of flavors, and layers of texture elevate chicken and waffles to an entirely new level. Red Rooster Harlem lived up to the hype, hands down.
Lined up for dinner was Jubilee, a little French restaurant on the Upper East Side. I will admit I was a little scared walking in to Jubilee– the interior reminded me of a seaside chateau in the South of France (or at least what I imagine a seaside chateau in the South of France would look like!) I felt slightly out of my element as the slim suited host escorted us to our table. I felt even more of out my element when I saw escargot on the menu. S-car-what? Yup, exactly.
“You’re splitting an order of escargot with me.” J quipped as I scanned the menu. He jumped for a dozen, which made me gulp even harder, while I ordered the crab and avocado salad to start. After some gentle coercing I took the plunge, placed an escargot on a small slice of bread and popped the whole thing in my mouth. The Garlic and Parsley butter on the snails are to die for, rich and creamy. The chewiness of the snails threw me off, a nice venture but not something I want to experience more than once. I was absolutely sold, though, on the Honey Ginger dressing drizzled around my Crab and Avocado salad. Really, the entire salad was perfection!
J opted for the Duck Leg Confit, which was delicious, while I opted for the Black Angus Steak Frite with Green Peppercorn sauce and truffled french fries. Now, I love steak and fries. I have had so much steak and so many fries in my lifetime but Jubilee’s steak-frites is the most memorable. I very rarely drink Red Wine, but the classiness of this upscale Upper East Side bistro made me bend.
For dessert we visited our favorite little candy shop: The Sweet Shop NYC! This super cute vintage shop on East 73rd street was the love child of Kelly “The Candyman” Jaime and his wife Glyn. When J was still living down the block from The Sweet Shop we would pop in multiple times per week to grab two scoops of Il Laboratorio del Gelato, handmade Underwest Donuts or the greatly addictive dark chocolate butter crunch. York Avenue has a great review of the charming shop here: The Sweet Shop NYC, which shows just how incredible this gem is.
All in all, a great way to grow a year older.