One tasty birthday

I am now officially one year older. Any wiser? Probably not. I know that turning 22 still counts as being young, but somehow leaving 21 behind feels like I've properly crossed the threshold into my twenties. Obviously this is numerically incoherent but it's true! Being 21 years old still seems like you're closer to teenhood than adulthood, but 22 feels scarily grown up.

There was no time, however, to ponder the intricacies of growing older over this weekend, because I passed my birthday in style with not one but four different birthday things. Lunch at Loch Fyne, cocktails and karaoke, and two more delicious dinners, one at Ondine and one at home. I also stumbled upon what is probably my new favourite cocktail: the Gin Garden Martini - muddle a few cucumber slices with 1 measure elderflower cordial, then shake with 4 measures gin and 2 measures pressed apple juice and ice. Strain into martini glasses and garnish with cucumber slices. I usually hate it when restaurants put cucumber in their water, but the cucumber was just the right thing in this cocktail, which lost quite a bit of class in the plastic cups we drank them out of.

Birthday cake was Nutella cupcakes and Blueberry Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting.

Nutella Cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook
(makes 12)
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
40g butter, softened
120ml whole milk
1 egg
120g Nutella
Preheat the oven to 170°c. Beat the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in an electric mixer or with a handheld electric whisk, until everything is combined and has a sandy texture.
Slowly pour the milk into the flour mixture, beating until everything is well mixed together. Add the egg and beat well.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake for about 20 minutes.

250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, softened
25ml whole milk
80g Nutella
Make sure cupcakes are cool before frosting. Beat the icing sugar and butter together with a mixer or whisk until well mixed. Slowly pour in the milk and mix until it is light and fluffy. This takes about 5 mins. Add the Nutella and mix in by hand. Frost the cupcakes!

Unfortunately, I have still not overcome my aversion to taking photos of food in a restaurant. I just feel weird doing it. But we had an amazing seafood platter at Ondine. We continued the eating the next day with a homecooked Japanese-style indoor picnic, complete with garish red-and-blue-tartan picnic mat.

The original inspiration for the meal arose when I bought two jars of trout roe during transit at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on a recent trip to Copenhagen. Salmon roe is one of my absolute favourite Japanese ingredients, so I thought I'd see what the slightly smaller trout roe was like.

We had the roe on Japanese rice which was lightly seasoned with sushi vinegar, Miso Glazed Scallops, Sesame Beef and Radish Salad, Citrus-dressed Sprout and Carrot Salad, Cold Soy-dressed Spinach, and some Sprats fried with Garlic.

MMMM that trout roe was so good, I am so happy that we have one jar left.