I can't believe I'm 23!
I had a blast, it's been less of a birthday and more of a birthweek. I feel downright spoiled.
For the last few weeks there's been whisperings between Macsen and his parents about my birthday and they were careful to make sure that I had no idea what we were doing. We drove down to Southampton on Friday night and I remained happily clueless.
Saturday they told me to get dressed up and to be ready by 5:30pm sharp. I put on my new silk dress and they led me outside where we started walking for what seemed like ages. I was becoming increasingly curious as to where on earth they were taking me. Finally they stopped in front of the Southampton train station where Philip bought everyone tickets. By the time the train came I figured out by the platform reader board that we were going to Winchester (I thought the other two destinations of Oxford or Manchester were probably out of the question).
They're laughing at my confusion.
We boarded one of the new comfy Virgin trains and got off at Winchester, which is a town that's retained its old world feel. After another 15 minutes walking they stopped me in front of a restaurant called Loch Fyne, which they heard was one of the best seafood restaurants in Britain. It was a lovely surprise and the meal we ate there was incredible (menu). The interior was simply decorated with light wooden tables and candles and an open kitchen and grill.
For an aperitif I tried a campari with soda (since I'd never had campari before). We enjoyed our drinks with fresh baked bread and lemon and cilantro marinated green olives. For my starter I ordered the Lobster bisque, garlic & herb rouille which was the best I've ever had, it was so good that I couldn't bear to flavor it with the rouille so I spread that on bread. Max ordered the Kinglas fillet of salmon, sashimi style with mild wasabi dressing which was also really good. For my main I ordered Dressed Cromer Crab, new potatoes and fine beans and while the quality was supurb it turned out to be slightly too rich for me. Both Max and Philip ordered the Fillet of dorade, seared king scallops, fennel, sauce vierge and Jackie had the immense Shellfish platter on ice with a whole crab (she generously gave me a crab claw since crab is my favorite shellfish). We ordered several bottles of white wine that I can't recall. Max and I shared two desserts, one the vanilla cheesecake and the other a Lemon Posset which was one of the best desserts I've ever eaten. It is a traditional English dessert and basically it is lemon juice and zest, double cream, white wine, and sugar which is cooked together and set. The texture was velvety smooth. We finished off the meal with coffee, and we were so impressed with our waitress that she was given a hefty tip.
After we left Loch Fyne we stopped by the offlicense and picked up another bottle of wine and caught the train back to Southampton where we stayed up chatting for several hours.
They also let me open one present, which was a beautiful embroidered and beaded bag from East.
Sunday morning I woke up feeling like my birthday had been the day before, but Max and his parents still had more presents preserved for me to open on the day itself. Max bought us tickets to see The Flaming Lips play at the Hammersmith Apollo in November and a French/English pocket dictionary. Philip and Jackie gave me an ice cream maker (!!) and an ice cream recipe book. Now I know why Max kept telling me we couldn't buy an ice cream maker - I thought he was just being mean.
As though that weren't enough Philip and Jackie cooked a delicious lunch which was a Moroccan madagascan tiger prawn tagine with couscous and a Moroccan style tomato salad. Then they sang happy birthday and brought in a sponge cake that Philip chose for me. Overall it was one of the most generous and memorable birthdays I've had. Philip and Jackie said they both really enjoyed planning out the surprises and gifts.
Tonight Max and I were supposed to meet up with Nate for drinks, but we were stuck in traffic coming back from Southampton and by the time we arrived home tonight we were exhausted. So instead we're meeting Nate tomorrow night at the Belgo Bierodrome on Kingsway because I need some Belgian beer.
Happy belated birthday :) sounds wonderful. Glad you had a memorable time.
Can't believe you went to Winchester! I miss that place... seeing the station has brought memories back. And... damn, Loch Fyne wasn't there when I was! Not that I could've afforded it then.
Thanks! :) Winchester is beautiful, I'd like to go back and explore it further someday. Loch Fyne is a small chain, so there may be one near to you. It is a little pricey, but for a special occassion I think you'd be hard pressed to find better seafood.
Happy Birthday! Sounds like you had a lovely time and the food sounds and looks delicious, even if I don't much care for seafood, think I'd be persuaded differently. Have fun with your ice-cream maker too, perfect gift for the current hot weather!
Thank you! Growing up on an island I had to learn to love seafood. ;) Although despite multiple tries I still can't bring myself to love eels.
I'm looking forward to trying out the ice cream maker, for gelato and sorbet as well. It's so much better homemade.
This is the first year that I've felt a bit weirded out about getting older.. mostly because next year I'll be 24 and that's only 6 years away from 30! I'll just make myself feel better by telling Max he's old. ;)
Thank you, I wish so too! :) What is your new snail mail address, by the way? (send to @snarg)
I'll say, I didn't expect anything special this year.. I was actually dreading it slightly. They managed to cheer me up. :)
I think it's fondant which has a similar texture to marzipan, but doesn't have the almond taste. There might have been a thin layer of marzipan underneath the fondant to protect the fondant from moisture.
Now you've got me thinking about Belgian marzipan chocolates. mm.