Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Birthday Cupcakes

The one consistent symbol I associate with birthdays is frosted cupcakes. Mom would bake a batch that would be transported to elementary school in a foil-lined box to be shared with the entire class on my special day.

Now, several decades later, I don’t have to go to school on my birthday. In fact, I can take the day off if I want to. Adulthood has its perks.

So I devote a full 24-hours to me. It is a starkly-cold and bright winter day, a busy day full of grown-up play. I’ve made out a complete list of my favorite things.

I start with hot coffee and a bite-sized brownie on Wall Street …


I visit historic Federal Hall, where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States …

A friendly National Park employee named Ed Hooper gives me a thorough history of the site, and even shows me the Bible that Washington used to take the oath of office …

Next is lunch with my friend “Lee Sloan,” the Grande Dame of food and wine – champagne and tagliatelle with braised oxtail ragout at A Voce on Madison and 26th …

We are served Italian cuisine by a French waiter and nearly swoon over walnut honey cake …

Next, is a razor sharp performance of “Speed the Plow”…

And, a little quality time with Andy Warhol’s soup cans and Monet’s water lilies at the Museum of Modern Art…

In the evening, I indulge my “adult palate,” at a talk at the Institute for Culinary Education aptly titled “The Glories of Bordeaux.” The instructor wears a Bordeaux-colored blazer, and opens the class by announcing, “I’m on red wine therapy, and my doctor approves.”

As for the obligatory cupcakes, there is quite a crowd at the posh 6th Avenue location of Magnolia Bakery. I select a “Vanilla-on-Vanilla” and a “Devil’s Food with Chocolate Butter Cream.” The vanilla is tasty, put the Devil’s Food is deeper, richer and more satisfying, perhaps an indication of my maturing tastes.

The cupcake has a Proustian effect, recalling memories of birthdays past – The Revolutionary War lamp, Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, my one-and-only trip to the top of the Empire State Building, dinner with Nelson and Audrey at Windows on the World, birthday tea in Paris, the mansions of Newport, a walk through a Charlestown plantation, Fraunces Tavern, lunch with John and Ramiza in Prague, snowbound in Little Washington, Virginia, and a chat with a vintage cookbook seller.


I brush away a few deep ebony crumbs. I’ll never outgrow cupcakes. They are perhaps the best way to celebrate another year in the life.

©2009 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

13 comments:

veron said...

Happy Birthday T.W.! Looks like you had a full day!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Any day that starts with a brownie and ends with a wine tasting is bound to be a wonderful day! Who knew getting older would be this much fun? Happy, happy birthday!

Helene said...

Happy Birthday!

What a great day you had.

Cakespy said...

Happy, happy, happy birthday! It looks like a perfect day. :-)

Kathy said...

Happy Birthday! Glad you got to spend your special day the way you wanted.

~~louise~~ said...

I'm singing again...

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear T.W. Happy Birthday to you.

You would really get a kick out of it if you could appreciate my little Betty Boop like voice:) I kid you not:)

You have had wonderful birthday excursions T.W. Wishing you many many more! I should put it on the calendar so I remember next year!

Don't forget Pie Day tomorrow:)

Kalyn said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful birthday! Many more to come, and best birthday wishes.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Veron, Lydia, Helene, Cakespy, Kathy, Louise and Kalyn - Many thanks for your good wishes! Looking forward to another year of cupcakes and the glories of Bordeaux, with the occasional history lesson thrown in for good measure!

Maryann said...

Happy Birthday, TW! Your day sounds perfect. I'm with you on the cupcakes. My memory loves cupcakes :)

Lori Lynn said...

Sounds like a birthday week with all the things you squeezed in!

Best wishes for a happy birthday and a marvelous year.

Lori Lynn

Brilynn said...

A very happy belated birthday to you! I know those cupcakes were fabulous...

~~louise~~ said...

Hi T.W.
There's an award for you over @ my place. Have FUN!

Joie de vivre said...

What a nice day! I love how you still ended it with cupcakes.