Great Food, Great Wine, Great Friends. The Equation for an Awesome Birthday Dinner.




On a cold Saturday in January,we were excited to be celebrating our friend’s birthday. Holly was turing @#, that’s right, she was one day away from being the @#,  but age is just a number. It’s how you feel inside that counts, so happy @# Holly!



Holly and Alex in the kitchen seriously and skillfully preparing dinner for us.

Tonight’s menu was Holly and Alex’s homeade Veggie Lasagna.

This wasn’t your garden variety veggie lasagna, no pun intended, but an amazing explosion of fresh grilled vegetables and a homeade sauce, lovingly prepared with fresh buy prescription drugs ricotta and a sweet fresh mozzarealla.

If I had this dinner at a restaurant it would be my new regular favorite.

This vegetarian layered masterpiece would make your Italian Mama bow down and throw out her recipe cards.

So to all of you Italian Mama’s boys who say that your Mom makes the best lasagna and gravy……suck it. A girl just beat up your mom!

With the delicious entree I made a fresh salad with frisee, which is in the chicory family with feathery leaves that have  a mildly bitter flavor, arugula and various other types of greens, along with simple crisp curby cucumbers, sweet ripe plum tomatoes, crasins, fresh bocconcini ( mozzarella balls), and roasted red peppers. I take the kudos for putting it in a nice big bowl. I give kudos for the salad bar at Uncle Giuseppe’s. Served with a nice extra virgin olive oil and a little salt……minga!

For the wine, I chose a nice  Travaglini Gattinara 1997

My buddy Marky Marc gave it to me and Wine Spectator gave this beauty a 91/100. Holy crap that’s good! This sweet nectar was a deep red, robust in flavor and full bodied. The only problem was that I only had one bottle. According to, Travaglini Gattinara is made with 100% Nebbiolo grapes and grown on the family estate. Nebbiolo grapes have been grown in the Piedmont region for centuries. This varietal takes its name from the morning fog, nebbia which fills the valleys of the area during harvest. Sounds romantic doesn’t it?

Cupcakes. What birthday celebration would be complete without sweets?

Now, I’m not an authority on all things confectionary but as they say, when in Rome. As I was at Uncle G’s, I was walking past their cafe area and saw these big ass cupcakes. With each one looking better than the last, I had to get one of each. One was a Peanut Butter Cream Cupcake, one was chocolate butter cream, one was vanilla butter cream with M&M’s and the other was a maple cream cup cake. They were all rich, buttery and oh so filling.

As our dinner began I said  a silent grace and as we left we realized how fortunate we were to have such nice friends in our lives!

So going forward…..don’t save the so called “good” wine or “special occassion” champagne for a big event or a time that may never come. Make little dinners and get togethers special events. Make every day eventful and crack open the good hooch!

Celebrate how fortunate you are to have access to great food, great wine and great friends.

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