Aaahhhh memories of summer birthday parties. Long warm sunny days, water fights, sun kissed skin, ice-cream cakes, jumping on the trampoline, and sunshine. It’s the sunshine that really sticks in my mind – that and the ice cream cakes my mum would make. But unfortunately these memories aren’t of my own birthday parties; instead they’re my brother’s, my cousins’, and more recently my boy’s. He and I both think he has the best deal in our family when it comes to his birthday month.
I am an autumn baby. Not too far in to the autumn mind you, but autumn nonetheless.
Memories of my own birthday parties tend to involve rain, or if not rain then at least clouds and generally gloomy weather. Growing up on the Canadian west coast, I could predict the arrival of the autumn rains like clockwork: generally they arrived about a week before my birthday. Ho hum. Cue indoor birthday parties; definitely no water fights or ice cream cakes. I’m not blaming my parents or anything – I count backwards 9 months from my birthday and I totally get it. I just never liked being an October baby.
However, all is not dark and depressing. No, not at all. I think I am slowly coming to terms and even embracing where my birthday falls in the calendar. Perhaps it’s living in the UK where autumns can be quite pleasant (this year we had record high temperatures in October). Perhaps my long weekend in the Piedmont last October (a mere 4 days after my birthday) made me realise that early autumn’s harvest really does rock. Perhaps my ever advancing age brings wisdom and tolerance (I realised this morning that I am by all definitions – gulp – officially middle aged). Or perhaps it was the absolutely fabulous meal the man made for my birthday this year.
It wasn’t a frou-frou or haute cuisine type of meal. That’s just not us. Instead it was rustic, colourful, fresh, and full of flavour. That’s definitely more our style. The meal was simply:
A huge bowl of grilled vegetables, all from our allotment, with good olive oil & balsamic.
The fettucine was hand made by the man (while I kept the boy and girl well away from the kitchen).
And the all important birthday cake: vanilla genoise, cherry cream filling, covered in almond praline chocolate ganache.
The wine we chose was a bit heavy for carbonara so instead we savoured it afterward: a lovely Piedmontese Barbera d’Alba from Enzo Boglietti.
By all accounts it was a great meal:
- Me: it was absolutely delicious and I didn’t have to cook OR clean up afterward (I do love being spoiled occasionally)!
- Man: he managed to spend a few hours creating deliciousness in the kitchen with only minimal amounts of “help” from small hands
- Boy: he didn’t even try to pick the pancetta out of the pasta , so it must have been good!
- Girl: pasta & cake – there is no better combination in her world
With food like that to enjoy and perfect days like the one below, I’m thinking autumn’s not really so bad.
Here’s the man’s recipe for fettucine carbonara, taken mostly from The River Cafe Cookbook.