Birthday 2016

My parents and I have a tradition that goes back so long that we can’t remember when it started.

Every year, we see the Christmas lights in NYC. Every year, without fail. And every year, it’s magical.

This year, we combined the Christmas light show with some pre-birthday celebrations. We decided to get dinner on the night before my birthday, and do a little walking around.

We ate at Wu Liang Ye, a family favorite. The place doesn’t photograph well, the staff is brusque, but the food  is so good. We shared spicy dumplings (ridiculously fragrant sauce), Dan Dan noodles, fish, and Peking duck. I can’t even pick a favorite among those. They’re all that good.

Wu Liang Ye is conveniently close to Rockefeller Center and its famous tree.

And we walked by Lord & Taylor. In my opinion, L&T always has the best window displays each year. (I’m a bad blogger and didn’t take a picture of said displays because of the large crowds and lines waiting for a good angle of those windows. Just take my word for it.) Saks has a great light show, but their displays always seem rather creepy. But L&T is magical. They also used the unfortunate scaffolding in front of their building to great effect, covering it with lights and transforming the block into a Christmas forest.

We swung by Grand Central, where we stopped by Cipriani Dolci for cocktails and cake. (I’ll let you take a guess whose idea that was.) I wanted a chocolate martini, but, sadly, the bar was out of chocolate liqueur. I settled for a whiskey sour. The chocolate cake, though, was out of this world. It was dark chocolate, so the cake wasn’t cloyingly sweet. My mom, who isn’t as into desserts as I am, agreed that the cake far exceeded our expectations.

And the next night, on my actual birthday, I gathered some friends in my apartment for some wine and plenty of sugar to keep us going for a week. My birthday cake is the “Brooklyn Blackout” from Little Cupcake Bakeshop — it garnered rave reviews from everyone who ate it. I loved the cake. People aren’t kidding around when they say this is one of the best cakes in the nation.

(Not shown in the pictures: a box of six Molly’s Cupcakes, a pie, giant cookies, birthday cake pops, and macarons.)

The next day, reveling in being 23, some friends and I got barbecue lunch at Mighty Quinn’s. (The brisket was so tender and juicy and fatty, with a little sprinkling of sea sat. The mac and cheese was crunchy and cheesy. The burnt end baked beans were smoky and flavorful.)

It was a lovely respite from finals, from politics, from real life. Besides, I got to wear a dress with cats on it, so how could it get more perfect than that?

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