Tuesday 3 May 2011

My Birthday & A Giveaway For You

As I mentioned yesterday, it is my birthday all day today! I'm 34. How old is that!? Almost middle-aged, I'd say (and so does my friend Tina's husband - thanks for the encouraging text, Richard!). And like the proper middle-aged person I am, I was treated to a special lunch at Alain Ducasse and a round of digestive golf by my marvelous Marco. So not only do I feel old today, but also quite posh! :o)

Lunch was delicious. For starters I had a perfect soft-boiled egg with some brandade, salad and a beetroot dressing. My main was slow-cooked, melt-in-the-mouth ox-cheeks with sundried tomatoes, olives and root veggies, served in a "cookpot", which is apparently Alain's signature dish. I went all unfancy on it and dunked my bread to mop up the sauce in the end. It was the most sumptuous stew! I always seem to order some kind of man-food, while Marco always ends up with the most dainty, feminine-looking dish, like the hake with green vegetables that he was served today. I did get a few food-envy noises from across the table...

We ordered a cheese plate before having our sweet desserts, this came with goat's cheese & red pepper puree, Camembert & cider apple sauce, ComtĂ© & mushroom mousse and Roquefort & poached pears.

Dessert was dark chocolate parfait with praline and gold leaf and a bowl of chocolate cream, cookie crumble, mascarpone ice cream and a vanilla milk foam. And had I known they would give us mini-macaroons, two kinds of truffles, torrone and sugared almonds with our coffees, I would have forgone the cheese. I was too full for these lovely sweets, can you imagine?! I managed a taster bite, that was it.

After all this indulgence, I was happy to hear that our next stop would be our local driving range! I played golf once, about 7 years ago, but I had really liked it that time and had been telling Marco that I would like to do it again. Of our 120 balls, I might have hit about 30 with an acceptable swing, but we had fun, and it freed up some belly room for my birthday cake, which is still awaiting its fate as I write.

Ooops, wrong Annika...

Before I go and blow out the candles, I'll be a good hobbit and tell you what I have in store for you!
Remember I asked if you liked vanilla yesterday? That's because I brought some really good vanilla pods from Madagascar and would like to make some of them the price in my first ever giveaway! I have a bunch of twenty set aside to send to somebody, so if you leave a comment below before the end of the week, I will randomly pick a winner on Monday. Make sure to let me know how to contact you if you do not have an email address or blog linked to your name.


With my little pods, I am aiming to make many batches of custard, ice cream, cakes, and puddings, maybe do some research into what savoury foods benefit from added vanilla flavour, or I might just place them strategically around the house, because they just smell so flipping gorgeous.

What do you guys like to use vanilla for?

© Annika - All The Live Long Day (unless otherwise stated)


  1. Happy Birthday.
    Your birthday meal sounds divine.

    Real Madagascan Vanilla pods all the way from Madagascar... ooh I would be too scared to use them. It would have to be something really special. Maybe I'd give ice cream a go, to really appreciate the vanilla.

    (yes, i know most vanilla comes from madagascar but usually via Sainsburys or Tescos, not via a honeymoon!)

  2. Happy Birthday! It sounds like it was a lovely day :)

    It also sounds like your haneymoon was amazing-- I can't wait for the pictures!

    If you'll ship internationally I want to enter the giveaway! REAL vanilla from madacascar would be such a treat!!


  3. Hey Annika! You're so sweet. I love the smell vanilla and usually buy scents or body lotions with that smell. However, I've never cooked with it. But, if I win, I would love some tips on how to use it for baking!

    I thought I was a follower too! Now I am.
    Rambles with Reese :-))


I love reading what you think and comments make me happy. I usually reply by email, so look here if you need to know how to sneak me your address!

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.