(My apologizes for the poor quality in photos. The setting was dim and I was too into enjoying dinner to fix camera settings.)
I wasn't sure what I wanted. Most birthdays are super low key for me. Surprisingly, as I get older, instead of feeling less of a need to celebrate birthdays, I'm beginning to see that hey, maybe it should be. I was used to keeping it low key because I rather not be the center of attention, and really, what's another birthday...
This year, I turn 30. Yes, I suppose it's a big birthday. I can hardly believe it myself that I'm the big 3-0. I'm old. Ok, I'm not old, but definitely getting older. If you really think about it, getting older... is a privilege. Not everyone gets to. With that thought, it only makes sense to celebrate!
I wanted something small. Intimate. Spent with people that I love. And most definitely, good food. I was on a search for a simple, cozy restaurant and came across La Buca.
It is the Italian version of the French one, La Pied De Terre on Cambie St. La Buca is located on McDonalds St. It is pretty hard to find, being sandwiched in between a row of tiny, boutique shops. The ambiance and decor is perfect. Dimly lit but comfortable. And decor is simple. Fine dining without the pretentiousness. When we got there, the restaurant was full. It isn't very big. I wondered how they were going to fit all 8 of us... but they somehow timed their tables perfectly, and we were all seated quite promptly.
Before going in, we knew we were going to go for their "Alla Famiglia" menu, meaning "family style". We all pay a set price, and the chef decides how many courses and what we eat depending on their freshest ingredients of the day. All we had to do was tell them about our food restrictions. Each course would come out on one big serving dish and we would all share. We were pre-warned that we would be well-fed... with something like 7 courses ... with beginnings and endings.
Let's meet a part of my "family" :
This is Geoff and Kia. I met Geoff when I was 14, him 16. Kia is his beautiful wife. I see them once a year; twice if I'm lucky. I was especially lucky this time around catching them in between their move from the States to Oz. Their presence made it extra special for me! Especially after their move to Oz, I don't know how often I'd see them then... but I now have a good reason to visit Sidney!
Bran, Dan and the moustache. When did my birth month become Movember? Dan is very proud of his 'stache. I've been datin' this married couple for some time now. Err, third-wheelin' at its best!
Jen on the left. I don't think we have a choice but be friends for life. We met when we were 7. Second grade. We've been to each other's slumber parties...fought and pulled each other's hair in sixth grade... had our first (and only) detention together in highschool... celebrated our sweet-sixteen's...entered Pharm school together... miraculously ended up having our names drawn out of a random draw to be partners in group projects in Pharm school (out of 140 ppl)...graduated and earned our bachelors together... and moved to the island and lived together for 3 years... move back together and still currently both working for the same company. That's 23 years in a nutshell.
When I lived in a different city for three years, my roommates got constant phone calls from their parents and their boyfriends. My parents called me a total of three times while I was away. That would average a whoppin' total of one phone call a year. All the other times? If the phone rang for me, it would have been Patsy. In this photo, the one on the left.
On the other side is KDer. Karen. My cousin. We are three months apart. We practically grew up together. Like the sister I never had. As kids, when we're in the same room, we were practically attached at the hip. We've had our share of troubles... or, getting into trouble... let's just leave it at that.
Maria, the one in the grey. Our lockers were always right next to each other in highschool. Did I tell you she swapped my lock one day (yes, she knew my combo)... and I spent a good amount of time getting super frustrated trying to get my lock to open? I threw the frustration right back at her when I asked her to teach me how to play tennis.
And then there is the rest of my "famiglia" that couldn't make it that night, but if you've noticed, they're scattered here and there throughout this blog.
Now, for the food :
I tried but did not take photos of it all. I'll let the photos that I do have speak for itself...
My favorite I gotta say is the second photo. The pasta with the gorgonzola cheese and walnuts. Surprisingly so. I'm not normally a fan of gorgonzola cheese, but it was ever so subtle in this dish, yet complimented everything else so nicely. A bit creamy, but not heavy.
The mushroom risotto was also amazing. Same with the melt-in-your-mouth beef topped with fried onions. Should have seen the presentation of that thing! All of it stacked a foot high. And last but far from the least, the nutella cheesecake. It was surprisingly super light... like eating hazelnut fluff. To say the least, the food was absolutely amazing. Everyone really enjoyed it all. We couldn't stop talking about how delicious it was...
The service was great. The atmosphere was perfect. The food was amazing. What more could I want? Silly me forgot to mention to the restaurant that Geoff has severe allergies to certain foods, but with the last minute warning, they were able to whip up something separate for him. Maria showed up a little late and missed a couple dishes. When the bill came, we noticed that they only charged her half the price. On top of all that, at the end of the night, they surprised us and said the bottle of wine we ordered was on the house ... because it's my birthday!
My birthday dinner was perfect. I seriously think I picked the best restaurant for it, because I had a wonderful experience at La Buca. Everyone who went to dinner said they would definitely go back. Amazing food, great atmosphere, superb service, excellent restaurant, the best company in the world - my "family"... I am one happy girl.
OH, and... look what they got me for my birthday!
LOVE LOVE LOVE.