Birthday BBQ Brunch + Cake

It’s my birthday today! It was such an awesome weekend. Chris surprised me yesterday with a day trip to Napa where we went to the Culinary Institute of America. The ‘CIA’ is a very prestigious culinary school. They boasted they are the ‘Harvard’ of the culinary world. It was cool to be able to walk around the teaching kitchens and see some of the students working.

It was a really nice surprise. We started off at the bakery cafe where we enjoyed a light lunch.

Chris bought tickets for a cooking demo in the afternoon. The chef was funny and entertaining. He demoed fried fish tacos with tangy slaw and a jalepeno-honey mayonnaise. We learned how to fillet a fish so it was really cool.

He used a combo of flour and masa harina for the breading. The fish came out golden and crispy – everything fried food should be! It was delicious. Afterward we took a tour of the building and got to see what the school looks like.

On a whim we checked out Charles Krug winery across the street and bumped into some friends. (Small world!) They were there for the annual Tastings on the Lawn event – aka music, lots of food, and of course wine. And they had a photo booth (my new favorite thing). We had fun playing around:

At night we met up with our friends Ryan and Maegen who were staying with us for the weekend. They drove up from Monterey with a special birthday surprise:

Red velvet whoopie pies! I loved it. It was a great treat before heading out to the Mission for the night for dinner and drinks to celebrate another friend’s birthday. I’m finding out there are a lot of September babies! Today we had a little BBQ at our condo. A bunch of friends came over and Chris made awesome chicken wings and steak tips.

Our tasty spread – mango black bean quinoa salad, salami and cheese, lemonade with berries and lots of fruit:

I was so happy that my friends were able to come out.

For my birthday I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice for the wedding cake I’ll be making in October. I got up early to prepare the coloring of the buttercream and piping bags. I am learning that cake decorating can be really fun but also very exhausting. I decided to test out a simple design. I only had one mishap when I mistakenly brushed up against the cake and messed the frosting up a bit. Thankfully the design I chose was a forgiving one so I was able to hide it.

The big reveal of the cake came at the end of the BBQ. I was a little nervous bringing it down. I pictured myself tripping out of the elevator and then falling face first into the cake. Just like in the movies! Well luckily that didn’t happen. It was fun presenting the cake to everyone.

I was happy with the final cake. Especially my “cake topper” hee. My friend Candice gave me a solar-powered corgi figurine for my birthday and I thought it would be great to put on top of the cake! Unfortunately we couldn’t find any candles. My friend Rhinehart downloaded a digital candle for me to blow out. I guess there is an app for everything. 
This is an awful picture of me.
I made a vanilla cake with mango-lime curd and blueberry filling. This will be the exact cake I’ll be making in a few weeks! So it was really good practice and I had a blast doing it. I’m so happy people enjoyed it. 
Thanks to everyone who made my birthday a special one. Now seriously, anyone who wants cake, please let me know. 
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