What a wonderful birfcake yesterday! It started with an e-mail from 93Jack FM, though I don't recall giving birfcake info when I signed up for contests. Mea culpa. Michael graciously offered to clean the kitchen and drive me to school. No Metro bus ride of terror, YAY! My classmates sang HB to me, and although I declined the offer of a 7-11 doughnut, they gave me a huge red delicious apple instead. I passed the exam and taught the class while Chef Gio observed me. He said I did VERY well, and that dude is a tough as nails critic, you always know where you stand with him. I saw some former colleagues, Arturo, who just finished a three month chef apprenticeship in Spain, and Ruthie, who is working in Beverly Hills, both had appts. with Chef. They have incredible stories about their experiences. Arturo told us about sleeping on a bunk bed in the basement of the Basque restaurant, working 15 hour days, eating garbanzo beans and hot dogs, and, of all indignities, NO STARBUCKS! Ruthie is working in an area of Beverly Hills where the people flash their "entitlement cards" and expect us regular folk to excuse their bad manners and lack of patience. Hard to tell the rich from the not-so-rich. Later Annie and I went to a new Asian seafood restaurant in Alhambra. The food was only so-so, but our server forgot she was supposed to be working, spent her shift checking out the guys in the other section. Completely ignored us even after we both tried waving our arms in the air! Back at home we experienced the "tummy rumbling" I had talked about in class with regard to food borne illnesses. YIKES! Some Chinese ginger & herb tea helped everything settle down. Akemi, who was my next-door neighbor stopped by to say HB & I also wished her a very HB, since she just celebrated hers this month. Her daughter now lives in the house and we have often gone over to pick persimmons and tangerines. To help out Annie on her new job, I baked Cranberry Biscotti (recipe posted here under Twice Baked) for her to show her boss tomorrow. They are yummy! Not the "crack your teeth & scrape the roof of your mouth" biscotti, which silly people forget to dip into their coffee, but more tender and lightly crisp. She wants me to help with menu development along with baking ciabatta, Tuscan bread, etc. with George. He may not always be available, but he helps out whenever he can. Lauren gave me a movie pack which included almond roca, skittles, microwave popcorn and TAH-DAH! my favorite guilty-pleasure/dumb-ass movie, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. Mark called & wished me HB, and he made me laugh with a President Bush joke. The evening ended with talking to Monica for hours, followed by a quesadilla with Conan O'Brian. I couldn't ask for a better birfcake! Maybe not like the one Trogdor the Burninator just had, but equally cool. In preparation for Michael's birfcake on Monday, tonight we're taste-testing new cocktail recipes and some new appetizers. Party on!