The Big 4-0

A few weeks ago, I officially went “over the hill” and left the 30’s behind me. As 40 approached, it became weirder and weirder to think of myself of being an age I used to consider so old. But I know 40 – to a kid – isn’t what 40 is to an adult, and 40 right now isn’t what 40 was twenty-five or thirty years ago.

I try to treat age as a state of mind and so, to the extent that my body will go along with me, I’m as young and energetic as I want to be! So, you’ll see below, how I chose to ring in a new decade.

Apple Fritter from Bob's Doughnuts at the Original Farmer's Market

Apple Fritter from Bob’s Doughnuts at the Original Farmer’s Market

I shifted my midweek day off from Thursday to Wednesday so that I could enjoy myself during the big day. I began with this glorious apple fritter from Bob’s at the farmers market. With my newspaper in hand, and pen at the ready for the day’s crossword, I was off to a good start. I had planned to proceed later to pizza, in Hollywood, for birthday lunch. I had chosen DeSano Pizza Bakery, a place I hadn’t tried but that my now-brother-in-law had recommended highly after his visit last year.

Unfortunately, my now-former boss interrupted my doughnut reverie with a last-minute catering order. While I fortunately didn’t have to go into the bakery, I did have to spend a while coordinating all the pieces that would make this order happen, and my pizza outing fell by the wayside. (There’s a reason I’d tried to insist on 48 hours’ notice for big orders, and now everyone understood why.)

Sweet potato waffle fries and the PCB (Plan Check Burger) at Plan Check on Fairfax.

Sweet potato waffle fries and the PCB (Plan Check Burger) at Plan Check on Fairfax.

For my actual birthday dinner, I enjoyed just a small affair with my parents. Originally, when planning the 40th, I was hesitant to schedule it for the day of my birthday because it was a weeknight and might be hard to get everyone I wanted there. So I chose to have a small celebration the night of, and then a bigger one over the weekend.

Eating at Plan Check is a guilty pleasure, from the juicy, messy burger to the crispy sweet potato waffle fries. I honestly couldn’t have come up with a more perfect, simple meal for the evening. Fast forward a few days, however, and I was able to have a bigger and more bountiful celebration, adding my aunt and cousins to the mix. We headed to Studio City for barbecue at Barrel & Ashes. I’d heard so much about this place but hadn’t been there before. A risky move for a birthday dinner, I’ll admit. What if it was overrated and the food was terrible?

Fortunately, that was not the case at all. First, there were the amazing starters.

Garlic Tots

Garlic Tots

Hush Puppies

Hush Puppies

Peel and Eat Shrimp

Peel and Eat Shrimp

Frito Pie

Frito Pie

Bring on the meats and the sides:

Ribs

Ribs

Brisket

Brisket

Not pictured: Pulled Pork

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese

The life-changing Hoe Cake

The life-changing Hoe Cake

This hoecake was just insane. Like the best cornmeal pancake you’ve ever had, but with a crackly crust from the cast-iron skillet, and delicious butter and syrup melting on top. It left me speechless, which is saying something considering all that I eat.

Despite extremely full bellies amongst this party of seven, we made our way down Ventura Boulevard for some ice cream to round out the meal. I first tried McConnell’s in Santa Barbara, where they started, but discovered upon moving back that they now have locations in Los Angeles. Makes getting my ice cream fix very easy.

One of my all-time favorite ice creams, now in Studio City.

One of my all-time favorite ice creams, now in Studio City.

Wonderful cousins

Wonderful cousins

From a rocky start to a resounding finish, I had a 40th birthday celebration to remember and cherish. And while this was the formal end of the birthday, there was one element remaining: my trip to New Orleans over Labor Day weekend to put a fine point on turning forty. That post is on its way.

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