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Posted on Apr 11, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 20 comments

Happy Birthday to MEEEEEEEEEE!

That’s right, today I turn the big ol’ 2-3 and I figure that if there’s any day to lapse in modesty and subtlety, it’s gonna be today! So I’ll be honest with you all right off the bat this morning: I decided that as a birthday present to myself I am not weighing in today. My birthday is a really big deal to me, and I just don’t want the day to be tainted by the scale especially considering the superfattyfat weekend I had, ahaha. But! If you’ll stick around for the rest of this weight-less post, I promise I’ve got a nice long (probably too long) post for you! A fun one! With DSLR-taken pictures, BEN. πŸ˜‰

Hokay. So. Let’s start with Friday! Steve came into town for my birthday weekend, and we went on a date to Open Kitchen in Falls Church (where else? :P)


Open Kitchen is a really cool concept restaurant where the kitchen is literally open for you to see into while they prepare your food. It has a pretty gourmet menu (and gourmet prices!) but the food was all really, really delicious. And the staff there is awesome! We didn’t get there until like 9 PM, so it wasn’t crazy busy or anything, but the wait staff was all really friendly, gave us their recommendations without us having to ask, and the owner Chef Ken came out to talk to us when he saw me taking pictures of all my food, haha.

They started off by putting some delicious rosemary bread on the table with olive oil for dipping:


And I got a roasted pear salad to start with as well:


It was AWESOME. Although… full disclosure… the salad came with blue cheese on it and I totally demolished it. I know! I know! Lent fail (again.) But… BLUE CHEESE! It’s the best kind of cheese! It’s okay, I still feel sufficiently guilty about it 3 days later.


My entrΓ©e was a cauliflower “cowboy steak” – grilled cauliflower seasoned with southwestern spices (that Chef Ken brought out for us to sniff afterward!) on top of a bed of yukon potatoes and some other veg. It was awesommmme! Obviously not quite like a steak but still delicious and supahdupah filling.

And of course, since it was date night we had to get some dessert…


Chocolate hazelnut torte. Enough said. πŸ™‚

Steve and I both decided that Open Kitchen was delicious, a great date-night destination, but a little pricey for any sort of everyday eating. They do offer cooking classes 3 days a week though, so I think I need to check that out!

Just a sidestep away from food to discuss b-day presents (because I know you are just DYING to know, hahaha!) The big present from the boyf and my whole family (!!) was that they’re paying for the majority of my admission to the Fitbloggin’ conference in May! Hooray!! Plus, I’m getting a massage this afternoon (my sissypoo’s treat!) for Spa Week (which you guys need to check out and book ASAP — massages, facials, and other spa treatments are all $50 at select spas this week and you can search by zip code!). Plus, Steve got me a couple other totally Gretchen-perfect gifts! Observe:


Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. That, my friends, is a Golden Snitch locket. And because I’m a huge, huge, huge, huge nerd, I put the following note inside:


Non-Harry Potter fans, don’t worry if you don’t get it. True Harry Potter fans who don’t get it though… FOR SHAME. πŸ˜‰


The last thing that he got me I hardly expect ANY of you to get:


But it’s kind of like this shirt was actually made specifically for me. Also as you can see, I cut my own bangs because I got bored waiting for Steve to get here Friday night, hahahaha.

Okay! Onwards, to Saturday!


For my big family birthday dinner Saturday, we ventured into DC (gasp!) to Founding Farmers, a popular American-cuisine restaurant that has a mission to support sustainable, local agriculture!


And when I say it’s popular, I mean it. It was RIDICULOUSLY busy. We got there at 8:15, our reservation wasn’t until 8:30, we didn’t get seated until almost 8:50, and didn’t get out of there until 11 PM! And as we were leaving, people were still being seated and ordering food. Whaaaaaat!?




So yes, the whole fam was there to celebrate with me. Once we finally got seated, we immediately ordered drinks and appetizers, and then had to wait a while before ordering our entrΓ©es from another waitress (I guess ours got bogged down in the hubbub of the restaurant.) For my drink, I got a Fraise Fling:


Which had strawberries, lychees, and then a whole bunch of sweet liquors. It was like drinking dessert! Very delicious.


For appetizers, we got their seasonal pickled vegetable medley, which had green beans, carrots, and some other root vegetable I couldn’t identify. We also got a tomato goat-cheese flatbread that came disassembled so I could have some (just didn’t put the goat cheese on it), and a thing of fried green tomatoes (unpictured.) Yum-o!


My main dish was off of Founding Farmer’s special vegan menu (which was another cool thing about this place): Tofu and Chips!


It’s supposed to come with both fries and chips along with the tofu, but I asked if I could sub out the chips for a veg instead. They have a constantly rotating menu of seasonal sides, and I picked…


My old nemesis, Brussels sprouts! They were done with a touch of maple syrup and they were actually pretty amazing. Guess I just needed to give them another chance. Between eating them on Saturday and Anne’s post about how to cook ’em properly, I think I can fully win myself over next time!


Dessert for me was a scoop of strawberry-basil sorbet (their only vegan option.) It was really interesting! Very well balanced – at first you think it will be too basil-y, but then you’re hit with the strawb and keep going back for more! Even Steve liked it. πŸ˜›

Final verdict on Founding Farmers for me was that it was really good food (for most of us, at least. Ben said his was mediocre, unfortunately), a really great concept and mission, but the service was too slow for me to be able to give it 5 stars. Because I’m so digging the whole sustainable agriculture/locally sourced/house-made foods and whatnot, I really want to be in love with this place though! I think I’ll have to go again on a weekday, or maybe for lunch and see how it is then.


Sunday was a lot more low-key. Lunch at Clare & Don’s in FC (which also has a really great vegetarian/vegan menu!) and watched Harry Potter 6 with Steve (he’s almost all caught up!) I pre-ordered the 7th movie and it should becoming this weekend… πŸ˜€ All in all, a pretty fantastic pre-birthday weekend! (But can you see why I didn’t want to weigh myself this morning? Hahahahahaha.) And then of course, we still have the post-birthday weekend coming up which includes the birthday party!! I looooove my birthday… πŸ˜€


It’s supposed to get up to the 80s today!! Hopefully the drizzle and clouds go away, too — can that be my birthday present from you, Mother Nature? I hope everyone is having a fantabulous day!


  1. Happy Happy Birthday!!!! Looks like you had an amazing weekend of good eats. That strawberry basil sorbet looks awesome! Let’s get together and celebrate sometime this week, maybe a dog-friendly restaurant? πŸ™‚

  2. Happy birthday! And oh my gosh, that Snitch locket is awesome. Even though you do win the nerd award for “I open at the close,” hehe.

  3. Happy birthday! πŸ™‚ I love Founding Farmers. And that golden snitch necklace is SO CUTE!!!! I want one!

    • there are a billion of them on etsy

  4. Happy birthday! It sounds like you had a great time, and some amazing food!

    I love the snitch (hardcore HP nerd right here)!

  5. happy birthday (again)! looks like you had a fab weekend and i hope today is amazing because you deserve it! x.

  6. Happy Birthday! All the food looks SO yummy!

    The snitch locket is BRILLIANT! I love it!

  7. April is the best month for birthdays! (Mine was on the 4th..) Happy Birthday Gretchen! Seems like it will be a sunshiny day here in DC..

  8. HAPPY BIRTHDAY POOKIE! I hope you enjoy the massage! I’m going to go see if there is anything on that spaweek website for Maryland. Have a fantabulous day πŸ™‚

  9. Happy Birthday Gretchen! Love the locket and the food looks divine.

  10. Happy birthday!!! Seems like a lovely birthday indeed πŸ™‚ You look fab in those pictures!
    Oh my, do I love that snitch! I didnΒ΄t even know you could buy such a thing! love, love, love it!

  11. Since I just added you to my reader, a million of your posts showed up so I’m browsing. And just need to say… I LOVEEEE the locket!!! πŸ™‚ Happy belated!

  12. Happy Belated Birthday!!!April is most definitely the best month for birthdays (I turned 22 on the 1st) The snitch locket is awesome (totally got the HP reference), as is the moogle tee shirt! Gosh, at least I hope its a moogle. Otherwise, there is something out there which looks suspiciously like a moogle…but isn’t. I have to get me one of them tee shirts.

    • It *IS* a moogle!! I’m so excited that someone recognized it! It’s channeling Hello Kitty, which is why it might be confusing (another thing I’m obsessed with other than moogles, hahaha) but yayyyyy! We are clearly soulmates. πŸ™‚

      • We clearly are because not only am I FF mad, I’m Hello Kitty mad! Oh how I love that little kitty. Oh dear, I am obsessed with small kawaii things. Although I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t actually see it was set up as Hello Kitty until you pointed it out. My excuse is that I was too excited about it being a moogle to concentrate on anything else. This reminds me…I need to complete FFXIII =)

  13. I know I’m a year late…. but do you kiss your locket before you open it???? I totally would because I’m lame like that. (Although… I do spin my time turner necklace every time I eat something that I want to go back and change…darned thing hasn’t worked yet.)

    • BTW, happy birthday for this year!


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