Sunday, May 03, 2009

Best I Am the Luckiest Dude in the Whole World

My birthday was Thursday, but I was so very fortunate to receive a week full of birthday honorings.

Andy kicked things off for me with a private party on Wednesday. We ate soup, had cake, watched Bee Movie, and opened presents. It was excellent. It was a time of manliness.


On Thursday I had a little Chinatown birthday lunch with Collin and Ali...

...and that night (at the request of the organizer!) Lexia and my movie, "Personal Best", was shown at the Stake film festival. And there was a Q&A afterwards where we answered questions from the audience about the movie. That was my ego's favorite present this year.

And if you haven't seen Personal Best, it's time for you to watch it!

Friday night (and this knocked my socks off) 9 of my Most Awesome Amigos surprised me with dinner at Momofuku.

It was such a joy to see everyone gathered at my favorite place. Now I know what it's like to be a Grandma with the whole family together for Thanksgiving.

The excitement! The anticipation!

Two Amazing surprises courtesy of Brittany:
1) That she was in town!

2) That she came as a carnivore (here she's eating pork jowl!)

Dinner was an absolute blow-out. Let's take a look at the appetizers (a few of these we ordered two of so there'd be plenty for everyone, if you wondered):

Long island fluke with lemon, celery, and nori. I liked this, it was zingy. I don't order from the raw section of their menu nearly enough. That everyone at the table could have a taste suggested a bit of a loaves and fishes miracle (or thoughtfulness in the kitchen).

Santa Barbara uni with beet tapioca, whipped tofu, and scallions. From what I've put together, this dish has been at Ssam for a long time, but spent some time off the menu, so this was the first time I could try it (again, I was mining the untapped resources of the raw section). A very exotic, compelling (if you'll let me use that word) dish...perhaps the most Ko'ish thing I've had at the Ssam bar?

Plate of seasonal pickled vegetables. I have missed those pickled shitakes, and the pickled bok choy was another favorite. I've never ordered the pickle plate before, big mistake.

Kimchi Apple Salad with smoked pork jowl, maple labne, and arugula. A reliable treat that I should try making at home. I'm always impressed by how excellent the quality of these apple slices is.

Here Jeff and Jared experience their first ever bites of a Momofuku pork bun. What sort of first visit to Momofuku would this be without this important initiation?

Various country hams and bread with sea salt butter and lardo. The kitchen was nice enough to send us a variety of hams to sample and some people at one of the ends of the table had a lot of fun calling each other "lardo."

Sichuan beef tendon with green mango and peanuts. If it weren't for all the tendon, this would be an extremely vegetable fan-friendly dish. Look at all the green!

Deep fried Brussels sprouts with mint, scallions, and fish sauce vinaigrette. Welcome to the magic, everyone.

Pork and foie gras terrine with pickled ramps, maple jelly, and little flowers. The most spreadable luxury item I've ever encountered. Probably could have absent-mindedly eaten this whole thing myself without even noticing.

Chilled asparagus salad. A special that night, I don't remember what was on it (what's that white thing? No Idea! I can't remember at all) but it was a hit. Again, remarkably high quality veggies abound at this alleged meat-lover's paradise.

Along the way Jared dropped a chunk of the foie gras terrine in his glass. It was gross looking and the glass was surprisingly difficult to replace. It was a joke for a while, this glass.

Finally, a new glass!

With the appetizers out of the way (just 14 plates of food, that's all), it was time to get down with the main course. Do you know what we had? Here's some clues (as they arrived at the table). There's our lettuce and sauces...

There's our dozen oysters...

And BLAMMO! There's our bo ssam, a ten pound roasted pork butt that had spent the day in the oven getting read for us (impressive until you consider that I had spent my whole life getting ready for it). The bo ssam is the Ssam Bar's signature dish/main attraction and it was finally time for me to battle it!

Assembly time!

(the oysters go with the pork)

Let's go.
Chow time!

Just Duane, but trust me, he chowed.

No, I didn't mean for soft light effects on my dinner because I was so in love with it, it's just that it was hard keeping pork grease off the camera at this point.

There we go, all cleaned up and beautiful. The condiments for the bo ssam were ginger scallion sauce, kimchi, pureed kimchi, and ssamjang. The idea is you wrap the pork up with rice, oyster, and condiments in one of these lovely bibb lettuce leaves.

The halfway point. Were we going to quit? NO!

To battle, warriors!

I told you Duane chowed! But why do we barely have any pictures of Ali? I have no idea at all. A terrible mistake.

Seriously, why is Hillary so awesome? Has anyone figured this out yet?

Vanquished!! We defeated you, pig! (don't worry, Jared took care of those last pieces and the fatty bits)

And then moved on to suck the marrow from the bone.

Trial by tong!
This is what I want to say about the Bo Ssam as food, not spectacle: It isn't just a huge amount of meat, it's also really delicious. Crispy skin, moist meat that falls apart with the touch of a tong, all sorts of flavors running through it and you add to those the various sauces and great sea salt out on the table, each bite can be a totally different taste explosion from the last.

Post-supper, we went up to Carol's place for a little dessert party gathering. In the time between our arrival and the drizzling in of the rest of the guests we had a lot of resting and recovering to do.

Carol wanted to see if I fit in her upstairs shower. Nope, not really.

Stunning pillow spinning.

Moving downstairs as guests began to arrive

The numbers begin to increase...

And then, before we knew it, there was a party going on!

As it got later, some got tired of their photos being taken...

And some couldn't get enough of it.

Oh, look at the hour! It's time to wrap this post, and these three awesome days, up.

Muchas gracias to everyone that helped make these three days of Birthday Awesomeness SO awesome. It was the best...and if you think the weekend's excitement ended Saturday morning around 3, sorry. Report on further excitement coming soon!


Bek said...

i hope you got a birthday spanking.

Side of Jeffrey said...

You did it! You finally did the ssam!