Monday, 14 November 2011

30th Birthday part one

I turned thirty last week, thus entering what I hope to be the best decade of my life thus far. To celebrate I had a weekend of festivities, which I will be sharing over the next few posts. There was a lot of food involved.

The weekend really kicked off on Thursday night, when I went and picked up Leigh from the airport. Leigh is a fantastic vegan chef and creator of vegan recipes, as well as being a published cookbook author. She is also a cat lady and sci-fi geek. She is also my friend. In fact, Leigh was the first other vegan I met! Leigh had come up to cater for my birthday party. Friday involved many hours in the kitchen preparing, before heading out to Loving Hut for a huge dinner, and then heading home again for more food prep (while watching Josie and the Pussycats and Bring It On).

The party started on Saturday afternoon. It was a garden party theme, so everyone was required to wear their garden party pretty clothing. It was lots of fun seeing everyone in their pretty dresses (and snazzy ties for the boys). It was a small party, only 13 guests. I much prefer small gatherings with my closests to huge parties. Several people had come up from Sydney as well, and I was so thankful they made the trip to celebrate with me.

Now, onto the food! I'll break this up into two posts. First up, the finger food portion for the afternoon! Some of these photos were provided by my friend Brendan Waite, who is a snazzy photographer with a snazzy camera, and thus had better photos than I did!

Caramelised Onion Tarts
(Photo courtesy Brendan Waite).

Mini caramelised onion tarts. These are from Leigh's upcoming pastry cookbook. A savoury shell filled with the most delicious white bean mixture you've ever tasted and topped off with caramelised onions.

Sundried Tomato Quiches
(Photo courtesy Brendan Waite).

Mini sundried tomato quiches. Leigh makes a magical quiche filling. These had a layer of sundried tomato on the bottom of the pastry as well as the little slivers on top.

Finger Sandwiches: Cucumber and Cream Cheese; Tomato Basil and Cream Cheese; BLT

You can't have a garden party without finger sandwiches. I had three kinds - Cucumber and Cream Cheese, Tomato Basil and Cream Cheese, and BLTs. The bacon was made from both tempeh and smoked tofu. Leigh also makes an addictive herby cream cheese spread. I loved them all, but the cucumber was my favourite. Must respect the classics.

Teapot with Freesias

I consulted with Twitter friend Arly for some decorating tips, she has a wonderful sense of whimsy and style for these things. She suggested flowers in teapots. These freesias were a super cute centerpiece in a purple teapot. The tablecloth was lace, of course.

Chipotle Lentil Balls and Venezualan Guacamole

Chipotle-Lentil Balls with Guasacaca. The balls are made from the burger recipe in Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and the guacamole is from a recipe in Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero.

Smoked Tofu Balls with Spicy Mango BBQ Sauce

Smoked Tofu Balls with Spicy Mango BBQ Sauce. The smoked tofu balls are a Leigh original, and the BBQ sauce was based on the recipe for Mango BBQ Baked Beans in Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Lemon Risotto Balls with Tomato Basil Sauce
(Photo courtesy Brendan Waite).

Lemon Risotto Balls with Tomato Basil Sauce. The risotto is made super lemony and also has peas in it. Yum!

Lanterns and Garlands

Most of the party was on my back deck, which I decorated with garlands of flowers (fake, I'm afraid), and some adorable pink paper lanterns. They were lit up later on as it was getting dark and were super pretty.

(Photo courtesy Brendan Waite).

How about some sweets? Mini-versions of Peanut Butter Caramel Blueberry Tart, also from Leigh's upcoming cookbook, and Mini Fruit and Custard Flans. These little flans were the first thing I ever ate made by Leigh, on the day that I met her all those years ago, and I still love them. The pastry shells are coated in chocolate on the inside.

Raspberry Lemonade

One must have appropriate garden party drinks. I don't drink alcohol, so it was virgin affair. This is some raspberry lemonade. I would love to say that I made it, but I just bought some big bottles of Charlie's Honest Old-Fashioned Raspberry Lemonade, which just happens to be delicious.

Iced Tea

We also made some iced tea. This is a T2 blend called Red Green Dreamy, which is Rooibos flavoured with peaches, plums and berries and makes a great iced tea. I normally drink my tea straight up, so Leigh took charge and sweetened it with a bit of agave nectar.

Chrystanthenums in Jug

More floral decorations - crysthanamums in a jug. There was a second white jug as well, slightly different, which I filled with these down the other end of the deck. Flowers are pretty!

That is part one of the birthday party post! If you can believe it, there is even more food to come! I will cover that, as well as some other fun garden party stuff, in the next post.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post


Yesterday I caught Sahara sleeping on the pink snuggie, which belongs to Dim Sim but is often stolen by Gizmo. I've never seen Sahara sleeping on it before, though!


  1. That looks like such a beautiful day, I'm so glad that you enjoyed it and it was special. The food looks fantastic - wow Leigh can cook, and the decor looks great, too..

  2. p.s. how good are those Charlie's drinks!!??

  3. Looks like a lovely birthday garden party and so much yummy food!

  4. Wow, that food looks so good! I hope the day was exactly how you wanted it :)


  5. What a pretty party! I agree - small parties are better, but I often worry about over catering when it's just a small group. But really, there's no such thing as overcatering, is there?

  6. Happy birthday! I can't imagine any better way to celebrate than a small party catered by Leigh. :-)

  7. Happy birthday, here's to a wonderful next decade! Your party looks brilliant, bet all your friends loved those treats!

  8. Food arrangements seems to be quite well managed and seasoning done is amazing. Went for a pool party organized by one of my friend. Her choice of booking a superb Seattle venues out of many is praiseworthy. Food and drinks were also of high quality. Overall the party was great fun with all.