This past weekend, I celebrated my 36th Birthday a couple of different ways. I have come a long way from the mega-themed parties of my mid 20s (although I miss them, it really takes a lot to plan and with my friends all spread out over the globe, next to impossible to get everyone together in one location) and these days I settle for dinner with some of the family and then hanging out with my friends - very similar to last year's festivities.
It started on Saturday as we attempted to go to Miceli's for the third year in a row. I waited until the last minute to get reservations, but managed to score one at 6:30 in Studio City and 7:15 in Hollywood as a backup. The plan was to meet the relatives up at Dad's and then carpool into town. Due to illnesses and whatnot, our group was whittled down to just four of us and after much debate, it was decided that I would drive into LA. We almost made it down to the freeway when Amanda called to say that she was on her way to meet us in Hollywood. I told her to head for Studio City since we were going to try there first. Dad did not want her driving the delivery truck into LA, so we decided to meet her at her apartment and then have her squeeze into the CR-V.
As we headed to backtrack to Amanda's, we noticed the freeway was stopped dead. It turns out it was a good thing that we didn't just get onto the freeway as we would have been stuck in traffic for who knows how long. Taking the back roads, we passed by Dad's old house - the first of 3 nostalgic drive-bys. We had good timing as Amanda showed up shortly after we arrived at her place and we were back on the road. By then, it was already 6pm, and we decided to make Hollywood since it had the later reservation. Despite the endless din from the backseat about going local and waiting another week to go to the restaurant, we headed into LA.
We made it as far as the bottom of Kellogg Hill before we hit traffic again. It cleared up as we passed Forest Lawn, but once we headed down into the Covinas, we saw the endless miles of breaklights as the 10 was also bumper to bumper. Jerri had the great idea of trying the Brazilian BBQ place. Although not what I had originally envisioned as a birthday dinner, I was intrigued to try it since it had been mentioned a few times previously. Boy did we make the wrong call!
Brazilian BBQ is an interesting concept. Think Hometown Buffet without the Ice Cream and the selection. It has a plussed up Salad and side dish bar, and then 14 different varieties of beef that is brought to your table on skewers. We tried all sorts of different beefs, some good like the Beef Kabobs, and some not so good like the brisket or duck. In addition, it was very overpriced! But at the end of the dinner, I decided to get a piece of Chocolate Cake, and after Jerri spilled the beans that it was my birthday, they all sang something in Portuguese, which I assumed was some sort of birthday chant.
We departed the restaurant and quickly crossed it off the repeat list, but at the same time I was glad that we attempted it. Oh, and I should note that at one point after the salad, I was cutting a piece of meat and it flew off my plate and onto my shirt, making a big mess and sending everyone into fits of laughter. On our way back to Dad's, we cruised by the Shamwood House and the Aldenville House to see how they looked, years after family members lived there.
The nightcap at Dad's included the traditional gift exchange and cake. The highlight was the disposable underwear that Jerri got, which marks two years in a row I got an underwear themed present!