It was my birthday recently, and I had the most fantastic day. I am definitely not talking about the weather - it was very cold, with a biting wind and rain. No, it was a fantastic day because I spent the entire day (literally) in the company of friends.
In the morning, I went to Preston Market with my friend, Elisa, to shop for lunch. Erm ... and I might have picked up a few things here and there - for instance, I had to try a Baby Ruth bar, purely for research purposes, of course - ummm, and a truckload of dried fruit for Christmas cake and puddings, and err, some cake decorating supplies, because you can never have enough of those and ....
Back at Elisa's, closely supervised by her two pooches, Coops and Porter, Elisa made us delicious veggie tarts using the spoils from our market trip.
Next came dessert - hooray! Elisa made me a birthday cake - this is the second year in a row that someone has made me a cake, and I am as pleased as punch. The cake, pictured at the top of this post, is a White Wings white chocolate and raspberry cake, to which Elisa had added marshmallows (knowing my obsession with them).
Here's me blowing out the candles:
And here's a slice of cake - look at the lovely colour on the inside:
The afternoon comprised of chatting and watching Edward Scissorhands (which, shamefully, I had never seen from beginning to end before).
A short train trip and a quick change later, I was off to dinner at Assaggi, an Italian restaurant in Malvern. Assaggi is run by an Italian family, and the food is excellent. (Matt Preston reviewed it here.) There is a wood-fired pizza oven in the front kitchen that you walk past on the way in. The friendly staff ushered us promptly to our upstairs table (I was a little late because of my trip back from the north), and remained friendly and upbeat throughout. Tap water is available on request, provided in large bottles, and is replaced without prompting throughout the meal. The restaurant is both BYO and licensed, so you have the best of both worlds. Corkage is $7 a bottle.
I had been to Assaggi once before with my friend Veronica, and I knew that the pizzas at Assaggi were devine. Accordingly, I knew I was going to order pizza. Here is my choice - the Delicioza, which has a crispy, thin, light as a feather crust topped with bocconcini, speck, gorgonzola and pear slices:
Although the pizza fills the plate, its light crust makes it easy for one person to tackle as a main meal.
Everyone else enjoyed their selections too - James ordered an enormous whole flounder served with beetroots which looked very impressive, the girls both ordered the gnocchi, Christian had the linguine carbonara and Tim had another type of pizza.
Despite being full, of course we ordered dessert. I ordered the berry semifreddo, which tastes every bit as good as it looks:
Assaggi has a warm, friendly atmosphere, with staff who make you feel welcome. Its authentic Italian food is wonderful, and everything on the menu sounded appealing.
Overall, it was a fun birthday. Thanks to my friends who made it that way.
99 Glenferrie Rd
Ph: (03) 9500 1624