Birthdays for Fat Kids: Sushi, Burgers, Shakes and…Harbison?

There was no doubt that my 24th birthday had to have something to do with food.

It all started at Zento.  With several recommendations to back it, we thought this would be a great opportunity to break from our norm, Vic’s on Sansom, to satisfy the sushi crave.  Unfortunately, we flubbed our ordering steez, going for lunch specials instead of their famously creative rolls.  We ended up with an okay spread of maki, sushi and sashimi.  Good quality and fresh, but by no means stellar.  We’ll definitely be back to try the Omakase, though.

Next, we headed straight to Charlie’s, a burger joint in Folsom, PA (airport territory) recommended to me for it’s black & white milkshake.  And man.  Did this place do the job.  Best burger and best shake I’ve had in ages.  Got the Charlie Special – one of approximately three menu options – and a black and white.  No frills perfection.  I’ve dreamed about that soft, mushy burger and dangerously chuggable shake every night since.  No lie.

After an afternoon perusing countless of the creepiest raw food maniac websites you’ve ever seen watching Vitamixes versus Blendtecs (you see – my lovely boyfriend got me the two best birthday presents ever: a Shun chef’s knife and a high-powered blender.  What a babe.), we headed to Di Brunos to finalize the pièce de résistance of my birthday’s gastro-bration, the spread:

We worked in trios: three meats, three cheeses, three beers.

Three meats: Smoked Paprika Salami handcured in Washington State, light little lomo florets, and a few precious slices of that unbelievably rich and greasy wild pig jamon iberico.  All stellar.

Three beers: a selection of Mikkeller single hopped brews:And the cheeses.  First up – Yellow Springs Farm Melange, a briefly aged goat and cow cheese charmer.  Smooth mouthfeel, sweet and supple with hints of citrus – it’s definitely worth a try if you can make it out to Chester County (unfortunately the lovely couple that owns Yellow Springs and their 30-50 Nubian goats, produce on far too small a scale for Di Brunos or other urban retailers to carry it for a marketable price):Next up, a classic – Fiore Sardo, a Sardinian ewe’s milk cheese, aged for several months on wet reeds, yielding a slightly smoky, damp, cellar-y flavor, which is refreshing in combination with the hard, crumbly and somewhat chalky texture.  Salty nutty sheepy delicious, especially tasty paired with some homemade black raspberry jam, here she is:And lastly, the star of the show – Jasper Hill Farms‘ new bloomy-rind beauty, Harbison:  Hard to get in the East and apparently impossible to get anywhere else, this gilded mystery is a must try.  Wrapped in the bark of trees freshly cut from their own woodlands, Harbison is aged to perfection for between 3 and 6 weeks.  Pillow-y white, her taut rind peels back to reveal the ooey gooey innards of a goddess…see the moment of truth here.  As you spoon the creamy goodness out of that stiff hoop of bloom-caked bark, the scent of the earth – floral, grassy and bright but also deeply dank and meaty – envelopes you as the paste melts into high heaven on your tongue.  My god:What a day.

All I have to say in closing is thank the lord for the Vitamix, because I spent the next five days drinking my meals in an attempt to make it all up to my poor intestine.  My stomach on the other hand – he had no complaints.

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