the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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366/365: See You Later

366/365: See You Later

Thanks to the leap year, I couldn't resist adding an extra day to the 365 project. Here we find Andrew, Cory, and Liz headed to dinner at Greenhouse Tavern on a cold and snowy night far different from the unseasonable weather we enjoyed last year. As usual, Greenhouse delivered an amazing culinary journey that made for both a delightful birthday celebration for Liz and a satisfying end to a challenging year.

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252/365: Five Years

252/365: Five Years

It's hard to believe that Claire's been with us for five years now. Of course, whether that should be qualified with "already" or "only" depends on how she's acting. Either way, I'm continually amazed by her and the adventures we get to share together.

Claire had asked for Danko's Donuts instead of cake; they were a huge hit at an already epic Lego-filled, Rocket Car-powered party. We owe huge thanks to Matt Danko and his team for accommodating our special order! Here we find an eager hand, ready to bring donut to mouth before we can even light the candles, which is pretty much Claire in a nutshell--excited to dive in and get started, whether we're ready or not.

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251/365: Friend Me

251/365: Friend Me

We always try to mix up something fun for the grown-ups who come to Claire's birthday parties, and this year is no exception. I really had to scour through the Mixology app to find something that fit with the "Lego Friends" theme that was also delicious, but in the end, I think that the "Friend Me" will be a winner.

So what's involved?

  • 2 parts reposado tequila
  • 1 part pomegranate liqueur
  • 1 part lime juice
  • 1 part simple syrup

Mix, shake, strain into a chilled glass, and garnish with lime. We tried adding a splash of tonic water in some experimental tastings and enjoyed what it did, but didn't mix it into the big batch for the party. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

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246/365: First Pass Pink

246/365: First Pass Pink

In the wake of shooting two thousand photos in two days (thanks a lot, Cleveland Air Show and North Coast Challenge), I aimed a little more modestly today and only shot a handful of things. Here we find a craft project in progress--Liz's conversion of a Fat Heads box into a hot pink Lego brick piñata for Claire's birthday party. A coat of primer probably would have been a good idea...

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I might be old, but dammit, I ROCK!

Yes, I just completed the solo guitar tour on Rock Band, and even though I was only playing on medium, it feels pretty freaking awesome. My wife (goddess!) sprung for an Xbox 360, and my mother-in-law (what a sweetie) sent me Rock Band, and I've basically been playing three hours a night since the goodies arrived.

We had a bunch of folks over Saturday evening to rock out, and lo, the rock was out in force. A buddy of mine gave me a drum throne to make the experience even better. Liz also scored some great wine to share with us (mmm, vintage Grand Cru Champagne....) and cooked an amazing meal (mmm, beef tenderloin; mmm, Guinness chocolate cake) that all enjoyed. Meanwhile, our daughter (angel!) slept through it all (miracle!).

I'm looking forward to getting folks together again soon (regularly?), but for now, this little rock star needs his beauty sleep.

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Best. Birthday. Ever.

I've heard that the measure of a party's excellence is how much one hurts the next day. By this metric, I have officially had the best birthday party ever. We wound down around four this morning, and I've just rolled out of bed to assess the situation, begin the first round of Advil, and start considering the degree to which I will be human today. My right shoulder hurts like hell from too much Wii Tennis, and I am generally crapulous. (I proclaim these proudly as merit badges earned by devotion to good partying.)

Many, many thanks to everyone who came, and especially to Liz for putting the whole thing together. It's not often that I get to feel terribly special, so it was a real treat.

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Allez Cuisine!

Liz's birthday is on New Year's Eve (apparently her folks really wanted to claim the deduction ASAP), and since we generally prefer not to go out when it's going to be a suicidal drunkfest on the highways, we tend to stay in and fix up something tasty to enjoy. This year, as part of her birthday present, Liz wanted me to plan, purchase, and prepare dinner; I've picked up enough from her that I was able to crank out the following tasty feast with only her minimal assistance and advice:

Cheese Platter

  • Brillat Savarin, France
  • Langres, France
  • Chimay la Biere, Belgium
  • Pate of foie gras with black truffles
  • Toast points and provencale water crackers
  • Wine: NV Casteller Cava, Spain


  • Mesculin greens
  • Crisped pancetta
  • Pomegranite
  • Crumbled bleu cheese
  • Crumbled pecans
  • Balsamic vinagrette dressing

Main Course

  • Long bone veal chops
  • Rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes
  • Wine: 2001 Clos de L'lovac, Priorat


  • Bananas Foster
  • Mitchell's vanilla ice cream
  • Wine: NV Bonny Doon Muscat Vin De Glacier

Bubbles Redux

(For properly ringing in the New Year)

  • 1996 Gosset-Brabant, Ay, Champagne

Everything turned out just about as perfect as could be (yay) and I didn't manage to burn down the house with the Bananas Foster (double yay), so I'm feeling pretty darn good about the whole thing.

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Liz took me out to the much-hyped Lola last night for my (slightly belated) birthday dinner. While I enjoyed spending the evening with the woman of my dreams, I thought the whole restaurant experience was a bit uneven.

Bad: It's dark. Really, really dark. Can't read the wine menu dark. Champagne looks like beer dark. Can't see your food dark.

Good: I haven't listened to the entirety of Portishead's Dummy in, gosh, forever.

Bad: Anything lamb-related is a bit gristly, and almost overwhelmed with mint.

Good: White bean soup. Mmmm....

Bad: Foie gras bratwurst sounds like a good idea until you eat it. This is the first time that I've ever disliked a foie gras-based item.

Good: Smoked fish are my tasty, tasty friends.

Bad: The outer layer of my bizarre little pheasant roll-ups was cooked way, way too hard, which made it really difficult to cut.

Good: Whatever music followed Portishead was really, really groovy.

Good: Nice wine list...

Bad: But they were out of the bottle that we wanted (a Russian River single vineyard Pinot Noir).

Indifferent: Dessert was okay, but nothing spectacular.

I guess I'm glad to have tried it, because I'd never know what it was unless I did, but I don't think I'll be going back any time soon. For the money, I'd much rather work my way through the menu at Parallax, where I have good odds of being amazed with every bite.

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Twenty-eight doesn't really feel all that different from twenty-seven.

In fact, it barely feels like a birthday at all.

Our CEO did hug me and loudly sing "Happy Birthday" right to my face, though. That was a bit... uh... different.

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Last Saturday, my mother-in-law took us to Topolobampo as an early birthday present. I have been trying to find the words to describe the amazing meal that we experienced, but it's just not working. This will have to do instead.

Chef Rick Bayless, by the way, is a really nice and gracious man, genuinely interested in how we were enjoying our meal, and he very patiently accepted my compliments on his Iron Chef appearance. I was honored to eat his food, let alone shake his hand.

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