Friday, October 30, 2009

A Three-Day Celebration

October 2009 631

Those of you who follow this blog know that my birthday celebration began back in July, when I reunited with three of my high school buddies for a fun-filled trip to California. We are all marking a significant birthday this year (don’t ask) and while the other three reached their milestone earlier in the calendar year, mine was last week.

If ever there was a painless way to usher in a birthday, surely it was this year’s three-day celebration. The fun started with a drive north to New York, through the village of Sleepy Hollow and on to Pleasantville, where we visited Tony and Silvana Prospero of Prospero Winery. We bought several cases of their award-winning, red, white and dessert wines, as well as a case of Prosecco – all made from California grapes. That should be enough to hold us over until after the holidays, we hope.

October 2009 732

On the way home, through the picturesque country roads, we halted at a sign that said “Stone Barns.” Earlier in the week, I had watched a TV show filmed at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, hosted by Eric Ripert, chef at New York City’s noted “Le Bernardin.”  What fun to come upon it serendipitously on our drive.

October 2009 453-1

Stone Barns is a lush, 80 acres of rolling pastures, gardens and woods in Pocantico Hills, 30-miles north of New York City. It’s also the site of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a restaurant that highlights the abundance and freshness of organically-grown crops and animals that graze freely in their Hudson Valley pasture lands.

We inquired about eating there, but alas, the restaurant has a six-month waiting list. Moreover, the least expensive item on the menu is $75 – served only on Wednesdays and Thursdays - a three-course meal called the Farmer’s Supper. The menu does not contain specific dishes, but rather lists ingredients that are in season (like pears, squash or chestnuts) that may be served on a particular evening.

Even though we didn’t get to eat at the restaurant, we still enjoyed a delicious black bean soup and tomato and goat cheese focaccia at the more casual outdoor cafe, framed in by the stunning fall foliage.

October 2009 451-1

Day two started with a class I’m auditing at Princeton University. Just walking through the campus, ablaze with color, is a celebration all by itself on a fall day:


The day ended at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House, where Renee Fleming was in top form in a near-perfect production of “Der Rosenkavalier”:

October 2009 519

The temperature was as warm as a September evening, tempting many people to head outdoors at intermission, some to gather at Lincoln Center’s glorious new fountain:

October 2009 515 But the real fun came on Friday night back in Princeton, when my friends and family hosted a dinner party in my honor. They made me feel like queen of the night. I even got a tiara!  It was a truly special evening, with tons of good food (that I didn’t have to prepare), lots of laughter, guitar-playing, singing and even a bit of dancing. Truly a birthday to remember.

October 2009 561

This is only some of the food we ate that night – filet mignon, lasagna Bolognese, peperonata, roasted cauliflower and home made, no-knead bread. Not shown are the terrific hors d’ouevres and the scrumptious salad. The lead shot is the birthday cake – my favorite – a chocolate truffle mousse cake.

Some advice on staying young given to me by my friends at the party:

  • Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height
  • Keep only cheerful friends
  • Enjoy the simple things
  • Don’t take guilt trips
  • Always remember: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.




  1. Those pieces of advice at the end are so true! What a wonderful 3-day celebration with fantastic food and friends. Now don't you wish you could do it all over again? ;-)

  2. While reading this post my littlest Wild Thing, Luca, was sitting on my lap. When we saw the last photo, of the food, he said "Yum yum!" I agree! Now I'm off to feed this hungry toddler, but first a very warm Happy Birthday! to you!!!
    By the way, great advice.

  3. Loved this post!
    Happy birthday my friend, you are a queen! (I like the lace in the backround of the bday cake! sexy!).

  4. Linda, buon compleanno!..
    Complimenti per le foto, i colori sono magnifici, i paesaggi pure!
    Un bacione!

  5. Ciao Linda buon compleanno, che bello poter festeggiare per tre giorni con gli amici e del cibo delizioso.
    Buon fine settimana Daniela.

  6. Happy Birthday for last week...what super celebrations you have all had..great trip, super food and fabulous friends :-) :-)

  7. birthday! What a beautiful post - the sentiments, the villages, Lincoln Center and the food! We should all have birthdays like that!

  8. Happy 30th my dear friend.;)Wonderful family, great friends, and beautiful memories. That's what life is all about! I'm loving all that wine you got!

  9. Hi Linda- happy belated birthday! Sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate with your good friends.

    Those Fall colors are stunning!

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Happy Birthday Linda!

    You celebrated in style. May you have many more wonderful adventures ahead!

  12. Happy Birthday Linda! What an amazing celebration.


  13. Happy Birthday! Sounds like you had a great celebration!

  14. Looks like you had a fabulous birthday, with great friends, great scenery and great food, who could ask for more!

  15. Happy Birthday! Sleepy Hollow is my home town so it was great to see some pictures (I live in CA now). GO back to Stone Barns-it's fabulous. I spent a good part of my youth tromping around the fields there!

  16. Tanti auguri, Linda! Happy belated birthday! Thanks for sharing your birthday celebrations with virtual friends.

  17. Happy Birthday Linda! What a wonderful celebration. Your post was very touching - the advice of your friends is perfect. Auditing a class at Princeton - so awesome! I think that you are amazing!

  18. Happy birthday! This looks like a lovely day! I love all of the pictures.

    And look at all of that food! The cake is my favorite.

  19. That sounds like a perfect day! I visited Stone Barns a few years ago and they suggested eating in the bar area. You don't need a reservation and it's a wonderfully cozy nook complete with a fireplace. While it's not the full dinner experience, I would think it would be magical in it's own way. Happy Belated Birthday!

  20. Happy Birthday, I'm sure you and the gals had a blast!

  21. Happy belated birthday! So you too are a libra?
    I think I'll print those friendly advices and I'll hang them on the wall!