I have the bestest friends!

If you happen to follow the lovely Erin’s blog, you’ll know that she and some of my other fabulous friends threw me a surprise party last weekend.  I knew something was up, because Erin told me to save the date and “ask no questions!”

I’m a rule follower, so I did my best.  Plus, I really love surprises!  When I was a kid, I used to ask Santa for a surprise.  Seriously.  It must have driven my parents crazy.

As surprises go, this was a great one.  Erin and Tina arranged for us to have a private cooking class at Ole, a great Mexican restaurant in Cambridge.  They decorated the place up, complete with a Happy Birthday banner with my pictures on it and really cool succulents planted in food cans. Wanna see?

For much better pics, visit Erin's blog.  It's hard to take good photos of your own surprise birthday party!

For much better pics, visit Erin’s blog. It’s hard to take good photos of your own surprise birthday party!

The main event of the afternoon was a cooking class with Ole chef and co-owner Erwin Ramos. Luckily, Chef Ramos’ mentor, Master Chef George Karousos, just happened to be in town. So, we got the honor of learning from both of them.

But first, we needed some margaritas…

I'm pretty sure Chef Ramos is pointing at me to say that the birthday girl gets the first margarita.  There was a lot of that going on...

I’m pretty sure Chef Ramos is pointing at me to say that the birthday girl gets the first margarita. There was a lot of that going on…

b2013-01-26 12.28.22

My favorite part of this picture? Chef Karousos not-so-patiently waiting for his turn to talk about food!

b2013-01-26 12.28.55

Yes, that would be two margaritas. The regular one was waiting for me when we arrived, and we learned to make the hibiscus one. Fantastic!

Chef Ramos is originally from the Philippines, but Mexican food is his passion. Chef Karousos is, as his name implies, from Greece. Maybe it was their charming accents, or maybe it was those margaritas, but I found their food wisdom to be invaluable. Luckily, Tina had made us all little notebooks, and I started scribbling in mine right away.

Food is art. Food is music. All you need to know is good combinations. –E.R.

First is the colors, we see food first. Second is smell, we smell food second. God gave you the nose to make the taste. –G.K.

Master Chef George Karousos.

Master Chef George Karousos.

Don’t make it complicated. Take a simple recipe and do it right. –E.R.

Lard is coming back with a roar. –E.R.

Quality food is expensive. What’s more important, a luxury car or you? –G.K.

Enjoy the tradition, but embrace the technology. –E.R.

Chef Erwin Ramos making amazing guacamole.

Chef Erwin Ramos making amazing guacamole.

If you go to the supermarket, never even look at the specials. –G.K.

Before you run around looking for an unusual ingredient, google it and look for a substitute. –E.R.

Today we have stores in the mall, they pay $10,000 in rent to sell vitamins. Helloooooo. If you eat fresh food, you get the vitamins. –G.K.

Me and "my" chefs!

Me and “my” chefs!

Of course, not everyone was busy scribbling in notebooks. What do you think might have been going on here?

Priceless.  Just...priceless.

Priceless. Just…priceless.

Even though we were all completely full, Erin and Tina wouldn’t let my day end without cupcakes and candles to blow out.

This photo was taken milliseconds before Tina had to save my hair from bursting into flames.  Eeek!

This photo was taken milliseconds before Tina had to save my hair from bursting into flames. Eeek!

And, at the end, Chefs Ramos and Karousos signed a chef’s hat for me. Maybe I’ll wear it the next time you come over for dinner?

Why didn't anyone tell me I was wearing my chef's hat sideways? This is why I should stick to writing!

Why didn’t anyone tell me I was wearing my chef’s hat sideways? This is why I should stick to writing!

The girls packed up my things, including a few awesome plants for my big windowsill and that totally cool Happy Birthday banner.

Oh yeah, that's me dressed up as an 80s chick.  Pretty hot, eh?

Oh yeah, that’s me dressed up as an 80s chick. Pretty hot, eh?

And with that, the official 40th birthday celebrations have ended.  I feel loved, fed, honored, and ready to take on this damm decade.  Muah!

 

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