Flashback to twelve months ago. Willow’s parents had just driven 180 miles from England’s south coast to surprise Willow on her 28th Birthday. We had a table booked at The Wilderness, a fine dining restaurant in the heart of Birmingham which paired exquisite food with rock music fuelled ambience. Our meal was followed by a trip to one of Birmingham’s finest gin houses, where we tasted a variety of artisan gins before heading off to an ‘Escape Room’ challenge.
It’s safe to say, that Willow’s 29th birthday would not be as action-packed as her last one. But her last birthday in her 20’s would still be memorable, even if it wasn’t for the right reasons.
The day started with freshly made American pancakes and a glass of buck’s fix, as it’s not a proper start to a birthday if there isn’t something sparkling with alcohol inside.
Hanno and Kerstin had bought a piñata for Karsten’s birthday celebrations, but as he and Steffi had decided to ditch us in order to travel alone, it was now going free. I had arranged for the Thompsons to come over in the evening for a curry night and party games, where we would all take turns taking our Covid19 frustrations out on the colourfully decorated assortment of cardboard and sugar paper.
With breakfast sorted, I headed into town to try and source all of the ingredients that I would need for the evening’s meal.
Pathia, Korma, Sag Panner with Bombay potatoes, naan and rice as sides. Something that would keep me busy most of the day.
Not surprisingly, Indian curries aren’t particularly common in Baja Mexico, so the ingredients required would normally be quite difficult to source. Fortunately, the local health food store in town had a great selection of spices and so I was pleasantly surprised to find almost all of the ingredients I needed.
As it was Friday, my next destination was the Todos Santos Brewery to replenish our growler. The brewery had a quarantine promotion, where you received a free refill upon your 10th order. Although we hadn’t been in town too long, we were quickly closing in on our free booze.
With a rucksack full of curry spices and beer, I headed back to the casita with all the right ingredients for a decent birthday meal. All I had to do now was cook it all. Something which would test my capabilities, as the shared kitchen only had a two hob gas burner.
Whilst I prepared food, Willow called her family back home. This would be her first birthday where she wouldn’t see her family. An impressive achievement for someone who had practically been living 180 miles from them since the age of 18!
With the curries simmering, I dashed upstairs to do the finishing touches to my chocolate avocado cake icing. A process which didn’t require much, except blending avocados with cacao powder and oil, but it still managed to make a mess all over Hanno and Kerstin’s balcony kitchenette.
I returned downstairs to the fragrant smell of curry spice, which filled the complex and I tried my best to keep all of the curries progressing, a task that was much easier said than done. Fortunately, I had some assistance from the Thompson youngsters.
Which the food almost ready, I needed an excuse to get Willow out of the way so we could set up the piñata, so I sent her to the shops to find some cashew nuts for the korma.
Hanno and Kerstin prepared some freshly made naan bread which smelt and tasted delicious.
We all gathered around the table and I soon served up giant pots full to the brim with curry. The limited cook space was challenging enough, but the task was made harder by trying to prepare enough curry for 8 people to eat.
As people filled their plates, it was obvious that I had cooked up more than a sufficient amount, with enough left over to probably feed everyone once more!
The group all suddenly became very quiet, with the occasional gasp of delight as someone’s taste buds had another hit of an unfamiliar flavour sensation. Even Sam and Sloane were trying the food on offer. That had to be a good sign right?
The curry seemed to go down a treat. They weren’t on the same level as the curries we ate back home, but I felt that I had done them justice.
Once the food was cleared away, we continued partying into the night chatting over drinks. As it started to get dark, it was time to crack out the piñata and we all took it in turns to bash the piñata, letting out all of our quarantine frustrations. It turned out that Mexican piñatas are made of stern stuff and we each had multiple goes, bashing it in the hope that each hit would be the defeating blow.
The piñata did eventually succumb tour fatal blows and the girls rushed over to get their rewards, but their happiness soon turned to confusion, as the found the piñata empty. Hanno and Kerstin believed that the piñata was already pre-stuffed based on the amount they paid, how heavy it felt and they swore they could hear sweets inside. It turned out that it was made with just layers upon layers of cardboard!
The adults found this hilarious, but I don’t think the girls appreciated the humour.
Stuffed with enough curry to last a lifetime, a few of us tried Willow’s birthday cake, which went down a treat also. It seemed I had nailed the day’s menu. I f you would like to book me for a celebratory event, you can contact me on 0800-leewillbakeit. I am not cheap and I may drink most of the party’s beer, but you’ll have an ominous-sounding cake to show for my efforts.
We thanked the Thompsons for coming and made plans to eat leftover curry in the morning along with more Bloody Marys, before turning in for the night.
Next year would be Willow’s 30th and I prayed that we wouldn’t still be living in this casita by the time it came around. But with the way things were playing out, no one could be sure what the future would bring.