Gulps and Strokes

Birthdays are by far my favorite celebration. I think everyone deserves that Queen (or King) for the Day moment, and it doesn’t hurt that I also love to plan. This past Friday was my good friend Stacey’s birthday. We started off the evening with an incredible meal at Virago. This is not your ordinary California and Spicy Tuna roll type place. These sushi rolls were so unique. They included a variety of seafood, fruit, nuts, veggies, and sauces, and the different combinations of flavors and textures were simply amazing. We were so obsessed that we made a pact to try every roll by the end of the summer (I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!). The cocktails were cool, refreshing, and deceptively strong, which allowed for a pretty decent head start to Sips and Strokes, our next stop of the night.


Appetizers: (front) Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna and Pop Rocks (back) Lobster Shooters with Spicy Coconut Curry


Hawaii Five-O Roll: soy wrap, hamachi, escolar, hearts of palm, avocado, cream cheese and mango inside, rolled in toasted coconut, wrapped in kiwi, topped with honey fire sauce and macadamia nuts


Kiwi-Cucumber Cocktail: muddled kiwi, cucumber-infused Stoli, soda water…the most refreshing and delicious drink I’ve ever had


By recommendation of our awesome waiter, Tanto Roll: tempura lobster, avocado, pickled carrot, topped with tuna and fresh salmon sashimi, tempura crumbs, seared jalapeño, spicy yuzu, eel sauce


Dessert: Green Tea Mochi

Sips and Strokes (or as we renamed it – “Gulps and Strokes”) is a BYOB painting class in the gulch. They rotate artwork themes daily, and Friday night’s was wine bottles. At the start of class the instructor asked us who would consider themselves to be a Type A personality. Of course both of our hands shot straight up, but at least we were in good company with the rest of the class. The instructor’s advice to us crazy perfectionists was to just keep drinking wine and it will look better and better. I have to admit that the key to my immense enjoyment of the class, rather than pure frustration at my lack of painting skills was due entirely to my wine (and partner in crime, Stacey). Even so, I kept joking that my painting was going to turn out to be abstract wine bottles a la Picasso rather than the realistic example canvas. Fortunately, with some liquid courage (and the aid of the instructor) I’m pretty impressed with the finished product, not to mention that I didn’t stop laughing the entire time (#typical). I absolutely cannot wait to go back or recreate the idea in my apartment with some friends, blank canvases, a lot of wine, and maybe a good Ashton Kutcher movie too.


The night ended in typical college fashion down Broadway at one of our favorite bars, Rippy’s. We even got Stacey up stage with the band when we told the leader singer it was her birthday. Happy birthday, stace!



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