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Graham’s Birthday Comestibles (in Paris and Giverny)

October 25, 2010

Since, in all likelihood, Graham will only have one French birthday, I thought that this year it would be important to take advantage of the romantic French resources at hand. So, Graham’s birthday week included 1) biking through a couple of villages in Normandy, 2) the customary birthday cupcakes, and 3) drinks, followed by Godjo. We had a fantastic time, especially in Giverny–Graham should have birthdays more often!

If you’re interested in what our Godjo dinner was like, you can simply read this blog entry.

We decided that it would be fun to take a trip to Giverny, the small village where Monet spent many of the later years of his life, and where you can still visit his house and gardens.

Getting to Giverny involves taking a short train ride from Paris to the town of Vernon, and then finding a way to get from Vernon to Giverny. Since the day we went was a perfect fall day, we decided to rent a couple of bikes and take a scenic bike path to Monet’s house.

Of course, there isn’t much food in Giverny (it’s a very tiny village), much less vegan food, so we thought it would be good to pack a little picnic. In preparation for our picnic, I made some Mocha Mamas from the Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar cookbook.

These are totally delicious–rich chocolate-coffee cookies drizzled with a coffee glaze. The cookies turn out a little crispy on the outside, and nice and chewy on the inside. Usually the glaze would turn out white (since the glaze recipe calls for coffee extract, not real coffee), but I’m too cheap to buy coffee extract, and so instead I mixed a spoonful of instant coffee granules with a few drops of warm water, and then incorporated the resultant coffee goo into the glaze. I think it actually made them look more mocha-like.

Our picnic was fantastic. We had some sandwiches (with Vegusto dill “meat” and herb “cheese”),

some beautiful grapes,

some bread with hazelnut chocolate spread (we like the “Samba” brand, which is milk-free),

and, of course, the Mocha Mamas.

It was really a perfect picnic, with beautiful, sunny fall weather. And a great hubby, to boot!

After our picnic, we went to the Hotel Baudy, where we had some wine and coffee. The cafe itself was very sunny and cute–I especially loved the floor tiles!

And Graham, as usual, managed to make a new best friend.

After our wine, we got back on our bikes (bad idea?) and went back to Vernon, where we explored for a while. All in all, a perfect birthday day trip.

On Friday, Graham’s actual birthday, Graham wanted to go to a lecture, which was the perfect opportunity for me to surpise him with…

Okay, so it’s a little sad-looking. I wanted to create an edible birthday message, but ended up just empathizing with the people whose cakes get featured on I’ll just say: writing in cursive with chocolate ganache is difficult.

I decided to make chocolate coconut cupcakes, since G really likes both of those things.

Here’s how I did them. I followed the recipe for coconut-lime cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but I didn’t add any lime ingredients to the cupcake batter, and instead threw in some chocolate chunks. Then, instead of topping them with lime frosting, I made a simple chocolate ganache. Finally, I toasted some coconut shreds and sprinkled them on top.

Although we may have spoiled all future birthdays for Graham, I think we managed to make the most of this one!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. patricia leach permalink
    October 25, 2010 11:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing Graham’s birthday with me! I love the picture you took of him in the cafe and also at Giverny. He looks like Degas once did or another 19th c. French painter or intellectual.

  2. Caroline Brooks permalink
    October 28, 2010 8:32 pm

    Looks like it truly was a wonderful day for both of you – great pics of Graham (and the one on the bridge of you both)! Again, I am sorry we failed to wish Graham a happy birthday when we saw you two. 😦

    • October 29, 2010 7:29 am

      It really was a wonderful day! Don’t worry at all about not wishing him happy birthday in person–we were having so much fun with you, we forgot to mention it!

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