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I can’t believe it.

Half the summer is gone and I haven’t even had the chance to catch up with all of you and share some more details about my weekend long birthday celebrations (you may remember that I have 30 years now).

Since it was my birthday, I thought it would be the perfect excuse and opportunity to start scratching things off my summer bucket list.

Starting with Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Vince and I love road trips and any excuse to get in a car for a couple of hours and drive while singing to music, so even that part of our day was fun.

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We started off with a picnic by the lake. We didn’t want to make it too complicated so we picked up some fresh bread, olives, two types of cheese (one of which was brie), prosciutto and spicy salami. Afterwards we just nibbled on some fresh fruit. It was simple but fresh and tasty.

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The best parts about this picnic was not just the food, but lying down on the grass together, and me reading by the lake while Vince napped. Such a peaceful few hours with no phones or dashing off to work. Just sun, fresh air, a gorgeous view, and some relaxation.

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Afterwards we headed to a nearby winery and enjoyed our first wine tour. Vince and I have only started appreciating wine in the last 5 years so it’s only now become interesting for us to learn about how wine is made. While it was informative, I think once is totally enough. If we want to learn more about wine, we might take a course instead.

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For dinner we had reservations at Pellar Estates. You may remember that this was the winery that had food trucks in its backyard. Well there were no food trucks this time but it was still well worth the visit.

Vince and I sat on the patio overlooking the vineyard. It was such a great view. The food however, was the real winner.

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Poached duck egg with duck confit, crisp potato, rocket leaves and mustard dressing.

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Ice wine and black truffle lobster ravioli.

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Sumac roasted goose breast on lentils, spiced pear and carrot on a saffron fennel purée.

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Prosciutto wrapped rabbit saddle.

Creative, not too pretentious, and lots of quality, local ingredients combined with delicate but well-rounded flavour is how I would describe our meal. The service was excellent and they even offered us a complimentary palate cleanser and mini dessert.

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I think the dessert platter was our favourite.

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A couple of days later we had some friends over at my dad’s backyard patio. As a teenager and even in my early 20’s I would have all of my birthday parties in the backyard so it made total sense to bring it back there.

Vince decided to make a few Filipino style dishes that he would serve on a food truck. Let me tell you – the food was amazing and a total hit with all our guests! We had marinated and barbecued pork skewers, pancit (a Filipino rice noodle dish with fresh veggies and chicken), adobo chicken sliders on a pan de sol bun with slaw, and my mom made her famous spinach dip.

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With such delicious food, plenty of drinks, some tunes, great weather and most importantly, fantastic company, it was an amazing night!

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Who would’ve thought that cupcakes, champagne and sparklers would be so much fun!

The cherry on top was waking up the next morning to meet my parents and family for a buffet brunch in the Distillery District. I felt so lucky to be sitting down to eat with those I love the most in this world.

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I was all smiles like the cheshire cat the entire weekend. It was the best feeling to be surrounded by my closest friends and family and to have some special time with my husband.

It really was a birthday to remember!

Tomorrow morning we’re heading to New York and New Jersey for a short vacay.  We’re really looking forward to all the delicious food that awaits in Manhattan and will, of course, be sharing this with all of you when we get back!

With love,

Tammy