A Birthday of High Flying, Good Eats & The Great Outdoors

First off, whether it was by Facebook, Twitter, email, text, phone call, or in person — thank you for all of the birthday wishes this weekend.

The festivities started early on Friday night with Date Night at the ZOOvies. This was the second year in a row we celebrated my birthday with an evening of food, beer, and an 80s classic under the stars.

Pre-movie dinner at Date Night at the ZOOvies

Pre-movie dinner at Date Night at the ZOOvies

The Cleveland Zoological Society always does a great job with ZOOvies – especially, the pre-movie food. This year, the eggrolls and BBQ sandwiches were the standouts.

However, it’s the movie snacks that are my favorite part. Besides popcorn, beer, wine, and soda, ZOOvies features a pretzel bar with multiple dips and a candy bar stacked with bowls of sweets from BA Sweeties.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo showed The Great Outdoors, which I had never seen before but Scott kept quoting for the last month.  It was good to finally put a film to the quotes — a film that lived up to the high expectations Scott had set for me.

Scott rests his feet after setting up our chairs at Date Night at the ZOOvies

Scott rests his feet after setting up our chairs at Date Night at the ZOOvies

I loved The Great Outdoors for capturing everything I enjoy about 80s flicks — the family-vacation-gone-wrong-but-it-doesn’t-matter-because-they-still-have-fun; the bawdy humor; Dan Akroyd and John Candy playing off of each other; the sub-titled animal scenes.

I also realized how much I missed hearing John Candy’s voice. There was always a wink and warmth to it.

After eating a plate full of sour gummy bears, I rode a sugar high all the way home from the Zoo, arriving just in time to crash face first into bed.

If you want to learn how you can enjoy the really great outdoors with the Zoo, the Zoological Society’s next featured event is a preview of their upcoming wildlife trips and takes place September 23.

Some of my favorite airplanes from RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton

Some of my favorite airplanes from RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton

Birthday proper was spent fulfilling a lifelong wish. When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with remote-controlled everything. I played with remote-control cars and boats; however, the one thing I never touched was a remote-control airplane. (Mostly, because I’m 100% sure I would have immediately crashed and broken it.)

And I think that made my obsession with them even stronger.  I remember going to a park with my dad and marveling at the beautiful scaled warbirds doing tricks across the sky. Unfortunately, my local hobby shop didn’t offer a lot of flying classes for kids, so I kept myself content with my RC trucks.

When Scott and I found out the Liberty Aviation Museum was hosting RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton on my birthday, we immediately knew it would be the perfect birthday outing.

Classic biplanes, jets, helicopters, aerobatic – RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton featured all kinds of flying machines this past weekend.  Each beautifully constructed, most of which you wouldn’t have known were a model when looking up at the sky.  Here’s a YouTube video from the event:

Best of all, Warbirds over Port Clinton had local RC shops at the show, selling a HUGE range of planes and equipment, including a starter kit whose price had my name all over it. Now if I crash and burn, I won’t feel so bad. And if I don’t crash and burn? I may have a new hobby to enjoy.

After a short nap (at 32, I can’t rock a full day of excitement anymore without a little sleep), we were off to dinner at Spice in Gordon Square.

Spice Kitchen and Bar's Honey Glazed Sirloin

Spice Kitchen and Bar’s Honey Glazed Sirloin

After this year’s birthday dinner, I can’t say enough nice things about Spice Kitchen and Bar. We’ve always enjoyed the restaurant the few times we visited in the past, but our experience on Saturday night was by far the best.

Due to a last minute change in plans, we found ourselves calling Spice at 7pm Saturday to see if they could fit a group of six for 7:45.

A long shot, for sure, but they were incredibly gracious about it and we even lucked out and got my favorite table in the entire restaurant — a gorgeous long wooden table, decked out with wooden tree trunks.

My Honey Lavender Collins went very well with our table setting at Spice Kitchen and Bar

My Honey Lavender Collins went well with our table

As always, the service and food were fantastic. To start, Scott ordered the dumplings, while I ordered the mushroom beignets. I was talking with a friend on Monday about how we would go to Spice just for those beignets and the honey goat cheese creme fraiche they’re served with. If you kept putting orders of these in front of me, I would just keep eating them:

I could eat five orders of Spice's Mushroom Beignets

Fortunately, I stopped myself and saved room for our entrees. Scott’s sirloin featured a hint of honey glaze, wonderfully balanced by the meat’s peppery kick. I ordered the evening’s special – rabbit pappardelle. The rabbit and noodles were incredibly tender. If they offer you a rabbit special when you go, I highly recommend it.

I topped this magnificent dinner with a Honey Lavender Collins and the fantastic company of Jen, Alicia, their husbands and the Morrises in spirit.

All in all, a lovely way to say hello to 32. I’m looking forward to the year ahead.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Date Night at the ZOOvies with a guest in exchange for previewing the event. Opinions are 100% my own.

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