Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Birthday in Wine Country

While my birthday was not the reason for the trip, I was thrilled to be able to celebrate my special day in such a beautiful part of the country!

Nov 7, 2011

Woke up to the smell of bacon and French toast at our B&B in Healdsburg.


Why can’t there be platters of fresh fruit waiting for me every morning??  (Brian I’m talking to you…;) IMG_1766

Coffee, of course, and I really want these mugs!  Best part is that I saw them at Sur La Table a few days later!!  IMG_1767

One thing I really wanted to do on our vacation was go for a hike and see some Redwoods!  So that is just what we did after breakfast.  

We swung by the market to grab sandwiches to pack for lunch and drove out to the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve.


That old stump makes Brian look like a miniature size person!!!   IMG_1783

Seeing those trees in person is indescribable…they are just so marvelous, and HUGE!

After hiking and a picnic lunch we stopped by a couple wineries on our way back to the B&B. IMG_1831 IMG_1834

The properties were all so gorgeous.


Once we returned, changed, rested, and enjoyed cocktail hour at the B&B…we headed to dinner.

Cyrus restaurant.  I debated for a while on where I wanted to have my birthday dinner….there are just SO many amazing restaurants out there!!  Ultimately I chose Cyrus because I’ve never been to a Michelin star restaurant (Cyrus has 2 Michelin stars), and have never had this type of multi-course dinner “experience” before. 

And an experience it was! 

The photo above was taken at the end of the night…we had 7:30 reservations (ideally you would go earlier), and didn’t leave until around 11!   The place was packed when we arrived though.



I’ll apologize now for the low-lit craptastic iphone photos, but I HAD to document this meal and it was NOT the time or place to be whipping out my big DSLR…so discrete iphone photos it was!


After sitting down and starting to look over the menus, a cart (the first of many that evening) comes rolling over with a selection of champagne and caviar.  The cart also contained an old fashion scale to weigh out your selections. 

We decided to pass on the caviar this time ;)

Next up was a tower of canapés to stimulate all the different taste buds and flavors: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and Umami


Starting from the bottom:

Umami - a mushroom broth (can’t remember the type of mushroom). 

Sweet - Next level on one of the spoons was a grape “bubble”: not quite sure how it’s done but it was a bubble that popped in your mouth containing a sweet grape liquid.  So interesting!

Bitter – Another spoon held a grapefruit gel with candied grapefruit peel

Salty – A small gruyere cheese puff (delicious!)

Sour -  carrot pixi stix!!  (shown below), inside those straws was a sour carrot powder that you ate like a pixi stick!!  So creative!  Granted mine went down wrong and I was coughing for a while after, but I loved the concept.


I enjoyed a refreshing cocktail:

The “Pomiranian”
Hangar One Orange Blossom Vodka, Pomegranate Juice, Lime Juice, Black Pepper-Allspice Syrup,
Pomegranate Seeds, Fresh Mint


The Amuse Bouche was a parfait of 4 squashes.  I don’t have this one written down but it was four different squashes in different forms/textures all layered.  We were told to dig down to the bottom to get all 4 layers in a bite.


One of MY favorite parts was a warm bread basket that kept coming around with 5 or 6 different types of bread, rolls, and biscuits all waiting to be tasted. 

I started with a pretzel croissant and a brioche bun…


2 types of butter: cows milk and goats milk
and 2 types of salt: sea salt and pink Hawaiian salt IMG_2063

For our meals I opted for the 8-course tasting menu and Brian went with the 5 course but with wine pairings.  There is no way I’d be able to drink all that wine!! 

They are also very accommodating in that you could switch items from the vegetarian tasting menu if something catches your eye. 

I did just that with my first course: Chestnut and Sherry soup with chestnut confit, fennel cream.IMG_2064

Brian’s was the Shima Aji Sashimi with Oxtail-Umeshu ConsommĂ©, Quail Egg and Myoga IMG_2065

Next up for both of us was the Roasted Lobster with Cauliflower Cream, Uni Emulsion.

One of my favorites of the night (lobster…no brainer there), but that cauliflower cream was delightful and paired SO well with the lobster. IMG_2066

Third course for both of us: Halibut with Braised Romaine, Yuzu Kosho Butter.

Such a tender piece of fish.  I’ve never had halibut this rare but it melted in your mouth. IMG_2068

Next was my 4th course while Brian “sat out” this round. 

Steamed Matsutake with Pine Nuts, Junsai and Mitsuba.  For someone who doesn’t exactly “love” mushrooms (texture issue), I was proud of myself this night. 

This was served with the paper thin slices of Matsutake in the bowl and the hot broth was poured over table side, collapsing the mushroom slices like tissue paper. IMG_2069

Course 4 For Brian – Prime Striploin with Potato, Short Rib, and Crimini, Sauce Bordelaise.

I loved everything about this!!  Those little light colored cylinders were the potato, the little cubes were the short rib, and the little circles were crimini sauce. The flavors were incredible.


Course 5 for me: Crispy Chicken thigh with truffled risotto and celery, parmesan foam.

This course for both of us was a huge hit!  The chicken was so tender with a contrast of the crispy skin, and the risotto was divine and creamy.   IMG_2071

My 6th course might have been the best…it involved another cart rolling over to the table but this time it was full of CHEESE!!!

You can kind of see the cheese cart in this pictures behind the table.  The tower in front is all of the accompaniments. IMG_2073

The menu stated a selection of 3 cheeses, but our waitress was awesome and let us taste more.  I chose 4 but she was ready to slice off even more for us.

Again, I do not have the names of these. but I know there was a triple cream in there, a bit of Epoisses which is a very stinky cheese!  (I looove stinky cheese),  a goats milk cheese with ash rind, and the hard cheese was a sheep's milk.IMG_2074

Brian’s 5-course didn’t have a cheese course, but this was plenty for the two of us!

Next up was my most anticipated item of the evening as I had read about it in reviews!

The Birthday surprise!!IMG_2075

That contraption right there has a balloon attached to a valve connecting to this lit up dome covered plate.  Inside the dome are two perfectly warm chocolate chip cookies and cocoa powder scattered throughout.

The birthday person gets to flip the lever on the valve, and all the air inside the balloon is released into the dome causing all the cocoa powder to fly around like a snowball shaker!!

It’s just a fun way to acknowledge the birthday!

Plus those cookies might have been my favorite part of dessert…fresh, warm, gooey… IMG_2076

Along with the cookies, we received mini chocolate egg creams 


Next were the real desserts.  I had a 7th and 8th course dessert.  The first one was

Yuzu Cremeux, Bergamot Meringue and cream
cheese ice cream

Those “pieces” in there are the meringue but also the ice cream!  The cream cheese ice cream was flash frozen (liquid nitrogen can do that) and broken into pieces…it was like grown up Dippin’ Dots!

For our final dessert choices, I went with:

Warm Bananas with Hazelnut and Milk ChocolateIMG_2079

Brian had the:
Vanilla Bean Fontainebleau with Apple Ice, Farina Fritters IMG_2080

The fun didn’t stop there though… 

The final cart they roll over to your table is the Sweets Cart!!  At the end of your meal you can choose any of the candies on this cart and as many as you’d like!

There were homemade lollipops, jellies, marshmallows, caramels, chocolates, truffles…anything! IMG_2081

They also give you a little gift box containing a little pastry to take home and luckily there was room in the box for our candies because I was WAY too full to eat them then.

But if that wasn’t the icing on the birthday cake…with the check came two mini hot bourbon glazed donuts..


Yeah.  Don’t worry those were eaten right then and there…I mean they were hot!  

If you add it all up it’s more like 12 or 13 courses…also the most expensive dinner we’ve ever had, but it was definitely worth it!  You’re paying not only for the food but for the amazing experience and top notch service.

 Cyrus on Urbanspoon

They also provide you with a nice print out of the menu you selected all night with the date, your name, and what you were celebrating!

I’ll always remember this birthday!!  Good thing too since I plan on having many more 29th birthdays in the future ;)


  1. What a fabulous birthday! Between the morning breakfast spread (and adorable white and blue plates!) and the balloon/cookie contraption, it sounds like you had a great trip!

  2. oh my little piece of heaven! The perfect birthday? I think so. I want to wake up to giant plates of fruit too. If I had a gagillion dollars...that would be one of the first things on my to have list :). Your dress- hotness! And that birthday dessert is amazeballs. Happy (belated) birthday!

  3. definitely one to remember :) happy happy birthday!!!

  4. This sounds like an AMAZING dining experience. What a great way to celebrate your birthday!

  5. What a FANTASTIC dinner and a wonderful birthday! I love the many creative dishes and the super fun presentations. So awesome!

  6. This sounds phenomenal. great choice. I really really want to go here now!

  7. That meal look fabulous! The sweets cart!

  8. Happy belated! That cookie thing sounds awesome. Your whole meal looked like an amazing experience. And I love that dress!

  9. Wow, what a meal! It sounds a bit like the tasting menu I did at L'Espalier :) Happy belated Birthday!

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  11. What an amazing meal, sounds like such an incredible experience - especially that dessert! Super cute dress too!