You are probably all waiting to hear about my birthday.

I have three parts to talk about.

1. My birthday day and dinner

2. My special day with Mom and Dad

3. My birthday party

First let me talk about my actual birthday. We went ice skating at an inside ice skating rink. My family always notices that Italians do not like to get into a straight line when they are doing things- for example going to a movie theatre or getting on an airplane. Well, the same thing happened on the ice rink. Everyone went in different directions. We even saw kids lying down on the ice rink and trying to make snow angels while other people skated around them. There was a giant penguin that came around to skate with kids and a photographer that took pictures of kids with the penguin. They got a picture of the penguin with me. In Madison, in winter, we go ice skating every single week. But we have not done it in a year, so when we went ice skating in Rome, we were TOTALLY out of practice. My ankles were really killing me by the end. Me and my brother had a lot of bad falls, also because we were not used to having skates with a pick at the end. But they played very good music and I had a GREAT cioccolata calda (hot chocolate) at the ice skating rink.

[By the way, hot chocolate here is not like in the United States. Instead of hot milk with chocolate stirred or melted into it, it is like a giant melted chocolate bar.]

ice skating in Rome.

Later that day we had dinner. Our friends Sue and Lou were visiting from Wisconsin and I invited them to join my birthday dinner with us. By the way, Lou is very fashionable and she chose a little purse for my birthday. It looks like a little rose made out of brown leather. And you also hold it unusually. You have a strap and you slip it through your hand.  I really love it. Now back to the dinner. I chose my favorite restaurant in Rome, Da Gino. There is a really nice waiter that we always have, his name is Mario.

By the way, the day before my birthday, me and my dad walked to Gino so that I could make the reservation in person by myself. While we walked, I practiced what I wanted to say in Italian. I said Posso fare una prenotazione per la cena di domani sera, è il mio compleanno, which means May I make a reservation for dinner tomorrow night, it is my birthday. Remember that for later in this blog post because I will come back to it.

I ordered cacio e pepe which is a fresh pasta dish with a goat cheese sauce and A LOT of pepper. It is a special dish of Rome. The waiters are usually surprised when I order it because they think it is too spicy for kids so they ask if they shouldn’t put the pepper in it. But I like the pepper in it. And now for my dessert! I ordered a mousse al cioccolato (chocolate mousse). And when they brought it, I got a big surprise. They turned off the lights in the restaurant, and they had a candle in my dessert, and everyone in the restaurant sang happy birthday to me. That is why I told you to remember the story about my making the dinner reservation. The woman who made my reservation remembered that I told them it was my birthday. Lou said that I had a funny expression on my face when everyone in the restaurant started singing because I was so surprised. It was probably the most fun night I have had in my life.

Mom, Lou, Sue, and Dad at dinner. Photo Credit- me

The next week is when I had a day off from school to spend with my Mom and Dad. In the morning we walked to a neighborhood called Prati because they had a party store there and I wanted to get party favors for my birthday party. It was a very small store but they had a lot of cool stuff. Then we stopped at a mercato (farmers market) to get things for dinner. By the way, I was planning on making dinner that night. Then we stopped at a chocolate shop that was also part of the party favors for my birthday. Then we went to this fancy bathrobe store that my dad was raving about because they were having a sale. Unfortunately, it was closed. (But fortunately, we came another time and I got an amazingly soft bathrobe- but back to my story).

Me and Eli with our favorite waiter, Mario

We were planning that after we had lunch we would go to the MAXXI, which is a modern art museum. We went to a Sicilian restaurant– which was GREAT by the way. The two reasons why we chose that Sicilian restaurant was because 1. it was near the MAXXI and 2. because I am interested in visiting Sicilly. The inside of the restauarnt was all bright yellow and green. Even everywhere you looked, there was something beautiful to see. There were paintings on the wall, beautiful ceramic dishes with beautiful designs, even the sink in the bathroom had a beautiful design, and the floors had cool tiles. For lunch I had an amazing plate of grilled calimari and zucchini. It was a huge plate, but I loved it. The dessert was even better. They had a dessert which was perfect for me. You should all know that I love chocolate. It was a little ball of dark chocolate ice cream, covered with a thin crisp layer of chocolate, and then a thick, warm layer of fudge covering it. We want to bring Eli back to the restaurant. But guess what? We spent such a long time eating our lunch that we didn’t have time to go to the museum because we had to meet Eli at the school bus. So we are going to go another time. (the restaurant is Siciliainbocca on Via Flaminia, 390. . .near Ponte Milvio).

When we got home I wanted to make dinner for everyone myself. I made an Israeli salad (which is like a greek salad but without the lettuce, because I like the vegetables but don’t really like lettuce). And I made spaghetti al limone (pasta with lemon). My dad and I went to a fancy Mexican chocolate shop near our house and got a piece of chocolate for each of us to have for dessert. I had really wanted to have a chocolate with raspberry. I saw a chocolate that looked really pretty and when I asked the owner what kind it was, he said “cioccolato lampone” which was just what I wanted.

My chocolate mousse and my purse from Sue and Lou

This story is long, and I need a break. So I will write about my birthday party later.

–  Nell