Rissa's surprise birthday dinner (25th March 2010)

It’s Rissa’s 29th birthday today and bf Ben had roped several of us to help him throw Rissa a surprise birthday dinner at Piccolo Restaurant on Vivian Street this evening. Hmm, I wonder how Ben’s going to keep it a secret…Rissa’s pretty on to things and might figure it out…

Rissa sent around an invite to friends to meet up for birthday drinks at Hashigo Zake Cult Beer Bar (formerly Vintage Bar where Scott and I hosted our first joint birthday party) on Taranaki Street before Ben took her to dinner so Jono and I went over for a quick drink around 6.30pm after dropping off the 9-inch orange ricotta cake and wine we bought for Rissa at the restaurant. It was funny that Ben couldn’t respond to my email about the cake arrangement last night because Rissa was around but we managed to sort it out in the end without Rissa’s knowledge. Mua-ha-ha! Jono and I cooked up an excuse that we had a dinner booking at Nicolini’s at 7.30pm so we had to leave by 7.15pm...AND Rissa totally bought it! She even said we should swap notes on our Italian restaurant experiences another day. “Oh, are you guys going to an Italian place for dinner?” I asked, feigning surprise, trying to keep a straight face, praying I wouldn’t burst out laughing. “We’ll see you again very soon!” said Jono as we left and waved goodbye. Rissa has no idea how SOON is soon haha!

Hurried along over to Piccolo’s and we were the first two of the party of 8 to arrive. The maitre’d had our wines opened and left them at our table to let them breathe by the time we got there (eek, they opened Rissa’s birthday wine – oh well, she’ll just have to drink her present tonight). The others had mistakenly turned up at the other Piccolo on Willis Street before coming here (same owners but different in venue size – the one on Willis Street is much smaller). Haha, you should seen Rissa’s surprised face when she saw us at the restaurant! “Why you cheeky buggers!” she cried and came over to give us hugs. Hi-5 gang, we did an awesome job surprising our birthday girl! But all the credit still goes to Ben who organised this - kudos to him given being organised is not one of Ben’s strong points for he’s more live-the-moment type of guy. Makes the surprise even more special :)

Yum, I love the garlic mushroom entrĂ©e and the venison sausages & spinach pasta the boys had was absolutely delicious - these dishes were part of tonight’s specials but it has always been on the specials board every time I’ve been here…hmm…The maitre'd was very good at selling the entrees and sides to us, suggesting we get a bit of this and that for the table to share. Sold!

The rest of the evening was spent drinking, eating and chit-chatting in good company. The folks at Piccolo were great hosts, playing along with the rest of the gang with the surprise and as instructed, brought out Rissa's cake with candles lit after they cleared our table when we finished our mains. The maitre'd was real sweet, wishing Rissa a very happy birthday and kissing her on the head as he laid the cake in front of her, just like a dad would do to his daughter. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RISSA! Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157623711820918/detail/

We've got to be the noisiest table in the busy restaurant tonight and the last group to leave. The staff were not shy at all, coming over to our table requesting slices of birthday cake! We had more than enough for ourselves and they deserve a treat too for being such a fun lot. It was a lovely evening spent with friends and I'm honoured to be part of the surprise!


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