Best Birthday Ever

On January 29, 2007 by Eden M. Kennedy

It was Jack’s birthday on Saturday and, bless her iron-clad Irish heart, his mom sent him a Zabar’s “Don’t Be Homesick” crate. Jack hasn’t lived in New York since like 1975, but whatever. You can take the boy out of Queens but when his mom lives in Palm Springs there’s no end to the discourse on how useless California bagels are.

Perhaps my favorite food on this planet: Zabar’s cream cheese. Surpassed perhaps only by — I can’t think of anything. This is my favorite food on the planet.

But it’s nothing without one of these! H&H; bagels, my friends. The one on the left (mine) sports a swipe of butter, because nothing makes me happier than butter under cream cheese.

I know it doesn’t look like it, but I’m using the deliciousness sparingly. It must last long enough to grace sixteen bagel halves.

Lox! Growing up as I did in Denver, for much of my life lox was exotic cuisine, right up there with wienerschnitzel and witchetty grubs. Again, used somewhat sparingly on mine, less so on Jack’s.

Ripe tomatoes in January? Alice Waters would throw an eight-inch cast iron skillet at my head if she knew.

Bermuda onion, sliced rather too thickly, I’m afraid. I’m not so hot with a knife . . .

. . . as you can see by the Fantastic Four bandage on my left forefinger. There was a classic moment from early on in our relationship when Jack was making dinner for us at his apartment and, as it sometimes occurs to me to offer help in other people’s kitchens, I asked if there was anything I could do. He handed me a bunch of Italian parsely, a cutting board, and a knife and asked me to chop. Almost immediately I brought the knife down on my finger. Luckily, La Bamba market was right around the corner and I went to fetch myself some Band-Aids. Ten minutes later and all fixed up, I once again approached the cutting board and cut the shit out of my finger. I was henceforth relieved from all chopping duties under threat of merciless teasing. Right, so that was what, almost twelve years ago. All I’ve had to do ever since is walk out of the kitchen holding up a bloody finger and Jack rolls his eyes, I don’t even have to explain, even though sometimes he wants to know how it happened so he can chuckle and make some crack about Captain Hook. God, he is hell to live with.

Other things to note in this picture: I am mistakenly squeezing a lime over my bagel instead of a lemon because apparently I still don’t know the difference. Also, the manicure: after a brief e-mail discussion with Sarah B. I settled on two coats of OPI’s Mrs. O’Learys BBQ and lots of top coat. It didn’t chip for five days, a new personal best.

You can’t see it but now there’s salt and pepper on there.

Photographic evidence that I cannot abide capers.

Pour Monsieur . . .

. . . et Madame!

Delivered au lit. The expression on Jackson’s face is meant to convey his displeasure at the smell of anything at that hour that’s not drowning in maple syrup.

We spent the rest of the day in bed, the three of us, carving our way through four boxed sets of James Bond DVDs that Jack’s brother had sent him. I knitted and wondered what steps I’d have to take to undo the macho role-modeling Jackson was soaking up. The upside: every toy in his room has been turned into a deadly spy gadget.

Jack’s verdict: Best Birthday Ever.



38 Responses to “Best Birthday Ever”

  • Happy birthday, Mr. Kennedy!

    I once had H&H; deliver a huge box of bagels for a recital I had in Oregon the year after I left NYC. I believe I was able to play 64.7% better Bach because there were bagels & a toaster oven waiting at the reception.

    Happy Birthday. Bagels!

  • Allen can’t abide by the capers, but I think they are delightful. Happy birthday Jack!

  • capers are pickled flower seeds = eww.

    this post is so sweet, i want to run over and smooch you.

  • Yum. Happy Birthday Jackson!
    I’m delurking. Love your site.

  • Wow, La Bamba Market! Now I wonder where Jack used to live, because I totally live near it. Oh and that knitted sweater for Jackson is awesome! :)

  • My sitemate got me a big box of Zabar’s goodness for Christmas. I < heart > Zabar’s.

  • i want your husband’s birthday because sitting around watching bonda all day is my idea of paradise.

  • I can help you, the only food that rivals Zabars cream cheese is Zabars whitefish spread. Oh mama.

    Happy Birthday, Jackson!

    That sweater is insane. I am very impressed as I just mastered a simple rib stitch. Wow.

  • I’d have some lox over birthday cake any day.

  • I’d have some lox over birthday cake any day.

  • I love Mrs. O’Leary’s BBQ. I become displeased when they run out of it at the salon. Enjoy!

  • Hey, happy birthday, Jackson! January 27 is my son’s birthday, too! He just turned six! And I think you both deserve a lot of exclamation points!!!! :-)

  • As another former New Yorker now living in California, I’d have to agree on the bad bagel situation. Yay birthday bagels! Possibly the best breakfast in the world.

  • Jackson is getting SO BIG. And cute!

    It’s always a great bday present when it can make more than 1 person happy.

  • Happy Birthday. Hey! I am pretty bad with the knife too. Its a pity but cant help it. But I think you have really done a wonderful job at preparing the food and writing the post too.
    Peep into my blog for some unique birthday gift and party ideas.

  • Happy birthday handsomest husband ever. I like my bagels with an herby cream cheese and lox.Or alone, the cinnamon variety, toasted with butter. We love bagels.

    You guys are living my alter-ego city life. How’s about some chickens and horse and udder-y cows for a trade.

  • Happy Birthday, Mr Kennedy! Sounds like a mighty fine day you all had.

  • My husband’s favorite birthday, according to him: Started out bringing a totebag full of change to the Coinstar at the SuperFresh and scoring a massive e-certificate for; moved on to McDonald’s where we sat in the car with our daughter (14) watching traffic as we ate our burgers (I am a pretty decent cook so this was “funny” – come to think of it the change thing was pretty funny too); then home to open his present: 2 espresso cups and saucers for his 1-serving stove-top espresso maker. And this was his favorite birthday – better than the rented out local movie theater surprise party I threw for him where we all watched his favorite movie (City Lights) and wore fake Charlie Chaplin moustaches. Men. You just never know with them. :-)

  • ooh la la! butter under the cream cheese! you are such a culinary trendsetter, mrs. kennedy.

  • I’m tired of feeling guilty for buying and eating tomatoes in January. I think it’s one of the harsher side effects of the internet.

    I hereby declare it A-OKAY to eat tomatoes in January!

  • HA! I just took a picture this past weekend of the breakfast that I cooked up (I kept all of my skin on, which is certainly more than I can say for you) with bagels and cream cheese (none as good as your’s, I imagine) lox, sliced onions, basically everything that you had except I put poached eggs on top. And we BOTH had capers, you evil troll.

    Tell Jack that I said, “Happy Birthday!!” and I’ll meet him out by the garages for his special Birthday “present”.

    And sorry…I don’t really know where the “HA!” or the “you evil troll” came from. They were a little uncalled for…

  • Oh my god, this post was like PORN. Cream-cheesy porn.

  • Mrs. Kennedy, I am de-lurking because I would really, really like to know where you got that adorable yellow cafe au lait bowl!

    Agree about the cream cheese, btw.

  • I don’t know! It was a Christmas present. I’ll see if I can find out. E-mail me.

  • High-quality lox & bagels are hard to beat.
    Have you tried the Babka at Zabar’s?

  • You need a mesh handling glove. They’re the only reason I’m allowed to use knives.

  • Apparently you can’t abide other’s capers either. Girl! You’re a caper tease! It’s making my mouth water, the evidence that someone’s lox-n-crap bagel was half-capered.

  • H&H; and Zabar’s…a perfect birthday indeed!!

  • You would do well in mexico. Lime (limon) is added to absolutely EVERYTHING! I’ve picked up this habit myself. Elote (corn) freshly BBQ’d with mayo and limon. Mango with limon and chile. There is even a funny commercial about all the things Mexicans put limon in and on.

  • lisa is right about the bakba. zabar’s chocolate babka is like love baked in a loaf pan.


  • I want a bagel!! With lox and cream cheese!!

    Except, I’m not allowed. I, too, am cursed with the ability to slice my finger with absolutely no effort or planning: bagels are the worst enablers. :( And those pre-sliced ones are always so wonky.


    I’ll just go back and look at your photos some more.


  • You owe me a new keyboard as mine is now ruined due to the drool that your photos caused. OMGoodness, YUM!

    Happy Birthday Jackson!

    Jenna from Family Living; Hatfield Style.

  • Here I am, about to leave NYC to head to LA for a month and suddenly I’m realizing I should have made a trip to H&H; today. Rats.

    Happy birthday to the other, hairier M Kennedy

  • Happy Birthday Mr. Kennedy!

    Now MUST go find good bagels and lox…

  • his jammies rock so hard i can’t even tell you. i think i still have those in the cedar chest.
    also, are you a capricorn? cuz i am. and then i wouldn’t be so weird if you were, too.

  • Hey! I have that same laughing cow bowl. Those bagels look amazing.

  • hi. delurking.
    My husband has never lived in NYC, and his father probably hasn’t lived there since 1960, but that doesn’t stop the bagel complaints (most of the bagels currently sold in NYC do not meet the standards of his family, including the relatives who still live there).

  • Happy belated Birthday Jake— sounds like you had everything you needed— lox, cream cheese bagels–james bond and eden and jackson.

    but i am still older than you