I may have mentioned a time or two that time of year I’ve labeled Birthday Season. Yes? It begins around august and ends sometime around…now. My birthday was actually last week and it marks the beginning of the end, I think. The bulk of them, however, in all their birthday party glory, coincide neatly with the winter holiday season. it’s kind of great, if you think about it, b/c with all the birthday parties and holiday parties you’re bound to run into just about your entire contact list — excepting those who are out of town, of course. Minimal effort, maximum exposure — it’s an entrepreneur’s wildest fantasy. Or a social butterfly’s.

Anyway. I really have to give a shout out to all of my friends for almost always coming up with something new and exciting to do for their birthdays. Leighdles, for instance, chose the vegan Candle79 to challenge her guest’s palates, and to sate her own vegetarian needs. I’d been to Candle79 once before, a couple of years ago, but it was nice to revisit the vegan roots to which I aspire.

In an attempt to keep it simple and affordable, Leigh had originally set the venue at Candle Cafe, Candle79’s more casual baby sister restaurant around the corner. However, things being as they are in New York City Leigh got to clicking away on Facebook and soon she had a guest list that was more than little Candle Cafe could handle. So we rallied at Candle79 on — guess where — E. 79th Street (at Lexington) where I had Live Avocado-Jicama Tartare (with avocado, cucmber, jicama, young coconut and trumpet royale mushroom ceviche) to start, Spaghetti & Wheatballs (how cute is that?), and a little dab of Molten Chocolate Cake (which my or may not have been stolen from Pookie’s plate).

Mmm. I know that the word vegan sends a lot of folks into convulsions, but the thing about Candle79 is they don’t disguise anything. They don’t have “fake” meat. Meat substitutes, yes — but you won’t find fakin’ bacon on their menu, or anything called “chicken” printed in quotes. No secrets, no surprises ℄ except for how delicious everything is.

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