Birthday Spoils / by Aaron Levi Simic

The older we get, the less excited we are about our birthdays and we start to outgrow our previous traditions as we reach bigger milestones. We swap gorging ourselves on too much cake or too many sweets for too many tequila shots and a punishing hangover the next day! 

For my 26th birthday, I managed to exhaust myself with . Ben and I went to the Friday Late at Sotherbys. I loved going to the exhibition, it introduced me to so many pieces and artists that I didn't know about. It was great We started the night with delicious cocktails at the Soho Hotel and finished it with a meal at the Duck and Rice in Soho. 

After finishing work at the National Gallery on a Friday night, I had a ritual of walking through Soho to Oxford Street. I loved walking through the hustle of the city, soaking in the excitement of tourists in Leicester Square and the energy of those getting ready for a night in the town is Soho's bars. On the nights that I didn't dance the night away with my friends, Soho acted only as a tease on a would-be Friday night at home. I've lost count of the amount of times I've walked past the Duck and Rice for months, glancing through the geometric glass windows are the beautiful people within.   

Some of my favourite spaces in London are transformative ones: getting lost in Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus; the dark screens of the ICA and Curzon or leaving London behind in luscious gardens of Kew. The Duck and Rice is no different, stepping in off of gritty streets of Berwick street, you are transported to an opulent bar that feels like a modernism Orient Express; rich copper tones reflect off of warm, art deco inspired wood. The photos below were found at The Design Boom.

Having both waited for months to try the food, our eyes were bigger than our bellies and we ordered half of the menu. On a side note, it's very impressive if you have an understanding of wine whilst on a dinner date; we ordered a 2012 Alsace Riesling by Marcel Diess, which is hands down the best wine I have ever drunk. One of the dishes I chose was Dish 23 hoping it would be as delicious as it was mysterious but it turned out to be chicken chow mein. The irony wasn't lost of me: I was trying to be more adventurous with Asian cuisine in an east-meets-west gastropub and I still ended up ordering a good ol' chicken chow mein. 

I woke up the morning after to a birthday surprise and Ben kidnapped me for my birthday surprise. Anyone who knows me, will know that I'm very awkward with surprises and receiving gifts. I'm awkward because I can never hide my emotions and if I hate something, it will be really obvious! Ben treated me to my first ever massage, which was greatly needed after all the worry and stress I had about turning 26.