It is hard to surprise Tatjana, but with the help of Head Butler Carlos and his crew here at the St. Regis Hotel in Nusa Dua, Bali – I pulled it off! I sent the “blue cake” recipe ahead (rather cheeky since they have one of the best pastry chefs in the world, but it had to be our traditional cake), smuggled in a banner, streamers, birthday glasses and balloons, then made sure Tatjana and I were well occupied shopping and having dinner with a friend in Seminyak on the 22nd. She might expect something was up on the 23rd, but not the 22nd, GOTCHA!

what happened at the the stroke of midnight

Unfortunately I did not have a camera ready to capture the look on her face when we arrived home to all this, but suffice it to say she was gob smacked. Thank you Carlos, Chef and the whole butler team! Tatjana will not forget this birthday. BTW, the bunnies with the sunglasses are my favorite touch – you outdid yourself Suwiyasa!

Girls day at the spa

The next morning (her real birthday) we woke to a Champagne breakfast (I had sparkling water) and birthday cake  – another family tradition – it just tastes better for breakfast! Then off for a little more shopping (we managed to do major damage in just half an hour), lunch, and a girlie spa afternoon with a Javanese lurlur body scrub, Balinese massage, flower bath, seaweed facial, manicure and pedicure.

Spa in Bali

Yasa, the sweetest taxi driver on the planet who made it his duty to look after us while we’re here, waited four hours while we were in the spa to whisk us back to the hotel in time to get gussied up for a magnificent dinner.

All gussied up

Voted one of the top ten restaurants in all of Asia, and well deserving of the honor, Kayuputi means “white wood” in Balinese – which the stunning restaurant has plenty of, as well as a lot of glass, high pitched ceilings, modern decor with Balinese influences (including the stepping stone to our table – not to be missed or you’ll fall into a pond, Miss Grace here almost did), and a dramatic open air kitchen over looking the Indian ocean.

Passiflora Mojito and Lemongrass Colada

Warm tropical breezes swirled round us in the elegant outdoor booth as we sipped our exotic drinks – Tatjana had the Passiflora Mojito made with passion fruit, rose syrup, and rum while I savored the ultra divine Lemongrass Colada Mocktail. The view beyond spectacular with the beach and waves rolling in just feet away.

Chef & Tatjana

Birthday girl got the royal treatment with both maitre’d and chef helping her make her selections. I, of course, opted for the exquisite (yet not so over indulgent you feel weighted down) tasting menu.

Tuna Tartar

The contrasting textures of the cool tiny cubes of yellow fin tuna tartar, so smooth on the tongue with a fresh burst of yuzu sorbet to brighten the dish, and the delightful crunch of the wasabi nut crumble announced I was in for an exceptional dinner. I am not a fan of tuna tartar, yet relished every morsel of this one.

Crab rolls

The delicate Asian crab filled tomato maki roll in chilled tomatillo consomme with white tomato foam and basil oil made for a clean and ultra light transition to the…

Pork Belly

… uber succulent slow braised pork belly in sweet soy ginger liquid that melted in my mouth and paired so perfectly with the baby butter glazed root vegetables and cilantro leaves.

Scallop on carrot puree

Just when I thought it would be impossible to top the previous courses, a perfectly pan seared sweet deep sea scallop arrived floating on a cloud of rich carrot mousseline with lemongrass foam and lemon oil. Sheer heaven on a plate!

roast chicken with vegetables

Then came the tantalizing free-range chicken breast with medallion of own leg confit, vegetables fondue and natural meat jus – moist and lucious with every bite. The black current fruit paste and yoghurt mousse fresh with raspberry and mascarpone ice cream that followed was spectacular, but I’m afraid the pomp of Tatjana’s

Tatjana getting the royal treatment with her birthday cake

chocolate dessert slightly upstaged it. The entire restaurant staff delivered it while serenading her with a beautiful rendition of happy birthday!

Happy birthday written in chocolate on the plate

Indulgence is a beautiful thing when it comes with this kind of mastery of chocolate. Contrasting textures ranging from chocolate whiskey biscuits to milk chocolate mousse enclosed in dark chocolate slices and white chocolate sorbet – sheer decadence befitting a 25th birthday celebration.

The end a perfect day

I think we did a great job of celebrating the first quarter century, and welcoming in the second quarter century of your life, Tatjana. Here’s to the fabulous life experiences you have ahead of you! I look forward to watching your career grow from strength to strength, your falling in love with a kind and generous man, and one or two grandchildren eventually would be much appreciated! The best is yet to come. I love you.

PS. Just as I was about to publish this – Tatjana surprised me with a bathing suit cover-up I’d lusted after. A  thank you from her for the trip. I guess she got the last GOTCHA, and I have one amazing daughter.

PPS. What does your perfect day to remember look like?

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  • August 27, 2011
    6:51 am

    Heavenly God what a birthday! Definitely gorgeous.
    My perfect day – as for the moment – was the day after the birth of my son. I woke up with my baby, healthy and smiling and a wonderful sacher torte on the table of my room. It was the first dessert in months (I had been very careful with the diet throughout my pregnancy). Moreover ther ewere three roses in a vase and a note: “It’s may, and there are three of us, now”. The diamond ring beside was only to complete the perfect day.
    Have fun.

    • August 28, 2011
      1:33 am

      Wow – that will be a hard day to top! First born, roses, AND a diamond ring! What a romantic man, sounds like a keeper.

      • August 29, 2011
        12:42 am

        Diamond, roses, but don’forget the Sacher torte!!! :) He is a keeper indeed, you are right. Also because he is not the typical romantic guy, and had a LOT of trouble in finding a ring for a woman who thinks she is kinda ridicolus wearing jewelry (yea, always thought so), then I appreciated it the most. And the ring is a masterpiece of minimal design and shimmering radiance. Well, really a perfect day, but who knows maybe we can even do better, after all we are not married yet, any suggestion by a superexpert like you?? :D

  • August 27, 2011
    10:38 am

    Well done girls!!!My mother did the same every birthday celebrating it in a special way!!!

    • August 28, 2011
      1:34 am

      Well, it’s kinda mom’s day too – much more sentimental about the day my daughter was born than my own birthday.

  • August 27, 2011
    8:51 pm

    It’s impossible to do this blog entry justice with mere words. Perfect planning, execution and results. I don’t know how two ladies can look as perfect as you two do without make up for starters. The description of the spa and photo make me relax just reading it. The photos of you in the yellow floral top.. you look like there is light coming from every pore on your face… it’s angelic! The drink photos… OMG stunning! The food photos and description … pure art and architecture. Tatjana’s dessert looks like the Kaufman House and shimmers of Frank Lloyd Wright. Finally the photo of mother and daughter… wow. It gives us with young children a photographic goal of what we should look like on our own daughter’s 25th. Not just the beautiful locale but the pure love that only a mother and daughter share. You’ve doing an amazing job of being her mom … you can see the kindness, compassion and art in her eyes.

    My best day was taking my oldest daughter home as she had been in the NICU for a few weeks. I’ve never been as thankful in my life as that day.

    Happy Birthday Tatjana!

    • August 28, 2011
      1:45 am

      Rachel – “Tatjana’s dessert looks like the Kaufman House and shimmers of Frank Lloyd Wright” just OUT justice-d the blog entry – brilliant description! I need to get you to write a guest post for me sometime soon, pretty please with icing sugar on top?

      There is no better gift than a child – especially when you must have been so fraught with fear for her until then. I’m sure the day she finally came home WAS a perfect day.

      • August 28, 2011
        6:12 pm

        It would be an honour. Thank you!

  • August 27, 2011
    3:37 pm

    Hi Julie anne. I really love your pictures of Tatjana’s birthday party at her favorite resturant. she loooks soo pretty.:)

    • August 28, 2011
      1:35 am

      She definitely had a good time Laura!

  • August 27, 2011
    8:27 pm

    Just had the most perfect birthday for my husband. We started by waking up late with some coffee and then went on a long bike ride exploring our little city. Stopped for lunch at a little Cuban restaurant where we had the best lechon, rice and beans. Came home for a dip in the pool and then off to dinner for super fresh sushi and saki. It was a perfect and very fun day but I am full and exhausted!

    • August 28, 2011
      1:36 am

      Sounds divine, and so important to make a fuss of our spouses like that – it’s so easy to fall into taking each other for granted.

  • August 27, 2011
    10:10 pm

    A most memorable and amazing 25th birthday!!!! It was so fun to read about your experience!! I felt like I was there!!!

    • August 28, 2011
      1:47 am

      It was a great day, and one I think she will remember. Hope to see you soon.

  • August 28, 2011
    12:17 am

    Fabulous. Happy birthday Tatjana, your mom is right (aren’t moms pretty much always?) the best is yet to come. This blog made me smile with tears in my eyes. So lovely to see such a wonderful mother daughter combination enjoying their time together. My mother and I share a deep love for each other and our horses. We see and speak with each other weekly and despite my advancing age (pushing towards 40 and nervous)Mum is my greatest ally and teacher. My perfect day is updated regularly. My latest would be yesterday watching my soon to be 10 stepson having a ride on my mum’s horse and seeing her teach him with the same care and patience she did with me. The huge smile of delight on his face was wonderful to see.
    Thank you Julie Anne you have inspired me in more ways than one on how to spoil my boy on his special day and create meaningful family traditions best wishes to you and yours Michelle

  • August 28, 2011
    1:50 am

    Oooooooh, don’t say that too loud – Tatjana’s one wish that did not happen was a horseback ride on the beach at sunset, but Bali belly decided differently. We are both huge horse lovers.

    Your going to be a GREAT mom to your boy – I can hear the love already in your words.

  • August 28, 2011
    3:36 pm

    Dear Julie, thanks for sharing your private life with us. You both look wonderful and happy.

    • August 29, 2011
      6:31 pm

      Hi Silvia – I see it as sharing some very happy moments, not sharing my entire private life. We all inspire each other to live our best lives when we share experiences like this.

  • August 28, 2011
    6:47 pm

    Wow Bali….what a great time away. So many friends of mine have been there and love it to bits. It’s an Aussie hotspot for sure.
    Glad to hear you both had an amazing time. You both looked so relaxed and glowing.

    My greatest moment would definately be the birth of my first child. The feeling you get when mother and child first bond is just pure magic. I just thank God everyday for this beautiful child I have been blessed to have.
    With another on the way (just got the all clear), I cannot wait to have that magical bond again.

    • August 29, 2011
      6:34 pm

      CONGRATULATIONS Aussie Mum! I can imagine how excited you must be – I know how much you adore your little Mia, and what a great mom you are. Is she excited to be a big sister?

  • August 29, 2011
    7:49 am

    Hi Julie,
    I am Dean’s mom, and love your page, recipes and news. Glad I found you.

    • August 29, 2011
      7:58 am

      Hi Vally – How lovely to hear from you! I have spent many perfect days with Dean and Stacy over the years, and come to think of it, we are due for another very soon. xo

  • August 29, 2011
    5:34 pm

    I’m not sure what my special day would consist of, maybe just being together with my three favourite people in the world, two lads both named Chris and a young lady named Jess. I always bake when these three come over and we end up talking about days gone by and the crazy situations we found ourselves in. Having three friends that I know look out for me and being able to bake something special for them, combined together make for a special day.

    • August 29, 2011
      6:36 pm

      Sounds perfect to me Ruthee! Nothing like friends being there for each other with lots of history to share. I love giggling over all the mischief I used to get up to when my friends from London visit.

  • August 29, 2011
    6:46 pm

    What a great birthday! The food looks amazing and there is nothing better than spending your 25th birthday with your Mom! Lucky Daughter- Lucky Mom!!!

    • August 29, 2011
      6:50 pm

      Savoring every last second of it! Our last full day in Southeast Asia today.

  • August 29, 2011
    7:10 pm

    WOW!That was a very amazing Bday!! I bet she Loved it soo much!!! My best day has 2 parts…One was when Our Oldest son Graduated this past May from High School With Honors. I was able to not only have my 3 boys all together, but My husband was able to get home from Afganastan! The second was as a Grad Present; 8 of the boys(including my oldest) all got a Cruise to Progresso and Cozemal…In all there was 35 of us together! all proud Mommas of ALL of our Boys!! I got to spend a full day playing with the dolphins with all 3 of my boys and my Hubby!!! I have NEVER been out of Texas let alone in the Ocean!!!! The Best day!!! I love reading your stories! I feel like you guys are just like us( with perks of course!!) LOL!! Thanks soo much!!

    • September 13, 2011
      9:19 am

      What fabulous memories your family created for you – wow, I would have loved to see the look on your face when your husband walked in! The dolphin thing is amazing and to spend it with your boys makes it beyond special.

  • August 29, 2011
    7:43 pm

    Food porn!

    The photos and descriptions were so vivid, I could practically taste it all from here.

    So glad you had a wonderful time with your wonderful daughter.

    • September 13, 2011
      9:20 am

      Knowing you Suzanne – you’ll be whipping it all up in your kitchen in no time.

  • August 29, 2011
    8:16 pm

    Happy Birthday Tatjana ! xoxo you Rhodes women don’t mess around. Looks like bliss 100% :) XO I have to go get a facial and eat cake now :D

    • September 13, 2011
      9:22 am

      Damn tootin! Gifts are wonderful, but often outgrown or lost. Memories last a lifetime, thats why we do these trips.

  • August 29, 2011
    10:05 pm

    What a wonderful 25th birthday trip! Loved every minute of it. I’ve got two girls. Chelsea Rose is 17 and Hayley Marie is 15. I’ve got my work cut out for me :)
    Guess I need to take them with me to Bangkok when I go for my next spa visit :)
    Happy Birthday Tatjana! Thanks Julie

  • September 13, 2011
    9:23 am

    We had so much fun together in Bangkok!

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