It's my birthday too! I'm having dinner in Sydney tonight while my man cooks me a special Ramen-tic birthday dinner for tomorrow (and takes care of our special needs dog) We've recently developed a fanatical love of ramen, and with few options available to us, besides the excellent Asa Don on King St, we've been forced to do for ourselves.
Ramen is simple in a complex way. The tonkatsu ramen broth is basically boiled pork trotters, with a bit of veg and seaweed. The complexity is in the treatment of the ingredients (you have to do quite a bit of work with the ingredients to ensure the broth is pure. Even more so, the complexity is in the sensual experience of the finished product where the broth feels like soft-skinned cherubs rolling around with joy in your mouth. Other flavours are added before serving, in the form of a concentrated chicken/bacon/soy paste called tare, or miso for an umami kick.
I should say, I didn't eat pork for about three years after travelling in SE Asia. The fact that I'm now ordering trotters on a regular basis speaks to how far my journey of culinary exploration has taken me. It also makes me want to revisit some of the places where I turned my nose up at the pork options.
We've yet to tackle the pinnacle of Ramen devotions, making our own ramen alkaline noodles. I can't say this will be the final stop on our pilgrimage in our own kitchen; the great thing about loving food is there's always something new to try.
Have you ever developed a cult-like, fanatical food love that took you well out of your comfort zone?