We celebrated Dariush's mother's birthday recently, and we had a fabulous time. First, we went out to dinner at Moscow on the Hill, a wonderful Russian restaurant that's just down the street from our house, and not to be missed if you're ever in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood (highlights of the meal were DR's shot of horseradish vodka and an accordion player that moves from table to table). Then we headed back to our house for the Boston Cream Pie that Mary had requested for her birthday dessert. If you're not familiar with Boston Cream Pie, it's really not a "pie" at all: it's a layer of vanilla pastry cream sandwiched between two layers of yellow cake, then frosted or glazed with chocolate. I was a little nervous when I was tasked with making one - it was my first time and I had a hard time finding a recipe that had lots of positive reviews, which is usually what I look for when I'm trying something new. I ended up going with a Joy of Cooking recipe that Anna reviewed at Cookie Madness (Anna's reviews are great: she has a detailed, frank style of writing about recipes that's very helpful when you're trying something new). The end result was perfectly lovely: custardy, smooth vanilla pastry cream; crumbly, rich cake layers; and a thick chocolate frosting that was just the right amount to coat it all evenly. My only trouble was with spreading the frosting - in the end, I walked away in exasperation while Dariush broke out his blow torch to make it smooth (and no, I'm not talking about one of those little kitchen torches people use for crème brulée - I'm talking about a full-size, workshop-style, propane torch...this is how we do things in Cathedral Hill, my friends). All in all, I'll be anxiously waiting for an excuse to make a Boston Cream Pie again - I think it's fast becoming one of my favorite desserts.