Of course, his gorgeous fiance Sascha of "Brian's Home" is by his side to help him celebrate. This is her first time on ice skates, so Dante has to help her along a little, but for the most part, she's getting the hang of it -- by hanging on to Dante, that is!
So, all of you are invited to come and skate, too. First I'll tell you a little more about it.
Dante lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, which is our nation's capital city. The picture below shows our Parliament Buildings in the background on the left side. On the right is the 'Chateau Laurier' which is a luxury hotel. This is where Dante and Sascha are staying tonight. It's very romantic and looks like a castle.
One of the biggest tourist attractions in the winter months is the Rideau Canal, part of which is iced over and becomes the largest skating rink in the world. Called the Rideau Canal Skateway, it is 7.8 kilometers long. The total length of the canal, though, is 202 kilometers and in the summer is used as a waterway for pleasure boaters.
The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuous operated canal system in North America and was opened in 1832. It was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. It opened for skating for the very first time in January 1971 and 50,000 people skated on it the very first weekend!
Some of the skaters are a little tentative at first ...
... and others are show-offs!
But most manage just fine after 'breaking the ice', so to speak (hopefully not with their rear ends).
There are lots of food stands, rest-stops and warming huts along the Skateway.
Here you can rent skates or a skate-buggy to push your tot. Walking is also allowed on the canal. There is no charge for the use of the Skateway, itself, so if you bring your own skates, it's absolutely free!
So Dante is inviting you all to come down and help him celebrate. If you've never skated before, don't worry because you'll fit right in.
And you don't have to go very far if you're hungry -- although you may have to wait in a line-up. If you're visiting Canada's capital, trying a 'Beavertail' is a MUST (but hold the mustard)!
I said 'Beaver Tail' not 'Belieber Tail' (although Justin IS a product of Canada as well)!
Beavertails actually have nothing to do with real beavers. They are whole-wheat pastries which are hand-stretched to resemble a beaver's tail, then float-cooked and served piping hot, topped with butter and your choice of delectable flavours, which are: Apple Cinnamon, Cinnamon & Sugar, Chocolate Hazelnut, Chocolate Banana, Chocolate & Peanut Butter with Reese's Peeses, Cocoa Vanilla, and Maplebutter. You can get Hot Chocolate with marshmallows to warm you up or frozen yogurt for those who want to be extra cool.
This is the standard Cinnamon & Sugar Beavertail.
And here is President Obama about to taste one on his first trip to Ottawa.
"In the basic recipe for poutine, French fries are covered with fresh cheese curds, and topped with brown gravy. In an authentic French-Canadian poutine:
- Fries: Usually of medium thickness, and fried (sometimes doubly) so that the inside stays soft, while the outside is crunchy.
- Cheese curds: Fresh cheese curds are used to give the desired texture. The curd size may vary but is usually slightly smaller than bite-sized.
- Gravy: Generally a light and thin chicken, veal, or turkey gravy, mildly spiced with a hint of pepper, or a sauce brune which is a combination of beef and chicken stock, a variant originating in Quebec. The gravy should be thin enough to easily filter down into the mass of fries and cheese curds. These sauces typically also contain vinegar or a sour flavouring to balance the richness of the cheese and fries.
And if that isn't enough, Dante thought you should all have some PURRotein as well. So last night he went out 'ice fishing' on the Ottawa River at Petrie Island which is one of the top spots in Eastern Ontario. Luckily, Petrie Island is very close to where we live, so Dante didn't have far to travel.
Indeed, Dante had opened a whole new can of worms! And he even brought back some for you all to try. Mmmmm, yummy! Try them as a side to hot dogs, or bacon and eggs, instead of beans sometime.
Ice fishing takes lots of patience ...
... but it pays off in the end!
Dante put his catch in a bucket and brought them to the Rideau Canal as party fare. (I'm sure the fish didn't think it was fair, but them's the breaks!) So for those of you who like sushi, have at it! Eat your fill.
But for those of you who preFUR your fish a little crispier, here's a bucket of the fried stuff, too!
And of course, no birthday celebration would be complete without a birthday cake. This is a Baskin-Robbins ICE cream cake, of course! What other kind would you have at a skating PAWty?
So now please efurrybody gather round in a circle and let's sing to the Birthday Boy. "Happeh PURRthday to yoo, Happeh PURRthday to you ... Happeh PURRthday dear Dante, Happeh PURRthday to you!"
The day may have passed quickly but the party goes on into the night. The canal doesn't close until 10 p.m. so stay awhile! You'll need to do quite a bit of actual skating to burn off all that rich food, though.
And as for Dante and Sascha, when it was time to leave the Skateway, they had a brief walk to their hotel. You can see its turrets lit up in the last picture, above. They meowandered along slowly to enjoy the crisp night air, and stopped to kiss under the lamplight before heading inside.
"There's nothin' I love more in this SWIRLED than you", said Dante just before their lips met.
And what happened next -- well, we'll just keep that on ICE!