Friday, October 31, 2008

Hope Your Day's A Scream

Listen, it was between that and some Munch pun, so give me a break already.
Anyway, for this All Hallows Eve, I was granted the dubious honor of creating a "Haunted Halloween Cake" in a client cooking contest. Nothing against making cakes mind you--I was nominated to create the frightful confection after winning a different cake competition at the aforementioned client workplace (marmalade sponge with ginger cream, thankyouverymuch).

So, once I took the prize (a lovely late harvest wine), I was volunteered to make a cake representing my department in the bigger, more "important" company-wide "Haunted Halloween Cake Contest". And while making cakes I don't mind, "haunted" ones seem to call for some "Good Housekeeping"-style monstrosity with pumpkins and spiders made of cheap day-glo icing. Of course I can't quite go *there* so I decided, in overly ambitious fashion, to recreate Munch's "The Scream" by handpainting a fondant canvass atop a gingerbread and buttercream cake. Ridiculous, I know. Not very folksy of me. But hey, that's what elite private girls school will do to you. Anyway, I think it turned out quite nicely, considering my complete lack of experience working with fondant, much less painting it with edible lustre dust. Here's hoping that if this image doesn't scare you, at least it gives you a chuckle.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Your Fall Fest Correspondent, reporting for duty

Ay yi yi...where HAS the time gone? Months have passed, I know, but your favorite self-flagellating, irregular blogger (not like that, juveniles!) is back. The reason for my sudden reappearance on the scene? An assignment to cover Fall Fest from my friends at Foodbuzz. The reason for my weeklong delay in so doing? Lost notes. After carefully balancing my sampling plate (dubbed "the adult TV dinner tray"--see built-in wine glass holder),
I took copious notes, only to return home and promptly lose them. So, here, today, I sit, prepping to perform the sort of early-onset Alzheimers prevention exercise I should attempt more often. I'll give you the broad strokes of what stood out in Jamie's list of "bests" a la our favorite fashionisto, Mr. Blackwell.

Best overall food theme: duck. Roasted, patéed, confit'd. You name it, they did it. With figs, with chevre, with a plum reduction. Without a doubt, duck stole the day.

Best duck I tasted: The duck and white bean chowder from Salthouse. It was deep and smoky and savory and more than a little reminiscent of a fine cassoulet. Nice work, saltdudes. And that means you, guy-wearing-the-"Got Weed?" tee.

Best non-duck foodstuff at the Fest: The parsnip and vanilla bean soup from Frisée. I'm pretty much a sucker for anything with that exotic, fragrant vanilla pod scent, but the parsnip pairing was a revelation I'd not seen before. Hats off, Nathan Niebergall--nice guy/chef/co-owner who poured us wine from his own secret stash. (And no, that's not why he gets a mention here.)

Best wine tasted: A 2006 gewurtz from Gundlach Bundschu (say that 5 times fast). With notes of lychee and apricot, it was the perfect blend of sunny and crisp, much like the day itself.

Best non-wine drinkstuffs: Hangar One's herbal eau de vie blends, like the Aqua Perfecta Basil flavor featured in the cocktail competition where some of the city's finest got their mix on.
Best place to lounge and enjoy the dulcet tones of the bossanova band laying down some Gilberto-style beats and reflect on the joys of food blogging: These very Miami space pods. (note essential tools of the trade: wine glass and pen).

Best reason to feel like a "coastal elite" sipping chardonnay while Joe Six Pack curses all your ilk: Realizing there were also massage tables at this already precious & decadent event.

Best wordplay:

And finally,

Best reason to start blogging again: because I forgot how fun this is. Thanks for reading, and come back soon. I think I'm inspired to pick up where I left off, and as you all know, fall is my favorite food season, so kitchen adventures are imminent, methinks. And with that string of lovely soft-i assonance, I'll bid you adieu cheeselings. Oh yeah, I almost forgot:

Best reason to wrangle a free ticket to Fall Fest that would otherwise cost $95: All-you-can-eat fromage!