Monday, July 27, 2009

Notes from the Field: "I'd drink it"

One word: Brilliant.

Concept, packaging, and crisp summer white taste, by a winemaker from down under based in Cali...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Case Study 25: "The Beachcomber"

While scientists keep trying to discover whether or not life had aqueous beginnings, I'd like to propose a toast to the remarkable bond that we humans have with the beach in general. Every summer, people leave their week-lives behind and escape to the shores of the world. They pack up their cars and hit the road with one goal in mind: to reach water."The Beachcomber" is a vanilla bean sandy mess of cupcake with vanilla frosting, cookie crumble and a gummy critter atop. It's reminiscent of the sand pails we had as children, and the shark teeth we scoured the beaches for, only to find hours later that they were sold for half a dollar each at the town's general store. It's the warm skinned post-sun feeling of drinking a Dark and Stormy as the sun goes down. It's the fires on the beach, and the broadest display of stars that litter the sky overhead, with the Ursa Major begging to be identified in her clear glory.
So what is it inside us that so instinctively yearns for the roaring waves and the wild beach roses? Maybe it's the infinite awe of looking out and seeing nothing but sky and water that draws us in. Maybe it reminds us of where we came from, nine blissful months of floating before our feet hit the ground.

Or maybe we do come from the water somehow. By watching the tide ebb in and seep out, we can understand how truly spontaneous, how changeable and how fragile life really is... and how little we actually do know about it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Notes from the Field: "Hot fun in the Summertime"

A successful summer sweet is not always easy to make. More often than not, dessert is passed up when it's too hot out. But no drink, meal, or party is truly complete without a little indulgence. Some observations on achieving warm weather perfection:

-Must be light, airy, and ultimately intend to refresh.

-Must travel easily.

-Must be relatively simple, to make and consume.

-Must be able to survive heat (to some extent...or in my opinion, until viewed in its glory by those devouring it at a later hour).
-Must pair well with beverage (bonus points for summer beer,
champagne or cocktail). Increased success rate if it appeals to party more after several said beverages.
-Must be consumed in good company: tunes, location, friends. No dessert fares well in summer if eaten alone.


-Must look good at sunset...well that shouldn't be hard.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Case Study 24: "The Blackwater Turtle"

I spent a mid-June week in Truro, MA, the second to last town on the Atlantic-reaching tip of Cape Cod. It's not an area for nightlife or shopping, but a place of reflection and appreciation.

Mary Oliver, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, has lived among the ponds of Provincelands at this far point of the world for decades, and is an example of how the beautiful remoteness and nearly untouched natural state can truly inspire.
"The Blackwater Turtle" is a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate glaze and a ground pecan shell. It is then topped with sweet caramel buttercream and crowned by a chocolate dipped pecan.

Oliver's famous poem "In Blackwater Woods" describes the perspective being in this place can bring if you allow your senses to take over and just exist in the moment. She writes:

"To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.

I found that type of clarity in Truro.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Case Study 23: "The Glittering Bee"

A package arrived at the beginning of the week with a card bearing something wonderful and moving from Marc Chagall. He said "If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing." Oh how this resonates, whether it be baking, in love, and in life.
"The Glittering Bee" is a burnt butter cupcake iced in brown sugar frosting and topped with a honey-orange blossom buttercream. It is crowned with a honeybee embossed fondant disk, and glitters as all that is good with sparkling crystal sugars.

Students of bee behavior know that each member of the hive has a role, and goes through their life as destined by the motions they were predisposed to go through, almost as if they live always as determined by fate.
As humans, our minds keep us in check, giving all sorts of rationale and weighing consequences. It pushes us to experience all sorts of emotions, but can also prevent us from experiencing them fully.

So what happens when life gets too... well.. "lifey"? Maybe in these cases we should to take cue from our destiny-loving arthropod friends and feel our way through it. We might just find that by doing so, everything works out somehow.