Friday, January 21, 2011

Notes from the Field: "How to Make Friends at Work"

Step One: Bake one dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes.

Step Two:  Bring cupcakes into office on a Friday at new job.

Step Three: See how many new friends you made.  I can count one dozen.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Case Study 79: "The Dauphin"

In a cavernous Connecticut bistro, filled with cellar stone walls and bottles of Sauternes...

On the Upper East Side, accompanied by mostarda, compotes and full-bodied squeals of delight...

On a sunny riverbank of Toulouse with one hand wrapped around mon amour and the other around a glass of rosé champagne...

Two nights in a row last weekend alone.

It is a fair statement to say that I am part of a completely, utterly and obsessively wild love affair with foie gras. And though I cannot remember when I first tasted the flesh, I can declare with confidence that I never forget a good foie experience. 

With oysters and truffles, this petit delicacy makes up my most holy food ménage à trois. I've always reasoned that my affinity for these fares deals with a theory of essences alone: in the oyster, I taste the sea, in the truffle, the musty earth, and in the liver, the body of life.

"The Dauphin" is a dark chocolate cupcake filled with sour cherry compote and topped with a whipped foie gras chantilly and a slice of almond brittle. Light and moist, yet rich and earthy, it is the ultimate of tiny cakes.  In the nineteenth century, English writer Sydney Smith stated that his idea of heaven was “eating pates de foie gras to the sound of trumpets.” I'd say that sounds about right to me.


When I began "The Cupcaketologist" over two years ago, I had envisioned it not only as a chronicle of my foray into self-discovery through baking, but also as a diary of my culinary growth.  I've always considered my case studies less full of kitsch and more full of flavor; true testimonials of my hunger for life, through travel and experience. 

For me, this is a cupcake two years in the making.  The table Cupcaketology has now been set for a different kind of occasion: cupcakes for the super gourmand.  Will they be for the faint of heart?  I'm not certain.  But what I do know, my friends, is that we can only go up from here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Case Study 78: "The Hummingbird Cake"

Twenty-ten was a year of changes.  It started off with setting goals, and ended with reaching them.  It took me to run and play in England, and enjoy a summer of sun in New England.  It had me making choices, working hard and trying my best to be patient. I said goodbye to some people, places and a few immediate dreams in exchange for ones that were more realistic and healthy for the time being.  I had moments of creativity that scared me. 

At the end of the summer, I let go.

In the fall of twenty-ten, I made a big move and tried something new.  When that didn't feel right, I made a decision that was scary, but I knew I'd be fine.  Maybe I'd be better.  I buzzed around a new city, made new friends, spent precious time with my family and got the break that I finally needed after three years of working. 

In the winter, things fell into place. 

They say that the origins of "The Hummingbird Cake" are unknown.  It appears to be a mostly Southern thing, and the recipes were a good way to use the bits and pieces, the not-so-necessarily-perfect-together things that you already have to make something sweeter.  And in a way, isn't every good year a bit like that?  The components might not make much sense in their hours, days and months, but in the end, things fall into a place. 

I have high hopes for twenty-eleven.  I'm excited to see what a year of growth can foster in a year where things seem to be set up where they belong.  It's been a long time getting to where I've been going, but it feels like this is right where I'm supposed to be. 

PS: As a new career begins, cupcakes will likely be scarce around here.  Follow my other inspiration and adventures over on The Cupcaketologist Tumblr.