Friday, February 25, 2011

Case Study 82: "The Happy Hippo"

Sometimes you find yourself home from work on a random Thursday with a delightfully long weekend ahead and you think to yourself...

What could be better than just some sweet baby hippo-faces atop chocolate cupcakes filled with Nutella and topped with a vanilla buttercream?

At least that's how my thought processes go.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Case Study 81: "The Long Distance Love"

I've done the long distance relationship before, and let me tell you, it ain't easy!  So when a friend got sent on a business trip to Japan for several months, she decided to order a little something special for her Valentine...

Chocolate cupcakes topped with peanut butter frosting and a hidden banana slice, raspberry buttercream, and mint chocolate chip buttercream.

You know, just to remind him that even though they're on opposite sides of the world...she's still sweet on him. 

Happy Valentine's Day, lovers.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Notes from the Field: On Love.

A few random thoughts on love.  

I love Valentine's Day, for reasons that can only be explained by counting backwards the months from my birthday.  People ask if knowing something like that is strange, and I say no as I'm consistently reminded of a nice line that I read in passing through: We loved here. I love that quote, and I love knowing there was love, then and there.

I've found love, fallen out of love, had unrequited loves and discovered new facets of love that I never knew existed.
There is some famous quote that says love is complicated. Really? I guess that after twenty-six short years of loving, I haven't quite yet figured out how. So for now, I'll leave you with my favorite love poem and some pretty pictures.  

This poem is about a time or a place.  Maybe it won't make much sense.  Maybe I've been there or I'll never get there, and maybe it's not really a poem about love at all.  But for me, this is love.

Route Six
Stanley Kunitz

The city squats on my back, 
I am heart-sore, stiff-necked,
exasperated.  That's why
I slammed the door,
that's why I tell you now, 
in every house of marriage
there's room for an interpreter.
Let's jump in the car, honey, 
and head straight for the Cape, 
where the cock on our housetop crows
that the weather's fair, 
and my garden waits for me 
to coax it into bloom.

As for those passions left
that flare past understanding, 
like bundles of dead letters
out of our previous lives
that amaze us with their fevers, 
we can stow them in the rear
along with ziggurats of luggage
and Celia, our transcendental cat, 
past-mistress of all languages, 
including Hottentot and silence.

We'll drive non-stop till dawn, 
and if I grow sleepy at the wheel, 
you'll keep me awake by singing
in your bravura Chicago style
Ruth Etting's smoky song, 
"Love Me or Leave Me,"
belting out the choices. 

Light glazes the eastern sky
over Buzzards Bay.
Celia gyrates upward
like a performing seal,
her glistening nostrils aquiver
to sniff the brine-spiked air.
The last stretch toward home!
Twenty summers roll by. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Case Study 80: "The Schott Trio"

When I think of the ultimate bad ass rebels without a cause, I inevitably think of men of yore: Dean, Springsteen, Brando, The Ramones... the list goes on. 

Schott NYC, the fantastic American leather jacket company, has dressed them all, and I had the honor of collaborating with them to create concept cupcakes.   But take heed, these confections are not your typical sweet delights.  

They're for the salty sailors and the motorcycle boys.  They're a bit offbeat, tough, and like Schott itself, they represent "the heritage of America and the rebel inside everyone."

"The Drunken Sailor" is a Valrhona chocolate cupcake topped with whiskey vanilla bourbon buttercream and cacao shavings.  It's offbeat, liquored up and inspired by Schott's Classic Melton Wool Naval Pea Coat. 

"The Top Gun" is a pistachio cupcake topped with a light caramel buttercream and a homemade pistachio chocolate crunch.  Dressed in its best fatigues with an aviator spirit, it's inspired to take flight and live dangerously by Schott's G-1 Top Gun Leather Bomber.

And then, there's "The Perfecto," and it doesn't get any better than this: an Oreo cupcake topped with a chrome-detailed vanilla buttercream and sugar studs.  Marlon Brando personified motorcycle cool by donning a black leather Perfecto in 1953 in The Wild OneShoulder stars, metal snaps, silver finish on the exact fit, the jacket has been produced flawlessly for over fifty years.

Schott's done it right for nearly a century, making classic jackets that are iconic pieces of American history and heritage.  Did you know that they were the ones who first put zippers on jackets?  Bad ass and innovative all at once!  When asked what he was rebelling against in The Wild One, Brando's Johnny replies: "Whaddya got?"   Some people don leather, salute anarchy or sail the winds by sea.  But in the end, attitude, pride and spirit are a state of mind, so don't forget to wear them well.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Notes from the Field: Non Mas.

This year, we rang in the Superbowl and a birthday with wine, succulent brisket, white truffle mac and cheese, stromboli bread, crudite and the Cheesehead my dad brought back from Wisconsin for me when I was 10.   

But oh, there were also...

double vanilla cupcakes with crunchy peanut butter frosting and milk chocolate dipped banana slices...

sweet little pink raspberry baby cakes...

the most light and fluffy salted caramel cupcakes, topped with homemade fleur de sel caramels...  

And then, well, then my friends, there was a food coma. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Notes from the Field: LET'S BAKE

Friends frequently ask if they can hang out in my kitchen.  Save for a few fortunate souls, who inevitably lay victim to copious amounts of wine, a veritable library of my senseless stories and a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar, it doesn’t happen enough.  You want to know what it looks like when I strap on the apron and the oven gets hot? 

This.  Every time.

Shall we bake?  Let’s bake.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Case Study 79: "The Golden Ticket"

Glamour.  I've been thinking a lot about it lately as I settle into the Manhattan life I've been creating for myself.

It's a bit more decadent here in New York - a little excessive at times and a hell of a lot more luxurious just by nature alone.  Swanky cocktails in classic Manhattan bars are quickly followed by dirty late night underground dance parties and white truffle pizza at 2 AM.  We are surrounded by more forms of art and culture and diversity here than I could ever imagine, even coming from another large city.  And for Christ's sake, half the time I get my groceries delivered now, and I can't even tell you about the wild goods that can arrive at my doorstep.  With this all, I am reminded of that famous quote by Kate Moss when she said "My mum used to say to me, 'you can't have fun all the time,' and I used to say, 'why not?'. Why the fuck can't I have fun all the time?"  

Making life extraordinary.  Over the past few years, I'm finding  that this is one of my golden rules.  Adding a little extra effort to make the everyday a bit more fantastical, in even the simplest of ways, brings a bit more fulfillment to my life.  That is what New York City has been for me so far.

"The Golden Ticket" is a chocolate cupcake with golden dust encrusted hazelnut buttercream.  It's an over the top, sparkling and glamorous addition to an otherwise dreary winter weekday, and that's what makes it absolutely spectacular. 

Fellini, master of fantastical cinema, believed that all that we create in our lives is autobiographical- that even the pearl is the life story of the oyster.  In the end, the lives that we make for ourselves- the people we are surrounded by, the journeys we embark on, the lifestyles we fashion- are worth only the value of what we want the pages of our life histories to say.  For what it's worth, I hope mine reads that no matter what came my way in life, I loved and I lived, and most of all, I really made it fun.