Friday, February 17, 2012

Case Study 109: "The Mardi Party Cake"

I was about three days into an all chocolate, coffee and cheese diet this week, tired from long nights at the office and missed dates with the gym, when I realized that all hope of health was not lost.  In fact, it was quite the opposite, as I counted backwards from Easter (just kidding, I consulted Google) and landed on the realization that the end of all my dirty vices is nigh: next Tuesday is Mardi Gras

Now one could ask just how in the devil I, lover of all the good dirty vices, could lose such sight of time? Well, this week has gotten away from me, and to be honest, so had the last.  Afterall, the past few weekends have so divinely made up for quiet weekdays of putting my head down and getting stuff done.     

Next Tuesday, not only will I get to commemorate the pending month and a half of penance and almsgiving...but I also get to toast the upcoming twenty-ninth year of one tall, brilliant and very handsome man in my life.  Now, I could party my way out of a paper bag. I could raise a glass at a rain cloud or  light a sparkler on any ordinary Thursday.  But give me two actual and marvelous reasons to celebrate a day, and I'm going all in. 

"The Mardi Party Cake" is a vanilla oreo cupcake topped with cookies and cream buttercream and gummi bears.  When planning my recipe attack, I chose to stick to my cardinal rule of Fat Tuesday baking, which is to make it trashy.  Side note: to somebody who grew up thinking sugar cereal was junk food, there is nothing more trashy than a big fat double stuffed Oreo and some Red Dye #5.  

It's been a good year of decadence, by cookie nights and fleur del sel caramel dreams, but I'm looking forward to finding much solace in my time away from these vices.  And even more so, I am excited to be part of someone special's next trip around the sun.  So go forth my friends, whether in Lenten sacrifice or purple beads, and enjoy your Mardi Gras in the fattest way possible.  If nothing else, it's the perfect excuse to celebrate.   

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Case Study 108: "The Chocolate Valentine"

what's wholly
marvellous my


is that you &
i are more than you

& i(be


e It's we)
-ee cummings

 Dark chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate shavings on top.

Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Case Study 107: "The Big Blue"

Dear Dad,

On this Superbowl Sunday, after your big successful sixtieth birthday bash, as your beloved New York Giants get ready to take on the Patriots, I would tell you one more thing...

I promise that I will never, ever, do this to you again. 


Twenty-one years later, I hope you'll accept my apologies and remember that even though you are a New Yorker through and through, we did spend a few solid years in Maryland, so you might have done this to yourself.  As a token of forgiveness, please accept these chocolate chip cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream, red sugar coating and a very bright royal blue fondant star. 

To the G-men and beyond, 


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Notes from the Field: On Sixty Years

"I'm sixty years of age. That's 16 Celsius."
- George Carlin

As a disclaimer, I must say that if there is anybody that supports the phrase "age is but a number," it is my parents.  They have somehow managed to dodge that fateful bullet of aging and get better with time like bottles of wine.  So, I'm still a bit in shock to think that today is my father's 60th birthday.
When I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be my father.  Of course at the time, this was based on his ability to work from home, his lengthy list of world traveling and the fact that he still had a full head of dark hair. It wasn't until I grew up and actually landed in the exact same profession as him that it hit home: I would be unbelievably fortunate to find such a fate.  

I could write novels on the places my father traveled alone.  I remember searching for the smell of his cologne and crispness of his suit during the days, the weeks, the months at a time he spent on business in Venezuela, Brussels, Toronto, and India.  The returns were welcomed by our rugby games and swim meets, the nights watching the Yankees, the Saturday trips to fly fish on the Housatonic, and the fall evenings when he picked me up from swim practice with the top down in the convertible, the heat blasting, and Van Morrison's Moondance on the radio.  

Years later, when he started working from home, I thought, who has it better than this guy?  He could play golf and guitar whenever he wants! But he wasn't content to keep it at that.  He embraced his Italian instincts, and took over as head house chef, learning first from recipes, then taking flight on his own culinary adventures.  A martini in one hand, a plated feast in the other, and a cheeky quip on the tip of his tongue, he paints the portrait of a true man of style and grace, with a little kick of inappropriateness.  

My father went to school to be a teacher and came out a businessman.  Sometimes I chuckle at the idea of him teaching something like gym class.  But I don't have to think long and hard to realize that all those educational skills have actually paid off.  He is our greatest coach: in little league and in life. He has been looked to, by colleagues and friends, as the most trusted of mentors, guiding others through their careers not only to find their next move but also discover their truest potentials. And in his greatest role yet, he is a "Pop Pop" - one that doles out important lessons on how to make gorilla monster noises, play guitar and truly experience the beauty of life.

He is the only guy I know that made their child dance the "Hustle" at a Father/Daughter dance; he is the only one that showed up to Catholic School cross country practice in metallic royal blue spandex running tights.  He is the only businessman I've met that had books of his sayings compiled by his colleagues because they were just too good to let go.  He is the only man I know who would nearly put a tool through his hand just to open an oyster on the Cape or put together a baby carriage.  And he is the only man I know that would enthusiastically sing and dance to KC and the Sunshine Band with a handful of sugar packets to entertain his grandson at lunch.  These are some of the reasons we love him.    

My father was the first born son of a Staten Island Ferry boat captain and a saint.  He idolized his uncles, named both of his brothers and received an apple cake by his little Napoletana grandma for his birthday every year.  And so we celebrate his 60th birthday today with family, with friends and with apple pecan cupcakes topped with vanilla bean and nutmeg buttercream.

To my big Dadoo.  You are the first man I ever loved, a beacon of knowing light and the greatest model of a husband, father, grandfather and friend that anyone could ever have.  Happy 60th Birthday.  You are love; you are loved.