Thursday, March 31, 2011

Business and Politics

Hypocrisy or ethics?

Remember my do-good / feel-good rant the other day, which subsequently was taken down for personal reasons? I went on and on about contributing to charities and good causes and such? I wrote about how it made me feel at peace and happy for being able to help those who come to me for help?

Today, my friend "L" contacted me about some cupcakes for a very high-end bake sale she was putting together for a friend. She wasn't even asking for them outright for free. She was willing to pay a fair amount and get my company name out there. She wanted to hook me up with free labels and packaging. She wanted to give me the name of a trademark lawyer, a guy she used to date, who would be more than happy to get my business registered and legit. Why so generous?

Because the fundraiser was for a Republican "group", she said she wasn't at liberty to discuss it in detail until much closer to the event. Several big names were thrown at me, none of which are heroes of mine by any means. I'm not exactly sure what this money is being raised for specifically, but I had the notion that it was going towards a political party that I do not support, believe in, or want associated with me or my business.

The Golden Carrot she dangled in front of me was tempting. I know this girl through other people, and she seemed to like me because of what I do; the cake thing. Out of 800 or so of her social network friends, she shoots me a comment, a "Like", and the occasional chat or message at least a couple times a week. We have run into each other at a couple of social functions the last couple of months, but we are not besties in any sense of the word. She's a connector. She's the girl you want to know if you need an introduction to the right kind of people. She's at all the right parties, eats at all the right places, works all the right media outlets (as her job), and has a pleasant enough disposition for you to not hate her guts out of pure jealousy. I like her. I think she's cool. She's got the perfect personality to fit the job of "knowing" people.

The revenue I would have brought in with her offer was tempting. 500 cupcakes is no small feet. I would have had to hire help on this one, and even with that, the payoff of getting Queenie Cakes legit is worth more than the cash we discussed. Something was nagging at me, though. Something didn't sit well in my stomach.

Understood, I would be selling her cupcakes at a huge discount so that she can turn around and sell them for a huge amount of money for her fundraiser. As a favor to me for working this fundraiser and cutting my profit margin for the sake of the cause, she would hook me up with the right people to help me out. However, the money she would be making with my help would be funding a group that I detest wholeheartedly. I'm not going into politics on this blog. I believe everyone has a right to believe in whatever the hell they want without the fear of other people shitting on them for it.

I may not agree, and I may roll my eyes, and I may mutter my disgust with like-minded individuals, but I will not stand in the way of the backwards or obtuse views of others. It's their right, such as it's mine to disagree. However, the idea that I was whoring out my wares for a favor made me feel like I was signing a contract with the devil. Would I ever want to admit that Queenie Cakes got it's start with "seed" money that originated by helping out this political group that I never want to be a part of? (I know I said I didn't want to name names, but Christ almighty, Sarah Palin was whispered as if it was supposed to impress me. I have no clue what capacity her role was for this fundraising, but if the object of the name-drop was to impress me, the results couldn't have been more opposite.)

I thought about this. Honestly, I didn't think too long. I knew I didn't want to do this. I knew it would take a lot of work, days off from my day job, and producing a product that would cost me more money to make than I was charging for the "cost" of it, and all for a cause that I heartily disagree with.

I wrote her back that I had orders booked that week and that weekend. (This is true, but they are not so huge that I had to cancel them for this.) I said that job actually seemed a lot bigger than what I can realistically handle right now at the size of my operation. I said I didn't want to agree to a job that I knew I wasn't capable of handling properly, and she should probably contact a baker who will give her a product she can make the most money with. "L" tried to talk me out of it, tried to cut it down to 250 cupcakes instead, and wanted to give me her contacts in Long Island City for some small communal kitchen space I can rent for a few days. She would expense it herself. However, I told her it wouldn't solve the problem I had with orders I already booked. She said she understood. To make matters worse, she even praised me for being so loyal to my customers and not dropping their orders for a bigger fish. Oh, if only she knew....

I just couldn't wrap my head around the cause. I just couldn't get behind it. I've donated to diabetes, autism, march of dimes, domestic violence, sick children, breast cancer, education in Bangladesh, etc....and not all of  these causes were dear to my heart, but someone needed my help and I was able to give it. That was payment enough. In this case, something inside me just refused to make it that simple, all because of the politics behind it.

Am I wrong? Did I just make a huge mistake in the name of political differences? Is my soapbox so firmly stuck to the ground that I can't see the bigger picture around me?

I think business-wise, I made a mistake. Unfortunately, I am not driven by money and rapid growth. I have to love what I'm doing. I have to believe in my actions. If I can't look in the mirror at the end of the day, is it worth gilding my baking enterprise just for the sake of being a bonafide presence?

My baby may be small for it's age, but it's chugging along nicely. It may take me a little longer to get where I'm going, but when I get there I won't look back and feel ashamed by the hands that helped me along the way.

I'm sorry, L. Love you, but hate the cause. No hard feelings?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Grub: Eli's

I finally got to check out this place! I used to hear about it all the time from my old bosses when I worked at the Fashion District. They owned a very swank apartment on the Upper East Side and constantly talked about the fantastic brunches they had here.

I FINALLY had an excuse to go this past Sunday to celebrate my buddy Josh's 25th Birthday!! (Happy Birthday, Josh!!) His family treated him & his friends for a fantastic brunch.

As I walked through the restaurant to get to the table in an adjoining room, I couldn't help but notice all the fantastic looking brunch plates on the other tables. There was french toast, crepes, blintzes, and various omelets and fresh juices. Each table had a large basket of various sliced breads, fresh butter, and various crocks of jams and jellies. This was my favorite part. I'm not a big juice girl because the acid kills me, but the freshly squeezed oj was just fantastic. As I scanned the menu, I realized again that I'm just not a huge breakfast fan. I don't cook breakfast foods very well because I rarely eat breakfast. If I do have a meal early in the day, it more closely resembles some sort of lunch.

At the suggestion of our hosts, and because everyone else was doing it (Damn you, peer pressure!) I went with the all-you-can-eat salad bar. Let me tell you why this was a mistake for someone like me.

  1. I just don't eat huge meals early in the day. Granted, we started eat at about 2pm, but a buffet meal is something that fits dinnertime much better for me.
  2. The salad bar is the same salad bar that they have in the main specialty food store that they weigh for people to take food home. Everything is cold. It was a fantastically large food bar with tons of choices. However, the hot foods were all stone cold and they wouldn't heat it up in the restaurant.
  3. I loaded up my plate, not realizing all the food was cold and was in for a rude awakening when I dove into my paella. It was all very tasty and I was able to load up a HUGE plate of food which still adhered to my no-meat policy.
  4. After my one plate, I was stuffed, and I felt like I didn't eat enough to make that plate worth it.
  5. Josh's uncle ordered cheese blintzes and they looked delicious! Absolutely delicious!!! So, that kicked in my food envy.
Overall, I think the food at Eli's was really good. Even the salad bar veggies and options were seasoned well and very tasty. If I can get back there for another brunch or even a dinner, I would get a hot plate of crepes or pancakes. From what I know, Eli has a bread shop and all the baking is done on premises. That would explain their fantastic bread basket.

After brunch, we all walked around the specialty food shop located on the lower level. As a foodie, I felt like I was shopping through Tiffany's. I was excited with the options at every turn. A huge array of imported and domestic cheeses, shelves of olive oils and vinegars, and countless other wonderfully high-end food items. Being the UES, the prices were ridiculous. (Much like the prices of jewelry at Tiffany's.) However, it was fun to window shop!

Eli's is located at 1411 Third Ave. Have fun, but bring a clean credit card or a ton of cash if you plan on coming home with souvenirs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Good Grub: Goose Island Night Stalker

Technically, this post is about beer, not food, but it was so good, it was worth the post. After my beer group's distillery tour, we walked over to Mission Dolores for a few brews. I saw Goose Island Night Stalker on the menu for a price of $6 for an 8oz glass. That immediately piqued my interest even though it didn't really say what kind of beer it was. I would imagine something called "Night Stalker" would be dark, which is right up my alley. The fact it was being served in such a small container tells me it's rich, another plus in my book. I assumed it would be some thick, dark, chocolaty stout. My senses were going crazy!

I let someone talk me into trying something different, the special cask beer. It was a Southern Tier 2X IPA w/ an alcohol content of 8.5%. Enjoyable, but nothing to write home about. It was nutty and interesting. When I finished that off, I was happy to grab my Night Stalker. What an experience!

It was served in a smaller glass, something you might serve scotch on the rocks in. It was thick and dark, like I imagined. It was a sipping beer. I would almost compare it to a Bourbon. I have never had a beer like this on tap before! I was deliriously happy!
The taste...Definitely roasted and heavy, almost a little bitter. There were slight notes of caramel and maybe a little mocha or chocolate- nothing as strong as any other chocolate stout I've had, but much, much richer and silky. I could have had another glass and sipped that contentedly all night long, but I stayed within my two beer limit. Also, at nearly 12% alcohol content, I think two would have been more than enough! I regretted having the first cask beer instead of just two of the Night Stalkers that I wanted from the start, but I have to try new things if I'm ever going to expand my palate.
Night Stalker is brewed out in IL. Had I known then what I know now, I would have been a lot happier during my trips out to Chi-Town! 
I don't venture into Brooklyn as often as I used to, but if I had to, this bar would be at the top of my haunts....If not for the chill vibe and cool attitude of the staff; for the fantastic array of beers on tap and for the chance of encountering the Night Stalker once again.
Two VERY enthusiastic thumbs up!
Mission Dolores
249 4th Ave
Brooklyn, NY

Goose Island- Chicago's Craft Beer

Field Trip: Breuckelen Distillery

This past Saturday, my Craft Beer group held a meet-up at this fantastic distillery in Park Slope, Brooklyn called Breuckelen Distillery. Back in my heavier drinking days, I was the original Tanqueray girl. I loved gin. The heavy floral nose of juniper berries that punched you in the face, the distinct depths of angelica & coriander....Ah. Heaven! The other great thing about gin? Because it's such a distinct flavor, one needs a much more sophisticated palate to appreciate it. What does that mean to a 20-something year old out with her friends? It meant I didn't have my vodka guzzlers or Jameson lovers siphoning off my drink while I wasn't looking. (Yes, I hung out with a bunch of sponges.) They hated gin. Lucky me!

Well, Breukelen's gin is a lot more tame on the nose. As I walked from the subway, down 19th St, waiting to cross under the BQE, I could smell liquor-making in the air with heavy whiffs of yeast and fermentation coming down the street to greet me. I was very excited! The tour was fantastic and very informative. With our large group of 17, Brad answered every question, gave us a taste of the gin in various stages of production, and let us climb ladders and peek into various barrels and drums like nosy little kids. It was fantastic!

It ended with a tasting of gin and whiskey. While holding very interesting flavor with toned down notes of juniper (which is what makes gin Gin), they have their own blends of flavors and aromatics that creates a much tamer spirit with more subtle notes. Some of the other elements in their blend include rosemary and lemon- a combination inspired by a risotto dish the founder Brad had one night. Although not as domineering as my old friend Tanqueray, I can totally see myself making my gin drinks with Breukelen's spirit; a mere $38 for a bottle. After a night too heavily spent with Tanqueray, it's been nearly a year since I've had a sip of gin. My once beloved juniper, angelica & coriander bouquet that used to whet my whistle now makes my tummy do somersaults in ways a motion-sensitive girl cannot take. This lighter version of my favorite liquor seems a perfect new addition to my cabinet.

The whiskey was a nice surprise. I've been a Jameson's fan for almost two years now. I would describe Breuckelen's Whiskey as something that comes between Jameson's and Jack Daniels but with a heavier color and taste; closer to Jack. Nice oaky flavor...hints of smokey goodness. I was a happy girl! I didn't even need the Coke this time! It was perfect on it's own...the little taste that I got.

I strongly urge everyone to give them a visit at their Park Slope distillery, where you can get a tour and a tasting for $3. Brad and the rest of the staff is very friendly, knowledgeable, and inspiring. This business uses all local ingredients; their grains grown upstate. They try to be as green as possible, which is always a plus in my book. Support your local small businesses. If you're going to spend your money; put it someplace where it will do the most good! Like I mentioned, a bottle of gin is $38 and a bottle of whiskey is $41. (Prices are subject to change, of course.)

Breuckelen Distilling Co. gets a thumb up!

Breuckelen Distilling Company Inc
77 19th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gross Grub: Jaya

***UPDATED 4/7/2011***
After much thought about how garishly bad the food was here, I couldn't in good conscience keep calling this post "Good Grub: Jaya". So, I changed the title and the label, but I'm leaving the original content as-is. 

Don't be fooled by the name of my post. There nothing good about this grub. I try to keep this blog focused on my business, but how much can one write about cake, artistic insecurity, money issues, and trustworthy people? So, every now and again you'll get a short restaurant commentary from me about awesome food or not-so-awesome food. This post is about the latter.

I work downtown during the day, a five minute walk away from Chinatown. When the weather gets nicer, like it has been the last few days, I take a walk and have a little something. Being that I'm in the middle of my No Meat phase, Chinatown gives me a nice variety to choose from which does not include any mooing, oinking, clucking, or quacking buddies of mine.

My quickie lunches of choice always swayed between Wonton Garden, for their soup noodles with various dumplings or the Singapore Cafe; fantastic cuisine in a very chill contemporary setting. Well, Wonton Garden fell out of my good graces after I bit into a dumpling that didn't quite taste right. I immediately paid my bill and left the rest of my bowl uneaten. I got many dirty looks as I hurried out of there. Singapore Cafe had recently shut down and reopened as a table-cloth fru-fru type of eatery, and the service was less than friendly when I went in there to investigate. I was standing there for several minutes as waiters and waitresses rushed by, ignoring me. Fuck that. This is Chinatown was PLENTY of food options with better service.

I've been frequenting many Vietnamese eateries for delicious bowls of Pho. Sans meat, it's just not as yummy. So, I figured I would give Jaya a try. It it was Malaysian. I hadn't had authentic Malaysian food since my ex-friend Christine and I parted ways over a year ago. (Side note - I have many ex-friends. Too bad the one's I no longer talk to were awesome foodie. I think my report card over the last three years will read "Does not play well with others.) It looked clean and inviting from the outside. It's located on Baxter street, right next to the Tombs. (The Tombs would be the Manhattan detention center....the place they take your ass when you get arrested in the city.)

I hate standing there, waiting to be seated while there are empty tables, waiting for diners to sit. I can understand a lunch rush which would keep the waitstaff rushing and busy. But, it takes a minute to grab a menu and seat a bunch of people clogging the entrance, and it takes more time to serve food, grab checks, and bring back change to people already seated and situated. While your new arrivals are scanning the menu, you can attend to the rest of the people waiting for food or checks or change. Duh. I contemplated walking out and heading to another spot for lunch, and nearly did. I wish I went with my gut and left. I would have been spared a terrible lunch.

I ordered Roti Canai, a very typical Malaysian dish which a thin, flaky flatbread often served with a curry side dish which mostly serves as a spicy dipping sauce. There's often a little piece of chicken or other type of stewed meat in there. It looks similar to this: (see picture on the right)

It's something I often got at the Singapore Cafe, even during my meatless phase. I would just dip without partaking in the piece of meat in there. This is a very traditional and typical Malay dish that NO ONE should mess up if they are calling themselves a Malaysian restaurant. The Roti was fluffy and crispy and tasty. The sauce was spicy and well seasoned, but it was hard to get to it with the huge layer of oil floating there on top. Maybe it's traditional to be that oily, but all the other places I've had it has never been that oily. It was a bit of a turnoff.

Not wanting to take the tourist route and order pad thai, I got seafood pan fried noodles instead. Not Malaysian at all. What a mistake! Have you ever cooked with cornstarch? Well, you make a slurry of cold water and cornstarch, and then add it to the heat with the cornstarch already dissolved in the water. When it's heated and the cornstarch cooks, it turns into a gelatinous, shimmery thick paste. A teaspoon or so of this slurry is usually added to many Chinese sauces or dishes to achieve that thick composition and to add a little sheen to the finished product. While yummy and pretty when it's first served, it makes saucy Chinese food really unpleasant to reheat and eat as leftovers. You have chunks of cornstarch-thickened bits of jelly-sauce that never returns to that awesome saucy texture it was when it first comes off the fire. It's Just Gross.

The beauty of pan fried noodles is the crispy, crunchy texture of fried noodles topped with a rich sauce, which then slowly starts to soften the noodles. You eat it quickly to keep some of that crunch with each bite. I'm not a fan of white sauce served with Chinese seafood dishes. To me, all it tastes like is a ton of cornstarch cooked in water with some salt and pepper with the seafood tossed in at the last minute. I forgot to ask for a "brown sauce" and was sorely disappointed when the white dish arrived at my table.

Here's the rest of it. The dish was topped with multiple pieces of crab sticks. No, not crab legs. Crab sticks. Pureed white fish pressed and colored to imitate crab leg meat. I'm not a fan. There were 5 fishballs; pureed fish and dough that have been boiled then pan fried. I'm not a fan of those either. It looked like there were a couple of pieces of scallop that have been sliced from one huge scallop. And there were two overcooked, uncleaned shrimp at the very top. I attacked the noodles with gusto, trying to enjoy the crunch. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the mouthful of disgusting, gelatinous white sauce that covered EVERYTHING.

I ate as much as I could. After two huge mouthfuls and difficult swallows, I gave up. I tried to pick out some of the seafood, but my taste buds weren't having it. I pushed the plate away, and asked for the check. My young waiter/waitress (she/he was sort of androgynous-on purpose, I believe), was much nicer than the one who took my order, and he/she offered to wrap up the rest of my lunch. After hesitating, I agreed.

This is why. No matter how bad the food is, I won't take it out on the waitstaff. Unless I get really horrible service, I am not rude to these hardworking people. It's not fun serving people because most people are rude, nasty, and have an insane sense of entitlement. Also, just because I don't like something doesn't mean that 99% of all their other customers don't love it. As a chef, I would feel terrible if someone didn't touch the food I just made. Not that these people would have cared either way, but I chose to go with the whole treat others the way you would want to be treated.

I paid, tipped, and headed out with my little doggy bag, which I promptly dumped into the nearest trash receptacle. I don't like wasting food, but I couldn't try to feed that mess to another person with a clear conscience.

Here is where Jaya fails.
  • Poorly trained waitstaff. Seat the people, then serve the people. 
  • Identity crisis. Malaysian/Thai/Chinese. No, no, no. Pick a specialty and do it well. Better to have one style that you knock out of the park, than several that are mediocre. I had a Malay dish and a Chinese dish. Both were mediocre. 
  • Poor ventilation. I don't know about you guys, but I don't like coming out of a restaurant smelling of someone else's lunch. Not good.

Alas, my search for southeast Asian cuisine will have to continue. Jaya won't ever be a repeat. In fact, I pointed a large group of Swedish tourists to eat elsewhere as they read the menu outside when I came out. I sent them to the Peking Duck House. A little pricier, but better service, clean restaurant, an a tourist-friendly menu. I suggested they order the Peking Duck, and they were very excited about that.

At least I know they'll have a better lunch than I did!

Quote Worthy - Chasing Assholes

"Wer mit der herde geht, kann nur den arschen folgen." 

"He who runs with the flock inevitably follows assholes."
~ Chef Max Stiegel (I hope I spelled him name right.)

This was a quote taken from last night's "No Reservations" episode which was filmed in Austria. Isn't it true, though? If you're a follower and not a leader, you end up with a face full of ass. I don't know about any of you, but I'll be damned if I live out the rest of my life chasing another asshole. On the other hand, if you must follow an ass, I happen to think mine if pretty damn cute!

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Stumble

Well, I wasn't naive walking into my new "partnership". And my friends are right; it's a not a true partnership because I'm not handing 50% of my business over to anyone. He's more like an employee that I pay for his services, as needed. And it's no secret that it's my ex. I tried to be respectful and not mention names, but with all 3 of you reading, I don't think it hurts much, and anytime I've written about him it's mostly been over positive anyway.

Like I said, I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did with Queenie Cakes if it wasn't for Joel. He got most of my equipment and supplies at off-the-truck prices, and got the cakes delivered. He also spoon-fed me many customers those first two years. Besides that, he also kicked my ass when my attitude started to slide back towards Lazy Ass Valley. My worst year could be attributed to him, too, but I won't bitch too much about it. It's over and done with.

Earlier this month, I got my annual phone call from him on the same day I get it every year for a very personal reason. Besides the "how are you" nonsense that exes go through, and then the slew of apologies that he recites like a rosary year after year, he also passed on a nice cake order. I was not going to take it at first because there was no way I would have been able to deliver to the location. He offered his services. I declined at first, but then he admitted he could use a little extra money and he would appreciate it if I could send catering orders his way if I get something I couldn't take on.

Hence, our agreement was struck. I was very clear that certain boundaries are to be maintained and that if any of our rules were broken, then this little contract would be ripped up immediately. The first few runs were good. He filled in to deliver when I couldn't do it, he helped me get supplies from cheaper sources, and he's thrown me some new customers. He's also stepped in to make some important decisions when I was too tired or too addle-brained to think clearly, like donating the cupcakes straight out and not charging anything for them. That has since paid off with several cupcakes orders and two party cakes in the coming months.

I don't like being friends with exes. I don't like having a reminder of the past; good or bad. When it's over, it's best to understand that it's over, let go, and move on. For me, that's the healthiest route to take so I can be the best I can be without any ghost of the past holding me back.

I have since let go of my past with Joel. I've forgiven him for horrible things he did and almost did. I've also filed away our feelings for each other in neat little scrapbooks that hide away in the back of my closet. I appreciate him for all he has done to help me grow as a person, but I know my path leads elsewhere, and NOT to a home back with him. Seeing that he's living with a new woman, himself, I felt like I was treading on safe ground. He's moved on. I've moved on. Can't we just make some money together?

Like I said, things were going well until Friday. He helped me out big time this week with this Yo Gabba Gabba order. He even got me to Brooklyn in record time to deliver. Holy shit, for once, I was EARLY! I don't remember the last time I was early for anything.

My bowling night was canceled. After the set up, Joel offered to drive me to Hicksville so I could get some storage things for my stuff; things I'll need this summer for my move. I was also able to get some new containers for my decorating knick-knacks.

I should have known better. During the 30 minute drive out there, he tried to walk down memory lane- a stroll I immediately shut down. While shopping around the store, he pointed to furniture we used to have, decorations we bought together, and memories I had safely tucked away. I wasn't getting weepy. I was getting angry. The final straw came when we were on line, and I was paying. He was dutifully bagging up my purchase and he asked me a question, something like, "Do you want it all in the same bag, boo?"

I flipped. As we walked back to the car, I made it clear again that I'm not his "boo", his "honey" or any other term of endearment anymore. I said if this sort of thing were to continue, then this agreement we have together would end right there. He promised it was only a mistake; it wouldn't happen again.

We grabbed a bite to eat before heading back to Queens. During the meal, a got a call from a friend, asking me to come upstate to visit with him. (No names.) I told him I would check my schedule and my funds and get back to him, but I wasn't in a position to discuss it at the moment. For someone who claims to have hearing loss, Joel seemed to pick up the conversation well enough and made some snarky remark about my friend and my intentions. Both of these things are obviously none of his business and I told him so.

The rest of the night passed quickly, and I was happy to get home. For my business, our agreement has been great. Even with the money I pay him, more orders means more income and even with the added expense of his services, it's still more money than no orders at all. However, I fear that I was too eager to give him a fresh chance and maybe his intentions are changing the more time he spends with me.

I know this song. It's the same one that played the more my ex-friend Jonathan and I hung out. As much as he kept saying he was cool with just a friendship, his actions proved otherwise. In the end, it was smarter to cut that tie permanently.

I'm at this fork in the road. Cut Joel loose before things get stickier or give him a chance to show that he can keep his memories in the past? Everyone deserves another chance. I've given our romantic relationship all the chances it deserves, and I know with every fiber of my being that he is not the one for me. Our business relationship has always been strong, and I wonder if it's smart to treat that as an independent entity with it's own set of chances, or if I  should just take a page out of every other book I've read in the past and shut it down before things get worse.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone slips up. I know I've done it. I want to give him another shot. Truth be told, I need his help. I can't do the added load by myself, and I don't know anyone else I can trust the way I trust him with my business. I just don't trust him to keep his yearnings for the way things used to be at bay.

This is how I left things with him on Friday;

"You and I are as dead as our child. If you can't leave our relationship in it's grave, then you need to walk away now. This is never going to work if you keep trying to relive what's over."

I know, I know. It was way harsh, and very blunt, but I don't know how to be any other way when faced with these kinds of dilemmas. I'm not going to pretend that I know what's best for me or my business. I know I try to choose what is right. Many times I choose wrong. I'm not sure now. I know I want to run as far away from him as possible, but running has only landed me in deeper trouble. So, do I face it or try to see it for what it is or do I give up now for what "might" happen?

I guess time will tell. In the meantime, I have to work on getting myself in a position to handle my business on my own. Even if Joel and I can manage to ink out a reasonable working relationship, he won't be around forever. Maybe I won't be in NY forever. Then what?

Time will tell.

Yo Gabba Gabba Brobee Cake

As promised, my Yo Gabba Gabba Cake in all it's glory.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Did It!! Yo Gabba Gabba Group

I'm in the weeds! The cake isn't assembled and I'm sitting at work right now, but I just finished my fondant decorations. What do you think? Did I nail it?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tired, But Smiling

No sleep last night. Five dozen batches of Irish Car Bomb cupcakes. No, there are no ridiculous four-leaf clover cut outs on top or green-tinted frosting. I sprinkled some pastel green dragees and some leaf green sugar crystals. That's as hokey as I'm getting with St. Pat's deco. It still irked me to do the green on top. I feel like it makes them look as though there should be mint in the cupcakes. There isn't. There's Chocolate Stout baked into the cakes, Jameson's & Godiva brushed into the cake, and Jameson's & Bailey's in the frosting. I'll put up pictures tomorrow.

Since I started fairly early, I was able to rest a little and sculpt. Yes, indeedy! I have a near-perfect Muno (the red cyclops) and I'm almost done with all the components for Plex (the yellow robot). Thankfully, my partner found me an edible image of Brobee at an old cake deco store I used to hit up in Ozone Park. There was no way I would have been able to get there before they closed with work, and ordering it online wouldn't guarantee it would get here on time. He was also able to get me the supplies I needed for this cake. I can't express how much stress is off my shoulders knowing I wouldn't have to trek all over the city to over-pay for these things.

The cake is baked and waiting to be filled and covered later. I still have to sculpt Foofa and Toodee. Plex is definitely the most detailed one, but it's easy shapes and it's just more time consuming rather than difficult.  I think Toodee may take me about an hour or so to do, but I'm hoping I'll be able to get two or three hours sleep tonight. It's going to be tight. Straight after work, I have two deliveries to make in midtown, and then one all the way uptown on 72nd street for a beer meetup. I'm eating the cost on the beer meetup order because I opened my big mouth about cupcakes, but I'll hand out some business cards. If I get one order, the cost will be covered, so no harm no foul. The only thing I can't get back is time. And I need all the time I can get tonight. I'm thinking the cake may need another layer baked. It was looking a little short when I checked it this morning. That will take a good hour to bake, and another hour to cool enough for me to handle.

That's fine because I still need to finish three of the Yo Gabba Gabba figures, and I know it will take me more than two hours. Fondant needs to be kneaded and warmed in order for it to be pliable. That takes a good half hour to achieve the right consistency for a pound of fondant. If it dries out and gets hard again while I'm working on the figures, the process starts all over again.

Besides a bad shoulder ache and a little fatigue, my wrists and hands are killing me. The kneading, rolling, and kneading took their toll on my old-lady tools. That happens a lot now; my hands cramping up. That's a total nightmare for a cake decorator. Those are my tools. When my hands are shaking and aching, my work suffers. I've got my wrists bandaged up with some smelly Bengay doing it's warm-goodness inside wraps. Sure, I smell like an old lady but if it means I can frost my cake later with minimal pain- I'll walk around smelling like an old lady!

I'll have pictures up tomorrow. Like I said, I'm really happy with the way Muno came out. Even though they are fairly easy characters to try to duplicate, I've found that simple cartoon-like characters are not easy for me. I can't draw. That means I can't sculpt. What I learned I CAN do is replicate shapes. I realized that was my method to use while I was watching Southpark one night. Southpark is nothing but shapes cut out and layered to create these characters and scenery. It's simple but it works. If I can replicate the shape, if I take my time with the details, I can come pretty close to the original.

I was in a cake decorating store once with an artist. He was flipping through a cartoon cake decorating book. One cake was of Daffy Duck's head with an awesome expression on his face of being caught by surprise. As he flipped through, this artist said, "You can probably do that, right? It looks easy enough."

Immediately, I knew I couldn't. "I can't. I can't get the proportions right. I can't get the ratio perfect. It will resemble Daffy, but it won't ever be as perfect as that picture, and I know where my limits are. It sucks. I wish I could replicate characters like that."

Here's the thing; when you try to replicate a very famous cartoon character or ANY cartoon character for that matter, you need to remember they are drawn a certain way deliberately and are famous because of it. If you can't get it exactly right, then it's skewed and it makes your work look amateur and kinda off.


Pretty decent rendering.
Ratios and proportions are off.

Ratios and proportions WAY off.

By the way, none of these are my cakes. I just put them up there to demonstrate my point. If I can't get it as close to the original as possible, then I don't want to do it. Maybe I'm being too anal about it, but I truly believe that you shouldn't promise something you can't deliver. I always get nervous when I do these character cakes, but Sponge Bob came our pretty damn good and Foofa has been awesome. So, I guess practice makes perfect!

I'll update with pictures tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Mine are too achy to cross. =(

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brobee Cake

My Wordpress site has finally directed a customer to me that was NOT referred there by anyone other than Google! Most of my client base has come from referrals or people who have eaten my goods and wanted my services. I've been out to dinner with people who supposedly wanted my services (cake or otherwise), but nothing had panned out to be lucrative for me or feasible for the size of my business. And these jokers ended up with me as a reluctant and angry dinner date. Hence, I was duped, and after that happened to me twice, I took my very awesome picture down from Wordpress.

Some lady emailed me a few months ago, looking for a Yo Gabba Gabba cake for her son's birthday. I sent her all the information with my set prices. She never wrote me back. This weekend, she called and asked for the cake. I stuck to my guns and didn't ease up in the price, almost hoping she would walk away because the last thing I want to do is sculpt Yo Gabba Gabba figures out of fondant. (Not that my Foofa didn't come out quite cute! Especially for a non-artist like me!)

So, she asked for Brobee as an edible image in the middle of the cake, and all the rest of them sculpted out of fondant and arranged around Brobee. Weird. I wanted to argue with her and tell her it would look better if....

Then I realized that I have a full 5-day work week at the fucking Day Job because I had to switch off so I can take next Friday off for doctor's appointments. I have several Irish Car Bomb cupcakes to drop off all over the city Thursday night, and even if I go straight home after the last delivery, it's going to be tight on time again. What's new? I'm constantly racing against time.

My energy levels still aren't back up to speed. I'm still always tired, even after I've taken the sleeping meds the doctor asked me to do on the weekends. I just feel like I'm dragging around 115 lbs of dead weight. Hopefully, after my tests next week my doctor will have some sort of solution for me. He already told me to get my ass back to the gym; even if it's for just a half hour each day. He seems to think that will get the endorphins pumping and get my energy back to where it's supposed to be. Given the fact that I fully own up to being a total lazy ass the last couple of months, I'm thinking he may be right.

So, I'm going to dust off my amateur sculpting skills and hope I can pull off the Yo Gabba Gabba bunch successfully. I already decided that the most tedious character is off the table because he's an edible image so I don't have to sculpt him. Good for me. (I still don't understand WHY she wanted it that way, but it's easier on me, so I'm not arguing.) I've already made a very successful Foofa, so I know it can be done. I charged her an extra $5.00 for each figure on top of the price of the cake. I hope that was enough. Something tells me I low-balled my price again, because she didn't even bat an eyelash when I gave her the total. Poop. >=/

As much bitching as I do about these cakes and my lack of allotted time, I have to admit that I'm loving it when I'm in the thick of it. It makes me sad and embarrassed when these parents are asking me for these cartoons and I have little to no idea what they're talking about. My children's cake research is done by Google, and I feel even worse when my peers with children laugh at my ignorance.

I don't have kids. I don't watch Nickelodeon anymore. I have no idea what's going on in the cartoon world, save for some South Park or Futurama episodes that happen to keep me company during my nightly bouts of insomnia. I know I'm out of the loop, and I won't be part of that world anytime soon. My mom stopped bugging me about marriage and kids. Now, she just pushes me to pump the business. Get my finances straight. Incorporate for real. Get my license. Get my food servers certification. Get my business legit. Lease a car. Look for an affordable space to open up a small store.

I don't need to be married to be happy, she tells me. Motherhood held her back, she admitted over drinks this past weekend. Not that she regrets having us; she just knows she could have gone farther if she was more careful. I told her she should have just had an abortion. No hard feelings. I meant it. Look at her now; 50 years old, horrible husband, horrible bitch of a daughter (the middle child), and then my brother and I. Not exactly material for brag books, you know?

Part of me was glad she isn't holding her breath waiting for a big white wedding. I saw her sadness when we walked through David's Bridal to get to the golf store the other day. We joked about the gaudy gowns, but I could see of the flash of sorrow on her face that we wouldn't ever be doing the mother/daughter dress buying thing. It's just not in the cards for me, and everyday I'm becoming more and more okay with that. (Is that proper English?) More okay. Hmm.

She doesn't push for the grandkids, either. I mean, what kind of family would we be bringing these babies into? A shitty one. My mom would be an awesome grandma, but I would love for her to just live her life and enjoy it without thinking about anyone else but herself. That's something that she had to stop doing at age 17 when she got knocked up with me. I feel so sad for my mom.

I feel sad for me, too, but more angry that I've wasted so much time daydreaming. Some women were made to breed, some women were made to serve, some women were made to make money, and other women were made for adventure. I like to think I know how to make money, but I end up spending it all on the adventures.

So, I'll google more pictures, color more fondant, and hope this cake comes out as fabulous as I can manage. There's some excited 2 year old that will be waiting to tear it up! I have this sick feeling inside me that something is going to catch this year and things will move faster than they ever have before. I know big things are coming, but I just don't know from which direction. I just want to make sure I'll be ready for it when it happens.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Good Grub: Corner Bistro

After reading this article, my friend Andy and I headed out to this place before watching American Idiot a couple of weekends ago. We had originally planned on hitting up some fancy Manhattan restaurant, but we were decked out in jeans and sneakers that day, and didn't feel like getting dressed just for dinner.

We head out to this bar in the West Village. It was Sunday night, and the place was crowded. We stood in line, squished between the wall and the bar stools for about 20 minutes. Andy got us beers ($2.75 a pop!), while we waited. The menu was simple. Burger. Cheeseburger. Bistro Burger (bacon cheeseburger). Fries. That's it. Their website has a couple of other things on the menu, but it wasn't posted on the sign hanging off the wall when we went there. Just the things I listed; nothing else. We each had a Bistro Burger and a side of fries for each of us (because they are small portions) and a couple more $2.75 brews. Fantastic!

There was nothing fancy about this place at all. I'm sure there's fat and calories involved somewhere in there, but I think I can count on one hand how many actual beef burgers I've eaten in the last 6 months. This is like the kind of burger you would get out of a backyard bbq- juicy, tasty aromatic, and just plain YUMMY. At $6.50 for a bacon cheeseburger with pickles and another $2.50 for a side of fries, you can't go wrong.

It's crowded and very no-frills. The people are nice and service is super fast. You won't break the bank stopping for a bite and a brew at this place!

Corner Bistro
331 West 4th Street
New York, NY

Monday, March 7, 2011

So Far, So Good

When you're a control freak like me, it feels so remarkably good to let go of the reins and let someone else take care of it for once. I didn't realize how much strain I was putting on myself by keeping such an ironclad grip on everything.

This weekend was a slew of Mardis Gras party orders. Luckily, I had my Friday off, but I had been baking all week for the events and hadn't slept more than a couple of hours a night. I was nodding off at work. I was cramping and aching while I was baking and decorating. By the time Friday rolled around, I thought I was going to collapse.

My plan was to bus and train it to my delivery destination in SoHo Friday afternoon. It would save me money on the cut I would have to pay my partner and it would plant me in the  city so I could pick up some art supplies for my mardis gras mask orders.

I didn't realize how terribly tired I was until I made it to the bus stop, huffing and puffing with my 5 dozen cupcakes and 10 inch cake in two large shopping bags. I sat on the Creedmore Bench (the name I unceremoniously dubbed the bus stop bench where all the neighborhood Creedmorians hung out.) I knew this would have been an ideal time to utilize my new partner and have him pick me up to make the delivery. Fuck his cut. I'd pay it twice gladly if it meant I could sit comfortably in his truck instead of having to haul ass on this damn bus. Before I could call, my bus came. Rats.

I made it all the way into the city and to my delivery point by the skin of my teeth. I set it all up, and was rewarded with a fat tip- almost as much as I  charged her for all the cake to begin with. When I asked her why she was paying me so much, she told me she researched what it would have cost her to order from a SoHo bakery, and I was significantly cheaper. She said even with the tip, she was still saving a ton of  cash. She told me to raise my prices. Thanks, lady. If I had known I was going to be tipped so much, I could have afforded the ride from my partner.

I walked down to Pearl Paint, bought a ton of stuff- maybe more than I was going to because of the extra cash I was paid, and then grabbed a slice of pizza before jumping on the E train home. I took a nap before heading out later that night to have some coffee with my girlfriends.

Although I was happy to see my friends, as I was sitting there, trying not to fall asleep it struck me that I should have stayed home and slept. I had a huge charity cupcake order early Saturday morning and I still had to finish the mask orders.

I think this is what my mom means when she says I don't handle my priorities well. I let my socializing and gallivanting get in the way of my cake responsibilities. It cuts into my time, and has me rushing and cutting corners at the last minute. And I'm almost ALWAYS late. 99 out of 100 times; I'm late. =(

I got home at 1am, and tried to sleep. I tossed most of the night, my body aching and begging me for some pain relief. I piled two heavy blankets on top of me, hoping the weight and the heat would ease the ache out of my muscles and bones. It did a little. I really didn't want to pop a pill. By 3am, I gave up, and went down to the Dungeon. It was time to make the cupcakes.

I agreed to take on this cupcake charity event before I had booked all my other Mardis Gras cake orders for that weekend. I figured times were slow and I could take my time and take nice pictures for my website. I didn't know I'd be so dog tired. By 5 am, all 50 cupcakes were baked and cooling on my bakers rack. I spent another hour making 6 different flavored buttercreams and frosting. I cleaned up the Dungeon, unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher (my Godsend!), and went back up to my room to rest. My body was really dragging now.

At 6:30am, I called my partner and asked him to take care of this delivery for me. I didn't think I was going to make it out of bed, let alone to a church to set up this order. They were supposed to pay me for the cost of the cupcakes, a fraction of what I normally charge. He agreed and said he would be at my house by noon to pick up everything. I went to work on the masks. That was relaxing, but my hand had trouble cutting through the thick leather, and by the time it was time to paint them I noticed my hand shaking, making it hard to stay within my lines. When it was all said and done, my fingers were curled in some grotesque cramp and I could barely move my wrist at all. I iced everything down, and then smeared on the Bengay before wrapping it up in an ace bandage. Dear, lord, not my decorating hand.... =(

By noon, the cupcakes were packed and the masks were dried. Holy hell, I finished on time! My partner picked everything up and within an hour, he was back at my house to bring back my "good" shopping bags so I could use them again for future orders. (Awesome!) I have so few "good" bags left these days. He told me they were trying to give him $50 for the cupcakes, but he told him to keep it.

That irked me. I was already in a foul mood. I wasn't feeling well. I had to pay him for his time and gas, and now he just told me he didn't take the cost money they were supposed to pay me. He's known me long enough to read the look of annoyance on my face.

"Listen. I told them to consider this a good deed and a free sample. If they like what you did, then they can order again from you and you will work with their budget in order to make it profitable to sell your products at their events. It's a win-win. I gave out a whole lot of your cards. They were really happy with what you gave them. Trust me, Kat. This will pay off."

I knew he was right. I was too tired to argue back. I nodded, and handed him his money. He wasn't going to take it, but I told him to consider it gas money and I would need him to pick up supplies for me this week so that can cover that trip, as well. He agreed to that.

With my tips and influx of orders, even with the freebie I gave this church and the money I paid my partner, my week was profitable. It also let me rest the whole weekend after that order was done. My right wrist was killing me. My joints were aching terribly. I didn't know if I should break and just take an Advil, but I decided to just sleep it off. When I awoke to heavy rains Sat night, I realized my aches were just due to the weather. No worries.

On Sunday, I received a very grateful call from the woman at the Church, thanking me for the cupcakes. She wanted to mail me a check since my partner refused the cash. I reiterated what he had told her. Consider it a sample, and to keep me in mind for future orders. I would sell to them at cost. She said they raised $300 from the cupcakes which would all go towards the daycare center they ran. They sold out within an hour. That stroked my ego, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Truthfully, besides the whole trust issue, I worried that taking on a partner would end up costing me more than I was making, but to be honest I've been making a good chunk of change and the ease of stress and the help has been worth the few bucks I've paid him for. Mentally, it's a blessing to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and to have some real help. I couldn't tell you how many times I've wanted to throw in the towel because I couldn't physically keep up with everything I needed to do to get some of these orders done. Most of all, it's just nice to not feel so alone in the middle of this chaos.

Letting go of some of the control is still going to be hard, and it will always be hard for someone like me. But, I've found the right person who will wait for me to ease into the idea of sharing the responsibilities rather than standing there, trying to yank the controller out of my hands. Baby steps....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

White Flag

After running myself ragged and after another sleepless night, I'm waving the white flag. I admit I can't do this business the way I want to do it all by myself. It's been a difficult run for me since my ex-partner Joel and I split. Despite our different ways of approaching things, my most profitable ventures have always included him.

Trust is a difficult thing when it comes to running your own business. Why is someone helping me? What do they expect out of me? Can I afford the type of returns they are expecting? Do they want a piece of my business? Am I going to get royally screwed because of this?

These are just some of things constantly running through my head when people start to broach the topic of "investing" in me. I wouldn't have such a hard time with it if the constant fear of failure wasn't always at the forefront of my mind when it comes to other people's money. I don't want to lose their money. I don't want to owe them money. I'm still struggling to shake off debt, and it doesn't feel good to work your ass off only to write a check to companies who have got you by the balls.

I always had a special place in my heart for my culinary school friends because I feel as though we toiled through the same battlefield. However, I'm the first one to admit that I've been dicked over more than once by a few of them. Stolen decorating ideas, stolen recipe "secrets", and flat out lying has happened.

I was watching Top Chef last week. In that episode, one culinary genius Richard showed his idea book to another contestant, Mike. Richard is full of gastronomic concepts and very innovative recipe ideas. No sooner than he had discussed this concept of a chicken "Oyster" (a very flavorful small piece of meat that attaches the leg bone to the thigh), and serving it up like a real oyster inside of a oyster shell with an oyster jus with Mike, that dude steals the entire concept and uses it to win $5000 on the quickfire challenge, and then sheepishly thanks Richard for the "inspiration".

Inspiration my ass. He flat-out stole the entire dish out of a fellow chef's concept book! No shame. No guilt. All he said was that Richard should have used it first. Ha. Ha. Ha, he laughed as he ran to the bank with his $5000.

You can't patent a recipe. It's impossible. However, there is a moral code among chef that you just don't do. Stealing another guy's idea is just fucking douche in ANY profession- let alone a kitchen. It shows lack of respect for your fellow colleague, and it show a lack integrity on your part.

A couple of years ago, an old culinary school friend of mine, Maurice did this to me. He called me out of the blue, after not having heard from him in over a year, and I met up with him for a couple of beers. It was great catching up with him, and he revved up my engines about getting back into the swing of things- balls to the wall. He was on his way to Spain to compete for a special executive chef position with a posh resort hotel. out of hundreds of applicants, Maurice and my other friend Kelston both made the cut to go to Spain to develop a menu, cook it, and present it. He didn't tell me all that when we were throwing back drinks. He wanted to go down memory lane and talk about all the pot luck parties we used to have in Brooklyn. I was known for my varieties of empanadas and my ex Joel was known for his fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth pernil.

I have a very open policy with food. You ask; I share. I told him about all the different flavor combinations I had, the technique I used to layer flavors, and even the way I kept the diced peppers crunchy inside the shells. I even told him how Joel made him pork shoulder. To make a really long story short, he went to Spain, made up a bullshit story of having Spanish roots in his family and having these recipes passed down to him from his grandmother, and then went ahead and used both dishes I just told you about, as well as other dishes from other culinary friends of ours.

It's not so much the recipe part that killed me. Like I said, sharing a recipe doesn't irk me. I didn't appreciate the pretense or the lie. He didn't need to butter me up with some beers and a potential cake order to get the recipe out of me. He should have just told me the truth, and I would have given the information happily, and wished him luck, to boot.

Last year, Maurice was killed in Europe. We heard it was drug related but whether it was an overdose or a drug-related homicide was never clearly stated. We got together, as friends, and had a mini-reunion and a small memorial for him. Everyone knew what he did, and the majority of the people didn't want to memorialize him, no matter how long we've known him; dead or alive.

Originally, they had asked me to write a nice poem for him. I struggled with it. When I first found out what he did, I was furious with him and fired off the most intense email I had ever sent anyone before in my life. In short, I had said in very colorful language that if he had just asked me for the recipe as a friend, I would have given him that PLUS more to help him out. The fact that he went to such great lengths to be sneaky spoke mountains about him character and I never wanted to hear from him again. For months he texted, called, and tried to email, but I would not respond. He eventually stopped, and then I heard about his death.

It's easy to forgive someone who can never hurt you again. I struggled with my actions, wondering if I was too hard on someone who wasn't much different from the rest of the opportunists running around out there. While I was still working at my cushy day job, he was out hopping around from gig to gig, trying to make a name for himself. He was just trying to be as cut-throat as everyone else out there finding a well-paying gig. It hurt that he's gone and we didn't make peace, and it hurt that he left this world with so many people quite angry at him.

I think a lot about that scenario when I start to get antsy about my business. I still protect it as if it were my child, but I have to remember that, for the most part, the people who are trying to help me really just want to see me succeed. That's not to say it would have been wise for me to get into bed with some of the people offering a hand. You have to look at ALL aspects of a person before making such an important decision.

And I have. So, much to my disappointment, I went ahead and partnered up with someone. It will help take some of the pressure of getting ingredients and materials off my shoulders, and it will help with deliveries and new business. I thought long and hard about my choice before agreeing to this. The business is still in my name alone, and only I will manage the books. On the other hand, I'm working with someone I can trust with my customer list, my ingredients, and money. That's more than I've ever been able to do the last couple of years. The only other person I would allow in that deep was my mother, and with her new promotion, she just doesn't have the time to help me as much as I need help.

My new partnership works for the both of us. I have help in those areas I cannot attend to, because it's physically impossible to be in three different places at once. I have someone I trust talking to my customers, handling cash transactions, and garnering new business in different areas. He get's a nice cut based on business he generates and orders he helps me on. No contracts. No paperwork. Just a handshake and the word between two people. I'm glad I have one person I can still take at their word, and I'm happy my word still holds as much weight as it always had. The bottom line is: Katherine NEVER breaks her word.

I'm relieved and still nervous. Without personal ties with this partner, I'm hoping my business can start to flourish again. It doesn't help to grow my business when I can't keep up with the sudden influx all by myself. This solution takes care of that dilemma. 

So, I've waved the white flag and recognized that I can't do it all alone. Did I make the right choice letting this person in? I have yet to see, but I feel good about this place I've come to. I just have to have a little faith. ;-) Everything happens for a reason.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shake Shack Shuffle

I've done well on my detox so far this week. No alcohol. No soda. No meat. Limited seafood. I've just been chugging tons of tea, cereal, and juices. So far, so good. So, why OH why did I have to step into Shake Shack today?

People's public whispers piqued my curiosity since last summer. Because it was 2:30 in the afternoon, I was in midtown picking up theater tickets, and I knew I wouldn't have this opportunity again for a good long while, I went it.

Oh, it smelled so good! Fresh, juicy hamburgers grilling and permeating the air. The menu is simple. Burger. Burger with cheese. Burger with special sauce. Mushroom burger (vegetarian). Burger and a Mushroom burger stacked on top of each other with cheese. Fries; with or without cheese. A changing menu of custards and a long menu of fresh shakes made with said custards. Very simple.

I was happy to spot the mushroom burger because that means I wouldn't be breaking my detox. I got one of those, cheese fries and a Carmelo Anthony Shake0 vanilla custard with caramel and toffee pieces. It was all VERY rich, very heavy, and very fattening. I could feel the pounds mounting my hips and tummy as I swallowed each bite.

'Shroom Burger: 570 calories 36 grams of Fat
Carmelo Anthony Shake: 750 calories 38 grams of Fat
Cheese Fries: 700 calories 47 grams of Fat

I could taste the fat on this food that I ate. I didn't end up eating all the cheese fries. Maybe just half and I finished more than half the shake. It was just all too rich. Too sweet. Too heavy. Too unhealthy. I looked around at the people who had the nerve to have two or three burgers in front of them and I wondered if their tongues were heavy with the melted fat that was coating mine. No wonder our society is so obsessed with looks and weight. It's so easy to indulge and find things that are pleasing to our senses, but those things often have consequences on our bodies that society also finds reprehensible.

I feel disgusting for having eaten most of that meal. It tasted wonderful, but with each bite I took, I knew I was digging a bigger dietary hole that was going to be harder and harder to climb out of.

Damn you, Shake Shack, for hiding horrible calories and unhealthy fat inside your delicious food. Damn you for having fast, friendly counter help and maintaining a clean fast food restaurant that was pleasant to sit and eat in. Damn you for the cute little buzzer you hand out while I wait for my food to be cooked, therefore creating a more organized way of handing the crowds that come in there. Damn you for knowing that America is a fat, indulgent nation and the weak-willed will be coming in for your 700 calories shakes because it's just that kind of day for them. Damn you for adding to this nation's weight problem. And damn our people for walking in there with smiles on their faces, money out, ready to take it all in. And damn me for falling for it, too!