Monday, February 27, 2012


Hello, people.

I'm taking a bit o fa hiatus from my business and from this blog so I can attend to my mom. Money problems and just making sure my mother doesn't have a complete meltdown has taken center stage.

I know I've been through some really tough breakups over the years, but nothing quite hurts as much as watching someone you love have their heart broken. Thirty three years of marriage is nothing to sneeze at, but that's 33 years of being chained to a complete asshole. (Just my opinion.....)

Anyway, I've had to wipe out my calendar, and I hope my customers understand but this is at the forefront of my priorities right now.

You all know where to reach me.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cat Sitting

I find myself in Jersey cat-sitting my friend's beloved "kiddies". I have some sweet potato gnocci that I made from scratch soaking up a nice sauce of sage and olive oil and garlic, with just a touch of butter. Seems peaceful enough. A beautiful, large apartment all to myself with two of the world's most affectionate cats. Lucien and Lola have done nothing but follow me around and fight for a spot on my lap since I got here last night. It's a nice change from the week I've had.

My friend left his kitchen fully stocked. Wine. Beer. Fresh veggies. Fresh meat. Fruit. And more fruit. (He knows I'm on a Godforsaken diet.) Cable. WiFi. Elliptical. And most of all...peace and quiet. All this, and all I have to do is play fetch with his kiddies, scoop out their litter, and cut up fresh chicken for them twice a day all weekend long. Oh, and feed his fish. (I don't know their names.) I don't know if he even named them. Still, a very fair trade, if you ask me. I feel like I'm coming out on top, though.

I had a plan this weekend. Try out a couple new recipes. Practice some new fondant techniques that I've been reading about. Catch up on some decorating videos that I've gotten a hold of. It's easier being away from the Dungeon because of where my poor dungeon is located. Imagine trying to get paperwork done in a cubicle sitting in the middle of a war zone.

Well, I couldn't even finish my Saturday in peace. I got a phone call from someone who I won't even give the credit of naming. Some people should just exist known only by their actions and not by name. Some people don't deserve to have their name remembered in history.

It seems my father has left my mother. Moved out and everything. There's a little more meat to the action, but it's been a long horrible week and I would rather not relive any of it. Although the details of today's drama are still vague, I got into a discussion about my own life-choices with this person.

"You know, if you just stayed settled down and gave your daddy some grandbabies, then he would have a quiet mind and be content. You know he's always wanted more for you. If only you were...."

Better? Prettier? Smarter? Richer? More ambitious? What? More what?!

I know he was excited when I was pregnant with Joey's baby, and although the circumstances were not ideal, he was going around boasting that he was going to be a grandfather. I couldn't have been more devastated by the situation. Barefoot and pregnant with a baby I wasn't gunning for wasn't my idea of living the dream. I think he was the only one as upset as Joey was when things did not come to fruition. Maybe my reproductive skills are cursed. What can I say? I've amassed an immeasurable sum of bad karma in that department.

They can't fault me for lacking an education that they didn't have to means to pay for or to help me get. I didn't have the comfort of parents with deep pockets or elderly relatives with a bounty to leave behind after their deaths. I'm one of 30-something grandkids. My grandparents are long gone and any idea of inheritance was laughable. I actually had a friend ask me the other day why my siblings and I don't have a nest egg left behind by our grandparents. Not in my family. Everyone earns what they have. No one is given anything for free. Well, that's not true. My younger cousins seems to be having an easier ride, but that goes without saying for this new generation of entitled brats. It is what it is.

This call was one sided. I wish I could put into words all the thoughts running through my mind, but I find my skills lacking right now. I don't know what I'm walking back into. I don't know what's there or what isn't. I don't know what state of mind my mom is in or what circumstances she was left in. I just don't know anything for sure anymore.

What can be said about a father whose love is more damaging than comforting? What justification can you give to someone who does not know how to be part of a family? Can I blame my litany of failed relationships on the strained ridiculousness that defines our interaction the 33 years I've been around? Sure I can, but knowing better only means I should have done better. Being aware of a huge hole in the ground should only make you more cautious of where you walk; not justify why you would fall into it.

Would my parents have a better relationship if I was making the kind of money they expected of me; therefore taking the burden of a million things off them? Maybe. I don't know. Would being in a stable, loving relationship with a good man and breeding smart, respectful children ensure that they would never have to worry about me again?

I doubt it.

All I'm left with after that fucking conversation is that me trying to enjoy the life I live is probably why my parents are failures.


Thursday, February 23, 2012


I should be in my Dungeon tonight baking, but I'm unwelcome in my own home. I'm basically locked up in my Hoarder room, trying to keep away from the crazies residing beneath the same roof. Should I wake up at 3am to  get some baking done before I leave for work in the morning or do I try and just do it all tomorrow night, last minute again?


I fucking hate my life right now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Yesterday, my buddy and I drove to four different places trying to find Oskar Blues Ten FIDY beer. He saw a review of it on a YouTube beer review and had to have it. Here's the review:

As you can see, it's out of Colorado, which means that unless they've been distributed well, it was nearly impossible to find it on the East Coast. He did a casual search online and took a few trips to different beer distributors to see if he could find it. Unfortunately, there was none in the area based on the sites he visited.

We ran a few errands yesterday, and on a lark we went on a hunt for this beer. Three Whole Foods and two beer distributors had other brews from this brewery, but not the fabled Ten FIDDY. I checked my own search engine and found one more beer distributor out in Glen Cove which claimed to carry this white whale.

Twenty minutes later, and after finding it hidden behind a grocery store (we came from the other side), we saw the damn thing right in the front window. Not only did they have the Ten FIDDY, but they also carried about 4 or 5 other varieties from this brewery. With a hefty price tag of $17.99 for four cans, I guess it made the trip worth it.

It got me thinking. I've had my fair share of travels down south and out West. I've had some delicious brews that I may never be able to get my hands on here in NY, unless I got someone out there to bring some back for me. I don't know how many people are willing to travel with glass-bottled beers just to be nice. Not happening.

Then, I came across this site: Beerjobber. They will essentially fetch a fresh batch of beer direct from these craft/micro brewers and ship it to you for a nominal fee!!! How awesome is that??? I've had my own versions of one night stands with various cask specials served in hipster craft bars scattered throughout Brooklyn.

ONE NIGHT ONLY!! GUEST BREWERY SPECIAL!!! Oh, and they were special.....(I'm talking to you, Night Stalker!)

Unless I made my way to a pub every other night, which I don't do anymore because my poor pickled liver begged me to slow down, there is no way I'm going to be able to catch every awesome out-of-state brewer that may have some special brews on hand.

Beerjobber takes care of this. I have not signed up yet, but taking a gander of their various featured brewers, I don't think I'd be disappointed. I think about a Mocha Stout out of Atlanta that I sipped one rainy night at Burp Castle (not a fun night overall, but an awesome beer!). Or the first time my lips touched Night Stalker at Mission Delores. Then, there was that fantastic IPA I had in Breckenridge! So many to remember, but so far out of reach! Not anymore, thanks to Beerjobber. What an awesome service!

I don't know how much gas my friend burnt driving around looking for his brew, but I think a few bucks online would have saved him a lot of aggravation.

If you love your beer like you love your mates- hard to get- then consider Beerjobber your Brew Pimp! ;-)

Guns Don't Kill People


Monday, February 20, 2012

Douchebag Relatives

Let me start off by saying this this a vent post.

I'm not exactly my dad's number one fan in any which way, but he's had a hard time since my uncle's death and I see that he's been trying hard to repair our very broken relationship. So, there's the background. During my uncle's funeral, I was approached by a couple of my aunts, as well as the uncle who's sleeping on our couch. They wanted to throw a surprise birthday party for my dad, here in NY this past Sunday.

Anticipating an influx of relatives, I turned down a couple of big cake orders for Sunday and the Monday after. Being the holiday weekend, it was supposed to be a money maker. I already had a couple of huge orders on Friday and one baby shower cake for Saturday. I would have had more for Saturday if I didn't have to attend the shower itself. Then, there was this party that was supposed to happen so I was hesitant to accept anything else.

I heard nothing from these assholes. I asked my uncle was what going on and he feigned ignorance, as well. I was up all night Thursday and Friday baking and I saw him sneaking out at 4am Saturday morning. Little did I know he took my dad with him. I heard they went to Virginia. Turns out, they went to PA instead where all his siblings threw my dad a surprise birthday party....without bothering to let my mother or my brother or I know anything of it.

What a bunch of assholes. Besides feeling incredibly slighted by such a rude fucking move, I am pissed that I missed out on the work I could have taken. With the type of cash I just dropped on my brother's birthday gift, I'll be lucky if my bills get paid in full this month.

Besides the orders I filled on my day off on Friday, I also ended up staying an extra couple of hours at a German bar party to network. I handed out a bunch of business cards, and my website had nearly an extra hundred hits the last couple of days on top of the normal daily traffic. Not bad for a couple of hours works and sipping on some comped drinks.

So, coming from a Thursday night with a two hour nap in the morning, and then a long day in the Dungeon Friday, followed by a party and another all-nighter, I was off to a baby shower on Saturday with a friend who came in from out of town.

I was falling asleep during the hour-long ride out to the party. It happened to be held on the airfield where we had gone sky diving, and then gliding. We chatted, catching up with all the things we've been doing or not doing since she's moved out of town. After the party, we walked around the airfield, checking out the planes and the gliders. We had avoided all man-talk the entire time, and watching the gliders take off and do their aerial dance, we both fell silent for a long time. When we both looked at each other, we were both surprised to see the other crying.

"Jesus, we're a pair of sentimental bitches, aren't we?" I asked, embarrassed and trying to hurriedly dry my eyes.
"Do you think we'll ever be able to think about them and not feel like this? Like the way we can laugh over the stupid things we did back in high school?" She asked smiling, half laughing, still gazing longingly at the small planes her ex used to fly her around in.
"Yeah, I hope so. All wounds heal, right? So they say..."
"I guess you're right. I mean, look at everything you've done with your life over one year. "

I looked at her with the most "What the hell are you talking about?" look on my face.

"Bad example." I laughed.
"No, look at the changes you made. You've moved on, dude. You've been with different people. I've watched you take your business back into your own hands and move it from the backseat up to the front. You've found happiness again in something you were really passionate about. You have your pick of men who want to start a life with you. If you take a step back and look at your life, you've come so far in one year. You're so strong."
"You think I'm strong? I think I'm the weakest person I know. You don't think I'm scared? I'm actually terrified. My business still isn't where it should be, and I'm still making rookie mistakes every single time I fill an order. I don't think I'm the poster child of success stories."
"You're always too hard on yourself, Katherine. You don't know how many people look at you in wonder. How far you've come. Everything you've been through. Man, not many people can come out of any of that unscathed. You're not popping prescription pills. You're not shooting up anything into your veins. You're not a raging alcoholic. You're not picking up random men at a bar. People WISH they could take the punches like you do. You fight the vices; not give into them."
"Yes, I'm sure little girls aspire to be a broke, struggling cake maker like me," I muttered sarcastically.
"You'll get your financial house in order, " she lectured as she usually does when I whine about my life. "Then, you're going to pack a backpack and come visit me in Europe after my job settles me in over there. We'll travel and have torrid affairs with hot, European men. And then when we're too old to be gallivanting all over the world having adventures, we'll sit down and write down our memoirs. But, it won't be for the money, just to leave behind out legacy."
"Yes, because other people leave behind kids. We'll leave behind a best seller."

That drew us both out of our bad mood and had us giggling over our crazy plans.

Who knows? Maybe someday I'll be having crazy kitchen sex with my chef's plaids around my ankles with some gorgeous piece of man on top my my decorating table once again......Well, maybe not on the decorating table- that things is a pain in the ass to disinfect.

I've been antsy over here. I want to take all the obligations I've signed up for and burn it. I want to tell all these people that they can go fuck themselves. I want to leave it all behind- the pictures, the dried out flowers, old gifts, filled scrapbooks, all greeting cards, tear-stained letters...I want to take it all in a pile and shred it all so that it can be turned into compost and something good came come out of everything that was so bad. I want to do that and walk away and never look behind me again.

I still stay awake all night- whether it's in my bed or someone else's, and think to myself, "There is something greater out there that I should be doing, and I'm not doing it yet. This needs to change..."

Fuck yeah, this needs to change.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Humbling Adventure

Let's just be straight. V-Day is ONLY enjoyable when you're actually IN LOVE or part of a healthy, happy, fun relationship. The only other time it's fun is when you're having a single-ladies night with drinks, dinner, and dancing. You're not really alone when you're surrounded by people in the same type of mood for fun.

With that being said, I had my choice of options for Vday. Since none of my gentleman callers are really in the "keeper" pile, I didn't think it was morally right to accept their invites. I made plans to hit up a movie and grab some Red Robin with a friend of mine weeks ago, and that was more than enough for me.

I forgot about the movie and Red Robin. Mini Cooper called me out of the blue over the weekend while I was doing some fondant work and he caught me off gaurd.

"Hey, stranger. Long time no see!"

You mean since Mini Man drove me home in his Mini Coop and tried to hen peck me with his mini lips? Not long enough!

"I'm going to be in the city on Tuesday. Got plans?"

Damn, why was I so snarky to this guy? Casual drinks won't hurt.

"Umm, I don't think I have plans. I guess I can meet up after work,"

"I can't believe someone like you doesn't have plans on Vday! I lucked out! I'll send you the restaurant info later. 8pm ok with you?"

Wait! What??? Vday? Son of a bitch!!!

I really can't lie my way out of a paper bag. When I'm caught; fuck, I'm caught. Great. I get to spend one of the most romantic nights of the year with someone who makes me feel the exact opposite of romantic. I should have just gone with one of my B-Buddies for a nice dinner and a happy ending dessert. Son of a bitch!!

After working my ass off Sunday and Monday night, by the time Tuesday rolled around I was feeling like a walking corpse. I had hand dipped three hundred strawberries. I frosted and sprinkled 200 cupcakes. I iced and pipe-decorated four large cakes. I was fucking tired. TIRED, I TELL YOU!!

Oh, and my Red Robin and movie buddy called to let me know he had a date and would be spending the better part of the night making sure he got laid. Can't fault the man for honesty.

On top of that insane work schedule, my mother and I had a huge fight Vday morning because she was trying to bogart ALL the dipped strawberries left over after I had my orders filled. I had planned on bringing some to work and leaving a few for my dad to take to work; something he does every Vday. However, I came down into my Dungeon to see my mom dumping tray-fulls of decorated berries into an unlined sheet cake box. I popped my top and had it out with her.

I did my route of scheduled deliveries and even sold extra boxes of  cupcakes and strawberries I made just for the moron who bought his mate NOTHING and was now panicked. I made a nice wad of cash; nearly enough to buy my brother's birthday gift.

By noon, I was dragging. My back hurt. I could barely keep my eyes open. I was shaking because it was becoming more and more difficult to keep warm. I wasn't hungry. I didn't want a free dinner with Mini Coop. I just wanted to crawl home, slink naked into my bed, and sleep like the dead.

Then, came the text:

Mini Coop: "Hey! I'm running late at work. I may not be able to make 8."
Me: "That's ok. Let's scrap it. I'm about to pass out anyway."
Mini Coop: "Oh, poor baby." (URGH...Puh-leaze!!!!) "Let's postpone for next week. This weekend if you're free."
Me: "Sorry, I'm booked. My only night off was tonight. Well, take care!"

He sent another text a couple of hours later, wishing me a Happy Vday. I didn't reply. He sent me a new text this morning, with a picture of a Mardi Gras mass produced "King Cake" with the caption, "Competition of yours? ;)"

Um, no, you asshat. I don't know why I'm so angrily intolerant of this person's food ignorance. I'm not this judgmental of my friends. I think it's because I was so damn specific about the kind of guy I want to end up with, and this man does NOT fit any of those specifications.

Anyway, by the end of the dreaded VDay, I was feeling very unlovable and bitter. But, then it all started flooding in- emails, texts, FB posts.....All the thank you's.

Even though I had a pretty boring day by my standards, all my hard work paid off because these people enjoyed my pastries. It may sound silly after I spent all this time ranting about my shitty decisions for the day, but the fact that all these couples ended their day with my sweets really made me feel good.

I may not have been the one wined and dined and fucked into oblivion last night- but I was part of their special holiday anyway. And I guess it's true- We all have our purpose.

I'd put up pics, but I'm too lazy. So, here are links instead:
I made a lot more stuff than what I ended up taking pictures of. What can I say, time is my enemy and a camera is not always handy when you're running late.....yet  again.

S.A.D. Cupcakes

Lauren & Bryan's Make-Up Wedding Cake Topper

Vday Sweets (coming tomorrow)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Gross Grub: Michael Jordan's Steakhouse

I've been a Jordan fan since I learned anything about basketball. He was the best of the best, and if you're going to emulate something- let it be the best.

With that being said, I had only a mild interest in eating at one of his steak houses. I heard mediocre things about it, and it all turned out to be true.

Being inside Grand Central Terminal, you are umbrella'd by one of the most beautiful ceilings in this city. Too bad they seated us as far away from anything beautiful from the get. The hostess was friendly and so was the coat check girl. The waiter was bland and unfriendly.

ONE restaurant week menu was dumped on the table rather unceremoniously. The choices were boring and the service matched it's lackluster performance.

I had wanted the Chicken Liver and Foie Mousse they offered only because I had no interest in tomato bisque or whatever that other forgettable choice was. They gave me two giant, cold jump shrimp sitting in a pool of cocktail sauce instead. The entree: yellowfil tuna, beef stew, or filet mignon. I went with the filet, despite my trepidation. The sides: glazed carrot, truffled cauliflower, or potato gratin. I went with the potato. The dessert: toffee pudding cake or carrot cake.

My dining companion went with the bisque, the beef stew, truffled cauliflower, and carrot cake. We both ordered a side of the mac n cheese to share.

The jumbo shrimp was huge and it was sitting in a large pool of cocktail sauce. It tasted like cold cocktail shrimp sitting in a pool of cocktail sauce. My friend's soup looked delicious bit ordinary.

My filet came out with no pan sauce at all and a sliver or bite-sized piece of the potato gratin. It was cold. It was bland. The filet was tasteless and ordinary. I wanted to dunk it in my friend's shiny beef stew to give it some flavor. The mac n cheese was the best part of the meal, but who goes to a steakhouse for mac n cheese? My toffee cake was dry and was more of a fruit spice cake rather than toffee.

My friend's beef stew was shiny but was topped by three smallish sized uncooked carrots- cut in half length-wise and whole. Anyone in the restaurant business knows you don't serve raw carrots on top of a cooked stew. It looked ridiculous. However, the stew itself was shiny and looking very inviting. There was a mountain-sized dollop of mashed potato in the middle of it. His cauliflower was nothing more than small bunches of cauliflower drizzled with truffle oil and roasted. His carrot cake looked nice but he only ate half.

No wine list was given to us. No extra service except to clear plates and change out silverware. It was a lackluster meal at a lackluster restaurant. The tourists looked happy enough, but I'm not a tourist.

My advice to Michael Jordan- Take your name off this God-awful place!!!

I'm not even giving restaurant info because I would not encourage anyone to eat here. You're better off getting a dirty water dog at the corner. At least you'll get a smile and a thank you from the food cart vendor.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Good Grub: One If By Land, Two If By Sea

This restaurant has been my Mecca of all restaurant; The ONE.

When I was still in culinary school and not familiar of the "it" places to eat, my boss had told me of his favorite place to go. Little did I know it's where he took his mistress on nights he was in the city "working late". He described the old carriage house-turned restaurant with a Beef Wellington worth killing for.

When I heard of this extraordinary restaurant, I immediately looked it up and saw that it was way beyond my means. A 3-course tasting menu was something like $65 - $70 per person, excluding the wine pairing. A dinner there, at the time, would run about $250 for two people with tax, tip, and everything else. I didn't have $250 to spend on dinner. I still don't!!! These says, the tasting menu is $80, $125 for the 7-course and the wine pairing is something like $60 (all per person). The Beef Wellington is an extra $8 for the 3-course, and I didn't even see it listed on the 7-course menu. On the Restaurant Week menu, it's an extra $35 on top of the $35 you're already paying for the restaurant week menu. I decided against it this time around because it was just too much and I wasn't exactly starving when I got there. Maybe 9:30 is just too late to eat for me.

I shelved the idea, but eagerly watched, read, and listened to anything and everything about this restaurant. I watched the Haunted New York Halloween specials about the ghosts of One If By Land. I read so-called real life accounts by the staff and patrons about the eerie experiences they've had while in there. I read reviews. I watched specials, including how they made their world famous Beef Wellington- a beautifully constructed piece of Filet Mignon enrobed with foie gras, wrapped in a delicate puff pastry and surrounded by a delicate jus. It looked like heaven on television, and it only hardened my resolve to get to this place. (Even if foie isn't my thing.)

My ex's mother had spoken about the time her and her late husband went to dinner at this restaurant- limousine and all- with some old friends for a fancy night out. I think she told me she had that gilded Beef Wellington, and her husband had the Duo of Duck. (A man after my own heart!) She said it was DIVINE! And crazy expensive. Even back then, this place was a mint to eat at.

Last year, I did find a friend who agreed to go with me during the Summer Restaurant Week. However, after looking at the available reservations, her schedule and mine just didn't match up. Alas, maybe it was not meant to be.

Well, after another round of friends flaked out on Restaurant Week, and my gentlemen friends had other places in mind for dinner and *ahem* other activities, I gave up on my dream.

Then, I met someone at my friend's meetup and he expressed an interest in eating at the finer places in the city. Cake orders, death in the family, and flaky friends nearly dashed it all again, but we hastily connected on line and met up in front of One If By Land at 9:30 on a Tuesday night.

Well, romance is definitely what you get doused with when you walk in there. Since I was dining with someone I barely knew and had no romantic inclinations towards, it was a little uncomfortable. Everyone in there was with someone special. There were copious amounts of PDAs and hand holding and beautiful dresses, sexy shoes, delicious colognes and I felt like I stepped through a veil into the Valley of the Beautiful People.

I was dressed in a low-cut black lace top and my frilly black skirt with three inch high heeled boots. My hair- perfect. My make-up; spot on. My dining companion- while very polite and engaging; needed a little more experience in fine dining with a lady. His collared shirt looked like something out of a Smells Like Teen Spirit video. When the hostess pulled out the table for me to slip into the booth seat, he placed himself there, instead. He kept the waiter waiting a good five minutes as he mulled over his drink choices.

The mood of the evening was fine as we talked about movies and comics and cartoons. Turns out he knew my ex. He asked me if I knew whether he would be open to some animation work and what did I think about his skills- I was honest.

"I don't know anyone more talented in that department. I'm not sure what he's doing now, but it doesn't hurt to ask." And I gave him his contact info.

He asked me if I could put in a good word for him with my ex. I said, "I think you'll start off on a cleaner slate if I keep out of it. We're not exactly besties anymore, you know?"

"But you're giving him a good reference as far as his skills go?"

Remembering how easy it was to be petty when you let personal gripes get in the way of business transactions, I replied. "He's a talented artist. With or without my thumbs up, he's great at what he does. I don't know what he's doing now. I don't know if he's working on side projects. You'd have to talk to him about that yourself. But, I've seen his 2-D animation work in the past, and he's far as my non-professional opinion goes."

And I quickly tried to steer the conversation back to the food. It seems to me this dude only wanted to hang out because he had a man-crush on my ex. (Not the first one I've encountered.) But, as the evening progressed, I realized he also had a food-crush on my palate, as well. He wanted to know my dinner plans for the next month and eagerly asked if he could come along, too.

Back to the food.

The Bread. Oh, lord. Served piping hot by a bread server that went from table to table, giving you a choice between a dinner roll and a stick of foccaccia. I went for the foccaccia. On the table was placed a trio of accompaniments. Two butters- red pepper and jalapeno and a very good quality extra virgin olive oil for dipping. I tried all three and the jalapeno was my favorite.

The Amuse Bouche. This was a welcome surprise. Served in a small round glass, a little larger than a shot glass with an equally miniature spoon was a celery soup puree. There was a dollop if apple ice shavings in the middle of the luke warm soup along with a small piece of dehydrated solid foam of apple essence. It was the same texture and feel of astronaut ice cream and it was fantastic. I could have eaten an entire bowl of that soup. Layer of different flavors, textures and temperatures mingled well in a fine dance as I spooned it into my mouth and swirled it around with my tongue. It was a nice start to tickle my palate.

The Appetizer. I, as well as my dinner companion, chose the CHESTNUT TAGLIATELLE with venison ragout and pecorino ginepro. It was a small mound of luke warm pasta on a huge, round plate. It needed pepper. It needed salt. It needed more chestnut or venison or ANYTHING. It was tasty, but not mind-blowingly awesome. My $9 wine paired with this was a scant amount of Pinot Grigio, which was also lack luster. 

The Entree. Between Hake in broth, Braised Short Rib, and Beech Mushroom Risotto, I went with the Short Rib and my friend went with the Hake. After a few bites of my short rib, which was tender and good, I wish I went with the Hake or even the Risotto. My meat was good. That's it. Good. Not GREAT. It was ok. Halfway through, I was struggling to finish it and I offered up more than half to my companion to help me finish it up. My $9 wine pairing was a Pinot Noir. Again, under-whelming and under-poured. 

At this point of my meal, my heart broke. I had wanted to come here for years. I had been with three different partners since I learned of this place and always thought my first meal here would be filled with romance, sexiness, and sentiment. I had none of that, and my meal was just OKAY. I was surrounded by tables of couples eye-fucking one another and whispering dirty words across the table to each other with tongue-licked lips. I sat in my seat, arguing the merits of Iron Man passionately, and not even the least bit buzzed by my stingily-poured wine portions that I was paying $27 for!!!!! Disappointed? There is no synonym that quite captures the degree of disappointment I was feeling. 

The Dessert. My friends went with Maple Ice Cream Sundae with caramel popcorn, and bacon-infused chocolate sauce. I ordered Dulce de Leche Fondant Cake with espresso, coffee ice cream, and hazelnut brittle. The other option was Meyer Lemon Tart, which is what I would normally order, so I went with the out-of-the-box choice of the other. It was good. The cake was just a thin shell of cake holding in a molten pool of hot dulce de leche goodness which I spooned out and sipped from the top of the small cake. The ice cream was nothing more than a channel and it was tasty. I was given a small sherry-glassed portion of a Tawny Port to finish my meal

The Bill. It was served up with four miniature macaroons and jelly tarts. My dinner: $35, Wine Pairing: $27 plus tax and 20% tip: $80.  Not bad for such a swanky place, but I was very let-down by the entire evening. My food expectations were HIGH. So far, nothing has surpassed my meal at Victoria and Alberts all those years ago with Joel at the Grand Floridian in Florida. Of  course, our swanky night out cost us nearly $350 when it was all said and done, but Joel was happy to pay it because of the ridiculous amount of fine food we were given in 8 courses, the fantastic wine/beer pairings with each course, and the stellar service that went with the entire evening. From the personalized menus, the boxed rose, and chocolate anniversary "card" we were given at the end of the night- I would have paid $500. One If By Land; I was glad I only paid restaurant week prices. 

How do I feel about the evening? I feel like I finally met the celebrity of my dreams and he brushed me off without a sidewards glance. The ambiance was lovely, and the staff was nice enough. However, I expected more out of the kitchen for food that is supposed to be world-renowned. Under-seasoned pasta? One-note flavor profiles? Mediocre wine pairings? Really, guys? Is this the mark of a legend?

And to top it all off, I didn't even encounter any spookiness or ghosts the entire time I was there. Bummer. =(

Perhaps the financially crippling Beef Wellington is the only reason I would ever go back. Maybe all places deserve a second chance. I've eaten at enough craptastic places, giving them many chances to redeem themselves, but I didn't need a credit report to give out that second chance. I'm going to save some cash and try them out again during Summer Restaurant Week (if I'm still in the city). 

Everyone deserves a 2nd chance- even over-rated restaurants. We shall meet again, One If By Land, Two If By Sea!  I'll try to come back under more romantic circumstances on my next go-around. Maybe it will make the food taste better if my other appetite is stimulated. 

One If By Land, Two If By Sea

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gotta Spend It to Make It

As usual, my taxes were filed early and I received all the money the government is willing to return to me for all the hard work I've done all year. Bastards.

I invested a portion of it, which I promised myself I would do. I paid off a couple of low-balance credit cards to zero them out. And I bought my new toy.

I have a new compressor and airbrush kit coming my way! I decided to kick up my initial investment goal of $75 to $200 at first. Then, I realized I'm not really going to be doing a whole lot of airbrush drawing on my cakes, which is what a more sophisticated set would be used for with various sized nozzles and accessories.

My goal is set more towards color-coverage over large areas. Instead of dying a set amount of fondant, and possibly being left with extra colored fondant that I don't need, I can keep the fondant white, cover the cake, trim off excess and store it away, and then go over the covered cake with my color of choice. It will save money in the long run and TIME!!!

Do you know how long it takes to knead out fondant while making sure all the color is evenly distributed? It can take nearly an hour. If it's cold, it can take longer than an hour. My wrists and hands are suffering for it because of some mild arthritis (Shut up, I know I'm getting old!) and my back wouldn't complain if  I gave it a break every now and again with the physical labor.

After looking at all my options, I scaled back my $200 budget to $100. I was going to buy a Master set which included two airbrushes, the hose, the compressor, and a small set of colors for about $120 plus shipping and handling. Then, I found another deal for a compressor and three airbrushes for $105, plus a $5 rebate and free shipping. I'm estimating a savings of nearly $30.

I've never airbrushed before, except with aerosol cans, and I was not happy with the results. I know the technique takes a lot of practice and patience. I think a set at this price is a good tool to learn with, and over time, if I find it something I am using a lot, I can always upgrade to something a lot more professional. Right now, this seems like a good fit!

Just in time for my upcoming Winnie the Pooh cake next week. WOOHOO!!

This is the set I ordered. I really hope I get what I paid for!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

All Aboard

Hey, all! Loooooooong time no see.

Well, my most loving Uncle Rey has been honored and is hopefully at peace now. I could write pages and pages about how that man shaped my life, but it's almost sacrilegious for something so dear to my heart to be posted in a space where videos of cats playing keyboards and gigs of red headed porn exist. My Uncle is greater than the internet and until I know for sure my words can convey exactly how cherished he is to me, I think I'll keep his memorial in my heart.

Thank you for the nice comments and phone calls and voice mails and texts. I know you're out there, my real friends. I didn't think his death would effect me so hard, until I saw him there- so NOT the man I remember seeing just a few months ago. I think I've been spoiled in having been to many funerals that were handled by the best of the best in terms of mortician-work. These people did not do a good job on my Uncle and it made me angry to see his shell in that condition. I don't remember crying to hard at ANY funeral before. I've been to many- family and friends.

When it comes to death, I've always thought myself to be a strong person. I was taught at a young age that death is part of life and everyone will come and go at some point. You accept it and trust that the next level they reach is better than the one they left behind. This time, that thought couldn't comfort me. As I was surrounded by my 11 remaining aunts and uncles, and my 36 cousins and their spouses and kids- I felt unbearably alone.

I don't just mean that in the sense where I didn't have some lover put his arm around me and pat my back in a comforting way. Granted, I was a little jealous of my cousins who have that, but I've gotten this far without a reliable partner in life, this time is no different than any other stumble, right? I know there are a handful of you who called me, and I'm sorry I didn't return your calls till today. It's been non-stop since I heard about what happened. As much as I wanted a friend to reach out for; how do I put this? I don't know if I would have handled it well. I can't really phrase it.

There was a reconnecting with family I haven't seen in years. As expected at any family function, everyone pulled out their life resume to compare notes. Who had babies? How successful are those babies in school? Who's graduating, and with what honors, and what line of work are they going into? I have a cousin who is an inspiring rapper (Yes, I rolled my eyes, too) and his YouTube video had some insane amount of hits. That got a lot of oohs and ahhs. I have a cousin who is going for her masters in speech therapy. She got more than few nods of approval. My cakes got the biggest round of ass-kissing, but maybe it's because it's the most visual.

What surprised the hell out of me was how surprised some of them were at how good I am at what I do. Seriously?  Is it that hard to believe that I have a scant ounce of creativity and talent within me? It's like swimming with sharks in my family. Everyone is vicious and aggressive. Everyone is good at what they do. And they go after the weak. I don't think I'm like that.

I felt badly for the few people in my family who are not swimming at the top of the tank right now. I felt bad for the one's who are struggling. Those poor bastards were circled as they wallowed in a cloud of blood. And that's where I came in.

I've talked in the past about different business opportunities that have come my way. When my cousins asked for my help opening a food business in their state, I thought it was a great idea, but I didn't think it would be something that could really happen. After realizing that the startup money is already there and everyone is more than willing to do their part to see us succeed, the "maybe someday" pipe dream turned into something that can realistically happen within a few months.

I loved spending time with my nieces and nephews. I enjoyed having them curl up with me on the couch while we watched the Little Mermaid, singing along with every single word of every song on that movie. I liked going to the craft store with them to buy supplies so I could do a Decorate Your Own Cupcake afternoon with them. I liked that they all looked for me in the sea of people we were surrounded by. I liked the feeling of them not wanting to go to bed unless it was me tucking them in and reading them their bedtime story; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I had an entourage of my 8 nephews and nieces pretty much shadowing my every move because they thought I was awesome. I'm NEVER the awesome aunt. EVER. They always flock towards my brother who will spin them around and around for hours on end. They go to my other cousins who are younger than me and will feed them candy and cans of soda to make them go away. I can't say it made me want to pop out my own kid right now, but it made me want to be around them more so I could watch them grow and be a more present part of their lives. It made me miss the time I was the Stepmom for a while with Joey's daughter. I was good at it. Was it because it was only a temporary position, and not a full time gig?

Because the cousins with the kids had to turn in early to be able to get up at the ass crack of dawn with their kids, I was left having a drink and a smoke with my uncles during the wee hours of the night. When they asked what happened to the different men in my life, I shrugged, smiled, and sort of waved it off with a flick of my hand. They're off being happy with other people. Who knows?

My Uncle Rog said, "Good! You can't concentrate on running a successful business if you've got a man and kids to run home to. You need you be able to get up and go anytime you want. You have that freedom now. You don't know how lucky you are. No man to hold you back. No kids to hold you down. You have the whole world in front of you for the taking. Don't fuck that up by having a family!"

My uncle actually has 2 families we know about and maybe a few we don't. He got his mistress pregnant while my aunt was pregnant with his 2nd kid. He left her to be with the mistress and subsequently had yet another kid with her. He is still married to his first wife. He vacations in the Philippines without the mistress and makes it a point to bring various hookers to family functions there.

Him telling me to steer clear of marriage and kids is like an alchy telling me to skip the bar. He can't keep on the wagon so NO ONE should ever step off the wagon. Or something like that. Who knows? He had a point, though. With a few alcoholic beverages lowering their inhibitions, more than a handful of the men in my family agreed with him. Stay on birth control and don't accept any more diamonds. Diamonds are still fallible- like marriages. Even something as strong as a diamond can still break if hit at the right spot. Self-sufficiency is solid.

To make a very long story short, I feel a little disappointed that my uncle didn't get to step foot in my established business. I feel bad his son and I haven't gotten further along in our plans. I have a lot of money being thrown at me from sources eager to see me succeed. I trust my partners. I do. I haven't been able to do that in the past, and here I am 10000% sure of the people around me.

This could be it.

I'd have to say goodbye to my NY affairs. They were fun while they lasted. Fun. Non-committal. Honest. And satisfying. Do they warm the heart on a cold winter night? No. They exist only to warm my bed. That's all well and good for me, but a couple of the participants are expecting more eventually, and I don't want more. Not with them. Not now. Probably not ever. It's kind of a shitty move, but a new career in a new city is the easiest way to dump a plate full of filler.

At the end of last year, someone told me I would be more comfortable in my own skin this new year. I would be more aware of who I am and what I really want. I'd be more accepting of being beyond the norms society dictates and I'll care less who approves or disapproves. I've got to say that it's turning out quite accurate thus far.

Thinking more like some of the douche bag dudes I've dated has proved to be more useful. I'm not an asshole like the dudes of my past because I'm not promising white dresses or exclusivity with any one person. I'm pretty direct about what I want or don't want. I don't promise to call the day after or on any regular basis. I don't lie and say I miss them. I don't pretend there is going to be anything more than whatever the fuck we're doing at the one moment. And if we happen to share another moment another night- all the better. But there are no false expectations. Finally being on this side of the mirror is weird. Now, I'm getting the ones who are looking to drop anchor and seed up some good looking offspring. Holy shit! Talk about bizarro world. If someone told me 2 years ago that I would be dropping lines like, "Well, I'm really trying to concentrate on my little business right now...I don't think I have the time to focus on starting a family just yet...." I probably would have told them they don't know me very well.

I feel like the biological clock that started ticking a couple years ago broke. I don't hear the countdown anymore. Maybe someone dropped that fucker and broke it. =( Was it me? The way I see it, this new opportunity works out on many different levels. I get to move away from here. I will be surrounded by new people who can bring new things to my table. I will be closer to my nieces and nephews and get my "mommy" fix watching them grow. And who knows? If the stars line up and some genie in a bottle sends me "the one" then I'll be in a better position to do it all- career, family, and happiness.

As of today, career comes first. Since I've made that decision several months ago, things have been thriving. I think once I let go of the fluff dream of settling down with someone who really wasn't who I thought he was anyway, the haze cleared. And it was a haze I created myself to blur a reality that I wasn't ready to deal with.

Reality is- I want to be successful at what I'm good at. I want to love what I do. I like having great sex; I don't really want a relationship in order to have great sex. Great sex makes me happy. Being happy makes it easier to do great work. Great work leads to better opportunities and greater success. All in all; if I operate under those guidelines then it should all work out. Work harder. I can't work harder unless I'm less stressed. And we all know the best way to de-stress. ;-) As long as no one gets hurt, right?

So here we go.

Uncle Rey, send me down some good juju! I'm taking your advice and making my own happiness. Let's see how that works out!