Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm Ready For My Close-Up

Guess who's going to be video'd baking and making a cake from start to finish? Yours truly, that's who!!!!!

So, my friend is finishing up her last class for journalism and needed a subject for her thesis. Her professor was so impressed with my little cake site, he told her to film ME!!! ME!!!! Can you believe it? Who the heck would ever want my mug in front of a camera? I'm not exactly photogenic.

I'm excited and I'm flattered, and I hope I don't come off looking like a complete idiot. (It happens sometimes.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just What the Doctor Ordered

My close friends know that I have had an unnatural crush on my primary care physician since I first found him about 7 or 8 years ago. He's young, smart, slim, handsome. I wouldn't call him muscle-bound and hot. He's attractive and handsome in a Dr. Who (10th Doctor, David Tennant) kind of way. In fact, my secret crush of David Tennant may have come about because of my "Doctor", but that's neither here nor there.

Well, I went back in last month for some kinks that I needed to iron out of my aging physique. We chatted as we normally do about life stuff, asking his normal sexual health questions that he starts every check-up with. I answered (that part I'll keep private) and then cracked a joke about the whole thing. Which then segwayed into my weight management and the 15 lbs I have still not been able to drop. We started in on restaurants, all the bad dates I've been on, and the money I'm not making in my business. I used all these factors as the reason my stubborn 15 lbs won't go away.

"Speaking of which," he put his laptop down and looked me dead in the eye very seriously. "I'm kind of in the same boat. Practicing medicine here in NY without a thousand patients is really expensive and I can't do it anymore. I got a very lucrative offer back in my home-state in PA and I'm going to take it."

Not really grasping what he was saying, or maybe I didn't want to understand what he was saying, I blurted out, "Well, your commute is going to be hell! How are you doing to see your patients here and work out of PA at the same time? Is it close, like the Poconos?"

He laughed at me and picked up what I was doing right away.

"Now you know I'm not commuting back and forth. I have to take it. I'm losing money living out here. My practice is growing at a snails pace. People here don't like me because I won't write out scripts like Halloween candy. I always wanted to go back home. This is a good thing."

"Not for me."

I thought I was only crying on the inside. But, my eyes were really welling up, I started to sniffle, and my lip was quivering like a five year old who just discovered Santa wasn't real. To say people walk in and out of my life would be an understatement. Lovers, friends, family...they all come and go and it gets to a point where the hurt left behind is more of a reflex reaction rather than an actual wound anymore. I refuse to believe that a heart can break time and time again and still be able to function as it should. I think the hurt is like blurting out a "bless you" after a sneeze, but not really believing that there's anything there to bless anyone else.

However, my Doctor is the one I come to when I'm broken. He's always there, when I make my appointment or try to get in for some emergency check. And he's patient. Because of everything I put myself through over the last several years, he's the ONLY one who's been there to heal me- for real. I guess I started looking at my Doctor in a more God-like way than most people would. The fact that he's easy on the eyes, incredibly smart, and always wears the right cologne doesn't make it any easier to detach.

He did the rest of the appointment and chattered the whole time about life in NY, and then he mentioned that even though he's been practicing all these years he's been here, he hasn't really done a lot of restaurant exploring. That's when the chef in me kicked in. I asked a million questions about where he's been and what's he's had and what he's liked. Then I asked a million questions about what he hasn't tried and why. Then, to my horror, he mentioned:

"Don't hate me, but I still haven't tried sushi." The look of shock on my face couldn't have been more pronounced. "I know, I know! But, it's always scared me, and I come from a straight meat and potatoes family. And none of the people I've met here have really pushed me to try it so...."

"So, you and I are going out for sushi before you leave." I don't know why I said it, but I probably would have said it to anyone I just met who admitted that they've ever tried something before. "If you really want something special before you go, and it's your first time, and as a tribute to Tribecca, since you work here and everything, I think you need to go to Megu. It's pricey, but not over-the-top credit-check-pricey. The quality is exceptional, and the service is spotless. I think for your Cherry Popping you need to go there."

I told you I can be pushy when it comes to food.

When we finished up with the medical stuff, and I paid my co-pay (Yes, I paid because business is business), and I was dressed again, my Doctor was suddenly standing up, facing me. He's usually really good about personal space and he doesn't do any superfluous touching because he's pretty strict about the whole patient/doctor thing. But, here he was standing within a breath of me.

"I think you're remarkable."

Oh. He does, does he? Is this how PA people say goodbye?

"So then stay in NY and you can be around my remarkable-ness all the time!"

"I can't do that. I already accepted the position and the wheels are already in motion for me to go. I wanted to ask, since this is the last time I'm going to be your physician, would you like to go with me to Megu? You're a professional and since you're giving it such great reviews, I'm guessing you would be a great guide to get me through my first sushi experience..."

"Your first sushi experience should be savored and enjoyed, not just endured or 'gotten through' as you so eloquently put it."

"See? That's what I mean! You turn into a whole other person when it comes to food. You're very no-nonsense and  confident about it. I think that's great."

"It's what I know. I'm good at it. Would you stutter if someone asked you to tell them the difference between a paper cut and a staph-inspection?"

"Well, those things really aren't comparable. A paper cut may lead to a staph-infection, but you would never really mistake one for the other...I'm rambling. Yes, I understand what you're trying to say. Are you letting me down easy?"

Letting him down? Holy balls. My secret wet dream just happened: My hot doctor just asked me to go with him to one of my Holy Grail NYC restaurants! Now, was this a date or just a favor or a friend-thing or was I going to show up in my hottest dress to find him waiting for me with his girlfriend or wife or something? I didn't really think to ask. I didn't want to let this opportunity go. Like holding onto the last wisps of a fading dream, I wanted to capture it and grip the mist as long as I could.

"Tomorrow night, right? Yeah, I can swing that. I'll meet you there at 7?"

"Great! It's a date!"

A date? As if he was reading my mind, he leaned down and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. Before I could think of anything suave and witty to say, I took it a step further. Since this is my business/food blog, I'm going to edit here. There are things that were done and risks that were taken that strangers have not earned the right to be privy to. (That's a tale for a different blog!)

Fast forward to the next day, after a quick change at work, I walk down two blocks to find my Doctor waiting for me at the Megu Bar with a lychee martini waiting for me. It was still perfectly chilled, as if he spotted me walking down and had the bartender shake and pour just as I walked through the door. We sipped and talked food and exchanged pleasantries for about a10 minutes before going to the hostess. As relaxing and comforting this get-to-know-you session was, I was freaking out. This restaurant is known for it's rigid, adherence to punctuality, and I knew he made a reservation and I didn't want to miss dinner. I kept glancing towards the stairs to the dining area. Sensing my anxiety and nervousness, he laughed and said, "You really are very...uh...particular about reservations, aren't you?"

"Are you trying to find a polite way of calling me anal?"

"I'm sorry, I won't bring up things you told me in the office again....but you keep looking towards the hostess like we're going to be banished or something."

"I don't mean to." I know I'm anal about reservations, dammit! I won't rehash past scuffles I've had about missed reservations because those battles were indeed epic. "It's just that they are very particular about punctuality here."

"I know. I already spoke to them. They're all ready for us. As soon as you finish your drink, we'll head down there."

This should put me at ease and relax my anxiety about missing our reservations, but it doesn't. I gulp down he rest of my very smooth martini with one swift lift and tilt, and I'm ready for food.

I wish I had spent more time paying attention to the fantastic table my Doctor had secured for us; private but with a fantastic view of the rest of the dining room as well as the decor. Megu is one of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever been. This dinner marked my third time eating there, and each time is more breathtaking than the last when my eyes rake over the style. The chairs are fantastically cushioned and luxurious. The tables are ample and although this dining room can sit a good number of guest, you feel as though each table is in its own world.

To my delight, my Doctor had already requested the Umami menu, which is a 9 courses of whatever the chef decides to serve you, and with that the sake AND the wine pairing. Explaining that he wasn't sure what I would prefer, he decided that I could handle that much liquor along with all the food we were going to get. The fantastic Umami menu consisted of hand-pampered pieces of sashimi , Kobe beef, tempura and various other small bites served on small dishes equal to works of art. After the fourth course, it was clear that these plates were too tiny to be satisfying. He requested a menu and had me go to town on a few additions to this fantastic tasting. He asked the waiter to bring them along with the other courses before the dessert course. The waiter, although happy his tip would be bigger, kept stealing furtive glances at the manager and tried to explain that the Umami menu should be sampled on its own in order to experience the taste journey the chef was trying to convey. We considered this and decided to ask for the extra dishes to come after the Umami line-up, but still before the dessert. I don't think eating dessert after our own additions would really reroute the chef's journey all that much. The waiter looked relieved.

I went ahead and asked for the Habanero Scallop, the Spicy Seared Salmon Belly, and the Diamond Toro. To my utter surprise, he also asked for the Tajima Kobe Beef Chateaubriand, a $230 9oz piece of one of the best pieces of meat I have ever tasted in my entire life. When I questioned whether or not we really needed that piece of sacred, but unholy-expensive meat, he smiled and said, "I'm eating all this sushi for the first time, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job at it. Don't you think I deserve a nice piece of steak?"

What can I say about the food at Megu that I haven't said about other delicious creations that I've had at other fine NY establishments? It was all good. However, the portions are small and the prices are astronomical. I worried that the three extra rolls would be too much but after all that, he had me add three  more sashimi pieces to our meal before dessert. I ordered the Uni & Quail Egg, the Tuna Seared Chu Toro, and when I hesitated for a moment on the third he chose the Osetra Caviar.

We rounded off the meal with the famous Lady M Green Tea Crepe. I've had it before and it was good. We also had some tea.

The excess of alcohol, food, and fine service did not compare to the never-falter conversation between the Doctor and myself. It's true, good food can really only be enjoyed in the company of someone as equally pleasing. Truly. He sampled and ate every single piece of raw fish set in front of him. If someone is going to have sushi for the first time, and is unsure whether or not he'll like it, taking him to one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city really helps introducing him to the daunting task. There were some that he enjoyed more than others, and the Uni was a texture he was fighting to like. I told him it was one of those things that chefs go nuts over. He politely said that maybe he would enjoy it the next time. Smartly, he would taste the sushi and then cleanse his palate with another type of dish between each one; like the Kobe beef or a piece of crispy asparagus. He chewed slowly, tasting every element of each dish, commenting on what he enjoyed and what he did not. He was surprised that he really liked the freshly grated Japanese wasabi. I warned him that not every sushi joint would import it's own fresh wasabi, and he should expect the neon green reconstituted paste in the future from other places- which is the norm. I've never had the pleasure of introducing a food to someone who had never tried it before and watch him savor each bite, consider the pros and cons, and make a truly educated opinion on whether he liked it or not, AND vowing to try the dishes he didn't like once again to make sure he really didn't like them. At the end of the night, he decided he loved sushi. Once again, I warned him that Megu is at the top of the food chain when it comes to sushi and he should not expect this level of quality from places that charge a fraction of the price he was paying here.

After Megu, he asked if I wanted another drink at the lounge above. I couldn't drink another drop of anything. He asked if I wanted dessert at any special place in the city. I couldn't fathom putting another taste of anything between my lips.

"What do we do now? I don't want tonight to end yet." If he was any other guy I would have taken that as a really cheeseball, douchebag line that guys throw out to get me to sleep with him. For the right guy on the right night- it would work.

Another edit. We found ourselves decked out in the super soft bath robes of the Duane Street Hotel. We watched old movies while cushioned on the softest sheets my skin has ever touched. I half-expected to wake up from some fantastic dream brought on by a fleeting thought right before drifting off to sleep. But, when I did wake up, I was still in this beautiful hotel room and my Doctor was laying there beside me.

I want my story to end with a paragraph telling you he decided to stay in New York and we have a date tonight. Life doesn't let me write too many tidy endings, though. Alas, the dinner was not something I have ever experienced before- the decadence, the price, and then the ending at the hotel- it's the stuff that movies are made of, but I am not exactly the type of girl cast as the leading lady. Why do I finally get to have a very lovely dream come true only to have it happen with the restriction that it can only last one night?

I finally did experience what "the other half" get to have. Ordering expensive meals without ever glancing at the prices. Sharing it with the epitome of the word "gentleman". And then ending with some romantic scene out of a classic love story at a very swanky boutique hotel. Money. Security. Love. Is this how that other half feels when they wake up every morning?

So, as it is, my ever-present sense of guilt is still reeling from the price. I didn't get to see the bill at all. All I know is that he barely glanced at it before tucking his credit card into the case. Here's a general idea of what he may have spent:

Umami 9-course Menu: $185 x2
Sake Pairing: $75 x2
6-Kind Wine Pairing: $90 x2
Habanero Scallop: $9 x2
Spicy Seared Salmon Belly: $18
Diamond Toro: $18
Tajima Kobe Beef Chateaubriand: $230
Uni & Quail Egg: $12 x2
Tuna Seared Chu Toro: $14 x2
Osetra Caviar: $36 x2
Green Tea Crepe: ???
Tea: $6 x2

Never, in my entire life, has anyone ever spent so much money to eat with me before. I know I didn't have to go back to the hotel with him after. I know doing so looks like I "paid" for my dinner in other ways. However, I go with my gut and my gut lead me to believe that every step I took that night was the right one. And, for me, it was.

It's been weeks now since this all happened. I wouldn't change a thing. He's on his way to PA for good. There were no promises made or silly "maybe's" thrown out there. I don't even know if I'm going to see him again before he leaves for good.  It seems to be the norm that men I hold on a higher pedestal sort of slink out of town without a look backwards. I think it makes the goodbye easier to deal with and gives it more of a finality. I mean, my ex Kris, stopped by before heading out to TX a couple of months ago and that "closure" he wanted from me only seemed to fuel his need to call and text every other night to "talk". After the 3rd call, it seemed more like a long-distance lover calling to check in rather than a friend seeking an understanding voice on the other end of the line. I learned that some breaks are better made cleanly, without another thought of ever crossing paths again.

That's how I see my Doctor. I got what I wanted for the first time EVER. That never happens to people like me. There is always some hitch, some snag, a reason why it cannot be. I had the pinnacle of culinary experiences, allowing me to teach someone who was willing to learn, sample some of the most luxurious food this city has to offer without a thought to the cost, and ending it the way fairytales tell us those kinds of evenings should end. The glass slippers were awesome to wear- but for one night only. I put them back on the shelf I found them on, and I tied up my Converse in the light of the morning sun. But, I did so with a very content smile on my face.

Thanks, Doc.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

25,418 HITS!

For whatever reason, I had the highest amount of hits on my wordpress site yesterday. Usually, after a big cake, I do experience a spike in visits on my site, especially after I put up a picture of the cake. However, I haven't put up anything new lately and I didn't even bother taking a picture of the hot mess cake from the baby shower because I was so ashamed of it.

I don't know why I got so much traffic. It didn't all come from one source, either! I guess my insane amount of tags and pictures are turning up on the search engines and people are not only clicking into my site, but also clicking THROUGH my site!!! I had 6 out-clicks to my graphics person's link, too!! Who knew networking actually worked?!

I don't get many comments, which is fine since it's sort of hard to babysit so many different things online, but I'm not about the comments. I'm all about the business. I am getting so much new exposure to new customers who haven't tried me out yet, which I am nervous about. You all know how much I like my tried and true referral crowd; the one's who've tasted a cake or two from me and actually want me because they know I taste good.I average nearly 5 or 6 emails a week inquiring about cakes. Most of the time, it's out of state and I can't do anything about it. Other times, they want the Yo Gabba Gabba toppers, which I can actually ship.

Anyway, it's not a bad number after nearly a year online. I'm proud of it, and I'm proud of my cakes. And even though I'm coming off a big fail this weekend, I have two huge parties coming up and the only thing I can do is knock them out with my talent.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Another Fail

You can add Baby Shower Block cake to my list of failures. A friends who I got into culinary school asked me months ago for a baby shower cake in pink, yellow, and white with baby blocks on top for his girl's upcoming baby shower.

I had more than adequate time to plan and work on the cake.

I had a lot of time to deliver. In fact, the place was only 15 minute away.

Unfortunately, my poor time management got in the way again. It was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. The three square 6x6 blocks were imperfect and took a lot of time to cover and decorate. The large cake was also a pain the ass. All in all, I did not allot enough time to get this all done. And I have no one to blame but myself.

I was lucky enough to get a ride from a friend who patiently waited as I pushed my deliver time from 2:30 all the way towards 5:30 with texts every half an hour as I told him I wasn't ready yet.

My poor culinary friend remained calm and understanding as I lied and fabricated cake damage as the reason I was running late. By the time I got there, the party was just waiting on the cake. I was embarrassed and near tears. The blocks were NOT cute. The colors were completely off. Everything was heavy and all three blocks did not even fit on the sheet cake Like I said, I was embarrassed. Despite the money I dropped on supplies, I could not charge him. In my heart of hearts, I knew I really needed the money but I didn't feel like I earned it.

Oh, and I didn't have time to finish decorating an 8" birthday cake he also ordered- a cake I had already baked and filled and dirty iced. I just ran out of time.

So, all in all I'm $125 in the hole after my supply run. I didn't earn back any of that money on this cake and ended up losing about $50 in supplies just to make it.

I'm really in the shitter when it comes to money. As hard as I'm working it just doesn't feel like I'm doing enough. What else should I be doing to make the money train move a little faster?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Good Grub: Marvin's

It's been a spell, hasn't it? Let's just jump right into it.

My friend and I hoped the Metro to U street, and we emerged feeling like we just stepped into NY's Lower East Side. The vibe was very hip, very gritty, and very unlike the super clean streets scattered throughout the rest of DC. In short, I fucking loved it.

We arrived on time for our reservation, but our table was not ready yet. This very tight bistro was packed wall to wall with diners who were all enjoying their food. We went upstairs to their rooftop bar to wait for our table, and was rewarded with free drinks being  sent over to us by the various military and businessman personnel who were just chillin'. After a couple of gratis cocktails and some light, Saturday night banter with our very clean shaven, good looking, good ole' boys, we received a call from our server to let us know our table was ready.

You can find their menu here. It's fairly reasonable, and not too far off from NYC prices.

Because we were starving and already had two drinks in us, we went straight for our entrees. I ordered the skirt steak and my friend got the chicken and waffles. We each had two glasses of the Riesling with our meal. I tasted my friend's chicken and waffles. It was crunchy and tasty, since it was a boned out chicken leg (thigh and all_ which was dredged in flour and fried Southern style. The waffle tasted a little underdone to me, but with the chicken, the syrup, and the greens & gravy, it all tasted just fine. My skirt steak was cooked perfectly. Rare, juicy, and bloody. My escarole was flavorful and bitter. The pearl onions burst in my mouth with each bite, as did the cherry tomatoes. The chimichurri sauce was just right to tie it all together- garlicky and tangy in just the right portions.

Speaking of portions, I was a little disappointed when our food first came out because the portions were a little on the lean side. However, had we ordered apps or side dishes, it would have been perfect. We didn't do apps or sides, though. We shared some food back and forth and ate in near silence as our appetites were satiated with the divine meal. By the time our clean plates were taken away, we knew we had just enough room for dessert. We ordered a large carafe of coffee. My friend ordered the rhubarb cobbler with a side of strawberry ice cream. I ordered the warm toffee cake with salted caramel ice cream. Despite the words "toffee" and "caramel", my dessert was not overly sweet at all. My friend's cobbler was tart and refreshing. Again, we ate those plates clean.

I cannot say anything overly negative about Marvin's. It's busy in there. Make reservations. Get there early and enjoy the rooftop bar. It's huge and there are several bars to serve alcohol. From what I understand, it get's busy up there and there were rumors of a DJ, although we didn't see one on the night we went. Come hungry. The portions are not huge so you can get apps and sides and share with each other, without fear of not being able to handle your entree. It can happen. In fact, if I go back I'm doing the shrimps and grits. It sounds amazing! The chicken fried oysters sounds amazing, too.

Although the restaurant is a little tight, it's narrow but long, it still feels cozy without being too uncomfortable. The service is stellar. The waitress was friendly and came to check on us just enough without seeming indifferent or annoying. With a very generous tip, our bill came to about $130.00. And I was happy to pay it.

If you're in the DC area, get out of Tourist Row and hop the Metro to U Street. It's like New York but without the awesome pizza.

2007 14th St NW
(between N U St & N V St)
Washington, DC 20009
Neighborhood: U Street Corridor
(202) 797-7171