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Next snow day plans

A handsome piece of cake, isn't she?

By now, I have a list of yearly food-related pilgrimages to make in NYC, or a mental checklist of Things to Eat While It’s Still _____(cold/hot/spring/fall/recession/PMSing?). Like, lasagne at Bianca when it’s dry and chilly; ramen, always ramen, when it’s cold and rainy, after a trip to the Russian Baths; and, Museum Row on the UES for some Cafe Sabarsky action, no matter the weather (although, it seems more romantic and appropriate when the season requires a soft, warm scarf).  The food is always so lip-smackingly good, but you’re really there for the desserts. Despite my complicated relationship to cake—most of the time I avoid the icing or buttercream depending on how sweet it is, or how sweet everything is all together—I enjoy every bit, from the moist cake layers to the chocolate curls on top, in this instance. It doesn’t hurt that the cake, the Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, is dressed in the namesake kirsch, and topped with boozed up cherries. The fruit reminded me that spring is around the corner, and instead of anticipating it, I was just happy to sit there, sip tea, and enjoy the chill for once.

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Should you find yourself snowed/sleeted/hailed/iced in with lots of fruit puree this winter, spend five to eight hours of your time making fruit rolls, pictured quite beautifully like perfect ringlets of Victorian hair here.

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Happy New Year!

Or, balls to 2009! Was it a good year for you with lots of treats? It ‘sho was, on this end. I’ve learned a lot about many things sugar-coated, cream-filled, fried, brittled, and spun, and I’m looking forward to absorb twice as much and share them with you.  I wish you all a not-too-sweet new year and a toothsome decade.

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Anyone up for an upper or lower GI tract cleansing? I think I am tired of eating. These spells hit me now and again. I get tired of trying to think of what to eat, or figuring out what my body wants as fuel. Usually, this occurs after we eat out a lot, or days of marathon eating. No more turkey, please…at least until January?

The process of selecting food for oneself, in the days that it’s difficult (how spoiled we are in this day in age?), makes me question how I work with people, albeit in pastry, where you’re actually limited in exposure to unpalatable foods you’re professionally required to handle (slippery pieces of chicken, monkfish, cow intestinal lining), who have a large number of hangups about food. Creme fraiche, yuck, it smells bad. Banana? Ew, they say. Yes, banana, the one benign, portable universal food (ubiquitous, but only for now…do you know they’re going to disappear?). One doesn’t like, of all things, maple syrup. (“What do you put on your pancakes, then?” I asked. “The fake stuff…I know I’m weird.”) And that’s just the stuff we handle in the sweets department, never mind the animal body parts being tossed about in savory.

But who am I to judge? On the flip side, I spent some of the weekend grimacing while this guy on the Travel Channel gnawed on a turtle head, beaver meat, and junebugs on sticks. And I’ve had my own hangups, sure. For a long time since youth, the tastes of carrots and celery didn’t sit well with me—I found them too strongly herbal and fragrant. But whatever I didn’t like, I would force myself to eat because I felt I ought to like them. My parents always wanted my sister and me to be good omnivores and I didn’t want to be excluded from any experience. Plus, didn’t I want healthy eyes and to stay skinny? (I had once read, during high school when thin-ness mattered more, that one expends more calories chewing a piece of celery than consuming it.)

I still don’t love raw carrots, but I no longer want to hurl when I eat them. And in my third decade of life, I am just learning to like fennel. They’re often chopped into salads for family meal, and they help digest all the grease and acid that went down before it. Mmm, digestion.

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I resent the fact that it’s not even Thanksgiving yet and store windows have holiday displays up. I would’ve been resentful of this e-mail from Sur La Table as well, except these ornaments are pretty darn cute, particularly the wooden rolling pin and the toaster one. Can I just say, though, that pastry chefs don’t all look like that?

 

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Computer down

At home so I’m typing this in a nearby coffee shop with great chai, which makes me very very happy. (Can I just say how hard it is to find good chai in this huge city? Just say no to chai in the box.) The only problem is a spotty internet signal, so checking in here feels longer than mass.

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in lady apples and seckel pears at work and the hours are getting longer and harder. More projects on the way when the stars align and the daylight hours don’t feel as though they’re slipping away and I’ll have gotten enough rest for once.

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Just because it’s homemade, it doesn’t mean it’s good. And I suppose it was about time the backlash to all the cute etsy handcrafted goods surfaced, like this. Rule of Pastry #1: Never form a pile or a smear with anything brown.

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