Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Japanese Taste the Best

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Hi from vacation. I have 0:41 left on my lappie batts and a sporadic interweb connection, but I had to post about how Papua New Guinea cannibals report that white people are too salty, the Japanese taste the best (TOOOLLLD YOUU!!), and “the only thing that beats it is the meat of their own women.”

via via geekologie.

Is it Dark in Here?

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Have you ever thrown a party and someone tells you they are having problems seeing your alcohol selection because they are drunk and can no longer read? Knowing that all of you faithful readers are all about the crazy times at parties, I’m pretty sure this has not only happened to you, but that you might have been the one whose reading ability disappeared.

But what if the real problem isn’t intoxication?! What if… what if you just have poor lighting and everyone thinks your bar is lame? We here at MTFB are dedicated to making you the coolest of the cool and keep your home bar looking swanky while on a budget. Welcome to the first hands-on project!

Back at the beginning of November, I threw one of my infamous highlighter/blacklight parties. I wanted to up the stakes and decided to put together bar shelves with up-lighting, just as I had seen in all the classy bars that I sometimes frequent.

So here’s the list of materials- all found at your local Home Depot:

  • Large Cardboard Box – $1.42
  • Acrylic Light cover – $8.97 (found in the lighting section)
  • Plastic lighting grid – ~$10 (most everything is found in the lighting section)
  • Colored Flourescent Party Bulbs – About $5 each
  • Direct to plug bulb adapter – $1.29/each.
  • Black spray paint -$0.99
  • Cable Ties – I dunno how much they are but they are super cheap.

Other things you’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Sharp pointy object (ice pick? screwdriver? choose your own adventure!)
  • Electrical power strips

So the first thing you’ll need to do is measure the area of the “bar” that you’re making. And then trim the box, plastic grid, and acrylic accordingly. At the top of the box you’ll need to cut out a hole, making sure to leave a 1-inch rim – this will keep your acrylic and grid in place. As soon as you’re done getting your box into shape, take it to a well ventilated (or not so ventilated area, if that’s how you roll) and spray paint the box. You should end up with something like the box on the right in the picture below.

From there you slide in the trimmed acrylic cover and then fit the grid in after it. Using your pointy tool of choice, poke holes on the sides and top of the boxes, near the rim. Through these holes you’ll thread the cable ties and then around the grid to hold the grid in place and support the plastic cover. Depending on how heavy you think your booze will be, the number of ties you’ll need will vary.

After that’s all set up, you’ll put your bulbs together and plug them into your power strips. Slide the strips under the boxes and cut a small opening for the cord to come out. Now all you have to do is set up your drinks and hit the lights. Now you can be a baller and party in style, just like us:

Party hard friends! Happy holidays, and remember, drink responsibly.

Taste of Santa Monica 2008

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Foie Gras, bitches!

I can’t believe it’s been a year since Taste of Santa Monica!  I was reminded by Daniel that it was time again to go and fill my gullet with 40 tastings for $40.  Except Daniel, being the financial-ey one, realized that there are student tickets available for $20.  Accountant magic.  Oh, and of course, the WINE GARDEN!  All-you-can-drink goodness/death in the sun for $15.

Another thing I couldn’t believe – TOSM was happening on the Santa Monica Pier, IMMEDIATELY next to the LA BBQ Festival!  Foodie heaven, though quite gratuitous!  Of course, we never made it over there, but it got terrible reviews (NO BEER GARDEN?!?) so I’m not sad.

Tinx was waylaid by mono (I hope I don’t get it from all the making out I have been doing with her) so we took Vic.  If you don’t know Vic, he is, upon first viewing, extremely badass looking in a LBC gangsta way.  But then, he looks at you with these big brown eyes and an adorable giggle and you look down and your pants are on the ground because he has charmed them off of you.  So, naturally, Vic used his charms to (a) get in without a student ID at the student price, and (b) get into the Wine Garden under my roomie’s name [very obviously female and non-Asian].  

We made a beeline to the Wine Garden first, of course, since they ran out of wine last year.  Nothing like starting a long day in the sun by drinking on an empty stomach.  We got a dinky plastic cup, but then noticed people sporting these Riedel-esque plastic wine glasses.



 “I MUST HAVE ONE!” I yelled a little too loudly [I was tipsy after promptly downing three tastings already].  Some random people said, “Oh, go over to that table there and they’ll give you one.” “WHERE?” “That table with the dude with the loud shirt – that huge Silverback dude.”  So I did, and as soon as I got up to the table the Silverback said, “First of all, give me that lame cup and take one of these.”  <3.  I wish I had the presence of mind to write down which winery was offering this lovely glass, but I didn’t.  You can’t see it, but there is a cute dimple in the side of the glass for your thumb to hang out in.  This came in very handy later when I needed some help with my clumsy drunk paws.



First, we hit up Wokcano.  Wait, that’s a lie.  We first hit up Barney’s Beanery, but they were out of food for 15 minutes.  So we decided to wait 15 minutes (which turned into 2 hours) and instead start out at Wokcano.  Maybe it’s just primacy/recency (a psychological phenomenon whereby you remember/like the things that come first [primacy] or last [recency] so it’s good in, like, beauty pageants to be first or last) but this was my favorite thing of the ENTIRE festival.  It’s spicy tuna and avocado, served on a bona fide DORITO!!!!  A fucking Dorito!  I stole Daniel’s serving when I was done with mine (you can’t get seconds until you visit all 40 restaurants – laaaaame).


I THINK this bruschetta was from Il Fornaio (text from Daniel confirms it was).  They also served a salad with calamari on top, which I loved (but was unable to take a passable photo of) as it was ultra tentacly.  I really appreciated the restaurants where they served more than one thingie.  I think they served a third option on top of the bruschetta and squid, but I have forgotten (or did I even notice in my tipsy haze??) what that was.


Doritos and bruschetta and salad are all fine and well, but I needed some SUBSTANCE.  Right next door was El Cholo (where I would end up later, in fact, for some killer margareets) who was serving an ENTIRE GREEN CORN TAMALE per person!  The GCT go away soon (I think they are only around until October) so definitely go and get them now.  They are so sweet you will swear that they have table sugar in them (and they probably do, now that I’m thinking of it).



Angelato Cafe was next, offering both blueberry and Bailey’s gelato.  Huge lines here all day, probably because it was hot.  They also gave out 10% off coupons which was nice, and how can you not smile when you have a teeny tiny ice cream cone in your fings?  I took a tiny lick-lick of both flavors and dumped them (not so into sweets, particularly back-to-back with the tamale) but they were good I guess.



HOOTERS!  Why do boys love wings so much?  The two boys were all over this shit so I gave them the rest of mine after I ate one.  The concept of “pacing” is lost on them.  As I was eating, I got a text from my friend that read “good call on the 5 glasses of wine before food…i’d suggest a visit to the hooters booth now.”  HOW DID HE KNOW?!?! 


i Cugini was my favorite last year, and this year they went straight for Janet’s heartstrings by offering black mussels.  Not so good when cold, but I appreciated the briney taste.  They also served a pasta, also cold.  It was fine – neither as good as what they offered last year.  Regression to the mean, perhaps? (A statistics phenomenon by which most things tend to get drawn to the mean, i.e., become less extreme, over time. The reason why a basketball player who has an amazing game will probably not be as amazing in the next game.  Seems to happen a lot with restaurants – a place that freaking rules one day will be average the next time you go.)


Which restaurant was it that offered DUCK?  I think it was Ocean & Vine from the Loews.  Duck can be chewy, but this was NOT.  It was, in fact, perfect in every way.  I think it was a tiny dollop of quince paste on top.  Superb!  This lit a fire under our asses to get to all the restaurants so we could get seconds.

Duck is a pretty baller ingredient to serve at this festival, I thought.  But even MORE baller was Bon Melange Catering, which offered fucking foie gras!  Speaking of tiny dollops, you can see at the picture at top that it was a miniscule amount (served over pineapple), but I still loved it.  Props to them for raising their stock without even being a real resto.



Mariasol offered taquitos and chimichangas.  I couldn’t even think about chimichangas without wanting to die, so I stuck with the taquitos.  They weren’t fresh-fried, of course, but I really appreciated the all-you-can-slap-on guacamole and cotija.  My loyalty to you readers made me prioritize prettiness over guac-hogging, unfortunately.  I hope you appreciate it.


Now where was this from?  What the fuck IS it, even?  Fail.


Moving on…This was from the Ma ‘Kai Lounge and they get a blue ribbon for presentation.  It was a slice of spicy yellowtail with some spicy fried onion strings on top, all balanced upon a chopsticks-skewer.  Very lovely and another one where I stole Daniel’s.


Stefano’s New York Pizza was offering three different types of pizzas.  Their placement, at least in terms of our particular TOSM route, was terrible.  Who wants to eat pizza after hours of stuffing your face?  And such huge slices!  I couldn’t handle it.  I of course ate it, but I did so very reluctantly like a kid, chewing with my mouth open really big.


Then the evil TOSM gods busted out their trump card – The Victorian‘s awful offering of fucking BISCUITS AND GRAVY WITH CHEEEEEEEESE!  I mean, it was delicious objectively, but when you feel like barfing you don’t want to eat something that looks like barf, particularly with barfy chunks in it (sausage).


Oh yeah!  Barney’s Beanery!  We forgot all about it and swerved back there at the end.  Of course their offering was chili, and I remember noting that the description I had of it last year was exactly right and still applied this year – watery in a pleasant way.

Then, a trip back to the Wine Garden.  At that point, it seemed easier to give in to Vic’s prodding than to try and resist.  With any luck, the wine would be gone by then anyhow?

But that was not to be, and in fact there was plenty of wine left…if you liked heavy heavy reds.  Vic placed a mandatory 5-tasting quota so I steeled my will and did it (though Daniel and I did manage to toss out half of one glass while Vic’s back was turned).


By the end of the day, a lot of the restaurants had run out of food (even Mahatma Rice, WTF??) but they STILL hadn’t given away their KitchenAids!!!  They looked so adorable glinting in the sun.  None of us could hang around any longer, though, so I had to console myself with the free giveaway by the entrance…


…Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce mousepads.  Score.

Zen Sushi Boston

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Chowhound never steers me wrong.  Of all the Boston eateries that were Chowhound-approved, all were winners!  Including Zen Sushi, which I wasn’t even intending on patronizing, but the old boys’ club that was Parker’s Restaurant wasn’t open (at least when Liz and I wanted to go) for lunch, so I walked us up the street to Zen and we sat on the patio.

Where we saw many people in what Liz called “Revolutionary War garb” walkin’ down the street.  But…isn’t Ben Franklin from after that war?  Or am I on crack? Whenever I don’t know important information about America (whether that is Ben Franklin or who Corey Feldman is), I just say “Japan” and people seem to excuse it.

Liz opened the menu and immediately began chanting “USUZUKURI!” which is a very difficult word to say once, let along chant. In this case, it was a Baby Hamachi Usuzukuri, described on the menu as thinly sliced yellowtail with sauce.  It came out looking oh so beautiful (although don’t stare too long because the pieces will start looking like really fucked up, bleeding eyes) and the fusioneyness of the jalapeno peppers with the classic tangy sauce and fish was really pleasing. This shit went away really quick into our tums.

Next was the Zen Special Hamachi Torch Maki with roe and cucumber inside, torched hamachi on the outside, and black tobiko on top.  I know.  BLACK tobiko.  It is pictured top, and was total dynamite!  I’m sure in a blind taste test we would never have been able to detect a difference, but the visual effect was quite spectacular.  A crunchy poor man’s Beluga caviar.  I cannot recall what the yellow sauce tasted like.  Actually, nor the sushi.  I just remember both of us repeatedly pressing our index fingers to the plate to slurp up wayward tobiko the entire time.  SO fabulous.

Totally unfabulous was the Baked Spicy Scallop roll, which sounded great on paper (avocado, spicy mayo, scallops, and scallions) and tempura flakes should, in theory, make everything better – even hamster poo (and I know that for a fact).  It came out looking, literally, like a hot mess.  The regular tobiko next to our black tobiko was treated like a (again, literally) RED-headed stepchild, and the mayo with the scallop and the flakes – too much richness, but not a good richness.  Akin to slapping two tablespoons of butter on a gristly steak (though not as bad as that!  [shuddering at my own analogy] ).

The 2/3 fabulous Zen Sushi

21A Beacon St

Boston 02108

Btwn Somerset & Bowdoin St


Lot Lizards and Urine Pots

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Hi y’all!  I just got back from a gorgeous, gorgeous wedding in Allentown PA.  It was my friend Emry from high school in her beautiful mansion that had probably 60 bedrooms.  The sad part was that it was raining on her wedding day, but in the end it was kind of cool because it wasn’t just raining, it was BUCKETING thanks to hurricane Gustav, so it was very dramatic and memorable. What I hope was NOT memorable was my singing during the procession – a not-so-good rendition of At Last.  I cracked twice (hopefully people thought I was trying to hold back tears) and for some insane reason the string quartet had chosen an arrangement in CUT TIME, when the original Etta James version which I requested was in 12/8.  That probably means nothing to a vast majority of you, but it’s the musical equivalent of substituting salt for sugar in a recipe. To add insult to injury, the band later on in the reception said, “AND NOW! For the most romantic song in the world – AT LAST!” and the chick sang it so smoky perfect (and the band played it in the correct time signature mofos) AND everyone was slow dancing but I had no date so I just awkwardly stood around not making eye contact with anyone.  TERRIBLE.

Anyway, this post is not about me, but rather the amazing cab driver that I encountered in Allentown. Upon inquiring as to my hometown, he said, “Oh, I think you were in my cab last month? I had a Oriental-lookin’ girl in my cab from LA.”  I said, “….no that wasn’t me.”

Then he launched into a diatribe about Sarah Palin.  Despite his brash words, he talked very quietly, so I had to stick my head through the plexiglass opening and rest my chin on the back of the front seat bench to hear him. The whole cab smelled like puke, which I originally thought was due to some partying Lehigh University kids going overboard, but by the end of the cab ride (for reasons I will go into very soon) I thought it must have been due to him being drunk and puking just prior to picking me up.

After the diatribe about Sarah Barracuda (does that even rhyme?  I don’t think so.) he went on another diatribe about the economy. He said he was a lifelong Republican but that he was crossing over to the dark side for this election and voting for Obama.  At this, I instantly forgave his anti-yellow comment earlier and warmed up to him.

He said his option was to work 60 hours a week in the cab and net $7 an hour OR to drive a truck.  I asked him how it was driving a truck and he said, “Yeah, it’s a rough life and you see the worst parts of America. Like in the truck stops, where there are those guys, you know? Who come around wanting to give you sexual favors? You know, lot lizards. I’m sure you’ve heard of ’em. And then the ‘ladies of the night’ who you can’t really ‘ladies.’ I mean, they got two legs but that’s about it. You know, you’re trying to get some sleep in the truck stop and they come around banging on your cab to see if you want anything! God! That’s when it’s good to have a pot of urine on standby so you can fling it in their face. That teaches ’em to not come around again, har har har.”

…AMAZING, RIGHT!?  I didn’t have the heart to tell him he missed the road we were looking for, but once he started swerving off the road I bucked up and said, “UM! That was the street!” and he said, “I messed up” and pulled a U-turn.  Then, several diatribes later, he says, “Wait, where is this place we’re going again?” And I said, “I DON’T KNOW! THAT’S YOUR JOB!”  I’m sure he was drunk. A quick call to dispatch (Hey Mr. Cabbie, why not use the fucking GPS on your dashboard?) and I got there in one piece, but gosh, what a way to get welcomed to Allentown, eh?

Gelay O Gusto

Monday, September 1st, 2008


Oh, Frozen Yogurt Wars.  Will you never end?  It’s totally a case of rich-get-richer, though.  The Pinkberrys and Red Mangoes keep thriving, whilst mom-and-pop froyo chains open and shut like LiLo’s legs.

I was up in the Bay Area not too long ago, and my sister put together an entire list called “Shiru’s Comprehensive Guide to Norcal Fun–Experiencing the Stanford Hangouts.”  Sadly, neither my mom nor I read this before visiting her, which was embarrassingly evident when she said, “Let’s go to Gelay O Gusto!” and we were both like, “Where?”  She was pissed, but she’s little and cute so it’s just funny when she’s pissed.

So anyway, we went to the froyo joint, which is in Mountain View.  I sampled their blueberry yogurt (pictured top) which was exactly like you’d expect.  Blueberry flavor + tart + icy.  Much closer to Pinkberry than Red Mango. 



Now that I look at my sister’s guide, I see that she has painstakingly offered a paragraph of her own observations on each of the eateries.  Regarding this joint:

Gelayo Gusto:
ZOMG the best frozen yogurt place ever (although granted, i’ve only been to one other)!! If you go, you have to take me with you. It’s really tart and actually tastes like yogurt, and it’s the first time I’ve ever finished such a big thing of frozen yogurt. I like the original (plain) one with raspberry and kiwi, but whatever floats your boat. Again, don’t go without me hehe. Oh, and it has free wifi, if you need internet access.

We definitely share some DNA, what with the enthusiastic narrative and the same taste in toppings.  The thing I loved most (and made me “ZOMG” myself) was the CHERRY!  Red Mango and Pinkberry do not offer such lusciousness.  It was perfect – sweet and tart with the tart yo.  Loved it.

Sadly, I give them maybe another year?  It’s too empty and in a weird location [anytime you have to put “Unit #A” on your card, oy!]  But good luck Gelay!  Stay open and stick it to the Pink/Red man(go)!

Gelay O Gusto
856 W. El Camino Real #A
Mountain View, CA 94040

Pollution: Terrible for Fish, Great for Jellies

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

O hai.  Welcome to the new site! Please say hi to Daniel, co-creator of!

You know, I’ve thought a loooong time about what I should write about as the post that takes away the new blog’s virginity.  How about something slippery, beautiful, and DEADLY!?

I speak, of course, of jellyfish.   I was just in Boston, and aquariums are my Disneyland.  So I took my ass and some friends’ asses to the New England Aquarium, and, in my childlike excitement which may or may not have involved almost peeing, was not at all fazed by the 30-minute line just to buy tickets.  After grabbing our tix, we immediately pissed off aquarium staff by not pausing to get our picture taken (apparently it was MANDATORY!? WTF?) and immediately slipped into the jelly exhibit.

The exhibit, while beautiful, was fucking weird. Schizophrenic. Everywhere, hugely painted, was the statement: “Pollution.  Bad for fish, great for jellies.” I think their point is that human pollution is very intensely affecting ocean habitats, and that it’s terrible because it’s killing fish. But then, in quite literally the same breath, they are saying how that pollution is great for jellies, who thrive in polluted waters.

Are we supposed to be sad about this?  I mean, the title of the fucking exhibit is “Amazing Jellies.” Quite honestly, after seeing these gorgeous, exquisite, beautiful jellies, I was tempted to throw a cigarette, can of oil, enriched uranium, and some of my poo into the ocean to help propagate the jellyfish population.  I mean, LOOK at them!  Do you blame me?

New England Aquarium

1 Central Wharf, Boston



Original Boston Creme Pie

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

The original Boston Creme Pie can be found, allegedly, at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston.  Liz told me this over the phone, and I later saw it in a pamphlet (albeit, the Omni Parker House’s pamphlet), and later, etched on the window of the hotel.  Because I love my blog more than I hate sweets, I decided to try it during my trip to Boston.

Liz was in Boston too, skipping all of the conference (lucky!) and instead doing fun things like shopping during Tax Free Weekend and taking yoga classes.  We met up for lunch at the Parker’s restaurant (called, literally, the Parker’s Restaurant), and were promptly ignored for about seven minutes.  I guess you have to be SEEN to be ignored.  No one was around, so we left and decided to eat the pie (“It’s actually a cake,” says Liz) at the little shop in the lobby, where they also sold it.

It was…ok.  The outside was encrusted with almonds which I thought did not belong.  Aren’t BCPs (Boston Creme Pie, not Birth Control Pill) supposed to be smooth and creamy?  This was crunchy (due to said almonds) and cakey (“Didn’t I tell you it’s actually a cake?” says Liz again).  The creme center was nowhere near adequate.  It was the thickness of a stick of gum (NOT Wrigley’s!  Freaking Wrigley’s.  Freaking Chris Brown, you sellout.).  Completely inadequate.  I guess what I was expecting was a choux creme, just big and flattened out and with chocolate on top.

The moral of the story is, sometimes the authentic original isn’t great.  It drives me crazy anyway when people say, “It’s SOOO AUTHENTIC!” as if that’s the holy grail.  I think Panda Express is just as yummy, in a different way, than the Chinese food I had in Hong Kong.  And even though the last BCP I had was when I was a tween and I decided randomly to make it and it took me SEVEN HOURS, I think the modern interpretations on the BCP are for the better.

It certainly wasn’t worth it for Liz, who, by sharing it with me, exposed herself to the virulent cold strain from which I am currently suffering.  Sorry Liz!

Parker’s Restaurant
60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108

Shimi’s Wedding Cake~*

Monday, August 11th, 2008

This is it. The big one. The one I had been working towards for a year. The one that I took sooo many lessons for. The one that I had tirelessly practiced for, every single month, since last July.

Of course I’m totally kidding. I think I practiced two whole times for Shimi’s wedding cake. Hey, Shimi, if you’re reading this, all’s well that ends well, right?
But what a fucking journey it was. Last July, on a hellish drive from Seattle over the border to Vancouver, the crazy idea was hatched for me to make her cake. Being a wedding cake decorator has always secretly been the thing I wanted to be when I growed up, so I was really excited.
But then the week of her wedding came around, smack in the middle of one of the busiest summers I’ve ever had professionally (three deadlines the Friday before her wedding), and I started to hyperventilate. I barely slept the Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday preceding her wedding, not because I was working on her cake, but because I was freaking out about it. My friends said, “What the fuck were you thinking?” and I would respond, “WAAAAAAAAAH!”
When Asians get stressed, they get organized. But there was too much to think about! I had to remember to buy wire cutters to cut the dowels to insert into the cake! Did I really need to spend more than $20 only on BUTTER? And what the fuck kind of CAKE was I going to make?

Well, the abomination above is test recipe #1 (I started testing recipes on Tuesday). Let’s see. It did not rise at all. It was burnt on the edges. Oh, and it tasted like grainy feces. I definitely cried a little bit when this came out.

But as Liz/QJ/Tinx would say, I am persistent as a mosquito/heat-seeking-missile/Michael Phelps. I picked myself back up and went back to the drawing board.

And then promptly dropped a fucking egg on the ground. As I was dumb and only bought exactly enough eggs as the recipe required, this was tragic indeed, and incited a barrage of “shits” and “fucks” and “cunty cunts!” and a couple more tears.

These are the pans that I lined with parchment paper. I didn’t realize that just lining the pans takes a million years, and requires tons of measuring, precise cutting (don’t look at the top one), and many, many diagonal cuts that are to be spaced 1 cm away from one another. Once lined, they look very profesh and cute at the same time.

The winning recipe. That Martha Stewart. She is the goddess of all things, including wedding cake recipes.

Totally Kidding Part II! It’s totally cake mix (Hey, Shimi – all’s well that ends tastily, right?). In my darkest moments of despair, I asked myself WWTCS1CD? (What would Top Chef Season 1 Contestants Do?). They, of course, got into major shit with Collichio for using cake mix for the wedding cake in the wedding challenge! I remember one of them saying, “You just can’t beat cake mix – it’s so consistent and the texture and taste are always perfect.” So, the perfection above is industrial-sized yellow cake mix from Smart & Final.

I mean, LOOK AT IT! Moist, yet perfectly dense enough to withstand the weight of the tier above it. The same rise everywhere, crisp edges – perfect for stacking. And completely delicious. Simon and I dragged the trimmed-off pieces through the tub of icing and at a shitload of it.

I have a schmancy icing spatula, but the bottom tier was styrofoam (which cost, in total, $12. TWELVE DOLLARS for fucking STYROFOAM!?!? Shoulda just made it out of cake!) so I just got down ‘n dirty with my hands. It’s better than expensive hand cream – my hands were sooo soft.

Oh, by the way, having the bottom tier be styrofoam was bride-approved, so there.

The middle tier, post-icing. It is soo cute and fluffy looking, even though it was ten pounds of icing and cake. I wanted to hug it and squeeze it.

So this is fondant in the raw. I needed Simon’s strong hands to knead it for me, but otherwise he was totally unhelpful. During the MOST DIFFICULT moments he was like, “Oh, I’m no good at this part. You do it.” Mofo.

Anyway, you add the height of your cake plus the diameter, add two inches, and then roll out the fondant to the appropriate size on the mat. There are many details here that I won’t go in to (like how you have to Crisco AND powdered-sugar the rolling mat, but the sugar has to be applied using a special powdered sugar bag thing, but they don’t tell you that you can’t touch the Crisco with the special bag or else it will clog the holes and no sugar will come out, etc.)

Using a combination of voodoo and blind luck, your cake will look like this after the fondant has been applied. It’s tricky, because you’re putting a flat circle onto a cylinder so there’s tons of extra fondant that hangs down like a skirt. It takes special hands (WINK) to get the fondant smooth. Oh, and the Wilton brand fondant smoother (such a thing exists).

With the cakes safely made and safely covered, I realized the CAKE boxes I bought were way too wimpy to hold the CAKE. The bottom tier, being styrofoam, was light. The middle tier weighed around 10 pounds, and the top tier weighed about 7. I had to go to a special box store (BoxBros, where the shop dude asked me if there was a Verizon store around there…what?), where I also bought fragile tape (not tape that is fragile, but actual tape that says FRAGILE! FRAGILE! FRAGILE! on it).

So, the cakes were done, save for some last-minute assembly. OH, but I forgot – I had to DRIVE SIX HOURS UP TO BERKELEY with these fuckers. I drove like a grandma the whole way, and left the car running even while filling up on gas to keep the A/C going. Fondant-covered cakes can last up to 5 days unrefrigerated, but still.

When we got to the hotel, we were in a suite so Cara and I took out the shelves in our fridge and stuck the cakes in. I was anxious – would the cakes dry out? Would the fondant warp or crack? I put the fridge on the lowest setting and tried to forget about it for two days.

The day of the wedding – EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I took my social support entourage (including a STRUCTURAL ENGINEER! SCORE!) to the reception site an hour early to assemble the cake. Cheez and Cara were most helpful, mostly because they were the two that stayed behind when I realized I forgot stuff in the suite and sent Emry and the engineer back to the hotel. They nearly missed the ceremony due to my stupidity and traffic, and for that I apologize.

The construction was surprisingly easy. A couple air bubbles had snuck in, so I just pricked and deflated them. I had never doweled or stacked before, so I was a wreck, but I had read about how to do it 20 times. Basically, the main concern is that the top tiers will sink into the tiers below. So you have to stab wooden or plastic dowels vertically into the cake, right under the cake board of the tier above. But of course each cake is a different height so you have to custom-cut your dowels (thus the wire cutters). Then we used my makeup pencil sharpener (which I had not because I was prepared but because I am vain and had my entire make-up kit with me) to sharpen the ends and poked them into the cake.

The ribbon wasn’t glued all the way around – it just rested at the base and I attached the ends with the daintiest dollop of piping icing. I left a little window on the top layer so that the bride and groom had a place to cut.

Then some lady came around with a huge, messy bouquet. “Flowers for the cake.” “Oh, REALLY?? Because I was told that I was getting a bag of just loose orchid blossoms. Can you find the florist and make sure?” “I AM the florist.” Oh.

Good thing I had NOT found wire cutters, and instead gotten stem-cutters from the garden shop. WOooOO! We snipped off the dahlias and a bunch of orchid blossoms, and then proceeded to do about three hundred permutations of flowers. Orchids on top, dahlias at base. Dahlias at top, orchids at base of every tier. Dahlias AND orchids on top, orchids all around the bottom. Just three bunches of orchids on the bottom, two dahlias and one orchid blossom on top. Only dahlias on top, orchids on bottom with a carpet of orchid blossoms covering the entire table. No orchid blossoms carpeting the table (took forever to clean), dahlias on top, bunches of orchids at the base.

PHEW. Anyway, behold the final product:

I was pretty fuckin’ proud of myself.

Shimi and her hubby cut exactly where they were supposed to (I warned them that fondant is pretty tough, so they would have to use muscles, and further, that fondant is not tasty [though my hamster LOVES it] so they should peel that off before they fed each other the cake). They fed each other and didn’t grimace (SCORE!) and did not keel over from food poisoning. In the end, the caterers cut the cake and served it to the masses (it was really only supposed to be for the bride and groom) and I was told by many that it was the best cake out of the three that were served. Thanks, Top Chef!

I owe so many thanks to my good friends who helped me along the way. And to Shimi, for taking a HUGE risk and letting some random punk make her cake. And, of course, I am thankful to my mother, who will never let my head get big and who would not acknowledge any sort of innate talent in me and said, “Wow, those lessons really paid off! You must have had a great teacher!” Thanks, Mom!

E Tutto Qua

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

I’m headed up to the bay AGAIN, this time for Shimi’s wedding, for which I am making her cake (and am working on it furiously right now)…and that reminded me of the LAST time I was up here, for an entire bachelorette party WEEKEND! After driving up from LA with Cara in her fabulous but fabulously expensive-gas-guzzling Mercedes, and after a bottle of wine in the hotel, and after presenting Shimi with her goodie basket that included a his/hers joint vibrator/cockring from me and Cara, and after walking in the extreme June cold, we finally arrived, one hour late for our reservation, to E Tutto Qua, in the North Beach neighborhood.

The manager couldn’t be mad, though, after seeing 18 girls totally decked out and rushing into the restaurant with nipples erect from the cold. We were seated at a lovely window table on the second floor, and I snagged prime real estate directly across from Shimi, the bride-to-be.

Cara is my food soulmate. She is also the only other non-married/engaged one out of our high school group, so we often stick together at these weddings. Now we can get officially stuck together thanks to the same-sex marriage ruling. Perhaps we’ll take a jaunt over to Sacramento and make our love official this weekend.

Anyway, both of our eyes (all four of our eyes??) lit up as soon as we hit on it on the menu: steak carpaccio!

Cara: Do you want to-
Me: YES.
Cara: The carpaccio?
Me: YES.

It’s pictured top. Isn’t it gorgeous? Though there was too much crap on it. The parm slices should have been as thin as the meat, and they would have done with half as many capers. When I eat raw meat, I want to TASTE it, you know? WINK WINK.

This is MY kind of beet salad. Many many beets, just barely cooked through, and a mountain of goat cheese and pine nuts. Despite what the inimitable Bourdain says, I loved the verticalness of the presentation. I don’t care if it’s played out. It hasn’t been played out in the beet salad arena!

Let me backtrack a moment to describe our server. He was extremely nice. Extremely. He also had the most over-the-top Italian accent ever. Like Mario and Luigi combined, except much more verbose, and sprinkle in a little Domenico from Tila Tequila. Blend, simmer, reduce. Using a large wooden spoon, scoop the Italian accent reduction and splash the entire mixture into someone’s face. That’s what it was like. It couldn’t have been real.

Oh MAN! They don’t have their menu online and I was too busy enjoying wine and company to take notes. Let me recreate from my memory. Alright. My entree is pictured above. It was a chestnut ravioli with sage butter and crispy pancetta. But what are those black bits?!?!? Surely not truffles?!? I don’t remember truffles. What on earth are they? Anyway, my entree was the winner of the night. I’m so happy that the inside was chestnut rather than butternut squash, which I don’t think is meaty enough. The salty bite and crunch of the pancetta with the chestnut – OY!

The special of the night was rabbit, which was also ordered. [Waiter: “YES-a PO-ra BAH-nee!”] This one was not a hit. The meat was just SO dry, and the time and effort it took to debone the poor thing made it all the more not worth it. I might as well fry up Cheeto (our hamster – don’t tell Tinx). The accompanying veggies were great, though! I must exclaim the name of the food before I eat it, if I really love it. Do you do that ever? The carrots were so good that they made me yell, “CARROT!” before every bite.

This is Cara’s gnocchi. How interesting. I’ve never encountered gnocchi with a clam sauce. I’m sure that’s what intrigued Cara, too. And who doesn’t love gnocchi? (Secret time: I don’t really…but I feel like it’s like proscuitto, where everyone’s supposed to like it no matter what.) However, something went wrong in the execution of this dish, as Collicchio would say. I didn’t even try it.

This is not a breast implant in a pile of blood. This is panna cotta with raspberry sauce. I love all jello-ey substances. As a texture eater rather than a flavor eater, I just adored the slippery smoothness of this. Despite the rather barbarian presentation, the sweetness was very refined.

For the bride-to-be, a complimentary dessert. I didn’t have any of the thing in the corner, but I did partake in the poached pear and mint leaf. I believe they were going for a heart motif with the creme anglaise? Looks like something else. Labia.

I have been told that my posts follow a template. Photo, description of food that is in a city that’s not LA, some mention of balls. So I thought I’d switch it up and go with labia today.

E Tutto Qua
270 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133