Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sweet Somethings

In a recent NYT article on wig preparation and Sarah Palin, an item jumped out at me in all its hirsuteness. In discussing a cast member on "Saturday Night Live", the topic came up that"there probably isn’t a male analogue of Tina Fey to play Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., not to mention the complications that could be involved in replicating his hair, which seems to be a particularly fraught piece of real estate.".

A pang of empathy surged up my body and out through the remaining follicles on my head straining for purchase on my pate. ...a particularly fraught piece of real estate. I felt for the guy. Our state's very own senator and here he is in newsprint not getting respect for the planting and re-planting he had done quite a few years ago in attempts to densify the crop on his top.

Ah, how things can change in one's life. I sifted the remaining wisps on my own head and paused for one of those Mr. Mulliner reflections.

I started out as a blonde and bony kid who sported the popular buzz back in the day. Then, as my world mood darkened, so did my hair, to some combination of brown, red, and dirty blonde. The shortness lengthened to scary proportions that had neighbours locking their door and taking in the cat.
My overall appearance commenced with chubby cheeks (both areas) and then, with growth spurts, into your classic Slavic cheeks, wherein passers-by plied me with food to fill in the hallows of my face. My body type stayed fairly constant, a bit on the squirrely side, this all thanks to lack of a cornucopia of tv channels, tons of friends in the neighborhood to spend all hours of the day and night with, and a diet of three home-prepared meals.
Throughout my life, my temptations were minimal, not due to any religious nay-saying, but rather due to the preciousness of occasions where my temptations were in play. Certain toys, usually made either in Italy or Germany were temptations that later on morphed into albums and cd's. Books became a passion from early on, but were usually contained within the palaces of local libraries. It wasn't until after college that an accumulating nature took firm hold, a temptation that's now, I admit, a vice. There are more books in my house than I could ever possibly read, even if my wits were to stay within the confines of my head.

One temptation, however, has kept its place as the carrot I follow in my life.

The loveliest of our mono-syllable words. Say it slowly and you are swallowing the last crumbs you've licked from your fork's tines. Say it quickly, and feel your ears prick up, as if to hear the gurgling of the icing in its slow melt down the coated sides of the cake.
It is the most soothing of drugs, even when ingested in the melee that is the last scene of a 4 yr old's party. Kids and cake, chocolate lipsticked drooping in chairs with fingers splayed and spiked with bits of cake innards. A mother's cleaning horror, this. But, the kids? The cake was working its way through their system, first introducing that thought that will follow them forever. I'm.....getting...older...
Depressing, no?
That's why there's cake. And that's why tv's should be turned off, kid's soccer/hockey/football/baseball games should be ignored, lawn care farmed out, and house repairs ignored. Cake should be re-introduced to your life's regimen.

By cake, and please excuse my elitism, I don't mean those bathtub sized monstrosities one is forced to partake of at the innumerable office birthday parties. Set up your standards!
Start with this simple question. Is there butter in the cake? 95% of the time, the answer is a quick "No" or a forever "uuuhhhhhhhhhhmmm", which is worse as the person has no clue what is in the cake.
No Butter. No buy cake. Simple. Cake is for the soul and the soul demands butter.
To save you some eating time, I strongly suggest that you seek out a true bakery. A bakery that bakes cakes. Not cakes, bread, rolls, pizza. No. A cake bakery, preferably (Notice: Political Incorrectness Alert), where the head baker is from Northern Italy, Austria, or certain Slavic countries. Sometimes, 2nd generation will suffice, but check to see that they have pasted pictures of their European ancestors on the door leading to the ovens. These are referred to as their "Baking Papers".

God has not been smiling down on my little state for a long time. It is to the USA what Newfoundland is to Canada, what Sicily is to Italy. Now, we have our senator only 50 or so days away form possibly being the elected VP of this country. Only 3-4 years ago, all the great cakes in our state were imported from Pennsylvania or New Jersey (o.k., save for the mighty fortress of culinary arts that is the DuPont Hotel...but their cake is still rather unreasonably priced).

But, now?

Wilmington has its own Sweet Somethings, a clean and delightful little paradise run by bakery chefs of Czech descent, whose birthday concoctions make aging a respectable pastime. A group of friends have been investing in their soul's pleasure with monthly visits to this emporium of butter, nuts, flour, and heat.

We are carefully working our way through The List, exercising caution to not overeating in pleasure and driven by fear that such a mecca in Wilmington could possibly go under before we made it to the final line, Assorted Mousses by the pound (No, Alcessa, not those kind of Mooses!)

n.b.: I previously blogged of the Infamous Frankopanska Torta of Crikvenica (Croatia) here. I am, yes, planning another pilgrimage, this time armed with a camera and a more open schedule.

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What A Sweet Moose that you linked to! Drool,...

I am not the cake type but when I had a look at The List I immediately understood most of your pleasure. These guys really look like serious Cake Magicians...

Not the cake type, but an owner of a Serious Pie Trauma (TM): there used to be, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a really good pie bakery, quite famous. I went there several times and wanted to try all of their pies - while I was thus queueing with a friend, we were discussing the pies we could see from that far and I got into quite a frenzy, explaning to her into some detail what I would do to the raspberry pie that was winking at me from the counter.

Needless to say the lady in front of me bought the last raspberry pie.

I took rhubarb (which was OK) and went home fast and silent.
Sweet Somethings is not run by bakery chefs of Czech descent. One chef is a Pastry Chef of 100% American & Danish descent.

The other chef is general culinary chef and of Czech descent.
If that is true, my apologies to the chefs! However, I stand by everything else in this post; the cakes are fabumarvelous no matter what heritage the folks baking them are of.
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