Tag Archives: cake

Lame Adventure 322: Cake Chaos

Whenever someone’s birthday rolls around at my company we have a cake.  In departments other than mine, where quantity steamrolls quality in appeal, it’s often a mammoth-sized confection of a dense cheese variety topped with gelatinous uniformly sized strawberries that I suspect are manufactured by Dow Chemical.  Our showroom manager, Coco, refers to these cakes in two words:

Coco: Colon cleanse.

Any cake that can double as colonoscopy prep is not welcome in my department, Design.  In general we prefer delightful treats in bite sized-portions.  I’m thinking that next year I might request a cake so small and luxurious that my sidekick, Greg, will be assigned to stand next to me to hold my candle.  That’s another rule of Cake in Design.  The candle is limited to one.  This probably has more to do with my boss Elsbeth and I being a combined 833 in dog years.  We share a mutual disinclination to blow out a forest fire of eyebrow singeing flames.

This week my buddy and colleague (not) Under Ling (anymore) celebrated her natal date.  (not) Under Ling (anymore) told me that she didn’t want a cake and was more in the mood for a fruit tart.

Me: Could you go for a raspberry tart?

How about a raspberry tart like this one decorated with a single candle?

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Yes.  And don’t worry I’ll act completely surprised like I had no idea it was coming when you guys give it to me.

Me: Possibly you could appear so shocked, you could fake fainting?

I called Le Pain Quotidien and special ordered a seven-inch raspberry tart for my colleague.  Elsbeth gave me the payment in cash.  Greg, who does all the heavy lifting including that of 14 ounce tarts, picked it up. Then, we had to come up with the latest harebrained ruse so (not) Under Ling (anymore) could feign surprise.

Elsbeth sent her to the photo room to take a photograph.  I had the bright idea that if we sent our unpaid Summer Intern to the photo room to get (not) Under Ling (anymore) this might take our veteran staffer off the scent for a nanosecond.  Elsbeth thought that was brilliant.  The boss gave Greg, who was working in our warehouse, the universal hand signal screaming one of two things, “Yes, I have read all three installments of the Fifty Shades of Grey series” and “Get your ass in here now!”  I lighted the candle on the cake and ordered Our Summer Intern:

Me:  Okay, go now — get her!

Greg raced into our office as our Summer Intern raced out.  Elsbeth, Greg and I  waited.  And waited.  We were approaching a ten count when our superior spoke:

Elsbeth:  Where did our Summer Intern go?

Greg:  Wasn’t she just supposed to get (not) Under Ling (anymore)?

Annoyed, I left our office, and thoroughly scoured our warehouse for our missing  Summer Intern.  She was either expertly hiding from me, or she instantly found a paying gig, or she was living my fantasy i.e., she walked out the door and just keep going.  I returned to our office intern-less with this report to my waiting Superior.

Me: I don’t know where she went.

Elsbeth: You took so long I thought you went missing!

Greg:  Like an episode of The Twilight Zone.  Everyone who steps out to get (not) Under Ling (anymore) disappears!

[insert beat]

Elsbeth (to me):  Just get (not) Under Ling (anymore).

I visit (not) Under Ling (anymore) in the photo room, and lamely say:

Me: Elsbeth wants the camera back.  Now.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) (muttering to self):  Finally, I get my cake!

We eat the cake baffled over what happened to our Summer Intern, but not that baffled that we sent out another search posse.

Picture perfect slice (not) Under Ling (anymore) cuts for herself.

Mangled slice (not) Under Ling (anymore) cuts for me.

My phone rings.  It’s Coco’s extension:

Coco:  Your Summer Intern wants to know if she can come back upstairs now?

Me:  Was she down there with you all this time?

Coco: Yeah.  What the hell’s going on with you guys?

Me:  She was supposed to get (not) Under Ling (anymore) – not visit you!

In response to Elsbeth asking me what happened to our missing Summer Intern I calmly explain to my superior that there was a miscommunication.

Then I popped my fork through my plate.

Stabbed plate held by Elsbeth.

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Lame Adventure 304: Annual Day of Dread

My brother Axel perfectly captures how I feel.

I know many people embrace their natal day with euphoric glee, but if you’re like me, you take this day off work, sleep in and wake thinking this uplifting thought:

Me:  Wow, I’m officially seventeen years shy of seventy.  Is 9 am too early to down a fifth of gin and call it breakfast?

Fortunately, I have only gone partially to seed and I’m confident that I can still pass for 48 ½ at least in low lighting when around the clueless and anyone blind.

Sure. That’s me.

My friends, family, boss and colleagues have all treated me well.

My father called me last Sunday morning to ensure that he was the very first to re-remind me of my birthday before rocket-launching into a tirade about my sister, Dovima, who hit a milestone involving a six and a zero last month.

Box of hand-picked all dark chocolate See’s candy from Dovima.

Dad:  I can’t believe how old your sister is now.  Can you?

Me:  You’re 85!  What’s there to believe?

Dad: Why are you talking about leaves?

My father has all of his marbles but he’s extremely hard of hearing, something I inherited from him along with a degree of wit, narrow feet and a propensity for whining.

My long-time bud, Martini Max, hell-bent on not screwing up on this date for the twentieth year in a row (not to imply that I keep track of this sort of reliable snafu), sent me a card that arrived in Tuesday’s mail.

Trademark Martini Max-style card.

He also emailed me the following:

Martini Max email: I have your b-day listed in neon on my desk calendar so I don’t forget!!!

At The Grind, my sidekick, Greg, took it upon himself to get me a modest cake, a dense, gluten free, dark chocolate concoction with a thin layer of raspberry jam under a layer of semi-sweet chocolate glaze dusted with edible gold.

Ta da!

I have no idea how he knew exactly what cake to get.

Don’t screw this up.

The bakery asked him if he wanted it inscribed and sprinkled with edible gold stars.  He knows me well so he knows my aversion to ostentation and artifice.  He declined.  While we were eating the cake he mentioned the stars and how he figured cheesy decoration might make me recoil prompting me to bleat:

Me: Oh, that’s too gay?

Our boss, Elsbeth, and colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore), howled at that one.  I noticed that Elsbeth, who always writes our names on the envelopes of birthday cards in her elaborate art school-style script, had left mine blank.

For no name me.

I protested this indignity:

Me:  You left the envelope of my card blank!

Elsbeth:  You don’t know your name by now?

All that was missing from that response was a snare drum rumble and cymbal crash.

My superior has been on a roll with me all week.  On Tuesday night, I ate an Ataulfo mango for the first time.

Warning: Ataulfo mangoes.

I have always been an ambitious eater and I thought:

Me:  Huh.  Something different.  Sign me up!

Yet I was unaware until after I ate my Ataulfo mango that it’s a puck of pure acid and it left me feeling like I was reenacting the meltdown at Three Mile Island inside my very sensitive guts.

When I shared the news of my brush with accidental death by mango with Elsbeth, she listened attentively to my horror story.  Yet, I had the distinct impression that my superior was repressing gales of laughter when she observed:

Elsbeth:  That happened because your body is so pure now.

On the woman-front there is some validity to that these days for I am once again single although I will be suffering my birthday with my dear friend, Milton.  We’re seeing a play, End of the Rainbow, on Broadway tonight.  This is the story about the last six months of Judy Garland’s life, and unfortunately, it’s not being performed Carol Burnett sitcom-style.  What I anticipate will be the even bigger tragedy though is our seats.  We have okay seats in the mezzanine, but we could have had terrific seats in the center orchestra at a deep discount if I didn’t blow that opportunity.

Excellent seats.

Last fall, I got involved with a dame with an ass that was worthy of display in the Louvre who earlier this spring lured me away from pouncing on those great seats with a link to a fantasy costume site and this promise:

Pick one out and I’ll wear it for you on your birthday.

I felt like I had won the Powerball lottery or at the very least was a disgraced politician.  The choices were so extensive I could not stop drooling and had to invest in a bib.  I also had difficulty making up my mind – did I want her to go in the direction of animal, mineral or Bettie Page?  Then, something unanticipated happened, this femme fatale kicked me to the curb via G-chat.  Poof.  No tantric sex with a knockoff Bettie Page for me.

That ain’t happening either.

Adding injury to insult, our great End of the Rainbow seats on my birthday were history.  Milton the Infinitely Patient Friend claims that he’s fine with our mezzanine seats since he’s too kind to say out loud what he is surely thinking:

Milton:  You and those fuckin’ dames!  Will you ever learn?

Now that I’m seventeen years shy of seventy, maybe I’ll finally start catching on.

Classic birthday card to me from Milton.

Lame Adventure 292: Food Porn

One of my dear friend Milton’s great passions is cake.  The man can speak rhapsodically about long-shuttered obscure bakeries with the same degree of affection others reserve for a departed mate, relative or pet.  He can be merciless in his opinion about red velvet cake for that confection proves reliably disappointing.  One cake that consistently delivers his seal of approval is the Magnolia Bakery’s Hummingbird cake.  Unfortunately, I have searched my extensive personal photo archive of thousands of images that I have shot over the course of the years but much to my regret, I have yet to photograph a slice of one my buddy’s favorite cakes.  To fill this void, I am posting a picture of the Valentine’s Day cake he had made last month.

Yellow cake with white butter-cream frosting and strawberry filling.

I would like to add that he ate this entire cake himself in a single sitting at his desk at work, but I jest.  That is something one of the more dysfunctional nabobs at my place of employ would do.  Milton is very good at sharing with others, so  his colleagues very likely view him as “the cake guy”.  I am sure that he’s quite a popular and adored member of the staff.

Unlike Milton, I’m not much of a cake woman.  I like cupcakes, but I’m not a fan of a large slice of anything with frosting. Last month at work, to celebrate my sidekick Greg’s birthday, he wanted a chocolate banana layer cake.  I could barely eat half a slice.  It was a struggle to get down.  When I had given up I emailed an image of it to my Special Someone under the subject heading “I. Am. Stuffed.”

Burp!

Me: Jesus, what a dense cake!  I feel like I ate the Alien.  I did the best I could with my piece of it.

SS: LOL. That’s it?! I wish I had your petit appetite.

Me: Oh, cut me a break!  That thing is enormous!  It weighs as much as a Buick and feels like a Buick idling in my gut right now.

SS: I could eat half that [entire] cake and not look back.

Like Milton, my Special Someone has a sweet tooth for cake.  Although I am not much of either a cake or dessert fan, I do like cookies, in particular the legendary six ounce warm chocolate chip cookies that are baked fresh throughout the course of the day at an Upper West Side institution, the Levain Bakery, conveniently located just a short trot from my sanctum sanctorum.

If this picture was scented it would reek of the aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

During a casual email exchange with Special Someone, I mentioned Levain and sent her the link to the cookie portion of the site.  She thought their cookies looked amazing.  The next day we visited Levain so she could try one.  My favorite is the traditional chocolate chip walnut variety, but Special Someone hates walnuts to a near violent degree going so far as to claim they’re racist.  I resist the urge to fall into the trap of asking for an explanation of this intentionally absurd declaration. Since it’s the weekend, the line outside is long, and the aroma of warm chocolate is intoxicating.  We have both been subject to far worse New York City line-waiting experiences.  At least this one smells like paradise.  I don my little spender cap and ask:

Me:  What flavor would you like?

SS:  Can we get the dark chocolate chocolate chip?

Me:  Of course.  We’ll get whatever you want.  I like them all [muttering] and I’m perfectly fine with ditching the dream of eating my favorite flavor with you.

Special Someone is fixated on the cookies on display.

SS:  I think I want the dark chocolate peanut butter chip.  Let’s get that!

We get both the chocolate chocolate chip and the chocolate peanut butter chip.  We hightail back to my lair, open our bag and place them on a plate.  I am eager for us to dig in.

SS:  Hey, I thought you wanted to photograph these for your blog?

Me (salivating):  Huh?

She whips out her iPhone and takes a picture.

Dark chocolate peanut butter chip on left and dark chocolate chocolate chip on right. Cookie bliss somewhere in-between.

We first try the chocolate peanut butter chip.  The center is warm, ooey, gooey, and the peanut butter chips are melty, too.  This cookie is like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on steroids.  For those of you that are peanut and nut-averse, take it from us that the chocolate chocolate chip is equally satisfying; like a chocolate lava-filled brownie with a crusty shell.

Special Someone enters cookie-bliss and I follow her lead.  As we eat our cookies, I realize that cake-connoisseur Milton is onto something when he laments the loss of the many bakeries he’s loved that are no longer around. If the Levain Bakery ever shutters, that will be a sure sign that the Upper West Side is on the decline.  In fact, it might be yet another indicator that western civilization on a whole has entered freefall.

Levain Bakery ever going away! I can't face it!

Lame Adventure 126: Fresh Out of the Oven

Pictured below are seven cakes that my dear friend, Mer, baked when she went on an inexplicable cake-baking binge on a Monday night after work last February.

Cakes before being devoured by colleagues.

Coincidentally, around this same time that Mer was channeling her inner Betty Crocker, she also conceived her daughter, Sophie.  I now know that when a woman’s fertility is at its peak, and her husband is intoxicated on his favorite perfume, Fragrant Cake Aroma, this is a recipe where not only seven cakes can come flying out of the oven, but a healthy baby girl can follow nine months later.

Freshly hatched Sophie.

Even though I am an avowed non-breeder, I am actually rather fond of the children produced by my friends, and of course, Sweet Pea, the heir my sister was considerate enough to spawn.  Yet, last week, my patience was sorely tested when seven-year-old bored-out-of-his-mind Little Lance visited my office.  As his temporary sitter met with my boss, Elsbeth, to talk tile, Little Lance made a bee-line for the scissors on my desk and proceeded to cut up a tissue before attempting to tackle a horse hair dust brush.  With visions of this child slicing off his own thumb, I calmly asked him to put the scissors back 687 times.  Eventually he got the message – after eying a far more enticing silver knife that Elsbeth had lying atop a stool.  That knife could have been sitting on that stool for three seconds or thirty years, but I never noticed it until that moment.  Screaming inside my head I thought:

Me:  Jesus Christ, Elsbeth, why the hell do you have a knife on a stool?

Naturally, that knife brought out the Road Runner in Little Lance as he rocketed over to the shiny weapon of child destruction.  I knew if I attempted to hurdle my Acme brand desk to reach that knife pre-Lance, I’d probably morph into Wile E. Coyote, catch my foot on a corner, only half-dive over the desk, and painfully smash my face into its back wall breaking my nose and glasses.  This would surely elicit peals of laughter from Little Lance who might then grab the knife and stab me like a piñata for more fun.

Before anyone needed to call an ambulance for me, Little Lance’s sitter finished his meeting with Elsbeth and grabbed the knife out of the boy’s hand.  The sitter, who at the moment brought to mind Joan Crawford, announced, “This is exactly why I never want to have kids.”  As they left, Greg, my sidekick, entered.

Greg:  Our office isn’t a very safe environment for kids.

Me:  Thank you for noticing, Dr. Spock.

To younger readers, this is not a reference to a certain pointy-earred Vulcan, but to Dr. Benjamin Spock, the pediatrician that wrote The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. This tome has sold more than 50 million copies since it was published in 1946.

Dr. Spock.

Some may remember Sophie’s entry into the world this past Tuesday as the day that Apple began selling the Beatles catalogue on iTunes, or Prince William announced his engagement to Kate Middleton, or if you’re New York Congressman Charlie Rangel, the day your colleagues deemed you guilty as sin of eleven ethics violations.  Sophie’s big sister, Kennedy, will probably remember it best as a cause for celebrating the debut of her buddy and rival.  The games can really begin in Mer’s house.  Dr. Spock might urge Mer to lock up all sharp objects now.

Kennedy, Sophie and Mom, as Kennedy plots the future.

Lame Adventure 70: Let Us Eat Cake!

There are two things that can instantly unite a gaggle of disgruntled poorly paid office cogs such as my colleagues and I, scandal and cake.  On the topic of scandal, we always snap out of our zombie-like malaise whenever juicy gossip warp-speeds its way up to our floor.  Unit cohesion is also guaranteed to wipe the scowls off our faces when we stuff ourselves with a delectable frosted baked confection that we did not have to finance personally.  The rest of the work-week-month-year, we’re toiling away quietly, a mural of sheer misery until quitting time rolls around on Friday and we’re awarded our Get Out of Jail Free passes.  We always wear our Happy Faces then, and whenever one of us is taking time off for a vacation, that person dons his or her Simultaneous Orgasm Produced with a Companion As Opposed to One’s Own Hand (which isn’t so bad, either except when that hand falls asleep) Face.  But I digress …

Recently I learned that my colleague Ling’s new charge, Under Ling, is celebrating her birthday this weekend.  Under Ling started barely two weeks ago, but somehow during the course of conversation this nice young woman informed me that her birthday is July 11th.  To throw her off the track of what I was thinking (“oh happy day!”), I gave her my fierce why are you telling me this? look.  This look is similar to my regular frown that screams, “If I’d been born a dog, I’d be dead multiple times already, I’ve yet to do a single thing of worth with my thus far entirely misspent life, and my pay sucks out loud!”  In response to Under Ling’s candor I mumbled, “Uh-huh, okay.”

When Under Ling was away form her desk, I spilled my guts to Ling:

Me:  Under Ling’s birthday is this weekend.  You know what that means!

Ling:  Hell yeah, cake!

We shared a brief moment of pause since Elsbeth, our department head, was not in the office this week.  Our boss approves the cake purchases.

Ling:  You think Elsbeth will be okay with it?

Me:   Email her.

Ling:  What should I say?  Under Ling hasn’t worked here that long.

Me (thinking):  Angle it in the direction of Under Ling’s morale.

It took Elsbeth and Ling months to find Under Ling.  Elsbeth had promised Ling that they would only hire someone they both agreed on.  This magnanimous offer is possibly one of the greatest regrets of our Lord & Master’s professional career since Ling absolutely loathed a candidate Elsbeth absolutely loved, and Elsbeth was icy to Ling’s preferred choices.  In addition, there were a few clairvoyant candidates that seemed willing to work anywhere but our company after interviewing for the opening.  For example, one accepted a position scrubbing floors with a toothbrush in Rabbit Hatch, Kentucky because the salary was higher.  Finally, for an instant, time froze and both Elsbeth and Ling were in sync about Under Ling who expressed enthusiasm for the position.  Elsbeth would feel beaten with a bat if she had any hint that Under Ling already wants out.  Within nine seconds of receiving Ling’s email, Elsbeth replied, “Get that cake immediately.”

Awarded our superior’s seal of approval, Ling climbed into our department’s Acme brand rocket ship and jet propelled herself to Duane Park Patisserie, which is coincidentally also walking distance from our office.

An excellent bakery especially if someone else is paying.

She ordered a delicious 6” chocolate blackout cake that was so rich, moist and dense, the five of us could only eat half of it.  Greg, my sidekick, who I periodically pester to quit smoking, remembered to bring his lighter, or as he said, “I need to pollute my lungs and light candles.”  The Quiet Man thinks that since management is in no hurry to return our 20% in cut wages, the least they should do is let us have cake every Friday.  It would be welcome if Managerial Aristocracy said, “Let them eat cake!”   We’d say, “That’s fine with us, but you do the buying.”

Greg in action.

Voila!

Disappointing blurry shot of otherwise excellent cake. We had Under Ling's cake inscribed "Krystle" since that name sounds classier. My suggestion, "Edwige," was rejected.