Sunday, July 15, 2012

Get me to the Reception on time

I'm late.  I'm always late...a "latepants" if you will.  Can't help it.  Any minute that I arrive early  to something is a minute that I could have been working on one of the ten-thousand other things I have on my to do list.  So, I'm either exactly on time, or late...mostly late. Except for cake deliveries.  In seventeen years of delivering cakes, I can think of two times that I ran late.  One was an unexpected traffic jam that snuck up on me, resulting in a hurried set up that caused the caterer to prolong the cocktail hour by ten minutes, the other was due to a tornado warning, in which, my husband, the Captain, had fortunately already arrived with the cake, and called me off from driving into the storm. Of course, my only question..."is the cake alright?" and my brilliant husband's response "It's on a kitchen cart in the basement of the hotel with me and the hotel staff and guests."  Apparently, it was the only inanimate object moved to safety...gotta love the Captain.

The trick to keeping Latepants from being late, is in the padding.  We arrive at each venue two hours before the guests arrive.  That gives me an hour and a half to set up the cake and take photos, and another half hour of cushion time in case the guest's arrive early, or we hit traffic, etc.

The only exception to this rule is at the Minnesota History Center.  We love it there.  Top notch staff, great food, friendly people.  The only's a museum, therefore, open to the public until five o'clock each day.  So, when Jenna hired us for her wedding, and informed me that the guests would be arriving at 6:00, we had to throw our meticulously padded timing out the window.  Can we set up a cake in an hour.  Sure.  If we have to.

Jenna had a fabulous vintage aesthetic to her wedding.  Her sense of color is fabulous (one of my worst design traits) and her knack for personalization, amazing.  She should be a wedding planner... actually, she opened her own business this planning.  She's great, if you need the number, give me a call!  We had a great design session, combining her and her fiance's love of travel, with their vintage look and color scheme and her vision that the cake should look like a stack of hat boxes.  I've always wanted to do a hatbox cake, and the beautiful vintage hatboxes that she found online as inspiration, made designing this little sweetie a sheer delight.  We added a band to match the waistline detail of her dress on the top tier, and the beautiful damask pattern from her hand-made table runners to another, and put lyrics from a song that she wrote for the wedding ceremony on the bottom.  Multi talented, much?  Finally, we found art from vintage post cards, and made frosting-backed travel stickers and postcards for the cakes to tell the couple's story in geography.

The day of the wedding came, we planned to arrive at the History Center at 4:30 (even though we couldn't get in until 5:00, we're persistent that way) and Jenna and I began our Caravan to the reception at 4:00, leaving 30 minutes to get from Plymouth to St. Paul.  A trip I've made more times than I can count.  Little did I know, that MNDOT had postponed the much publicized closing of I-94 from a week earlier due to rain...and didn't share this information with, well, it seems, ANYONE. 

When we got to 94, we were redirected to 94 west, and taking one look at the line of traffic trying to get back into Minneapolis on 94 east, I decided to drive through the city.  The Captain and I both went to the U of MN, and lived in Minneapolis for several I called him so he could direct me to the next entrance onto 94.  Easy, we drove through downtown (which by the way, everyone else decided to do) and attempted to get onto 94 at the Metrodome, nope, that entrance was closed, Seven Corners, closed, the detour took people onto 35W North, but I'm smarter than the detour, right? Wrong.  Poor Jenna got the tour through Dinkytown, onto University Avenue, which, just out of coincidence, was not only shut down to one lane, but was covered with Fraternity and Sorority members having some kind of festival...

The idea was to get down to 280 and cut back over to 94, but with the lane closure on University, I was travelling an average of 4 miles per hour, and starting to FREAK OUT.  Finally, I remembered the entrance onto 94 that I used to take when I lived on Erie Street.  The Captain advised against the risk, but I was getting nowhere on University Avenue.  So, I made a last minute decision, and cut right, leaving Jenna to try to maneuver over.  I hung up with the Captain, and called Jenna to direct her to where I hoped we could make it onto the Highway.  And, by the grace of the cake gods, it was open.  The skies opened, and I think I heard the faint sounding of horns, as I made it onto I - 94 via the Huron entrance.  Which I had all to myself.  Nothing makes you recall every scene from every Post-Apocalyptic, and/or Zombie movie more than having Interstate 94 in Minneapolis, all to yourself.  Not a single car or construction vehicle, not a soul, besides me and my cake, from the U of MN Minneapolis campus all the way to Cretin/Vandalia.  A stretch of road that measures approximately 3 miles, and felt like 30 miles waiting for Mad Max and Tina Turner to come carry me off to Thunderdome. 

But, again, I digress.  Turns out, I arrived at the History center at 5:40, with Jenna a mere 2 minutes behind me.  We sprinted inside, found a flatbed, and set a new land-speed record for stacking a four tier wedding cake and putting all of the finishing touches on it in fifteen minutes.  I even had time to snap a few pictures of it before the guest's arrived.

Not my ideal day, but as these photos of the Bride and Groom show, no one was the wiser.  Until now...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Guitar man

My brother was the cool one.  I hate to admit it, but it's about time.  I was preppy, he was punk, I had a Yamaha scooter, he had a t-top Corvette, I played classical violin, he played guitar.  Not just guitar, not just electric guitar.  A Fender Stratocaster.  Now, I was a twelve year old nerd with coke-bottle glasses.  I didn't know cool from anything, but when I heard that name..."Fender Stratocaster"  I knew.  This wasn't an instrument.  This was the cool personified.  And it was.  And it is.

Jimi Hendrix played a Fender, so did John Lennon, Pete Townshend, and Eric Clapton to name a few.  The Edge plays one, how can you possibly deny the coolness of someone named "the Edge"...don't even can't.  And most importantly, Gina's son. 

I made Gina's wedding cake several years ago.  She was not a traditional bride, as a matter of fact, a couple of months before her wedding, I made a groom's cake for her son's wedding.  He was a camera buff, so we made him a completely edible Hassleblad camera and camera bag. 

Now, her second son was tying the knot, and she had already set precedent that there would be an awesome groom's cake.  Who am I to squelch sibling rivalry?  So I sat down with Gina and her soon-to-be daughter in law Theresa...and the groom's stealthily "borrowed" Fender Stratocaster Sunburst. 

It looked familiar to me.  Not because of my brother's guitar, that was a high school kid's beat up, used, dented, scratched, and otherwise abused black Strat.  This was a high gloss, rosewood fingerboard, pristine Sunburst, the model that Buddy Holly played.  My dad was a huge Buddy Holly fan (in his high school yearbook photo he was a dead ringer for Buddy).  You didn't mention that name around him unless you were ready for a lecture about "how much talent went down in that plane".  But I'm digressing, as usual.

Typically, I don't like to make cakes that are a literal translation of anything.  I'd rather use the object at hand as inspiration for a cake, but not a direct copy.  I don't know if it was the influence of my brother and my dad, or just the sheer beauty of this guitar, but I broke all of my rules.  I CAREFULLY took the guitar out of the case, and traced it onto parchment, then proceeded to photograph it from every angle, every detail recorded, down to the fret lines.  We added frosting sheet of music for a sond that would be played at the ceremony, a bunch of frosting guitar picks, and Stewart (the groom's childhood dog) hiding under the neck, but otherwise, the goal was this.  Make a life-size replica of this guys guitar.  My two goals...make it entirely edible, and make it so realistic that the groom may try to play it.

The decorating didn't go entirely without a few panic attacks.  Turns out, the board was too flexible, and threatened to snap off the solid frosting guitar handle when the cake was moved.  So we sent Julia to our favorite cake-supply store (Lowe's) to buy steel beams to attach to the bottom of the cake board...WHILE THE CAKE WAS ON IT.  We also had one of those "couldn't have called that in a million years" cake moments, when the frosting guitar strings decided to reposition themselves into a warped hourglass formation before our very eyes.  Still haven't figured that one looked as though they were attracted to one another by some kind of static electricity or magnetism...really bizarre.  But we carefully moved them back into place and attached them to their frets with a little royal icing (an hour and a half long process) shortly before delivery.  Only broke one of them in the process, good thing we made extras.

Turns out, the groom didn't play his Caketar, but it did get a lot of play at the reception.  Especially once it was cut.  We made the cake Banana Walnut with Bavarian Cream filling, a flavor worthy of the legendary guitar it became.  And this Evil Cake Genius just got a little cooler.