Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A little bit of everything including Sponch

Nobody signed up for today but miraculously things appeared so we were ok.  These included some of those Italianesque shortbread type cookies that are basically plain but then get a coating of powdered sugar frosting/glaze. We still have no idea where they came from but they tasted as expected. Someone complained about them being dry but isn't that what they are supposed to be.  Hence you have a cup of coffee or tea to wash them down.

Shortbread with sugar idea where they came from!

They look dry because they are dry...isn't that the point?
Someone also had gotten a hold of some Lake Champlain chocolates with caramel. These are made up in Vermont where you can get a lot of good wholesome organic natural and everything else kind of things that make you feel like you are doing the right thing by buying and consuming them. Vermont is known for its dairy products - especially Ben and Jerry's ice cream and Cabot cheese - and for its maple syrup of course. But there are a lot of other offerings that distinguish themselves and are very good.  Lake Champlain chocolates would certainly fit into this category.  They make great chocolate bars that are found in the ski are cafeterias so you can get a chocolate hit as you pay for your $25.00 cheeseburger and fries. These were leaf shaped chocolates that were filled with a nice burnt caramel that was not overly sweet or sticky. Why leaves?  Duh, is Vermont not also known for its foliage season which is coming up right now.  Anyway these were a nice unexpected treat.  They were wrapped in foil.  You all of course know that there is also an artistic streak among us.  The foil wrappers provided yet another creative opportunity for one of our colleagues to indulge in her Freddy Kruger obsession.

Vermont chocolates with a foliage them!

What's natural butter flavor?  But only 67 calorie apiece!

I'm so scared!

Our own Freddy wannabe!
The other surprise was something called Sponch that was left on the table earlier in the day. Note that unlike any Vermont products it proudly boasts that the strawberry flavoring is artificial! These were made in Mexico and were known - by a different name - to our Mexican-American colleagues. It was a shortbread type cookie atop which were four drops of different flavored marshmallows covered with flaked coconut. In the center was a blast of the artificial strawberry jelly.  The taste was predictable and was similar to just about any marshmallow/cocoanut combo.

Looks like someone left behind artificially flavored Sponch

How DID  they came up with that name for this?

We were somewhat intrigued by the name and thought it was not exactly appetizing sounding.  Perhaps having seen too many episodes of "Law and Order: SVU" sponch was compared to something that gets left behind at a rape scene.  'Did you get a sample of the sponch with the rape kit?"  Of course this led to all kinds of uses of the word in the less than appetizing sense - "Ew, there's sponch all over the bed!", "Gross, this table is covered with sponch!" "Uck, I went to the movies and there was sponch under the seat!" For fun, you too should make up your own misuse of the word sponch.  Hopefully Marinela will come up with another name for its artificially flavored Sponch in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Separated at birth?

Our cake hour donor today brought in a cake we had seen before. It's one of those dense flourless chocolate cakes that can even call itself gluten free! We don't really care about the latter for ourselves but we are sensitive to those with a gluten sensitivity.  Today we could all eat cake together.


For anyone looking for a chocolate fix this is a good solution. It is somewhat dense, not overly sweet and the shards of dark chocolate candy that decorate the circumference give an added boost.  Because the cake is a titch on the dry side it is one that is especially suited to having a blast of whipped as a complement.  Although it is not always offered, the three pack of whipped cream was in stock during a recent visit to Sam's club. Hence we were prepared and were able to enjoy the chocolate cake even more.
The pediatrician colleague who brought the cake was telling us about a recent patient who happened to be a rather tall and athletic specimen for his teen age.  Said patient was giving our guy a hard time during the session and he told us the kid even said to him that he looked like one of the doctors on the TV show "House".  Our friend didn't have to go any further because another of our colleagues instantly blurted out "you mean Dr. Taub."  Apparently the "resemblance" was not lost on others.  This made for one of those funnily awkward situations. Our pedi guy was not buying the comparison but was taking some razzing from those who wanted to bust his chops...for the next several days.  So were they separated at birth. You be the judge!

Dr. Taub from "House"
The guy from our house.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Putz forgets but Cakemaster saves the day!

Just look at the first photo. It says it all.  Even though one of those celebrated Ivy League university student, a big fan of cake consumption, signed up for today we were confronted with an empty table.  A quick call to our boy on his cell phone revealed that......he forgot!  I guess with the heavy course load of the new semester he just had so many things on his mind   not.  "Er, I did indeed sign up but um, I didn't get anything..."  He didn't even show up!  The nerve of some people. He was given the title of Putz for a day.
Empty cakes at empty tables!

Putz for a day because he forgot!
His forgetfulness left us scrambling and initially we came up with a Ritter Sport Bar.  These are actually very generic but good chocolate bars that you find all over Germany for about 75cents. So why do they cost $3.00 a bar over here?  The price aside this particular one, the dark chocolate with whole Hazelnuts is very good.  Next time you are in one of those cheap food stores in Germany like Aldi or Lidl it's worth it to stock up on these.
Way overpriced but it is good!

We assumed this would be it but lo and behold the cakemaster couple had anticipated a possible cake default and had stocked up on some Shaw's cookies.  The day is saved!!  These were some of the ones that are actually baked in house at various Shaw's...peanut butter and brownie chocolate chip!
The day was not lost after all!

Who knew they had a secret!

Soft and chewy but they hit the spot!

Shaw's goes for the soft and chewy kind so for those that like their cookies crisp - see Tate's cookies - these might be a disappointment. No one was complaining however and we were glad that someone came through on this day of broken promises.  Go Cakemaster!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Al Baba Baklava and what's up with that bike?

Toady we had some Lebanese treats. We've had baklava many times but today we got to try some from the Levant. Our researcher from the land of cedars had managed to get some shipped to him. The brand name is Al Baba - Baba meaning father - papa - baba - it's all the same.  We were informed that this is the most popular brand among the Lebanese. That being the case we imagine they are probably pretty prolific in airport gift shops. We don't know if that is where these came from but it doesn't really matter.
Straight from Lebanon - it's Al Baba

Rather fancy presentation for baklava!

Time to open it up!
We opened the box to find two layers of various sort of Baklava neatly arranged in rows according to type. It really was a nice presentation.  Several of them appeared to be rolls with a filling that were sliced making them look a little like sushi.  Can we call this Lebanese sushi then?
Meticulously formed and's Lebanese sushi!

Added honus of a second layer! We're psyched!
The pleasant surprise was that these were very good.  They were not as sweet or as covered with syrup as some baklavas tend to be.  They were mostly more delicate and the various types were enhanced by the  subtle flavors of nuts, nut pastes or other ingredients. The ones that looked like sushi rolls were a little hard but softened as they warmed up. The various shapes do indicate that a little craftsmanship goes into the making of these treats and based on that we understand why they are popular. Clearly they are shooting for more discerning customers than those that take their baklava on a sheet pan soaked in sugar syrup. We were glad to have the chance to sample them and know what to purchase should we ever be in Lebanon looking for a souvenir.
Not your typical baklava..

....different presentations for added style!

Now imagine that you have a bike and you have it modified so that it has an electric engine to give a boost to the ride for hills and for a little speed on straightaways.  This bike has a square shaped battery and an electrical box on the back with all sorts of wires hanging out.  You store this bike in a hallway in a building where you are working on a weekend and it just happens to be the weekend of September 11th.  Now the security officers responsible for the building take note of this and have some questions. What should you not do?
a.) take the bike for a ride and show them what it's all about
b.) reassure them that there is nothing to worry about
c.) explain what everything is and how it all works harmlessly
d.) joke that is an explosive
What's up with the bike?

A big block under the seat....hmmm..
A bunch of protruding wires...haven't you seen an electric bike before?

Yeah, yeah, the answer is obvious. But let's just say not to everyone and leave it at that!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Goodbye and Good Luck, Sicheng.

Hurricane Irene has caused a lot of damages to the LRC. While most traffic lights and street signs around the jewelery distract have already been fixed, several members of the lab are still forced to live in the stone age days after the powerful cyclone terrorized the east coast. Of course, the real tragedy is the fact that cakehour has been suspended in the absence of our beloved cakehour leader.

You can imagine our excitement when we receive an email informing us that a special cakehour party would be held in honor of Sicheng, who has been working in Dr. Moss's lab for the past four years. Besides being one of the most hardworking scientists in the lab, Sicheng is also the guardian of the secret to successfully culturing H. pylori as well as the record holder of the most number of student trained by a post-doc fellow. We are very happy for his accomplishments, and we are certain that he will be a great asset to the Coro cancer research facility.

To celebrate this special occasion, Dr. Moss has decided to surprise us with a simple, yet wonderfully delicious, chocolate cake from Scialo Bros Bakery located on Atwells Avenue. Since our man of the hour is not an alcohol consumer, Dr. Moss has also, very thoughtfully, brought several bottles of sparkling water as a substitute for champagne. It has been a while since we the last time we had such a beautiful chocolate cake from a professional bakery. The cake is moist and rich, and surprisingly not too sweet. The bitterness from the dark chocolate and the intoxicating aroma from the infused alcohol have made this cake one of the sophisticated chocolate cakes we have ever tasted at cakehour.

After gifts were presented and a speech was given, it's time to cut into the cake!

More pictures after the break!