Friday, January 27, 2012

Brazilian Bananas but no Shampoo Models need apply

Once a year we are have visiting medical students from Sao Paolo, Brazil come and pay us a two month visit so that they can learn some research.  They are from the Santa Casa de Misericordia.  It looks like it translates as the Holy House of Misery but in truth Misericordia is the word for mercy.  It's more fun to call it the house of misery though.  Today our resident Brazilian student researcher was signed up for cake hour and decided to order ahead.  We suggested Pastiche on Federal Hill and since we haven't had one of their banana cream pies in awhile we went with that. She dutifully called them and ordered the large one for the next day.
A brand that we like to see!
What's in the box!

It's Brazilian banana cream pie!
This really is a great creation.  It looks good and tastes good. It is a flan shell with a pile o' bananas on the bottom that is covered with a decent layer of banana mousse (or something similar) and then all that is slathered with a bunch of real whipped cream. Finally it is drizzled with caramel sauce  It's fruity thereby good for you and creamy thereby bad for you.  But it is ultimately fabulous and we highly recommend it.  It also presents well looking like one of those fake volcanoes you make a kid that then spurts out something like dry ice.  It did not take long for it to disappear.
Pile high with a caramel drizzle!
Three layers good to bad from bottom to top!
In a short time this was all that was left!
I'm so glad that everyone enjoyed it and I'm sorry if you didn't!
Today was also a notable for being a big hair day. The first picture below shows the breadth and width of hair one of our cacklers could achieve by making a sudden turn. Her hair is very curly and if left unchecked can be truly uncontrollable. Straightening said hair would probably take days if not a toxic waste dump's worth of chemicals. We don't know what prompted her to suddenly turn and cause the hair to whirl about wide but whatever it was our Brazilian hostess doesn't seem too pleased.
A sudden turn and that hair goes flying!
Nevertheless, the picture was inspirational to some of us we got to wondering and then trying to see if anyone else could emulate the whirling hair a là all those girls in shampoo commercials. Take a look at the results.
I can do it and smile at the same time!
Good air on one side at least!
The guys get into the swing of things!
Not quite the same effect!
Here's the windup....
....and the pitch!
I hope she's not suffocating!
The goal is to see the face!
It's a little better!
Another fail - I don't think the shampoo models are in any danger!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bite moi et puis va te faire!

Today we had a lovely cake courtesy of a lovely bakery with a French name Pastiche. Yeah, yeah, we've had cakes from there before but - whatever??  This was their Hazelnut torte which is very good. As you can see it is a four layer cake with a cake including nuts and in between some chocolate mousse type filling. It was decoratively frosted in butter cream - we presume - and garnished with a few hazelnuts. Pastiche is one of the best in Providence and we enjoyed this. Several of us were even hungry enough to get down a second piece.  One of these days we will remember to remove the cake from the refrigerator early enough for the butter cream to soften so it doesn't crack into shards upon serving.  We didn't remember today so it cracked.

Beautiful hazelnut torte from Pastiche!
Smoothly frosted!
Well decorated!

Five layers of nut cake and hazelnut/chocolate mousse...we think it's a mousse!

There was quite a bit of talk about restaurant week here in Providence. Restaurant week to some is a great opportunity to sample great restaurants at great prices. To others it is a big scam because the meals are unrepresentative of the restaurant's true cuisine. Case in point was the time that yours truly went to one of the best Italian restaurants in Boston during restaurant week and the main offering was barbecued chicken. That's right in an Italian restaurant.  A souring experience leaving the idea of restaurant week compromised perhaps. But that was not the overall sentiment and several had tried out the limited menu offerings at several Providence restaurants including CAV where the duck confit was very good, the Capital grill where the lunch burger was very good and also Ruth's Chris where the steak was also very good. People were also talking about places to try and the name of Gracie's came up, which those in the know acknowledged as a good restaurant.  Since one of our colleagues has a sister named Gracie, said colleague was planning on a Sunday outing. Taking Gracie to Gracie's!  Cute, no?  The Waterman grill was also mentioned as a good idea.  So if you are looking for a $14.95 lunch or a $29.95 dinner - not including beverages - consider and pick your place.
Head on down to you favorite PVD restaurant for restaurant week.
 We continued our expansion of our cross cultural knowledge. Somehow we got on the topic of what the English expression "bite me" means.  Since there are a few non native English speakers it took a little explaining.  We also inquired about how to say this in other languages and were taught that a similar expression in French would be "va te faire".  Loosely translated as "go do yourself!".  It sounded rather elegant when spoken and we tried it out in a few expressions ... "Je voudrais me pré te faire!"  Comment vous appelez-vous?  Va te faire."  When said with a French accent it sounds very chic but we were assured that it is not said in polite society.  To that person trying to stop us we say "Merci te faire!"
This sign has special meaning for the French!
The transliteration of the word bite directly into French - bite - pronounced "beet" also came up.  Our French colleague saw a sign at McDonald's for "Chicken Bites" and thinking the sign was in French proceeded to laugh for about ten minutes.  If you Google translate the word bite from French to English it translates as...well, cock!  And I don't mean the kind that has anything to do with chicken.  You can understand why she laughed for ten minutes.  This of course gave new meaning to our bite me discussion.  If you say "bite moi" in French it's not quite the same. So of course we proceeded to use the word in as many out of context uses just to have fun. I would like a few more "bites" of the cake.  Previously we learned that god in English sounds like the word for dildo in France. Now we learn of the similarly phallic meaning of bite in French.  "O my god, bite me!" Or as the French understand -  O, my dildo, cock me!  French really is the language of love!  Va te faire!
Belle bite, non?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Another one bites the, gets a PhD.

Yes, this is a research lab. But an important part of what we do is educate future scientists so they can all go out and earn very little money if they decide to stay in academia especially. Today we celebrated the latest graduate of the Brown university PhD program who had worked in our lab towards her thesis since 2007. It only took four years!!  Nevertheless we were happy for her but sad to see her move on. She had been a loyal follower of cake hour. She had also introduced us to Grandma Miller's zucchini bread, banana bread, shoo fly cake, chocolate chip cookies etc. In that respect our PhD lucked out in that all she had to do was pay a visit back home and haul back enough stuff to keep us satisfied for awhile.  I guess those days are gone!

To send her off we had two and a half creations of the Eastside Marketplace in Providence. It is a very nice market on the fabled east side. Did you guess that location? They have a fairly comprehensive bakery section and today we went with the Irish Cream Cake and a Pecan tart.  We especially liked the baker's description of the cream cake..."It's kind of boozy!"  There was liquor in it is what he was saying but what else would you expect of an Irish Cream Cake?  Since we were not serving to underage people we were fine with it.  It wasn't bad. It had two layer's of chocolate cake and a thick layer of "Irish" cream.  In truth it didn't taste that "boozy" but we will take his word for it that it had that little extra.  I think it was ersatz cream so in our mind it would have been better if it had been real cream.

The pecan tart was a flat version of a pecan pie.  It was also good but a little sweet as most pecan creations tend to be. We'll leave it at that! There was whipped cream to go with it though!

As usual we had to come up with some departing gifts.  These, as is the custom, had a Brown University theme. They included a Brown coffee cup for her future cake hour like gatherings or AM caffeine break and also a Brown label shot glass for the things she likes to do that might require such.  We also gave her  a Brown logowear makeover featuring a brown Brown hoodie and a complimentary baseball cap. Since our graduate did not have any logo wear per se this was a nice non-repetitive complement to her wardrobe.  Lastly since we must have them put something on the wall we opted for a gilt framed mirror with a painted Brown scene on the top.  How lucky can you get!

Since our graduate will be in the area we expect we will still see her on occasion. She also promised she would be crashing our holiday parties for as long as she can. So I guess this is farewell and not goodbye!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Not your usual wedding cake but Lasalles to the rescue

One of our graduate students was destined to experience a number of important moments in her life associated with out humble group. The culmination will be her PhD but stay tuned for that.  Today there was a small celebration in honor of her marriage part 1.  This has to do with a civil ceremony in New York City where her beau lives.  This will subsequently be followed by a more major event in Italy from where she comes. There is absolutely no doubt that the civil ceremony in NYC will be outdone by the festival in Italy. That's not to say that an effort - conscious or not - was made to make part 1 something unique and special.  It featured a specially baked wedding cake or should we say cake for the wedding. This was baked? concocted? assembled? by the mentor.  Needless to say the anticipation was palpable given some previous attempts at baking that ended up with frosting sliding off the cake before serving and salt being substituted for sugar.  The moment came and the cake was presented to the new bride.

Obviously not one of those monster three tiered wedding cakes that you routinely see at the big celebrations.  Instead a gluten free single layer yellow cake with a chocolate frosting served up on a holiday platter decorated with dreidls. (The platter courtesy of Crate and Barrel!) This was something special indeed - a gesture from the heart and it certainly made an impression. 
Well. what can I say?
We will have these moments to remember?

A truly unique cake for a wedding celebration - with dreidls!
I won't eat it. You can't make me!

Just kidding!
Truth be told it wasn't bad. I believe it was made with almond flour or something similar so it sort of had a nutty taste. It was not dry nor as tasteless as one might prejudge a gluten free baked good to be. The dark chocolate frosting was also nice. It was well enjoyed and the occasion was thereby that much more - ah - remarkable.  And just look how happy everyone is....
Gluten free goodness, no?
We're gluten free!

We're gluten free and we love it!

Why are we smiling...we're gluten free!
Congratulations on your wedding and to hell with gluten!
However that did not stop anyone from digging into the cheesecake that showed up from Lasalle's Bakery. Apparently someone had signed up for cake hour and dutifully bought something not knowing that the wedding event was going to take place. So we ended up with a second gluten rich alternative. This was a fairly good cheesecake with a bunch of molten chocolate then solidified chocolate on top covering what were probably crushed oreos.

It didn't take long for that gluten to return!