Tuesday, April 16, 2013

gum paste and small plates

this past weekend i made my first ever sugar flowers (and peonies at that)! i signed up for a two-hour class from sugar flower cake shop (thank you, living social) and was pretty excited. i love flowers and have always wanted to learn how to work with gum paste--watching all those cake shows has definitely gotten to me--so what better way to combine both those into a sugar flower class. 

i originally wanted to do the parrot tulip course (tulips being my favorite flower), but the dates just didn't work out. BUT the peony course was available, and from what i heard from some one at the peony class, the parrot tulips were super difficult because they were so fragile, which meant a few broken flowers :( i guess it's a good thing i did the peonies instead; i would have been so bummed leaving with broken flowers.

the class was a little unorganized at the beginning, but once things picked up it was fine. it's a small space with 4 large tables set up in the middle (each fit about 6 people) and displays of cakes and tools around the room. lea was our instructor for the day, and there were a number of assistants nearby to help (i didn't think they were that engaging or helpful but maybe because i was too focused. hah.) since working with gum paste requires a lot of drying time, the shop worked some "tv magic" and had fully-dried components for each step so we could experience a week's worth of work in 2 hours. (you could tell that the stuff we were making would be used for the next class. resourceful, right?) the whole process of sugar flowers is pretty repetitive it turns out and oddly calming. we'd roll gum paste, cut out petal shapes, smoosh the cut outs, ball-roll the edges, and glue to the centers. repeat. we were able to do four layers and a couple buds. 

then we got to dry-paint a fully dried peony using powdered paints. some people went a bit over the top with all the colors, but i kept it simple and stuck with purple and a hint of pink. 
at the end of the class, we left with a fully painted peony (made by the shop), an unpainted peony (two layers made by us), and two buds (also made by us). 
i am totally inspired to make some more flowers on my own--i just need all the supplies. that's an investment i'd be willing to support ;)

after making some pretty sugar flowers, i treated myself to a hair cut and ice cream. the hair cut was nothing special--just a trim (i can't believe how fast hair grows in 5 weeks!)--but the styling was a little goofy so I was feeling a bit self-conscious the rest of the day :T ice cream helped though >> chinatown ice cream factory. i really wanted to try the pandan, but they were all out--bummer. so instead of my default black sesame, i went with taro. oh so creamy~ and i can't remember if they usually do this (i'll pretend they don't), but the dude gave me an extra mini scoop on top. score! did i mention this was my lunch? :P 

good thing i was meeting sean for dinner at craftbar. i made my way up to union square and wandered a bit; the weather was pretty nice, so there were a bunch of people out and about. there was even a guy playing an old upright piano near the fountain. people watching was fun for passing the time, but i was ready for dinner. we started off with a glass of wine (sean) and a cocktail (me). i've been starting to try random cocktails to see what i like…and it makes me feel grown-up and fancy :D this one was called theory and practice, but i completely forget what was in it. i just remember it was kind of sweet with a sort of cherry finish and felt more like a warm drink. it was alright, but i would have preferred something a little crisper/brighter. 

for food we decided to go with a (big) selection of small plates: 
* spanish octopus, chorizo fritter, pimento aioli 
* smoked pig's head terrine, shiitake, chiles (brined & smoked pig head, picked mustard seed) 
* duck hears & dumplings, fried egg, pearl onions, smoked bacon, black garlic 
* marinated montauk squid, piquillo pepper-fennel puree, cucumber, nicoise olive 
* lamb merguez sausage, curried black chickpea stew, paneer 
* white anchovy bruschetta, soft-cooked egg salad, lemon aioli, confit leek 
* baby kale florets, anchovy vinaigrette, parmesan 
* dessert: ricotta cheesecake, hazelnut crust, huckleberry jam

a delicious ending to a super nice day in the city~ 


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