I write this with a baddddddd case of laryngitis after a harddcorrrrrrrrre workweek.
Let’s return to a glamorous time, a time when I was a VIP chick hangin’ backstage.
First, the backstage area, peeking over the fence to watch them set up on the actual stage. Giant balloons!
Then close… real close. Hi Audience!
Oh, HI WAYNE!
Guys, I swear, Wayne from the Flaming Lips has those eyes like in the museums that make everyone think they are looking at them. BUT HE TOTALLY LOOKED AT ME.
It was totally wondrous. They pull people out of the crowd and put them in crazy costumes and have them dance. They shoot streamers at you (I saved one).
And then Wayne went out in, essentially, a giant hamster ball.
Crazy. Stupid. Awesome.
It’s really cool getting a behind the scenes look at everything because you get to see things like:
The roadie putting on his bear costume! Before…
Spending an entire song DANCING, IN A BEAR COSTUME, IN THE TEXAS HEAT, WITH A PERSON ON HIS SHOULDERS.
Then got to see him come backstage, rip off the bear head, and drink copious quantities of water.
It was an amaaaaaaaaaazing show. Flaming Lips was the band that I and everyone I was with wanted to see the most, and they did not disappoint. They played Do You Realize for the last song and it had me in this total blissed out zen state.
VIP fancy backstage land had food, but it was decidedly lackluster. I got a plate to tide me over til we went home (we ended up just staying for a bit of The Eagles- they sound eerily, nay, suspiciously like the albums they recorded decades ago. Like, were they really playing?)
Baked beans (obvi canned) and banana pudding that I was SO EXCITED ABOUT, being in Texas and all, and found SO DISAPPOINTING. It’s exceedingly rare for me to turn down pudding but it was pretty foul. Artifice. I picked out the banana chunks and nilla wafers (well that part was good :D)
I went home to DELICIOUS FOOD: a collaboration between my pastry-chef cousin Rachel and I, prepared earlier that day. I thought of that pumpkin-spinach stew that I’ve made a zillion times never actually following the actual recipe. We went to my beloved Central Market (the greatest grocery store in the entire world that I pray will someday get exported to Virginia) and bought goodies.
We begin with TEXAS SIZED shallot.
Browned up with garlic in olive oil.
Then tomatoes, stirred til cooked down to jammy goodness.
Then we added ROASTED PUMPKIN, along with the spices I found in Rach’s cupboard (lotsa paprika, bit o’ cinnamon and chili powder)
Wilted in some lovely color-contrasting spinach:
In Rachel’s lovely bowl. With “rabbit ears” (or so Richard called them) of bread:
The bread is actually “breakfast bread”, or so Central Market says. Scads of fruit (apples, raisins and the like), nuts, and cinnamon sugary goodness. I wholeheartedly approve of breakfast bread for dinner (and also Central Market’s bread section- you can sample EVERY SINGLE FLAVOR. And I, er, basically did.)
But wait. Oh, wait.
Rachel got out her springform pan and her BLOWTORCH to unstick my BIRTHDAY CAKE!
Candles were lit, candles were blown out (Richard took that picture and was pleased with it, so I posted it, but would we really call it attractive?)
So let’s talk about this cake.
When I saw Maya before I left she was like “Wait, you’re celebrating your birthday with your pastry chef cousin? There’s gonna be cake” but I had forgotten about it.
But then I arrived to Austin and there was a wonderful smell lingering around the house, and a post on Rachel’s facebook about 5 pounds of ganache (!!!!)
This baby had to chill, but when we dug in OH MY GOD IT WAS WORTH IT.
From bottom to top, we begin with a chocolate-almond paste cake (Rach said it’s a modified genoise, for those of you who know cake, as I do not). Then a layer of pears and ganache (ganache essentially being a clever amalgamation of pure chocolate and pure cream. Ohhhhhhhh yesssss. My grandma actually made a sinfully delicious chocolate cake that involved rum-soaked raisins and copious quantities of ganache, and I hadn’t eaten ganache since she died, so it was a wonderful wonderful experience). More cake, more ganache. And an almond paste happy birthday plaque, which I ate.
Richard’s beautiful artistic tinted photo:
Was vair sad to leave. Spent one last night two steppin’ at the Continental Club. Waited as long as possible to wash the stamp off my wrist.