Nov 252009

My friend Patti Jackson is the Executive Chef at i Trulli. Last weekend was the birthday of Nicola Marzovilla, the restaurant’s owner. Nicola’s wife Astrid planned a large surprise party, and Patti made a cake. Patti worked and trained as a pastry chef for a long time, and a few months ago she made a wine bottle cake for our friend Peter.

Patti constructed the cake in the i Trulli kitchen with the help of her friend Christine Lau. The top of the cake has not been finished; you can also see the inspiration for the design: Nicola’s new wine from Italy called Massoferrato
Making the cake in the i Trulli kitchen

Patti rolled out a final piece of fondant.
Rolling out fondant

The i Trulli kitchen is in the basement of the restaurant. The cake was carefully carried upstairs and left of the bar while we waited for the van. One of the trickiest parts of the evening was making sure that Nicola didn’t come into the restaurant and see the cake. The managers had to reassure him many times that everything was going smoothly that night, and that there was no reason to come in.
Ready for transport

The cake was loaded into a van. Here you can see why Patti left the cake unfinished–she needed to be able to keep the cake steady as we drove from the restaurant to the party location. In the background is Christine.
Cake in the van

Patti finished the cake by applying the previously prepared fondant to the neck of the wine bottle cake.
Finishing the cake

I helped Patti carry the cake into the venue through the kitchen.
Posing with the cake

Not only was Nicola surprised by the party, but also the cake was totally unexpected.
Nicola Marzovilla and Patti Jackson

Dora Marzovilla, Nicola’s mother, prepares the fresh pastas at i Trulli.
Nicola Marzovilla, Dora Marzovilla, and Patti Jackson

Later in the evening, candles were added to the cake.
Nicola blows out the candles

After delivering the cake, Patti headed back to the restaurant to change. When she came back, she lent a hand in the kitchen giving directions on how to disassemble and cut the cake.
Cutting the cake
Cutting the cake

The serving of the cake went quickly; servers flew out of the kitchen with trays of cake.
Serving the cake

The cake was stacks of rounds held together using dowels. The construction was similar to the construction of a traditional wedding cake.
Closeup of cake construction

Yum. Cake
Slice of cake

 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Nov 232009

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of debate about health care in the United States. Here are a couple of pieces I found interesting. I certainly didn’t agree with what everyone wrote below, but I found the pieces thought-provoking.

 Posted by at 6:00 am
Nov 222009

Early this past summer, Michael Ruhlman issued a challenge to have chefs create a BLT from scratch. Many people responded, but a great entry came from an an American chef in Australia, . One of the most interesting parts of what he did was to create a terrific web info-graphic detailing his work: Project BLT @ One Hungry Chef.

BLT. Yum.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Nov 212009

My friend Patti has been in the media recently.

This past summer, she was featured on the Food Network on the “Best Thing I Ever Ate”:

The rabbit is a standard item on the menu at I Trulli.

She is also featured in this week’s New York Magazine for her crabapple mostarda. A photographer visited her at I Trulli to take a photo of her hands as she made the dish; to the left is the artist’s rendition from the magazine.
 Posted by at 7:48 pm
Nov 212009

Midsummer, Patti and I visited the San Francisco Bay area. We had a great time. I’ve been a bit delinquent in posting photos, but better late than never.

We drove up US 1 from Monterey to San Francisco and caught the sunset.
US 1 Sunset

The next day, we drove up to Muir Woods, a national park just over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Muir Woods
Patti and I at Muir Woods

Parts of the woods were filled with spiders; others had no wildlife whatsoever.
Spiders at Muir Woods
Patti and I at Muir Woods in a tree
Muir Woods

As we walked through the woods, we heard a knocking sound. After searching around, Patti saw this woodpecker. When we got back to the entry of the park, we used the books there to identify it as a Hairy Woodpecker.
Hairy Woodpecker at Muir Woods
Hairy Woodpecker at Muir Woods
Hairy Woodpecker at Muir Woods

Muir Woods is a vacation spot for ladybugs. These two were having a grand old time.
Ladybugs at Muir Woods
Ladybugs at Muir Woods

There was a sign less than five feed away stating, “Don’t feed the chipmunks.”
Chipmunk at Muir Woods

I used my Google phone as a GPS to map our trip with the MyTracks application. I forgot to start the app when we started our hike, we really started where the track ends.

View Muir Woods in a larger map

 Posted by at 7:26 pm
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