Saturday, April 23, 2011

Australia's finest

I am a beer fan.

Always have been since that first chilly can of cheap watery beer. Not really, not then at least.

I *am* a huge fan of beer, and our love affair started when I moved to Boulder, Colorado to attend graduate school. The United States is the country with the largest number of breweries in the world, and did you know the state of Colorado has the largest number of breweries per capita? It is therefore little coincidence that the Great American Beer Festival takes place every year in Denver, featuring over 400 different breweries, over 2,000 different beers and hosts almost 50,000 beer lovers in one long, magical, beer heaven weekend.

I did attend the festival and I will leave those embarrassing stories for another occasion, my point here is I loved beer ever since and I love to drink my way to variety and look forward to the surprise of opening a new brew every time. 

Recently I was gifted with The Beer Lovers Guide to Australia, which I quickly devoured and learned (in general) about the history of beer, how it's crafted and how it can be served and enjoyed. The book also features a long list of Australian craft beers and micro-brews which in turn inspired me to go out and taste them!

So I give you...


Randomly selected by me ;) 

I plan on enjoying each one of these over the next few weeks and sharing my tasting notes right here on Bongaloo, so stay tuned and don't blog and drive.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New new beginnings

After 5 long months of application after application and rejection after rejection, I finally landed a full time position in the hospitality industry. I mean a real job, a job with a salary, benefits and other perks. A job where I get to dress up as an adult, and get to meet very interesting people.

Needless to say I am jumping-out-of-my-socks excited. Today was my first day and I met so many lovely faces and places and learned a thing or two about the business. Last but not least, the office is in a *beautiful* location.

Oh proletariat, how I've missed thou.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red Velvet

Last week I met with the ABCD (artists, bloggers, crafters, designers) group of gals of which only a couple I had been following online prior to the meeting.

I'll admit, as lovely as everyone was, I felt out of place because I was literally the only one who wasn't trying to grow a business or make money out of their website. Still some of them however encouraged me to try and come up with a business idea, and said that I should make cakes for people.

Now of course I have thought about this before, but I simply don't feel like I can easily compete with so many amazing pastry chefs out there, or differentiate myself from others who like me, learned their own way to patisserie. Disclaimer: I don't really know what I'm doing when I bake a cake, I follow recipes, not write them, and I often imitate cakes, not create them.

But anyway, after that meeting I just felt like my blog needed one more cake :)

Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting is a classic, rich, opulent cake, and more importantly, red = awesome.

This time I'm going to walk you through my creative process.

First you need an idea: I should bake a red velvet cake. Check.

Then you need a recipe. I used this one. Check. Then bake the cake, in as many layers as you'd like (I did 3), the general rule is you bake the batter until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

I usually take a very sharp knife to cut the top of the cake and make it flat. Then I flip the cake upside down so that the flattened surface is the bottom. If you use a bread/serrated knife you will have crumbs everywhere.

After you make the frosting, you need to frost the cake. The cake must have cooled by now, otherwise the frosting will turn into a watery sugary mess, it is CRUCIAL that the cakes and frosting remain cool at all times. If your kitchen is hot, you might have to put the frosting in the fridge for a few minutes at a time.

Start with the "crumb layer" this is just a thin layer of frosting that gives shape to the cake and keeps it from crumbling too much. I use an icing offset spatula that I got as a present one Christmas.

I also use a decorating turn-table from IKEA, $15. This makes life *way* easier.

After each layer of frosting I put the cake in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to make sure the frosting sets (hey I never said the process was quick).

Next comes the decorating bit! This is the fun part :)

For my inspiration I used the ruffled cake from the Sweet and Saucy homepage. If only I could buy ALL their cake stands.

Anyway, I experimented with a few of my tips and settled on Ateco's No. 46. Then started piping away...

After the fact I decided that I shouldn't have done the top part, it looked a bit bulky. I much prefer the look of the first photo above.

So anyway, then you're done! I took some flowers around the house and slabbed them on top.

Mmm. Cake.