Tag Archives: cake

Tour de Champagne brings diverse crowd of sparkling wine-lovers to Boston

Look for this story in the Feb. 4, 2010 issue of Bay Windows newspaper, New England’s largest LGBT newspaper.

The ballroom of Cambridge’s Charles Hotel is dotted with bright orange napkins from the Veuve Cliquot table on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. Murmuring, high-heeled conversation fills the room. Tuxedoed men abound, outshone only by haute couture dresses donned by their dates. The Tour de Champagne has arrived, full force, in Boston.

My foremost regret is the fact that my girlfriend has, for the chalice that will belong to her for the duration of the evening, received a champagne flute that we determine is approximately fifty percent larger than the one that has been issued to me. We take no large offense, however, and head for the champagne tasting tables, interspersed with hors d’oeuvres offerings from the finest Boston chefs.

Photo: Tour de Champagne


The crowded ballroom leaves little room for navigation, but it can be inferred that the evening’s hosts anticipated this, and therefore, a new champagne station appears seemingly at every turn. While Veuve Cliquot and Taittinger rule the evening, smaller, local restaurants—like Upstairs on the Square, whose Vazart Coquart Reserve Brut Blanc de Blanes Grand Cru from Berkshire Wine, Inc. was my personal favorite—receive the same attention.

During the much-anticipated dessert demonstration, my mind reels with food-based fantasies as former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier denounces the Food Network in his thick French accent, all the while whipping up a light, ephemeral blueberry cake creation—cool, spongy slices of which appear at our table seemingly out of nowhere. The group of people crowding the doors of the small business room in which the demonstration is being held is indicative of how lucky we were to pick this particular room in which to rest our (and by “our” I mean “my”) aching feet.

Former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier. Photo: Tour de Champagne


The 52-year-old Mesnier—whose enthusiastic, child-like demeanor belies nothing of his age—begins tossing peppermint patties emblazoned with the presidential seal out into the crowd. The game is fun until the chef’s aim improves, and soon audience members are trying to dodge the gold-wrapped candies.

The pastry demonstration, the never-ending bottles of bubbly, and the thick French accents of the champagne table attendants make the experience seem that much more authentic for those who were lucky enough to attend Boston’s leg of the Tour de Champagne.


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Reconciliation Chocolate Cake

This is the chocolate cake that will fix/solidify/start your relationship (if chocolate has any sway whatsoever over you or your ladyfriend, which is more often than not the case with people who possess a palate and taste buds.) In my experience, the magnitude of the taste and the presumed investment of time in the preparation are enough to bring together two women in love, even if they’ve parted before. When combined with the careful application of tealight candles and the Amelie soundtrack, this is just the right recipe to wow your ex all the way back into your bed.

And (trust me) make-up sex after chocolate this divine is…great.

The school of thought regarding Molten Chocolate Cakes is contentious, at best. A New York City chef claimed to have invented the recipe by accident in 1987 when he removed a chocolate cake from the oven before it had cooked completely and decided to serve it anyway, having found that the center was moist and gooey. A group of French chefs quickly contested, claiming that their country’s culinary elite had invented the recipe years before. Regardless, it’s delicious. And surprisingly easy!

This particular recipe is adapted from one I found on Food & Wine’s website (one of my favorites.)

Also, I recommend using Corningware’s ramekins, which come with an attachable lid. You can bake, store, and reheat while only dirtying one dish! I found mine at a local hardware store, believe it or not.

Buy these:

– 1 stick of unsalted butter (plus a little extra for the ramekins)

– 1/2 tablespoon cake or pastry flour

– 1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate chips (I have to recommend Ghiradelli here–it’s worth the extra pennies!)

– 1/4 cup vegan cane sugar (regular sugar will work as well)

– 2 large whole eggs (look for lovely ones at your local farmer’s market! I found mine in Copley Square on Fridays)

– 2 large egg yolks

– cocoa powder/confectioner’s sugar (optional; for dusting)

Do this:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 16-ounce ramekins.

2. Melt the butter with the chocolate chips (if you happen to have a gas stove like mine, this will happen alarmingly fast. I recommend setting out the other ingredients carefully before this step.)

3. Once melted, whisk the butter and chocolate with a wire whisk or with a fork. Add the sugar, whole eggs, egg yolks, and flour and continue to whisk until well-blended, with only a few small lumps.

4. Pour the mixture into the ramekins and bake (uncovered) for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the edges of the cakes have solidified and become crusty, but the center is still quite near-gelatinous. It must have some sort of stiffness though, or else you run the risk of food-borne illness from the eggs.

5. Allow to cool for at least one minute. This dessert is wonderful to make ahead, refrigerate, and then put back into the oven (at 100 degrees) approximately ten minutes before serving. The cakes can be served in the ramekins, or upside-down with confectioner’s sugar or unsweetened cocoa sprinkled on top (knowing my ex the way I did, I served the cakes with Ben & Jerry’s “sprinkled on top.” And yes, it worked.)

I think it was my grandmother, or another matronly older woman, who told me during my formative years that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. While I don’t know much about the male heart (or stomach for that matter), I do know that chocolate can heal certain things. This isn’t a lesbian relationship cure-all, but it will certainly put you on the path — or at least wow the pants off of your lady.

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