Rum Cupcake Shots
This weekend we went to the Lance Lew Christmas-Palooza Extravaganza Soiree. Only he would never give it that tacky tacky label. Lance is in charge of the community relations arm of NBC Bay Area. As in, anyone or anything who is anyone or anything goes through him first. He is also a floral designer, party planner extraordinaire, Martha Stewart/Colin Cowie/Nate Berkus all wrapped up in an Asian body.
To give you an idea of how fancy this event is, the invitation alone is a publication. It's a 4-page color spread modeled on a different magazine cover each year featuring photos from past events, graphics, and the most important part: detailed instructions about the cutthroat whore derve competition. I mean hors d'oeuvres. There's a laundry list of items that will automatically disqualify you, such as Chicken in a Bisket, 60's cocktail fare, anything "in a blanket," stale canapes. As if I even know what a fresh canape is. Wasn't he the evil professor in the Harry Potter books?
Either you pony up a $75 donation to a food charity of Lance's choosing, or you have to create an appetizer for the party. And you don't just arrive and put the food down on a table somewhere. You work the crowd peddling your wares hoping for judges to ring your neck with ribbons. There are also secret judges who roam the party nibbling and noshing and getting pissed if you pass them without offering a bite of your creation. Rightfully so, though. I hope someday Lance will appoint me a secret judgeship. You know how much I love secretly judging.
And then at the end of the party--a totally nerve-wracking ceremony complete with emcee on a stereo surround speaker system, keyboard specialist who provides musical accompaniment, and dramatic reveal of the secret judges and final decisions. There you are, with all the ribbons, and suddenly at the last moment, a judge rips her ribbon off your neck and puts it on someone else. The finalists included a lamb something or other on a tortilla chip with a vodka shooter, a Peruvian beef something, a pimiento chile something, and the winner--hamachi on a cucumber slice topped with a yucca chip paired with sake.
Does that sound like a blast or what?
It was the first year neither of us was on call or working or just had a baby climb out of her body, so we got all gussied up and took the middle road to the party. We made a dessert. Much more low key. Those are placed on a dessert table and simply voted on with a marble by the guests. Fortunately for us, Lance floated over to welcome us with, "I'm so glad you came. This was the third year. If you didn't come I would've dropped you off the list." He don't mess.
We came up with a variation on a rum cake recipe by White Grandma, later adopted by Asian Grandpa, and made these mini cupcake shooters.
They didn't stand a chance. We were up against PROFESSIONAL PASTRY CHEFS. WTH Lance? Do I invite you to a Zumba class with Usher and Britney Spears? And then ask you to "do your best" while others laugh and point?
At the very least, judge Lisa Kim had the line of the night when the white emcee mistook someone else for her (from a distance) "That's OK, you guys all look the same, too."