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September 26, 1998

Tiramisu and Rent

We drove home from work Friday and stopped by Victor's on the way. Brad was working the counter by himself that evening. We asked him how his trip to Europe was and talked a bit and then I asked for four straight shots of espresso in my commuter mug. I'd cleaned it at work to bring home the espresso for the tiramisu. He took the mug and said, "So *this* is why your hair is blue." That was pretty funny.

Now. The only recipe I have for tiramisu was the one on the package of mascarpone, which called for three raw eggs, whipped with sugar and the soft, sweet Italian cheese. I'd done the recipe on the carton and hadn't really liked the texture or the taste of raw eggs. I looked in four other cookbooks, including a traditional Italian cookbook and most of them didn't have a recipe, the others layered whipped cream instead of mascarpone.

Now, I love tiramisu. Utterly. It's one of those desserts that I order every chance I get and there's a particular texture I like and want and am looking for when I get it. I know the difference between whipped cream and mascarpone and what it does for the taste, as well as the difference between Marsala wine, cognac, rum, and the various other liquors or liquor substitutes people use in their various recipes. I've found that I enjoy the cognac versions more than the others, and I have to have real mascarpone and it has to be a firmer variety rather than the gooey or gooshy kind, real espresso and lady fingers. I seem to be able to tell when they use a weaker coffee, or when they do something funky and try to use a cake layer instead of the cookies, or when they use a cheaper cocoa rather than real bittersweet chocolate.

Problem was that I knew what I wanted, but no recipe that reflected that at all well. The thing is that I had just been experimenting with ice cream custards, so I knew how to make a pretty solid stove top custard. I wanted a thick custard texture, but with the tastes of cognac, espresso and mascarpone. So I made a thick half and half and egg custard, about a cup and a half of the half and half, three eggs, and almost a half a cup of sugar, with a few tablespoons of espresso and cognac, then cooled it thoroughly so it wouldn't melt the mascarpone, and then whipped it into the mascarpone until it was smooth and thick and fluffy.

The rest of the espresso went into a small bowl, and I added a tablespoon of cognac, and then started dipping lady fingers into it and layering them on the bottom of a 13x8 pan. Covered the bottom with the dipped cookies and then spread half the mascarpone mixture on top. Then another layer of dipped cookies and I had just barely not enough espresso for all the cookies, so the last two or three had only a little bit of espresso on 'em. I think another shot would have been good. Then the rest of the mascarpone mixture, smoothed on top to make a smooth surface. I then shaved a lot of bittersweet chocolate with a knife and sprinkled the entires surface thickly with chocolate.

Then the whole thing went into the refrigerator, so that the cookies could soak up liquor, coffee and cream. It stayed in there for the next 24 hours. Thinking about it a bit more, I probably could have saved putting the chocolate on it until just before serving it or taking it to the party.

We woke in the morning, and got to breakfast, and met up with folks. The Original Pancake House has some of the largest and best breakfasts I've ever had. Plenty of everything and all of it done heartily and usually really well. It's a franchise and it does well.

The trip into town was pretty simple, and we found that the Moore Theater was pretty near the Pike Place Market, so John and I parked fairly near and walked down to World Spice, where Regis, Jim and Cera already were. With three in their car, they could take 520's carpool lane so were well ahead of us fairly early on, while we were stuck in stop and go traffic. World Spice was as lovely as ever, and they had a green Yunnan pu-urh tou cha, that smelled spicy and earthy and deep. It was a big button of tea about four inches across, two inches deep, and would have to be hammered into pieces before I could actually drink it, but it was also fourteen years old.


Cera got happily involved in buying many many teas. We were somewhat worried about meeting up with Brian as we said where we'd be, but he never showed up, so we went to the theater assuming that he'd be there if we didn't show up where he was. Turns out that I'd said something about Market Spice, then said, later, something about World Spice, and the two were, therefore, mixed up in later communications. He later confirmed it was Market Spice, but with email on this machine, which is where Cera initially sent stuff. Problem is that I read my flick mail rarely, and my eskimo mail a lot, so the email that went to flick was ignored by me.

Luckily, Brian and his lady were very reasonable, and so had shown up at the theater and we got in, no problem.

I have had the CD for Rent. CD's actually, Kathy gave them to me a while ago, I think for Christmas because she really enjoyed the musical. She follows the musical scene much more than I do, she's into live performances and theater experiences. I cried a lot at just the CD, the songs, out of context. I should probably have remembered that when I went to go see it and brought along a few tissues.

As it was I cried my eyes out.

A very powerful performance, on the most part, though most of the performers were the understudies. I really, really enjoyed the guy who played Mark, who, Cera told me, has been the understudy forever, never getting the lead part even when the original lead left. He did a really cool job. And Jasmine did a amazingly hot Mimi. And Angel was just astonishing, as, well, the character is for the musical anyway. The guy who did Roger left little to be desired so far as his singing voice, but was somewhat wooden in his acting, which wasn't a problem for me. Suppressed rage is familiar to me.

Painfully good performance. A very X-Gen musical, and a solid one at that. But not really my thing. I enjoyed it, enjoyed the experience, and will likely cry all the more at the CD, but...

What it triggered off in my head, in my heart, was the feeling of ephemera. A moment in time so soon lost. What would it like to have a life span that was only twenty four years? Echo'ed too deeply, my year of being 33 and expecting to die. Though I had not even the merest amount of reason to think that. Problem is that the whole slew of things fired off a great, big, huge feeling of mid-life crisis which only got worse with an evening spent with a number of brand-new parents.

Folk with kids. It was actually a pretty good evening, all around, fun filled and conversation filled and really great good. Everyone liked the tiramisu, the only ones that didn't eat what they were given were those that were afraid of how rich it was. Lots of keen conversations, and in the middle of all that, the hosts decided to have a Halloween round-robin ghost story. I was like second in line, and being what I was, I hemmmed and hawed until someone gave me the out of being able to pass, but with the understanding that I would be last. That I would have to sum up all the random story bits that everyone else had given.

Amusingly enough, everyone told me that I didn't want to be there. I think it was because I was shy enough and embarrassed enough about being second, but actually, the reason I didn't want to go wasn't entirely because I was shy or because I didn't want to speak, but mostly because there was nothing to work with. By the time it got around to me, the story had undergone all kinds of transitions and transformations, including the hackneyed 'It was all a dream'. Mostly because the hostess had been up and away from the table, and decided to chuck the completely chaotic first half.

I am pleased that I was able, with a dozen, non-gaming adults, to get them *all* to scream 'BRAINS!' in synch.

They liked the ending, and it was fun to tie in all the weirdness into a creepy ending. And, Carl, I got to use the concept of Brain Central. Heh.

But this is a dozen very accomplished adults, nearly all with kids, now. We stayed very late, just talking and drinking beer and pop and thinking and the like, with young parents that were happy to get out and away from the constant care structure for a while. It was fun, it was keen, and everyone complimented me on my banker's suit. Don even went so far as to ask what had gotten into me, and I had simply replied that J. Peterman's style had gotten me. Then a long talk about Seinfeld and the connections and attachments to Seinfeld.

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