But first, a cautionary tale:
See that? That’s what happens when someone who was apprenticed for years to a CMC until becoming sous chef at a fancy French restaurant drinks half a bottle of The Glenlivet single malt on a dare. He suddenly realizes the cake he made for use in a trifle the next day had better be eaten RIGHT NOW. Wait – but with frosting! Wait – with frosting dyed black and white and shaped into a yin yang! That would be sooooo deep! Wait – I don’t have black dye. Wait – if I mix every color in the box together I bet it’ll turn black. It’s not like it’s gonna turn out some sickly shade of goat vomit green or anything. And hey! NewWifey(tm) has a box of tiny sugared donuts! I bet if I stick some mini chocolate chips in them they’ll look like faces. Hmmmm. They don’t. Wait – they will if I add noses! Ummmmm….aha! Baby carrots! No – CANDIED baby carrots. Yes! It’s beautiful!
Kids, don’t drink. You’ll just end up dyeing.
You know what the worst thing about that whole fiasco was? I don’t remember how it tasted! Going down or coming up. I’m sure it was good. I made the cake while I was still sober, after all. (This is in sharp contrast to the bread I made on Ambien: I remembered eating it, but not making it.)
So here’s the scoop. NewWifey(tm) is shooting out to her annual industry shindig next week, me in tow. While there she’ll try to sell enough stuff to afford gas to get home. She’s pretty chuffed about her prospects this year, as last fall she released a new product and it got a lot of good press in industry rags over the winter. Shop owners will probably mob her booth to get their arthritic mitts on this Latest Greatest Gadget.
Without going into detail, the Gadget is a thread waxer. NewWifey(tm) did a smart thing. Last year the maker of a popular synthetic thread waxer decided to stop making their product, leaving a lot of beehive hairdo’s who stitch very unhappy.
NewWifey(tm) decided to step in and fill the gap, but with a natural thread waxer. She already has a line of 100% beeswax decorative waxers. Packaging them in a more industrial form to capture the market looking for a substitute was a no brainer. So that’s what she did, adopting a honey bee theme to emphasize the “all natural” aspect.
It took about 5 weeks of constant work down in her basement office designing the thing, melting all the wax (thankfully without repeating her previous waxing disaster), printing off labels and card stock, forming packaging, etc.
Finally she emerged from the basement with this:
Yep. That thing is why I didn’t get sex for 5 weeks (with her, anyway).
That aside, I was very proud of my funny little honey. And I told her so.
“I’m very proud of you, my funny little honey” I said. “You worked hard, and it looks great.” (Guys: if you can fake sincerity, you can fake anything. Practice.)
“Funny you should mention ‘honey‘” she said. “I’ve decided to deck my entire booth out in bee stuff to help promote this thing. I’ve got black and yellow table coverings, plastic novelty bees to hang up all over the place, and I’m handing out honey sticks to everyone who passes by. And I’ll be wearing this.”
And she pulled out a plastic bag with a black and yellow blob inside. Which looked like this when un-blobbed:
I laughed. “That’s too cute! I love it.”
“I’m glad to hear you say that” she said, “because you’re wearing this.”
She pulled out another plastic bag, this one with a beige blob inside. She gave the blob a shake and held it out.”
“Ohhhhhhhh no. No. I am NOT wearing that.”
“Ohhhhhhhhh yes you are” she said.
“Nuh-uh. No way. It’s enough that I’m going to this stupid thing with you in the first place. I’m not dressing up in some demeaning outfit on top of that. I’m a star – I have to consider my image.”
“A ‘star‘, huh? Well, star, I’m gonna kick your astral if you don’t play along. I put a lot of time and effort into this thing, and I want everything to be perfect when the curtain goes up on opening night. That means all cast members in costume.”
“Remember those 5 weeks without sex? How’d you like it to be 5 years?”
Eh. Stardom’s overrated.
So I’m going to the national gathering of needlework professionals this year dressed as a beekeeper.
NewWifey(tm) better come across with that honey.
(BTW, a word of advice should you ever be tempted to impersonate the proprietor of an apiary yourself. That “one size fits all!” suit was made in China, where there IS only one size: small. I’m a regular manly-man sized American. I can’t breathe. Just get an American sized beige shirt and write “The Beekeeper” in Sharpie on one breast. You’ll be much happier. You can order the hat, though. Chinese people apparently have morbidly obese heads just like ours.)
That solved, we moved on to discussing the trip itself. I’m taking a couple of extra days off so NewWifey(tm) and I can do a little sightseeing after the event, maybe try some nice restaurants, and fuck on clean sheets for once. That sort of thing.
“Hey, my friend “B” and her husband live not far from there” said NewWifey(tm). “Can we go visit if they say yes?”
“Yeah, sure.” (“B” came to visit us without her husband while she was on a business trip last year. She stayed for a few days, and I enjoyed her company immensely. She complimented my cooking. That’s all it takes.)
NewWifey(tm) called her friend, and stayed on the phone for about an hour.
When she hung up she said, “We’re welcome to come, but on one condition. You have to cook dinner. She’s been telling her husband about the Châteaubriand you made while she was at our place, and he wants in on that action.”
I groaned. I hate working vacations.
But…fine. This isn’t the first time a good deed has come back to sting me in the astral.
“Oh, alright” I said. “So she wants me to make that Châteaubriand?”
“Not quite. She wants filet mignon. They don’t want to buy a full $100 tenderloin just for one meal.”
I hate making filet mignon. You know why? Because butchers. As in, there are none. When you buy filet mignon in those plastic covered trays in the supermarket, you’re buying the product of some sleepy $14/hour corporate wonk with a knife who came in at 4 in the morning to put as many trays on the shelves as he could before the store opened. Do you think he cares if all 4 of the meat discs in any given tray are a different thickness? Pfffff. He has a quota to meet, and caring takes time!
That’s a real problem. Different thicknesses mean different degrees of doneness if you cook them all together. And with tender, lean cuts like filet mignon, there’s little margin for error. They transmit interior heat more readily than fatty cuts, so they’ll over-cook much more quickly if you don’t pull them off the heat at the right time. If you have 4 rounds of meat on the heat, each just *slightly* thicker than the next, and pull them off the heat at the same time, you run the risk of having the thickest one practically raw, the next thickest medium rare, the next medium well, and the thinnest a briquette.
Unless you’re a foursome where one likes bleeding, another likes pink, another brown, and another carbon, you’ve gotta stand there and pull each off in turn. Which then presents another problem: unless you want everyone to eat at different times, you have to keep the thinnest ones warm until the thicker ones cook. Setting aside the fact that most home kitchens are not equipped with warming lights, filet mignon is so finicky that even warming lights can throw things off.
Wow. I just wrote three paragraphs about something probably no one cares about.
Woo hoo, I rock!
Anyway, what could I do? I’m a guest who’s being asked to do a favor for his host. I’ve gotta suck it up and just do the best I can.
“Ok” I said to NewWifey(tm). “Tell her filet mignon is fine.”
“Oh, one other thing” said NewWifey(tm). “They’re taking us sightseeing first. And they know how much we like wine, so for lunch we’re going to a place with an extensive cellar. After that – get this – there’s a distillery just a few miles away that gives tours and samples! How cool is that? We’re gonna be absolutely plowed by the time we get back and you have to start cooking!”
Filet mignon. For four people.
Please, somebody, email this picture to my host:
Ciao, kids! I probably won’t be able to update from Beehive Central for a few days, so play nice while I’m gone. Or I’ll kick your astral when I get back.