Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Eat dessert first or even instead of

I am stopped for the night in Lafayette, Louisiana at a Walmart that allows me to stay for free. Not all Walmarts allow parking so I always make a point of going in and buying something when they do. Tonight I need white chocolate. More on that in a bit.

As the saying goes, though, there's no such thing as a free lunch so I'll be without electricity tonight. Last night I visited friends in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, parked in their church parking lot and was able to plug in, but visited with them so late that I didn't work on any of the approximately 527 photos I've taken and done nothing with yet. With no power tonight they're still not getting processed but I think there are some good ones there. On my way into Hattiesburg I stopped in Mobile and photographed the cathedral there, took some photos at my friends' church (he's the pastor), then found the cathedral here on Trip Advisor and had to stop. It turns out that I hit the trifecta in one Lafayette city block - a magnificent piece of architecture with dazzling stained glass windows, its own cemetery out back (with Louisiana's distinctive above-ground burial vaults), and a museum. What an enjoyable couple of hours.

Tomorrow I head into Texas and will make a dip down to Big Bend National Park for a look-see before heading north to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and back to Petrified Forest. The ranger I worked for at Andersonville was previously at Big Bend and if it looks as good as the website shows I may ask for help to work there next winter.

Finally, here's the story about the white chocolate. At dinner last night one of my friends ordered white chocolate bread pudding for dessert and shared it around. Had I known how sublime it would be I would have told the waiter to skip the starter and the entree and just bring me three of those. Back when we still operated our magnificent failure of a bakery in Washington we made bread pudding from chopped-up, several-day-old donuts. We let them get good and dry then rehydrated them with a slurry of milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, and I don't remember what else, piled the mess into a pie plate and baked it until set. It had a chunky texture held together with a custard "glue." It was really good. The dessert last night was not just really good, it was elegant and its look, flavor, and feel wholly unexpected. Instead of being held together with custard "glue" the pudding had the smooth, almost gel-like consistency and color of traditional egg-based custard. My goodness. It sat in a pool of white chocolate sauce, a creamy mix of melted white chocolate and whipping cream. It was all we could do not to lap at the plate like cats. I hardly looked at my triple chocolate cake. Mind you, I ate it, but hardly looked at it. So I did what any sane person would do - I asked our server for the recipe. He returned with a piece of paper that he set on the table like it was the check but turned out to be the recipe, and got himself a very nice tip.

It will be interesting to see if I can duplicate the recipe. It calls for two double boilers which is pretty funny because I have one sauce pan. Total. We'll see how it goes.

Thought of the day:

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude. (Julia Child)