Test a new recipe on guests at your own risk. Especially when it’s a “Sorry I Forgot Your Birthday” Cake.
Four of my in-laws drove to St. Louis from Minnesota for their first visit this weekend and we welcomed them with this cake. It sure looks pretty. What better way to ask for someone’s forgiveness than presenting them with a fresh strawberry cake lovingly frosted with cream cheese frosting?
The recipe’s technique of cutting butter into the dry ingredients, gradually adding eggs, and stirring in the wet ingredients seemed unusual, but the website’s photos looked pretty so I proceeded anyway. After all, how bad could fresh strawberry puree, flour, sugar, and butter taste? Pretty bad. Pretty, pretty, pretty bad.
We sang “Happy Birthday” and the belated birthday girl blew out the candles. After passing slices of cake around the room, I noticed pensive facial expressions and quickly took a bite from Jake’s plate.
It was terrible. “This cake tastes really bad and I’m not going to have any,” I announced as my family tried to politely choke down their slices. We’ve always spoke candidly with each other, which is something I really appreciate. Once I broke the ice, feedback rolled in:
“It tastes like unleavened communion bread with frosting.”
“It’s like big mound of paste.”
“I can’t do it Jeni, I’m sorry.”
“Honey, I ate it all!” stated my father-i-law, a man who exemplifies the stereotype of Norwegian stoicism. I thanked him and asked if he’d like another slice, to which he replied “no.”
In the end, it was the thought behind the “I’m Sorry” cake that mattered and our apology was accepted. “I’m going to bake you all a birthday cake,” I promised. Much better food followed and we enjoyed the rest of the weekend exploring St. Louis together. Here are some more things we learned:
Happy hour at Katie’s Pizzeria rocks. We learned that we had actually visited Katie’s Pizzeria instead of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. No worries, though. Our pizzas, prosciutto spring rolls and toasted ravioli were delicious and we’re excited to visit Katie’s Pizza & Pasta next. During happy hour, glasses of wine were $4 and all of the pizzas are available in a personal size for about $8.
These were no tiny pizzas and no one could finish an entire one. The pesto served with the fried ravioli and on top of Jake’s pesto-shrimp pizza really struck my fancy. I’m still craving it.
It’s hard to go wrong at Bogart’s Smokehouse. Everyone tried a different menu item, from ribs to a turkey sandwich and no one had any complaints. I chose the chicken wing special with sides of sweet and spicy Fire & Ice Pickles and potato salad dotted with hard-boiled egg. I liked that one could sandwiches in small or large sizes and that each comes with two sides.
Plus, everyone who worked here on Saturday was so darn nice. The line was relatively long at lunch, but the staff made sure that when customers who wanted to dine-in entered the building, there was seating available.
The drinks at Ballpark Village are expensive. Parking is not, however.
The candy maker at The Fudgery in Ball Park Village sings songs like, “You can try everything for free.” We especially enjoyed a taste of the freshly-made rocky road fudge cooling on the marble table. Turns out that The Fudgery in Ball Park Village is one of 29 stores across the United States. One of the company’s features is their singing candy makers who have to audition American Idol-style for their positions. According to The Fudgery’s website, one of their past employees includes SisQo who totally lives in Maple Grove, MN with his family now!
Finally, Tani Sushi offers a nice take-out service and the penguin and puffin coves at the St. Louis Zoo are still the most magical place on earth. If you visit Kali the polar bear, know that he gets upset when people put their hands on the glass. I watched a woman argue with the zoo employee when she asked her to and her family to stop. “But it looks like he’s having fun!” she insisted. He’s not. “But it seems like he’s playing with us.” He’s not. Trust, the zoo keepers.
Maybe next time there will be Provel.