Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Absinthe Frosted Gobs, or There's Nothing Here To Look At People, Just Keep Moving Along

Something bad happened in my kitchen yesterday. A good recipe went wrong. Horribly wrong. As a result, sometime between midnight and, what I'll just refer to as "a not so early hour this morning," I passed out. 

When I woke up this morning in a happy and well-fed yet admittedly hazy and confused state, I looked around at the sunny, sunny bedroom, spied the clock and gasped "What the hell happened?" 

Soon enough my mental circuitry started to snap and spark. It all came back to me very clearly. No wonder I felt like I'd been wrapped in gauze: I was fighting a hangover. A gob-induced hangover. Make that an absinthe-frosted-gob-induced hangover. And that beguiling green bottle was to blame. 

Now that I look back at my decision to make an absinthe-frosted gob, countless cautionary tales are coming to mind. Here are just a few:
1. Just because it's edible, it doesn't always mean you should put it in your mouth.
2. Just because it works on paper, it doesn't mean it's going to work on the palate. 
3. If something was illegal for nearly a hundred years, there must have been a good reason.
4. Follow directions. If the label cautions one part absinthe to four-to-six parts water, again, there must be a good reason.
5. Don't play with your food. 

Why was I attempting to incorporate absinthe into a gob recipe? Like every other great challenge, the answer is simple. Because it was there. But mostly because my gobs are about to start making more appearances on the streets, and in at least one store, in the city where I live and I wanted to have five solid versions under my belt. (I was going to say "under my apron" but that just sounds wrong in more ways than I can count.) And with this being San Francisco, not only does food have to be good, it has to be unique. Like the song says, it's hard out here for a pimp. Or in this case, it's hard out here for a barely-employed food writer who's learned that it's not enough in a recession just to be able to write about food. You have to be able to cook it, write the recipe, make sure it's like nothing else that's out there at the moment, take the dish's damn photo, put it up on line, promote it, take it to the streets, sell it, and then, if you can grow your own yeast, filet your own sashimi plate, create water from air, balance the tires on someone's car or check their oil while you're doing everything else, then maybe, just maybe someone will pay attention to you. Or at least that's how it is in this town! There is always someone better than the best around the next corner. 

"Oh yeah, it's definitely a city of producers," a friend of mine who is a lifelong resident of this great city confirmed yesterday when I was sharing how amazed I am at the level of talent contained here in the 7 X 7. That talent, and the inspiration that it offers, is one of the reasons why I wanted to move here in the first place. 

Don't worry, this isn't where I break into the Mary Tyler Moore theme and throw my hat up in the air, nor is it where I start singing about "spreading the news." But it is where I'm going to rewind back to yesterday when I was tilting back the bottle of absinthe as I tried to get the balance right in the frosting I was making for this new batch of gobs. I'm not going to disclose all of the ingredients or the recipe since I'm not giving up on it just yet. I will share though that every ingredient was given a lot of thought and theoretically they all should've harmoniously clicked, like yin and yang, when the two gob halves were frosted and then fitted together. 

They're not bad. But like anything that's suddenly given power, in this case through a jolt of high octane alcohol, they just don't know their own strength. And I didn't know it - their power, that is - either. At least not until I returned home last night from a certain crowded concert venue and found myself in a ravenous state through no doing of my own. Since this is a family-oriented blog, I'll let you figure that one out for yourselves. Happily standing in my kitchen at around midnight and looking for something to eat, I was overcome with a giddy rush as I remembered the gobs I'd baked earlier in the afternoon. I quickly devoured two of them. I remember washing them down with some milk straight outta the carton. And the next thing I knew it was morning. 

So, the moral of this recipe? Know your ingredients. (How many times have I said that to myself in the past few weeks?) And measure them accordingly. 

I will probably give these gobs another go, tempering my pour on the absinthe. In the meantime, I have a fridge full of these things over here at the Folsom Test Kitchen. San Francisco peeps, you know where I live! But please, if you come over, bring along a designated driver: You will be eating at your own risk. 


Charles G Thompson said...

Rolling. On. The. Floor. Laughing. ROTFL. Hysterical. I love it. And thanks for giving a funny shout out to the difficult balancing act it is to write about food, blog, take pictures, create recipes and promote oneself. I may have to print this out and frame it... :-)

Steven said...

Charles, You know it is! There are so many wonderful writers who are also wonderful cooks all out there blogging about it! It's simultaneously inspiring and daunting. Looking forward to your upcoming posts from you-know-where. (I won't say where because I don't want to spoil any surprises you might have up your blog!) Thanks as always for the feedback!

Steven said...

@ Charles - that was supposed to say "You know HOW it is!" Ugh. I'm going to blame it on the absinthe-soaked crumbs I ate... that were created when I made the gob-and-cross bones for the pic!

The Duo Dishes said...

Lurd Jebus, take the wheel! That is too funny. Honestly, we would try these still...even despite this tale. Because we fear not the absinthe! Too bad LA's a good 8 hours from San Fran.

Steven said...

You're a funny Duo! The problem, if you want to call it a problem, was with the taste-testing of the frosting because I kept the absinthe close to its original potency. I thought the rest of the ingredients would dilute it sufficiently but the sugar only served to act as a quicker delivery system! By the time I got done tasting spoonfuls of alcohol-fueled frosting, well, I was tipsy. And yes, if you're ever in SF let me know! I'll bake you a special batch! :) Thanks for the note!

Tangled Noodle said...

I'm not ashamed to ask: what are gobs? The skull thing is freaking me out (you can't show a picture like that to a superstitious Filipina) so I don't want to look too closely at what I presume are the gob-eyes. As a cautionary tale, this post works all too well - I now fear absinthe to my very core.

But other than that, I really enjoyed this read! 8-D

Steven said...

Dear Tangled, I'm sorry to have spooked you with the skull and cross-bones, or, gob-n-cross bones! I understand because I am a superstitious Hungarian! And you're right, there's no shame in asking "What's a gob?" A gob is a confection very similar to a whoopie pie. They are extremely popular in Pennsylvania which is where I grew up. You will find far less threatening, even downright cheerful versions of this recipe elsewhere on my site. Look for the "Gobs Gone Wild" post and also the "Gobs: In Search Of..." post. As for the absinthe, if it is used properly it's very nice. I was taste-testing it practically straight from the bottle into the frosting so I think that had a significant effect. ;) Thanks for the note!