Baking and Beaching with Martha! – Sand Tarts! -275 eggs, 204 cups of sugar, 204 sticks of Butter, and 255 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 13 recipes to go!

June 30, 2012


Martha’s Sand Tarts

André’s Sand Tarts

In the coldest Winter month of January this year, Dan and I were invited to attend a house party at a friend’s home just a few blocks from my house. I was burned-out on Christmas cookies and was looking to bake something a bit more ironic. Martha’s Sand Tarts seemed like a good choice. Basically a simple shortbread with the addition of flavors one would associate with a Snickerdoodle, these cookies were a fun choice.  Each one is given an embellishment of three, sliced, blanched almonds to give them the look of a sand dollar. Personally, I don’t think sand dollars look all that appetizing, but to each his own, I suppose.

They were received graciously and appreciatively. The irony wasn’t lost either, although, honestly, the joke wasn’t that clever.  This was to be one of the last three cookies I’d bake before leaving for six months to work in Bloomington, Indiana without my partner, my cats, or sadly, an oven.

In my last post I left off with being without a space in NYC for my impending nuptials and worried that once I found an available space it would be far beyond what our budget would allow. I turned to the good book for answers. Of course, I’m referring to Facebook. I sent out a desperate plea to my friends in the Big Apple to help me find the perfect space to sign my life away. My friend and former roommate, Aaron, came through. Aaron is one of the most dynamic personalities I count among my friends. I met him when he was barely twenty years old in Baton Rouge and he has been the little brother I never wanted ever since.

Among Aaron’s many diverse talents- from wig-making to musicianship, from being a certified beautician to being a celebrated NYC drag queen- one can’t help but be charmed by his fierce charisma. As a result, he’s invited everywhere, even places he’s not suppose to go. For instance, he and I had only known each other a month or two when my youngest sister was married in the grandest way- a full Catholic mass followed by a large and decadent reception in one of LSU’s grand halls. Aaron got wind of where I’d be that evening, and since he’d helped cater another event earlier that evening, he showed up at my sister’s reception in his caterer’s uniform with a bottle of Dom Perignon he’d absconded with from the other party. In a surreal moment, I turned to see him doing the samba with my over-served Aunt Renée from Nicaragua. Later that evening, as my sister and her new husband entered the Limo that was to whisk them away to their honeymoon, Aaron was there presenting them with a bottle of Dom and giving them each a hug and a kiss. I remember my sister giving me a confused but appreciative look. I just shrugged. Everyone in my family had no idea of who this tiny little terror was but they all found him ridiculously charming.

If anyone of my friends could solve the dilemma of finding a perfect and affordable venue in NYC, it would be Aaron. Elmo’s Restaurant and Lounge is a popular hangout in the heart of gay NYC- Chelsea.  They had recently updated the basement into an event space. Aaron, on my behalf, spoke with the coordinator at Elmo’s and after sending my friend, Kathy, to take a few photos and give me her impression of the room, I was able to book the room at a very reasonable rate. The room was very different from the space we originally wanted. Instead of dark woods and brass fixtures reminiscent of an older and more distinguished New York, we ended up in a dark room with psychedelic wallpaper, shiny black surfaces, and glowing mod furniture reminiscent of Autin Power’s bedroom. Everyone loved the space, though. NYC event space- Check!

Rings!? We’ll need rings! I left this responsibility to Dan. When we first met, he worked the jewelry counter at Sak’s Fifth Avenue as a David Yurman specialist.  We knew that we’d want something by David since his company was responsible for sending Dan and me on our first, and most romantic, vacation together to Scottsdale, AZ. We went to the jewelers to check out the designs and get fitted. I have tiny, stubby, hobbit-like fingers. I knew that whatever we chose would have to be special ordered because men’s fingers are not suppose to be so tiny. If I’d known I’d have grown up with such tiny fingers I probably would’ve become a proctologist. Ah well, live and learn. We ended up choosing matching sterling silver bands encircled with an etched design inspired by a Japanese artist’s interpretation of ocean waves. They were thick bands, and weighty. I love my wedding band, and I know it’s suppose to serve as a symbol of our union. It does. In a very weighty way, it does.  Rings- Check!

You can’t have a wedding without a cake. Back in Jersey City, there was a German bakery  I adored. Goehrig’s Bakery is located under an overpass in West Jersey City, and while its storefront might not be impressive, the confections within are stellar. What they are able to do with flour and sugar almost makes diabetes seem worth it. Because neither Dan nor myself could make a trip out to NYC before the wedding to do various tastings and check out our event space, we had to, not unlike Blanche DuBois, rely on the kindness of strangers. Of course, that landed Blanche in the nuthouse, but we didn’t really have many options so we took our chances.  After scanning through the cakes on their website, I fell in love with one particular simple tiered cake covered in smooth, white fondant, embellished with marzipan fruits in muted Spring colors.  A fruit cake! The potentially offensive irony wasn’t lost on me.  Dan thought the cake was lovely, too. We ordered a two-tier version to serve 50 people to be delivered on our wedding day.  The cake, however, did arrive on time and at the right location. The colors that were so muted in the photo, were actually quite bright. It looked a bit more Carmen Miranda and less Martha Stewart. It was, however, delicious, with one tier being vanilla with Italian cream and another layer of chocolate with dulce de leche cream. Everyone raved. We debated having a cake for the Kansas City reception but we both thought one wedding cake was enough. We opted instead to have a friend  who has a side-business baking cupcakes, provide a variety of her favorites for the KC reception. They were amazing! Cake!- Check!

You can’t have a wedding without flowers… or so I’ve heard. You also need a minister or an officiant… oh, and music… and if you have flowers, you need someone to carry them… preferably someone short… and cute… and female… and what about a honeymoon? And… and… and…

There was a lot of thought put into these details. And a lot of bourbon consumed.  In the officiant department, my friend and former roommate, Andy, a tall and imposing gentleman of nearly albino whiteness was asked to go online and become a minister and register with the State of New York as an officiant in order to perform our ceremony. Just a little over a year ago, I did the same for him when he took his lovely bride in Alamo Park in San Francisco in front of the famed row of brightly painted Victorian mansions known affectionately as the “Painted Ladies”.  Andy was a packaged deal. His sister, also a New Yorker, volunteered to provide the flowers for the ceremony and his wife, a professional chanteuse, provided the music. Aaron, once again stepped up, volunteering to DJ the reception as his drag persona, Millie Shayntwrite. Officiant, Music, and Flower for NYC- Check!

Dan’s brother is a skilled florist with a terrific eye for color and composition stepped up to provide the flowers for our KC reception. Beautiful bowls of bright tulips adorned every table at the reception. It was his gift to us and they were absolutely stunning. Music for the reception in KC was provided by a friend I met through work. Mark is probably one of the best jazz pianists I’ve met outside of New Orleans and his work is always impeccable. He provided the perfect trio to keep the party humming.  Music and Flowers for KC- Check!

Now we needed flower girls to lead Dan and me down the aisle in Austin Power’s bedroom. My niece, Reide and Dan’s Best Gal’s daughter, Sofia, were the perfect choices.  Incidentally, they were the only ones designated with coordinating wardrobes. To quote Sofia, “Dan gets a new husband and I get a new dress. Yay!” Flower Girls- Check!

Someone is going to have to photograph all of this for posterity! I have a photographer friend who lives in NYC I’ve known since high school. He and his wife relocated from New Orleans to NYC after Katrina destroyed the grand, old theatre she managed downtown. She was able to land the coveted position of general manager of the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem and suddenly, they were both New Yorkers. Mason stepped in and did a lovely job photographing our wedding in a space completely devoid of light.  The photographer for Kansas City was a co-worker who has a photography business on the side. He, too, did a lovely job.  Photographers!- Check!

And speaking of photographers, here’s a little pictorial of all the details mentioned above.  Check back on my next posting (soon to come) which will explain how all this wedding madness went down.  Until then, beat this heat by baking some cookies.  (Don’t question my logic.)

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One Response to “Baking and Beaching with Martha! – Sand Tarts! -275 eggs, 204 cups of sugar, 204 sticks of Butter, and 255 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 13 recipes to go!”

  1. Sylvia Says:

    Great to have you back on the blog, Andre, and to hear the details and see the photos from both celebrations! Keep ’em coming!

    Take care. Love, Sylvia


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