Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Tiramisu Story

Of the whole anniversary dinner, the highlight was always meant to be the tiramisu. I knew I was making tiramisu before anything else because it is the agent's favorite dessert. I also knew that I wanted to use a specific recipe of a friend of his because he had said it was the best tiramisu ever.

I did not have his friend's phone number and I couldn't ask for it without arousing suspicion. Fortunately for me, she does have a MySpace page. Unfortunately for me, she does not allow messages from people who are not her MySpace friends. So I sent her a friend request and hoped she would would get it in time for the dinner. And luckily she did, so I got the recipe in plenty of time. She also sent notes about the specific coffee and rum she used, so problem #1 solved.

Tiramisu requires one to brew coffee. As neither the bartender nor I are coffee drinkers, I do not own a coffee maker or a coffee grinder. On top of this, the coffee his friend used to make this was espresso from Intelligentsia. Intelligentsia is the agent's favorite coffee and the only one I know is right next door to where he works. He is therefore there all the time. So first I had to get into Intelligentsia undetected somehow, and then I had to get some coffee. My options were to buy beans and then grind them and brew it at home which would require buying a coffee maker AND a coffee grinder, or order it already brewed. I needed almost two cups of coffee, and with espresso being sold an ounce or two at a time, I would have had to order a dozen or so. This seemed excessive to me in both time and expense, so in the end I decided to buy the equipment to brew it myself, figuring I can use it for holidays or something. So then all I had to do was figure out how to get to the beans.

How to get the beans was what I was pondering as I wandered around Whole Foods getting other items and talking to a stranger about what sort of wine to buy. In so doing I wandered right into a display of...bags of Intelligentsia coffee beans! And what do you know, they even had the espresso. I was gleeful as I put the beans into my basket. I had been on the verge of deciding to try to sneak into the coffee shop on Friday afternoon and now I didn't have to. Hooray! More time to prepare. Or so I thought.

Tiramisu also requires the purchase of lady fingers (of which I am not actually aware of any other use). I did not find them at Whole Foods like I thought I would. No matter, I figured I would get them at Jewel.

Except Jewel didn't have them.

Trader Joe's didn't either.


On Friday morning I raced to work in a panic and explained to BrownsFan that I needed to find lady fingers. I CANNOT MAKE TIRAMISU WITHOUT LADY FINGERS. I needed to find an Italian grocery, figure out how to get to it, go there and then get home to make the tiramisu before the agent got to my house for Friday night dinner (tiramisu needs to set overnight). Luckily for me, BrownsFan is a Googling master. Instead of finding me an Italian specialty store, she found me a forum in which people were discussing their trouble with finding lady fingers, to which someone had posted "You can get them at World Market". This was great news as I knew where to find a World Market and what the procedure would be when I got there. What I could not be sure of was whether they had them in stock. So I did the unthinkable: I called the store on the phone and spoke to someone. Unbelievable, I know right? Hey, I was desperate at that point. The conversation went like this:

Me: PLEASE tell me you sell lady fingers.
World Market lady: Yes, we sell them.
Me: PLEASE tell me you have some in stock, like, RIGHT NOW.
World Market lady: (laughing, I can only presume at me) We do. Would you like me to set some aside for you.
Me: Holy crap, yes. I'll be there in an hour.

W-O-R-L-D-M-A-R-K-E-T spells relief.

So now I had everything I needed and I'm at home. It was 2:00. The first step was to brew the coffee, but now I had another problem. Coffee makes the whole house smell, the agent would be over for dinner at 7:00 and he knows that the bartender and I don't drink coffee. I attempted to solve this problem in the obvious way: by brewing the coffee on the floor of my bedroom with the door shut to keep as much coffee smell out of the house as possible. For the most part that worked, but being totally paranoid, I ran around the house opening windows and turning on fans, all the while concocting a story to explain what the big baking dish covered in foil in the refrigerator was in case I was asked (the bartender was making lasagna we were not supposed to touch it on pain of death).

With all of that done, I finally sat down to watch some tv for a while, but my phone rang immediately. It was the agent telling me he was done with work early so he was coming over right now! This sent me running outside so I could come back in and see if the house still smelled like coffee.

The next day, when I went over to prepare the surprise dinner, I took the coffee beans with me because I certainly had no other use for them and they had a much better chance of being used by the agent, a known coffee fiend. What I didn't plan for was the agent to be there while I was cooking, so I was unprepared when he looked in the cabinet and said "Oh, you bought more coffee!" Fearing he would see it was espresso and guess what I had made for dessert, I turned the bag around with the label facing in, hoping he wouldn't look at it.

At dessert time I unthinkingly told the agent he should brew some coffee. "The coffee you brought over, right?" he asked. No!

Me: No!
The agent: No?
Me: No. Brew your own coffee.
The agent: So you don't want me to brew the coffee you brought?
Me: No.
The agent: But then why did you buy coffee?
Me: STOP ASKING QUESTIONS! Just brew your own coffee.

In light of the messed up dinner surprise, he did stop asking questions and brewed his own coffee, which we drank with the tiramisu while I regaled him with my very first telling of The Tiramisu Story, and which, after reading this long long post, I have realized I tell much better live, but it is what it is.

(The tiramisu was good. Especially for breakfast.)

1 comment:

Tara said...

Tiramisu is _awesome_. I made some this weekend. And although you were following a specific recipe, may I suggest buying espresso powder, which you can mix with water, to meet your espresso baking needs?
WorldMarket is also awesome. Especially their food.