Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Birthday with Phil-ly

July birthday season started with a trip to Philadelphia.
Before the game on Saturday we ate at a restaurant called Village Whiskey. The executive chef is Jose Garces, a top chef who has defeated Bobby Flay on Iron Chef. I found it because it has a nice selection of bourbon. We ended up not having any straight bourbon while we were there but we did have a great meal and some very tasty cocktails. We started by picking one of their pickle selections, it was a hard choice but we went with the truffled cauliflower. The cauliflower was mixed with some carrots and they were in a vinegar bath with a nice background of truffle. I would love to try and make them myself. The pickles also came with some toasted sourdough bread, whipped ricotta cheese, and an olive tapenade. It was definitely a plate of food that made me happy. For lunch we shared a burger and a wedge salad. The wedge had roasted red pepper slices, grilled red onion, shaved parmesan and it was topped with a buttermilk dressing. The burger was a big messy burger that was perfectly cooked, served on a nice soft bun and topped with a house made thousand island dressing. It was more than enough food for two people. Michael enjoyed an Old Fashioned to drink while I had a cocktail called the 'Bee Charmer'. The 'Bee Charmer' was a mix of lavender and chamomile infused gin with yellow chartreuse, lemon, and honey. It was an interesting flavor mix that was really light and refreshing.
Saturday night we had some fantastic seats to watch the Braves win over the Phillies. We sat behind the visiting team dugout and there were lots of Braves fans in our section.

We stayed at the Le Meridien in downtown. We could walk to Independence Hall, Reading Terminal Market, and Rittenhouse Square. The hotel is an old YMCA building that has been updated and renovated. There was a big open atrium area with modern seating where you could see the old building but you were still inside of the hotel.

Before the game on Sunday we walked over to Independence Hall. Unfortunately there was a heat advisory in the Northeast that weekend and it was really hot and humid. We were dying by the time we got to the National Constitution Center and all we wanted to do was go in and cool down, but they weren't open yet for the day. We could see the condensation on the building doors and we knew it was nice and cold inside but we were out of luck.


We didn't have enough time to go inside Independence Hall for a tour, but we did tour the grounds. It is always great to visit a spot with so much history. We peeked in at the Liberty Bell and the visitor center had some great info on Benjamin Franklin. 

The game on Sunday wasn't as much fun as the game on Saturday. It was really hot, we were seated by all Philly fans with lots of young children that had no interest in watching the game, and the Braves lost - boo! At one point during the game McCann ran from 1st to 3rd base and it looked like he was going to pass out at 3rd - it was just too hot to be out there on the field!

After the game we hung out in Rittenhouse Square and had some food before the Amtrak ride home.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Alumni Weekend with the Atlanta Braves - June 2013

We spent a long and hot weekend in Atlanta to celebrate Braves Alumni Weekend and the retirement of Chipper Jones #10.
Friday was the big ceremony to retire Chipper's number. The pre-game ceremony was pretty quick, but nicely done. It is hard to see, but if you look in the outfield a #10 is highlighted in the grass.

There was a lunch honoring Chipper that day and that seemed like the real party. Lots of Braves legends were on hand to congratulate Chipper.

Throughout the game on Friday, video messages popped up on the scoreboard. Of course Dale Murphy was there on the screen and in person. He was signing autographs on Saturday, but the line to see him was crazy long and pretty much in direct sunlight. We just kind of walked by his table and got a quick view while he was signing.

Saturday was a blast. Before the actual game there was an alumni softball game. Past players were split in to two teams and they played a mean game of softball. There were quite a few shenanigans including an umpire catching a fly ball and it counting as an out!

Some of the alumni players brought their kids to run for them. It was really cute to see them take their job very seriously. The umps and players made sure the kids scored if they were close to home plate. 

John Smoltz was a team captain and he hit a monster home run. He had a good time running the bases.

Sunday was alumni photo day with groups of players arranged around the stadium. Most of the stations didn't have very long lines so we decided to meet some players and get some photos. All of the players were so pleasant, it ended up being a highlight of the trip.

In the photo below: Denny Neagle, Craig Skok, Mike Bell, Tony Brizzolara, and one other play to be identified and of course KO and MW.

And we managed to get in to the special 'season ticket holder' station to get our photo with: Marquis Grissom, Mike Bielecki, Adrian Devine, and Chris Hammond. Chris Hammond is the player who has his arm around me, I went to shake his hand and ended up getting a hug!

Our last photo session ended up being the best. We were the last people to get our photos taken with this group and they were very chatty. As we were waiting to pose for the photo two of the alumni were comparing their World Series rings. The staff person with my camera was nice enough to snap photos of this, I was so happy this candid moment was captured. 

The alumni players were Brad Clontz, Jay Howell, and Curtis Pride. Mark Lemke was supposed to be with this group but he wasn't which was a bummer because I was wearing my Lemke shirt! He was supposed to see what a big fan I am :-)

The game on Sunday was dedicated to the troops. As part of the opening they had military members walk on the field and be part of the flag salute.

And the best part of the weekend the Braves swept the series! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Making of a Gum Paste Flower

I am still amazed at how a gum paste flower starts out as nothing but a lump of gum paste and in a few relatively easy steps it turns in to a pretty flower.
For the Tiffany cake box, the flower petal base is the same as a traditional rose. 
Once the petal shape is cut from the dough, the front side gets some texture from a veining tool.

After veining, the petal edges are thinned out with a ball tool.

This process was repeated three times and the layers glued together. 

To give the petals some lift and movement, small piece of foam are inserted between the petals as the flower dries.

This particular flower was going on the Tiffany cake, so the center was made to look like a silver brooch using a daisy flower shape for the base.

And a jewelry brooch mold for the center.

The center piece was painted with edible silver and we added edible sugar pearls to make it fancy!

Once the center is glued to the flower petal base, the entire piece is left to set.

And finally it is added to the cake.