This week something really fun happened. A brush with fame. But…this is Baltimore, so it was THE MOST low-key brush with fame ever.
I met my friend Sean through my blog and a shared love of food. And, crazy and Smalltimore-y as it sounds…we quickly realized that we live a block from each other in #thehamdpens. He is the head hairdresser on House of Cards, the Netflix drama that just won three Emmys – a first for a non-network show. Netflix made history that night! And Kevin Spacey had a few memorable moments during the show. I think he should consider hosting. So, back to Baltimore. The show is set in Washington, DC but they shoot all over Baltimore. This was the last week of shooting season two so I wanted to see if I might be able to bring some brownies to the set. I texted Sean and his reply: “YES!”
I found out later that several of the cast and crew follow me via social media, which really surprised me. Some even go to the restaurants that I recommend! Someone is reading this – which makes all of my running around town feel worth it. Via my Instagram feed, cast and crew members had seen photos of the brownies…fudgey chocolate with salted caramel and dusted with sea salt. They were in.
When I arrived (after a long day of work) I was escorted by security to the hair and makeup trailer. Sean came and met me and after securing the brownies (LOCK DOWN) he took me to the set. First, we passed craft services and I kinda thought, wouldn’t it be cool to feed a set? Then we walked through the Underwood’s house (living room, kitchen, basement, the smoking window), the Oval Office, Underwood’s office and more. It was SO COOL. I am so glad I had watched the show…it made seeing the sets a million times more exciting. Being so behind-the-scenes was just crazy. While we were walking around the set, the cast and crew were setting up a shot, which is quite a long process. Monitors were set up in the hallway outside one set (Underwood’s office) and production assistants and others scurried around to get everything just right. And here comes Kevin Spacey. Seriously. I’m not a particularly star struck person, but he has great presence. He definitely draws you in. He was very polite and warm, but definitely in work-mode. He was showing off a gift that Robin Wright had given him (I won’t share what it was…some things should stay behind-the-scenes) and then, he walked onto set and they shot a scene. He was so Frank. I was thoroughly impressed. He’s such a pro. And a really nice guy.
Then, here comes Michael Kelly. He plays Underwood’s Chief of Staff, Doug Stamper. He’s friendly, super fit and gave off really positive energy. As a wrap gift, he had invited the Icedgems Cupcake truck to the set that day. What a nice thing. A few of the crew members were clearly stoked about the cupcakes, reading the menu aloud and taking orders. But as Sean introduced me to person after person, he said “This is my friend Amy. She’s a baker. She makes the salted caramel brownies.” Their faces lit up…and several of them had heard about them and knew I was coming. That was so fun. “Where ARE they?” a few folks asked. Oh, and p.s. Michael Kelly is handsome. Muy.
Ah, desserts. They require precision and care as well as creativity and great taste. And people really love desserts, so you don’t want to mess them up!
Dessert can be everything from delicate to deeply comforting. Some of my latest faves are strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate cream pie and of course, (crack cocaine) salted caramel brownies! I’ve made those brownies so many times now for everyone from cooking clients to friends, neighbors and colleagues – everyone flips out when they eat them. I have a client who has a standing order once a month. One friend even sent me an expletive-filled text proclaiming her love. That was pretty funny.
Rhubarb is coming soon to a market near you!
This wonderfully tart vegetable is one of those things you either love or hate. Like, say, oysters or tapioca or olives. (I love all of those things…duh.) And, I am way on the love side of rhubarb. Pies, jams, syrups, um…vodka? Yum.
When selecting rhubarb at the grocery store or farmer’s market, look for stalks that are firm and dark pink/red. Light pink stalks can also be just fine in most recipes…but for jams, etc, I try to use red stalks, as they are more visually striking. One very important detail if you grow rhubarb: the leaves are poisonous and should not be ingested. I’ve fallen hard for rhubarb, my friends…much like I did for figs a few years ago. Now I have rhubarb growing in the back yard right next to my fig tree. I just have to figure out how to chicken-proof it – they eat everything!