Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Detour to Freed's

On the return from the trip to Las Vegas, I popped into Freed's Bakery.  Through some lucky connections, I was able to have a tour of the facilities, and it was truly mind boggling to see the size of production here!

Freed's is a Las Vegas institution, making cakes for many of the big hotels and weddings and with a line out of the door for their famous cookies.

It seemed that in years past there was a small bakery owned by the Freid family on every corner, but in recent times, they have decided to consolidate to one large operation.

Any bakery tour starts with a good look at what is on offer, and the case is just a beauty to behold!

We bought some of the yummy cookies to savor on our long drive back home, and they were wonderful, I especially remember the pecan shortbread and the magic bars!

We started by looking at the consultation suite, where up to 6 couples could discuss their wedding cakes at any one time.  Amazing! 

The tour continued to an entirely separate area where cakes are 'built', torted, filling added and a crumb coat of icing added.

It was good to see all the fresh ingredients in the fridge, so many bakeries these days rely on shelf stable fake ingredients these days.

We took a look at where the decorators sit, the bakery has 7 talented artists who finish the cakes off with their amazing designs. 

We also took a look at the giant rotating convection oven, which just boggles the mind!

The giant hobart mixers all in a line were stunning, it took a moment for me to realize that they were more than twice the size of even the largest mixer I've ever used, and they dwarfed the teeny little hobart mixers that I normally use to make the mousse filling at my internship!

For me it was a window into another world.  My dream was that I made cakes for people, which I do now, I dont have aspirations past maybe having my own small kitchen and studio with small fridges that hold beautiful custom cakes that I have created for people, but we'll see what the future holds...

So if you're passing through Henderson on your way back to San Diego, pick up some cookies here to make your journey that much sweeter.

Bakery Hours: Monday - Saturday 8:00am -8:00pm PST
Sunday 9:00am-6:00pm

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Viva Bike Vegas!

Wow!  What an adventure!  Im afraid its not all about food today, unless you like hearing about gatorade, energy bars, bananas, oranges and miller lite, which is most of what I ended up eating yesterday! My courageous bike team completed what was my 10th program with Team in Training, and my 9th century bike ride to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

This was by far the hardest bike program, the 'Viva Bike Vegas' was a really gruelling 103 miles and between 4500 and 5100 ft of climbing, the toughest part being a relentless 30 mile slog up into the Red Rock Canyon preserve.  Whilst it was beautiful, it was painful continually climbing for that distance.

The true highlight of the day was riding down the Las Vegas strip, which was closed to traffic, and having a 5am cheering crew made up of drunks, and various random people who were still up from the night before!

I was so happy to have finished the ride, but I'm also proud of my team-mates, one of which had only ridden a beach cruiser many years ago and was around my mothers age!

I'm pictured here at the finish with my wonderful mentor, Will, who taught me about the 'goldilocks' method of trying to find a rider who is a similar pace to you and then hanging on to dear life on their wheel so they block the wind for you!

The hill climbing around San Diego paid off, and we continued our tradition of even the fastest riders going back out to near the finish line and riding in together, which was especially gracious when they finished several hours before and were dying for a shower and clean clothes!
I normally sneer at Outback Steakhouse, but the post ride meal provided as part of the registration was a true step up from most organized bike ride, a plate of perfectly seared mahi-mahi, delicious rice and cesar salad was most welcome to recharge my batteries, along with a cold beer!
I think this ride might be one I only try once, the fun start on the strip, the beautiful climb through red rocks, the fun bike path in the middle were great, but the relentless burning heat, and the rather boring middle section through uninspiring neighborhoods was quite tough.

Oh and I should mention the skull on our helmets.  Every week, the coaches awarded a team member a purple skull for their bravery the previous week.  They wanted to honor everyone on the team for being a warrior so we all had them!  It drew quite a lot of attention on the course, with a bloke nicknaming me 'skully' for half of the ride!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On 'not working' ....

I thought I should check in and discuss how the last two months have been since I gave up my job.  I think its pretty obvious that I havent had much time for blogging!!  I'm hoping to share a little more of what I've been up to, but first I'll just chat about how life seems to be. 

The first week or two back from my trip I really struggled with the stress, and all the stuff I was juggling, but I managed to figure it out a bit and its getting better.  I realized that booking kitchen times was stressing me out, so I made the decision to book regular time slots every week and just hope I would have cakes to work on.  It turns out 'if you book it they will come'!  I get quite a lot of last minute orders, and I'm definitely not resting on my laurels!

I also dropped a dreadful class that was making me miserable.  That helps too.  I figured out that since I was working for free, my internship could be on my terms, and that has been such a wonderful experience.  Cake is a wonderful bakery, and they make truly spectacular looking and tasting cakes.  I've been in awe of the wonderful creations, and I've learned so much.

I've also been working on my Etsy shop.  I dont get a ton of business, although I wouldnt be able to cope if I did, here are some hamsters for a birthday party that I made! 
I entered the carlsbad art splash cake competition, I didnt have time for an elaborate cake, but I did want to create a colorful and large piece to fill out the table with colorful work.  The americans probably didnt get this little play on words, but the theme is 'rock around the beach' so I created some sticks of rock around a beach scene.  I was hoping to finish a beach theme with a chap on a deck chair with a knotted hanky snoozing under a newspaper, but that fell by the wayside at 10pm when I had to get up at 5am to deliver the 350 cupcakes I had made the previous day!
Something that is a major struggle is the fact that I am 'working' for most of the weekend, so come Monday morning I'm exhausted, and ready for a break, and I do actually deserve one, since most people have been relaxing all weekend and are going back to work, and I've been working. 

I'm not sure if there will be whole days off much, but I do need to take some time for myself otherwise I'll just get burnt out.  That is something I'm still figuring out!

If you work for yourself, do you have any tips about this?