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Animal Instinct

Ah, the life of a food writer. One moment you're dining on lobster and caviar, the next moment you're in a hotel's chilly fluorescent-lit windowless basement pastry room, among racks of lemon meringue petit fours, squinting as you try to make the world's tiniest eyes out of black fondant and attach them to some fondant hybrid of a duck and a chick (a chuck?) that you've come up. A lot of cursing is involved.



Making fondant pigs is harder than it looks.

This was yesterday. Jessica and I, along with Susie, our executive publisher, spent some quality time with Russell—the Palace Hotel's rotund, jolly, floppy-toque-and-mustache-sporting genius pastry sous chef who looks straight out of a Pixar animation feature—working hard on our epic gingerbread barn, which we're entering in a competition that the hotel sponsors. The winner gets to pick the charity of their choice to donate the winnings to. I can't tell you how much we really want to win. Badly.



Seriously cute: Cow by Russell, sheep and pig by Jessica and "chucks" by Sara.

To see the final 15-some gingerbread houses, all made by local media and such, go to the hotel and drop your ballot in the voting box. The date of the gingerbread unveilings has yet to be determined, but it'll be after Thanksgiving and the number to call is 415-512-1111 x6126 to get more information.

So, vote.

(For the barn.)

P.S. While you're at it, vote for your favorite restaurant in our Reader's Choice Awards. Exercise that right.