Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'll be Hansel and you be Gretel

Whenever I think of a gingerbread house, I think of a happy moment from my childhood:

While I know that it was never shown or told that the house was made of candy and sweets, at least it lent the idea that it could have been and the kids were just thrown in a pot anyway.

Watching this, then made me think of a game I have recently played called Katamari Damacy:
If you are not familiar with this game, the point is that you have a ball that you basically roll stuff up with.  Like a snowball rolling down a hill, the more your roll up, the larger your ball gets and then more that the perspective and scale shifts so that it appears that you are getting larger and larger.  In this level, you had to roll up as much of this gingerbread house you could.  It even comes complete with a witch riding a broomstick.  As a fan of donuts and other great baked goods, a house made from real baked goods, does sound delicious.

Now we get to St. Louis, where to the side of the main hall of the River City Casino, they have this:

This past Saturday I was allowed to enjoy something straight from the fairy tales: the giant gingerbread house.  I thought to myself, 'how can a gingerbread be that cool?"  I was quickly surprised of exactly how large-scale this gingerbread is.  Candice Coleman, sent me over the recipe and what was required to make this and I was shocked.

Gingerbread House

450 pounds of gingerbread dough
100 pounds of shortening,
100 pounds of granulated sugar,
90 pounds of corn syrup,
117 pounds flour.
Baked off 500 6 inches by 12 inches square bricks.
100 house made gum drops
400 fresh baked cookies
130 fresh baked cupcakes
300 pounds of royal icing

Okay, so imagine how big of a item you could make with 450 pounds of cookie dough!  What they did, was create a wooden house and then using frosting, they glued these gingerbread cookie slabs on to the outside.  While reading that list I also thought of how big it could be, with only 400 cookies, 130 cupcakes and 100 house made gum drops.  My mind immediately thought of those store-bought gum drops and how 100 of them is hardly enough to decorate even the store-bought gingerbread houses.  That is, until I saw them up close:

That large yellowish thing with the sugar on it, is the "house made gum drops".  Really?!?!?   Way to fool me Chef John.  That thing is huge and looks to be about 3 inches tall and about 2.5 inches in diameter.  It reminded me of those giant "novelty" gummi bears that you can buy at the World Market in Chesterfield and everyone sinks their face into.  I'm surprised no one has taken this idea and made some kind of weird candy fetish video with giant gummi bears and huge gum drops.  Take these into account with the normal sized cupcakes and those cookies look to be at least 6 inches across.

Now, while this house enough sugar to give every child in America a sugar rush and is cool to look at, there is special food that can be ordered.  The gingerbread house has a special menu, which allows you to pick from your first course, your entre' and get your dessert all for one low price of $25.

I had the pumpkin pie soup, which  had creme fraiche and toasted pepitas.  It was great and sweet but not too, too sweet.  It tasted like pumpkin with some sweet elements to it.  A great way to judge a dish is to get a kid to eat it and my 6 year old loved it.  He kept asking for more and he sat in front of his breakfast plate.
The soup was an easy 4 out of 5 for me.
 Between the choice of the ham and the turkey breast, I chose the ham.  (It is a pork product after all.)  The ham had a 1904 Bourbon glaze, with a sweet potato and yellow potato gratin and then had some baby carrots.  The carrots were as sweet as the soup, which is a good thing, for me.  I prefer my vegetables with large amounts of butter and or brown sugar or maple or other sweet applications.
So, it was huge, a large amount of food was offered to me and presented and I was already ready, already.  The ham was tender and juicy and flavorful.  The gratin was tender and easy to eat and creamy.  The carrots were awesome.  The meal was an easy 4 out of 5.

There were others:  Like the eggnog flan that came with this prefix meal.  I'd give it a 4 out of 5.  Then there was the egg and Canadian bacon sandwich with potatoes that my son ordered and ate his fill of, loving every bite of it.  Even the Beignets came out correctly.  They were light and fluffy and delicious.  We ordered the traditional and plan on trying the maple bacon when we return.

While going to the casino and eating in a giant gingerbread house may be just regular average droll for you, it is important to note that doing so, helps a charity.  To reserve your spot for a meal in this house, requires $20.  This $20 goes straight to the Center for Hearing and Speech, which helps hearing impaired adults and children in the St. Louis area.  This isn't some organization going to help people around the world or in some other city but takes care of the people HERE.  Every cent of that $20 goes to the organization.  Now, while you may be wondering, what you get for your $20 other than a spot in this edible house, here you go: activities for your kids.  The gingerbread house is a great place to go with your kids.  It seats 4 people comfortably and after ordering adults and kids alike, are given slabs of gingerbread with colored icing, with which you can decorate your tile.  Tiles or slabs of cooked and decorated gingerbread can be donated to the house, where a chef will get to glue them on to the house, using frosting.  So, you can make a funny picture, write your name, or even write the name of your website.

So, this holiday season, spend the $20, help someone hear for the first time and enjoy some great food.

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