For the last week or so the apartment has smelled like ginger and butter and fresh baked goodness as Laura has been preparing for the great Cookie Takedown.
The Takedowns are the brainchild of Matt Timms, the man, the legend, the celebrity-craving genius with the hand-painted heart of gold. Matt's a friend and neighbor who consistently beats me at Facebook Scrabble and then gloats like an evil villain in a Bond movie about it, not that I'm bitter, no, that would be wrong. Matt's notion of the Takedown started with a Chili Takedown and has moved on to Bacon Takedowns, Lamb Takedowns and countless other Takedowns in a growing number of cities across America with a growing legion of sponsors and supporters and an increasing focus of media attention. Matt's Takedown will no doubt expand to global domination because Matt Timms is a driven dude and he knows that people both like to cook and like to share and if you set a table, they will come.
And so it came to pass that the holiday Takedown call went out to cookie makers and here my worlds collided, for I happen to live with and love a pretty and sweet baker who likes to hand out cookies. Laura had never done anything like this, but she jumped in with both feet and made a run for the gold.
In order to perfect her recipe--the top secret Dark and Stormy Cookie--Laura tinkered and experimented with ingredients, cooking times, temperatures and cookie sizes. "What do you think of this one?" she'd ask and I'd eat another cookie and try to think if it was better than the last one I'd eaten. It was a burden, yes, but I carried it because . . . well, I got to eat a lot of Laura's cookies.
Laura was one of the first contestants to arrive, so she had her pick of where to situate herself at the long table. I recommended that she grab the center--number sixteen. Soon, all the places were filled and the sold out tasters were swarming over the cookie trays. Gloved hands handed out cookies and people jockeyed for first place--"vote for me!" they'd say as if their cookies didn't say enough.
It's kind of a sugar-rush blur, what happened next. I remember that I grabbed a glass of egg-nog spiked with bourbon and rum and filled a plate with cookies from the table. There was a bacon, peanut and pecan cookie and there was a "nacho-momma" cookie. There was a cookie that looked like an egg-roll, stuffed with brownie mix and drizzled with an espresso reduction. There was something called "The Stoner Cookie" which scared me, but I ate it because I ate everything like a damn stoner. There was a ginger snap cookie and something called the Chocolate Decadence and oh-my-lord-there-were-so-many-cookies-I-might-be-sick-for-a-week-no-seriously.
It was, to be frank, a hipster feeding frenzy.
When the dust had settled and awards distributed, sadly, it happened somehow that Laura did not take home the hundred dollar first place prize. It should be noted however that the top prizes went to the contestants on her left and right, so I wasn't completely wrong in my advice on where to set up; I was just slightly off.
I sampled a lot of cookies yesterday, perhaps more than I've ever tasted in my life. But I reckon I didn't eat any cookie better than Laura's Dark and Stormy. There's probably a lesson there, but I'm not going to tease it out any further than to say that Laura's cookies are the cookies I crave and home-baked is best.
Also, it should be noted that Matt Timms is a mad genius. He'd want me to end this that way, and so I will.