Monster Magnet, Bourbon Eggnog, and Potty-Mouthed Kids at the Bell House's Cookie Takedown
Syd London The spread at the Cookie Takedown
The Cookie Takedown, brainchild of Matt Timms (he of the Bacon, Chili, Fondue and Cheese Takedowns), took place under the dangling chandeliers of Brooklyn's Bell House last night to the strains of stoner metal. "I bet people would prefer a DJ, but I couldn't abide that," declared Timms over his beloved Monster Magnet. "I mixed it up this time with punk--usually it's just straight doom metal. Whatever. It's my Takedown, and I'm going to do what I want!"
With his Willy Wonka-on-speed demeanor, light megalomania, and exclamation-point-saturated writing style, Timms is perhaps as much of a draw as the baked goods at this affair, which by many accounts boasted only a few culinary knockouts. (In the bakers' defense, they had a hard go of it, lugging 250 samples through the snow--and everyone knows cookies are at their best fresh-baked.)
In a nod to the salty-sweet dessert trend, several of the 30 entrants were caked with salt, some to such an extraordinary extent that they provoked flashbacks to The Dark Crystal. As judge and Time Out dining editor Gabriella Gershenson noted carefully, "some people lack restraint, and took the 'everything in the kitchen sink' approach," Her fellow judge, Renato Poliafito of the Red Hook sweets shop Baked, renowned for its salty-sweet treats, was more to the point: "Some of them tasted like they'd dumped Diamond Crystal on them."
His advice to cooks looking to incorporate salt into their sweets? "Take your favorite cookie. Sprinkle each one with just a little bit of salt just before baking. See what you think." His favorite--and the judges' winner--was a sandwich cookie he pronounced "Baked-esque." Two chocolate cookies with a touch of espresso sandwiched a homemade cream cheese frosting flecked with orange--a first try from fledgling catering entrepreneur Nicholetta of Nicholetta's Eats & Treats.
Syd London Twisted Samoa Sister, a take on the Girl Scout classic.
As for awards voting procedure, Timms had a decidedly anarchist approach to the ballot box, unlike the gents at the Brooklyn Chocolate Experiment, who carefully handed out one printed ballot to each attendee. Timms handed a blank one-inch square of ripped-up paper to anyone who came up to him: One young woman wandered around holding three. Of his ballots technique, Timms originally declared, "I like to look each person in the eye and make a connection." He backtracked seconds later, "OK, I know it's a bad idea." "Is it fair to say you like to think the best of people?" asked Fork in the Road. "Yeah. Absolutely."
No one was heard protesting Timms's methodology, perhaps because of the stiff rum-and-bourbon-laced eggnog being handed out gratis at the bar from Kimberley, a blonde, elfin bartender of incredible loquacity. She greeted each customer in an increasingly peculiar way--"Look at you, mister wine man with my cookies, I'm an Upper East Side cookie lover," or "You're a naughty librarian in those glasses, girl!" Finally, Kimberley admitted that she had sampled the eggnog "once ... no, over and over to make sure it was OK for Santa's Little Helpers."