Pastel es Buena (Or Pablo Escobar, Manuel Noriega, and My Tres Leches Cake)

Friday I promised to hook you up with the recipe for the tres leches cake I made for Nicole’s Taco Bell themed birthday party if it wasn’t a disaster. I only had one bite because I generally consider cake to be a complete waste of calories, but I didn’t hate it.


A few people sought me out to tell me I should open up a bakery so I’ll take it as a sign that it didn’t seriously suck….

I must tell you, though: it absolutely resembled Manuel Noriega’s* pock-marked face at one point in the baking process.

Remember him from the 80s?

Dictator from Panama?

De Facto ruler of Panama? Source

Infamous drug trafficker and CIA informant?

Embroiled in the Iran/Contra scandal?


Oh well.

He was super infamous back then, and his face totally looked like my cake.


Do they make Accutane for cakes?

Do they make Accutane for baked goods?

Sorry, cake, the skewering was necessary to get the tres leches to sink into you properly.

Manuel, I really don’t know what else to say except that when you make a lot of money working with Pablo Escobar and the Medellin, sometimes you end up rotting in prison (but Jesus and your mom still love you, so that totally counts for something.)

Besides, we ALL had awkward pasts.

I know I did….

Second grade was not a good year for me.

Second grade was not a good year for me.

The fact that this is my father’s favorite picture from my childhood leads me to believe one of two things: 1) Love TRULY makes a person blind or 2) The man was hoping his only child would die a virgin. (If you know my dad either of these would be plausible hypotheses, by the way.)

I digress.

We were talking about cake.

Once you cover it up with whipped cream and toasted coconut, everyone forgets about the cake’s awkward adolescence.

When doesn’t whipped cream, toasted coconut, and a smattering of edible flowers fix everything, though?

Edible flowers and talking Taco Bell dogs make everything better.

Everything that isn’t fixed by a bottle of Bacardi and the talking dog from Taco Bell, I mean.

So, anyway, I know I’m saying all this stuff about how I basically hate cake and that it looked like an imprisoned Panamanian at one point, but the truth is that I scoured the internet for a tres leches recipe that would be as addictive as the cocaine that caused Noriega’s problems, and this one truly, truly sounded SO much better than the others.

And that’s why I picked it.

In the end, the birthday girl LOVED it.

Toasting with tres leches.

And that’s all that matters.

So here’s the recipe. I found it on Chow.

Get some.

*There’s also a Mexican field hockey player named Manuel Noriega, and a Mexican actor named Manuel Noriega Ruiz, or so the internet says. Just in case you were wondering….

Gin, Grapefruit, and Gedrick (Or How to Make a Spiked Gin and Grapefruit Shake)

Sometimes when I’ve been spending too much time staring at my fat arm in the mirror and listening to The National, I realize I’m being a fragile, self-absorbed fool of the most neurotic order. When this happens, or when I have just generally lost the will to live, I put on Iron Eagle and cheer myself up. It took about 25 years and hundreds of viewings to figure out why I love the movie. Sure, it has a killer soundtrack, and massive explosions, and, yes, I have been in love with Jason Gedrick since I was nine, but it goes well beyond that.

I love Jason Gedrick so much that I watched Luck on HBO even though I had absolutely no idea what was happening on the show. Ever. (Photo courtesy of IMdB)

What I love about Iron Eagle is that it’s a story about a young man (played by Gedrick) who refuses to sit idly by when his father, a US air force pilot, has been sentenced to die in a foreign land. Instead of accepting that his own country has left his father to die at the hands of the enemy, Doug figures out how to basically invade the country by himself with the help of his friends. Sure, it’s wildly unrealistic, but so is the entire premise of Pretty Woman and people like that movie. (I am NOT one of those people. It’s OK if you are. We can still be internet friends.)

Doug is resourceful, courageous, and absolutely dogged. Sure, he’s a reckless driver and he’s a bit cocky and all that, but he also manages to make feathered hair look sexy somehow, so there is that. AND he has this total “I did it my way” Sinatra-sort of attitude that I have always identified with. (I recently realized it’s because I am a bit of a rebel myself.)

I feel compelled to digress for a moment and explain that I’m not one of those “Ra Ra, America! Let’s Go Blow Up the Middle East” kind of people. In fact, I’m rather peaceable and kind – except when I’m picking up family members up from the airport. Then I think the devil takes hold of me or something and I end screaming, swearing, and honking like a New York City cab driver. I am not proud of this, but we all have our faults. I digress….

So, anyway, there’s a great moment in the movie after Doug’s wingman, Chappy, has crashed into the Mediterranean and he’s heading into hostile territory without any air support. Alone and facing a cruel enemy, he plays the tape Chappy made for him in case of emergency. Chappy’s voice says, “Right now you’re probably filled with all the doubts in the world, but I’m going to tell you something. God doesn’t give people things he doesn’t want ‘em to use. And he gave you the touch. It’s a power you have inside you down there deep where you keep your guts, boy. It’s all you need to blast your way in and get back what they took from you. Your dad’s just sittin’ there waitin’ for a miracle, and if you fly your heart out, you can give him one. It’s up to you.”

This shit absolutely speaks to my soul. For real.

Here’s the scene:

So, the point of all of my rambling is to say that I’ve had a lot of time lately to think about what my “touch” is — or what my skills are — and how I can apply them to my next endeavor. I’m in the process of piecing all of that together at the moment. For now I’m just going to tell you how to make a spiked gin and grapefruit shake before I get too philosophical because one of my skills just might be bartending. (Kidding.)

These shakes are probably not a good idea if you’ve been staring at your fat arm, but maybe after a few of them you’ll forget you have arms at all.

If you are going to make them, I suggest putting on your happy movie and turning off The National because it’s probably a bad idea to drink away your sorrows… or at least that’s what the American Psychological Association would say.

Gin and Grapefruit Spiked Shake

1 ½ C vanilla ice cream
4 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (from half of one grapefruit)
3 oz gin

Pour the contents into the blender and blend. You can make this a few hours ahead and put it in the freezer because the alcohol will prevent the shake from freezing completely.

The recipe is based on a pin from Better Homes and Gardens. Enjoy!

This Gin and Grapefruit Spiked Shake is almost as yummy as Jason Gedrick.


Do you have a happy movie?