Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Plethora of Pineapples

Sweet greetings to you all.  October 17 is National “Sweetest” Day and I think that’s as good an excuse as any to enjoy something indulgent.  Today’s puzzle box is therefore a sweet little treat created by master wood worker Perry McDaniel.  His “Pineapple Down Side Over Cake” is a marvel of modern machining and devious design.  

The Pineapple Down Side Over Cake by Perry McDaniel

Perry McDaniel has created many beautiful puzzles over the past 20 years, some of which he has designed with the dovetail loving Sandfield brothers and some as his own unique designs.  He is lately known for his series of “baked goods” which have included puzzle boxes disguised as slices of cake or pie which look good enough to eat.  Over the past few years he produced a set of puzzle box “petit fours”.  Each is a small offering made from colorful exotic woods to look like a lovely little pastry, with tiny details such as a colorful stripe and a dainty flower on top.  It’s difficult to imagine how such a small item hides much complexity as a puzzle box, but Perry is a master and has created a set of wonderfully satisfying puzzles.  With tiny precision he has added multiple steps, false moves / dead ends, and unexpected movements into these little confections.  The Pineapple Cake is no exception.  It makes you want to take small bites and savor each one as you make you way to its sugary center.

Numbered and signed by the master craftsman

We take a little literary turn now as we craft a cocktail pairing for this pineapple petit four.  Cocktails abound in books and book lore, from authors who are well known for their signature drink to the characters they create with similar proclivities.  Puzzle boxes on the other hand are fairly scarce in literature, although they make an important appearance in Anthony Doerr’s amazing novel, "All the Light We Cannot See”, which I highly recommend.  One of Charles Dickens' memorable characters from The Pickwick Papers is the Reverend Stiggins, who has a fondness for pineapple rum.  Pineapple rum was a common consumption in the 1800s, and dates back to the late 1700’s when distillers would soak pineapples into barrels of rum to sweeten it up.  The cocktail historian David Wondrich, who has researched, refined and resurrected numerous spirits (in this case literally and figuratively) from days long gone, has teamed up with the makers of fine cognacs and other spirits, Maison Ferrand, to recreate this old style of pineapple rum, which is not overly sweet but imparts delicious hints of the fruit.  

The Pineapple Express with Plantation Pineapple "Stiggin's Fancy" Rum -  a cocktail fit for Charles Dickens himself 

In homage to the raucous reverend, they have named it “Plantation Pineapple Rum, Stiggin’s Fancy 1824 Recipe” and bottled it with a retro cool label which recalls the best and worst of times.  The Pineapple Express cocktail, created by Freddie Sarkis from the Broken Shaker in Chicago, is a simple daiquiri (how could I resist?) which utilizes this special pineapple rum in a perfect way that lets you appreciate its subtle and unique flavor.  So treat yourself to something really special on the sweetest day, whether its puzzles, pineapples, potions, or simply the pleasure of your progeny, partner, and people in your life.

A Pleasing Pair of Pineapples - Cheers!

For more about Perry McDaniel:

For more about Stiggin’s Fancy Pineapple Rum:

For the Pineapple Express cocktail recipe by Freddie Sarkis:

1 comment:

  1. Every time I see these beauties by Perry, I wish that I could buy them. But I know that getting them would be the beginning of a very slippery slope which I cannot afford to slide down!!! :-(