Fans of Stuart McLean, story-teller extraordinaire and host of CBC’s Vinyl Cafe, learned the sad news this week of his passing. Christine and I are both long-time fans of his stories and radio show. A few years back, Stuart was signing books at a book shop in London, so we decided to go see him ….. and baked him a cake. But not just any cake – it was the cake from his story, The Birthday Cake, from his latest book at the time, Extreme Vinyl Cafe. When we presented Stuart with the cake at the book store, he was incredulous that it had actually been made. He told us that to describe this decadent cake in his story, he had googled the most delicious and scrumptious ingredients he could find on gourmet food sites and then put them all into his imaginary cake. Christine, however, was able to take those ingredients and create a truly heavenly cake for our magazine column that month (Book Club & Dinner, CityWoman Magazine, Jan/Feb 2010). Here is our article and recipe from that magazine.
‘The Birthday Cake’ – Extreme Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean
If you number among the many Canadians who are fans of The Vinyl Cafe stories, chances are you may have received a copy of Stuart McLean’s latest book, Extreme Vinyl Cafe, for Christmas. In Extreme Vinyl Cafe, McLean continues his hilarious series about beloved character, Dave, owner of The Vinyl Cafe, a Toronto second-hand record store. Over the years, McLean has created an entire world around Dave and his family, whose last name we never learn, (but we do know they have a jukebox in their living room). In the author’s latest offering, readers will catch-up on the misadventures of Dave, his wife Morley, their kids Sam and Stephanie, as well as the antics of their colourful collection of friends and neighbours.
One of our favourite stories in this latest book, ‘The Birthday Cake’, inspired the scrumptious cake Christine makes in the recipe that follows. Dave and Morley travel to Montreal with their neighbours, Bert and Mary, for the 65th birthday party of a mutual friend. For the occasion, Mary has made a spectacular cake, “She (Mary) was creating a masterpiece – a Frangelico-soaked chocolate fudge cake with white chocolate fondant and an orange buttercream and truffle ganache filling”. Dave, in the turn of events, becomes charged with the task of getting this cake to the reception hall. Readers of these stories know that entrusting such a cake to Dave could only end badly, which of course it does. But the way in which McLean gets us to the ending is full of hilarious and surprising twists, and the way in which Mary exacts her revenge is perfect!
Happy Reading everyone. R.I.P., Stuart – you will be missed. Sue, Best New Book Club