Before I made plans to go to the Chez, I had offered to make cookies for the office over the weekend. My work friend (still just one) had told me how much the office appreciated free food, so I figured that a “Jiggsy’s Cookies” delivery would provide me with a nice opportunity to meet some of the people at work who usually ignore me when I pass them in the hallway. Since I was planning on making over a hundred cookies (I work in a big office), I determined that the Chez’s kitchen amenities were better equipped to handle my baking needs than my piddly apartment kitchen. To get a head start, I made eight batches of sugar cookie dough on Friday night in my apartment so that all I would need to do at the Chez was bake and ice the cookies. I was hoping that this would leave me ample time to relax by the pool. With the limited counter space in my kitchen, it took me about three hours to get all of the dough made. Still, I think this might have been my most thrilling Friday night since moving to LA, as most of my other Friday nights have been spent catching up on laundry. I’m so Hollywood it’s unbelievable!
When I arrived at the Chez on Saturday morning, Zoey welcomed me with a few unsolicited licks before she redirected her attention to the Tupperware full of sugar cookie dough that I had left sitting by the front door. Before she figured out how to undo the lid on the container (which I now believe she was only seconds away from solving), I snatched up the dough and put it in the refrigerator. While in the kitchen, I started to take inventory of potential weekend snacks, which is when I noticed that the homeowners had left a package for me on the kitchen counter. Upon opening it, I became speechless, which is a feat in itself. Inside of this inconspicuous little box were two glorious Kinder Eggs! For the unrefined, Kinder Eggs are hollow milk chocolate eggs with a milky lining and a surprise toy inside. My mother, a retired flight attendant, used to haul Kinder Eggs home from Europe on a weekly basis, and they quickly became a family favorite, especially around the holidays. Unfortunately, beginning in 1997, in what can only be interpreted as a conspiracy to ruin my life, the FDA started placing hefty fines on anyone caught sneaking Kinder Eggs through US customs. The toys inside of the eggs were deemed a choking hazard, so because of a few dumb kids, I’ve been deprived of my favorite chocolate for the past fifteen years.
Since the unjust banning of Kinder Eggs, I have worked tirelessly to find a way to bring these eggs back into my life. I’ve unsuccessfully bribed family members visiting Europe to act as my candy mule and smuggle them across the border. I’ve paid a hefty price to a shady Canadian company to ship them to me in Indiana (the company never followed through). I’ve even signed several online petitions demanding that the government lift this ruthless ban. The only thing that I haven’t done is fly to Europe to buy them myself, as that seems a bit excessive. Some might find my behavior slightly alarming, but my parents always taught me that when you find a cause that you’re truly passionate about, you’ve got to see it through to the end. I just don’t think that my parents realized that my cause was going to involve something as significant and revolutionary as German chocolate eggs.
I had all but given up on my egg hunt until CNN did a story last year about a New Jersey company that had created a modified version of the Kinder Egg that could be sold in the U.S. Reinvigorated, I raced to the store to buy one of these new creations. Unfortunately, these low-grade knockoffs, called Choco Treasures, were a far cry from the Kinder that I grew up loving, and I suggest that everyone save their $1.49 until the real thing comes here (it will happen…I believe). Recently, my aunt called me to tell me how much my little cousin had enjoyed eating Kinder Eggs while skiing in Canada. At first, I was confused as to her motive for sharing this information with me. Was she trying to send me into a jealous rage? If so, mission accomplished. I told her how much I missed them, and she nonchalantly told me that she would have her sister send some from Canada. I asked her how her sister would get the shipment past customs, and my aunt seemed confused. I thought that everyone knew about the ’97 Kinder Egg Prohibition, but apparently Kinder Eggs weren’t on my aunt’s google alerts. To make a long story slightly shorter, my aunt and cousin had unintentionally smuggled a few Kinder Eggs back from Canada and they kept it a secret from me so that I would be surprised. Suffice it to say, this little stunt has moved my aunt and cousin to the top of my will, so if anything should happen to me, they will inherit all of my Lacoste shirts.
After the excitement over my newly acquired contraband had subsided, Zoey and I chilled out by the pool for a few hours. I was having a very relaxing morning until Zoey spotted Daisy. Daisy is a duck that has made it a tradition over the past three years to build a nest by the Chez’s hot tub (smart duck). When Daisy showed up last week, my aunt tried to deter her from building her nest by sticking a blowup shark in the pool to scare her away. While this might make my aunt sound like a curmudgeon, I assure you that her intentions were innocent enough. When the ducklings hatched last year, they kept falling into the pool and my aunt had to keep fishing them out before they drowned. Unfortunately, the shark deflated, and before my aunt knew it, Daisy had laid about ten eggs in the nest. I know what you’re probably thinking: Ten eggs three years in a row…Daisy must be Catholic. Well, I hate to break it to you but I’ve yet to see Donald enter the picture, so I’m thinking that Daisy is just super friendly at the local pond. Regardless, once Zoey noticed Daisy nesting by the hot tub, she went into a barking rage and wouldn’t stop. Daisy flew to a nearby tree but she wouldn’t completely fly away because she wanted to keep a watchful eye on her nest. This sent Zoey into a frenzy and my day of relaxation was cut short as I felt the need to take Zoey inside before she ate Daisy’s eggs (I noticed her watching me eat one of my Kinder Eggs and I was nervous that she had gotten the wrong idea). Click here to see this scene play out.
Once I had gotten Zoey to settle down, I headed to the store to grab some last-minute baking products. It just so happened that the store was across the street from Aiyara, my favorite Thai restaurant in California. I deduced that this totally coincidental encounter was a sign that I should place a carryout order for lunch – and order I did! This blog isn’t big enough to address my unhealthy relationship with food, as that topic probably deserves its own book (see Kinder Egg scenario above). Let’s just say that when I called in the order, I used phrases like “We’ll have…” and “I think they also want…” to order my food. I often use plural pronouns when I order food because I’m paranoid that the employees are judging me for ordering so much. Perhaps they’ll call the authorities and have me placed under a 5150 hold at some rehab clinic for overeaters?
When I got back to the Chez, I opened up the carryout bag and realized that the restaurant had given me chopsticks for five people. Slightly mortified, I loosened my belt and dug in. As I stuffed my face with Pad Thai and Chicken Fried Rice, Alyssa Milano's UNICEF commercial about starving kids in Africa came on the television. I quickly changed the channel and resumed eating. Now I know that this might sound crazy, but I’m pretty sure that Zoey was judging me as she watched me demolish this food. To dodge her disapproving stares, I occasionally tossed her a few scraps of chicken, but I’ll admit that I still ate the lion’s share of the carryout order.
The spicy Thai food had really ignited my thirst, which leads to my only complaint about the Chez’s accommodations. I was grateful that the maître d' had stocked the minibar with cans of Diet Pepsi before jetting off to Marco, but it appeared that the cans were purchased from the short-and-small section of the grocery store. It should be noted that my aunt has been on my case for years about my soda intake, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was her subtle attempt to restrict my consumption. I swear to God, I tried to ration out the cans, but I finished each can after two small swigs, and before I knew it, I had cleaned out their entire refrigerator. The only other time that I’ve ever been this frustrated with a beverage was when my parents started buying those awful Squeezits that were popular in the 90s. For years, my parents had allowed my sister and me to pack soda in our grade school lunch boxes. However, I think the other parents’ disapproving comments started to weigh on my parents, and they turned to Squeezits to get the overprotective parents off their backs. I think that my parents figured that the sugary, sweet taste would be enough to placate my sister and me (God knows milk wasn’t going to cut it) and the kid-friendly packaging seemed to be enough to silence the hypercritical room moms. While I did enjoy the taste (I think they were 95% sugar, so what’s not to love), I usually finished the entire Squeezeit bottle in one quick chug. It wasn’t long before I began packing three or four bottles in my brownbag to get me through the lunch period. My propensity to go through them so quickly finally started to weigh on my parents’ wallets, and when I headed into middle school, I was reunited with my old friend, Diet Coke. Since then, I’ve never been able to quit the stuff, and I certainly was not about to begin the withdrawal process during my relaxing weekend getaway. Before I started to bake the sugar cookies, I ran down the street to the local 7/11 and bought two Big Gulps to get me through the night.
When I returned from 7/11, I received a text message from my cousin’s fiancé. My cousin, Jeff, and his fiancé, Whitney, live down the street from the Chez, and since Jeff was out of town on a business trip, Whitney inquired about my plans for the evening. I told her that I had to finish making the cookies for my office, ad she said that she would order a pizza for us to munch on while I baked. Too ashamed to confess to my Thai food binge, I told her that sounded great as I loosened my belt loop another notch and mentally prepared myself to eat some pizza.
After eating three slices of pizza, I finally began to roll out the cookie dough which is when Zoey really started to test my patience. Throughout the years, I’ve witnessed Zoey eat her fair share of human items. Whether it’s Chick-fil-A or Sprinkles cupcakes, I don’t think that there is anything that she hasn’t tried at least once. And she’s not above snatching it right out of your hand. Now she was scheming to taste Jiggsy’s Cookies, and I was determined to keep her as far away from the kitchen as possible. Whitney helped me rearrange the chairs in the house to block off the kitchen entryways, but we soon realized that our amateur barricade was no match for this stealth dog. As I was rolling out the dough, I started to hear one of the chairs dragging across the tile near the kitchen table. I ran to see what was happening and was both amazed and annoyed to discover that Zoey was able to drag chairs across the tiles with her paw. I yanked the chair from her grasp and reattached it to the barricade. The next few hours were divided between dough-rolling and protecting my fort. My patience was wearing thin, as this side-game of Tug of War with Zoey more than doubled my baking time!
During the last hour of baking, Zoey hadn’t attempted to enter the kitchen so I thought she had given up. Of course, that’s exactly what this wise hound wanted me to think. On my way to take the trash out to the garage, I opened the backdoor to let Zoey outside to use the bathroom. I noticed through the laundry room window that she was in no hurry to make, so I proceeded to take the trash to the garage. I was gone for less than a minute, but as I walked back I realized that Zoey was no longer standing in the yard. Just then, I heard one of the chairs dragging along the kitchen tile. I raced toward the kitchen and was almost knocked over by Zoey, who came running past me with two cookies hanging from her mouth. I attempted to chase her around the house but I eventually gave up and let the rascal have the soggy cookies. I reconfigured my fort and decided to store the cookies in the pantry and barricade the door. When I retreated to my bedroom that night, Zoey hopped into bed with me, taking up more than her fair share of the bed space. Although it wasn’t the most ideal sleeping situation, I figured that I would at least know her whereabouts, or so I thought. At around 2:45 a.m., I woke up to chairs screeching in the kitchen. I looked to my right and noticed that Zoey was no longer next to me. Remembering that the cookies were stored safely in the pantry, I fell back asleep. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I noticed that Zoey was sound asleep beside me. I snuck into the kitchen without waking her, and I found the sheets of parchment paper that I had used to line the counters crumpled up and strewn all over the floor. Fortunately, the pantry door was still secured shut.
I started to make the icing Sunday afternoon, and while the ingredients were mixing in the Kitchen Aid, Zoey worked tirelessly at discovering a way to break through the barrier. Like clockwork, she attempted to move a chair every five minutes. On cue, I ran from the counter to put the chair back into place before she could get past. After about two hours of this, Zoey finally retreated to the Master Bedroom and took a nap on my aunt and uncle’s bed. Around this same time, I realized that I was missing a key ingredient for the icing. Although Stater Brothers was less than five minutes away from the Chez, I was nervous about leaving Zoey unattended in the house. After all, I saw the damage that she was able to do the previous night during my 45 second trip to the garage. Therefore, I decided to lock her inside the Master Bedroom by shutting both doors while she was asleep. When I returned from Stater Brothers, I was alarmed when I entered the house and saw that the Master Bedroom doors had been flung open. Zodini had done it again. I raced inside, and Zoey ran past me with another two cookies in her mouth. This time, the cookies that she stole were iced and I was furious. I yelled at her from across the room, but she couldn’t hear me over the voracious crunching of the cookies in her mouth. What. A. Bitch.
Once I had gotten all of the cookies iced, I had to leave them on the counter to dry. Jeff had returned from his travels earlier that morning, and I had agreed to go to his house for dinner. Not taking any chances, I locked Zoey in my little cousin’s bedroom, as my aunt assured me that it was the one room at the Chez that Zoey couldn’t escape. The dinner that Whitney prepared was delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time with my family. That being said, I only stayed for about an hour, as I couldn’t stop visualizing the impending disaster by leaving Zoey unattended for too long. When I got home, I was happy to see that Zoey was still locked away in my cousin’s bedroom. Unfortunately, Zoey was not as happy, and when I opened the bedroom door, she darted past me and headed straight for the kitchen. She knocked the barricade so hard with her head that she made it straight through on her first attempt. To distract her from the cookies on the counter, I began throwing doggy treats at her. After giving her four or five dog biscuits, she temporarily forgot about cookies on the counter and exited the kitchen.
It usually takes about eight hours for the icing on the cookies to dry, so I had to stand watch for the next four hours until I could safely stack them and hide them in the pantry. I thought about locking Zoey back up in my little cousin’s bedroom for the night, but at this point, I figured that there was no underestimating her capabilities. After spending all weekend making these damn cookies, I didn’t want to take any chances. The cookies didn’t dry until about 2:30 AM, so I was pretty exhausted the next morning when I had to get up at 5:00 AM to drive back to LA. Still, I had a great time at the Chez and it continues to live up to its 5-star rating. Yes, I had to deal with a furry, unwanted cookie monster all weekend, but I was also able to spend quality time with family, gorge on my favorite Thai food, and catch some rays. And let’s not forget about the smuggled Eggs that the Chez provided with turndown service. Heck, if this whole TV production dream doesn’t pan out, maybe I’ll apply to be the Chez’ cabana boy. I’ll just need to make sure that I negotiate endless amounts of Diet Coke before I sign any employment contracts!