As you know I made a design pitch last week to a company in Canary Wharf. They are in construction and are building a landmark tower block of apartments in the east end of London. Once it’s built it will look right out over the River Thames. It’s a great creative interior design opportunity for me. I got a call from my assistant Toby on Friday who said they had gotten in touch and that I HAD GOT THE ASSIGNMENT! As you can tell I am completely calm and cool and relaxed about this.
“Yeah it’s me at interior design HQ extraordinaire,” Toby said. “Don’t get all freaky and hysterical on me, like you usually do when I tell you good news, but I am calling to let you know the construction company at Canary Wharf have just emailed. You got the job.” He paused for a moment to allow me to get freaky and hysterical. “Can I just remind you,” he said, “you are currently nine minutes late for your next meeting. The client is in Notting Hill but for some strange reason your mobile phone tracker shows me that you are in the West End. I have no idea why. The clock is ticking.” He then hung up. I called Guido. It was lunchtime in the café so I could hear the sound of lots of frantic chopping.
“I GOT THE JOB WITH THE CONTSTRUCTION COMPANY AT CANARY WHARF!” I said calmly and coolly. He said that was great news. Unfortunately he was in the middle of a celery crisis and couldn’t really talk but assured me we would celebrate later that night with meatballs. Just when I thought the day was going great it suddenly got even better.
The Managing Director (as it transpires she may be completely insane) had asked me to bring to the pitch initial sketches for the interiors of two show apartments they want dressed to sell. One is a studio and the other is a two bedroom duplex. Let me astound those of you who are lucky enough not to live in London with the current crazy property prices here. The asking price for the studio will be almost 300,000 and the duplex will be just under 1 million. That is GB pounds. If necessary get out your currency convertors.
The meeting took place in a big glass conference room around a big glass table. I was in there with 20 guys in suits and sat next to a man who looked like The Tin Man because his suit was all shiny and grey and so was he. Whenever anyone said anything he didn’t like he sucked his teeth loudly. The Managing Director sat at the top of the table. Bizarrely, she had a construction hard hat on her head. This was a little disconcerting as we were actually sitting indoors in what I had considered to be a finished and fully functional building. It was like she knew something no one else did. I kept one eye nervously on the ceiling tiles above me waiting for something to flatten me. The men in suits spoke about quantity surveying, architectural hiccups and geotechnics (whatever that is). The Tin Man sucked his teeth loudly periodically. My mind naturally wandered. I looked at the Managing Director. I wondered if she ever took the hard hat off and if she actually had any hair underneath it or if she was completely bald. I wondered if she wore the hard hat at home whilst she did the vacuuming and whether she kept it on in bed at night for added safety.
Then the men in suits stopped talking about bricks and planks and scaffolding and everybody looked at me because it was suddenly my turn to speak. I talked them through my ideas for the interior of each show apartment. The studio would be toned dark, I said, and the duplex, completely opposite, would be toned light. I played my trump card by flashing them my mood boards. The Tin Man took one look and sucked his teeth loudly. Nobody seemed to be remotely interested in black taffeta or white leather rugs. Then my spot was over and everybody started talking again about free flowing concrete. I had no idea what that meant either but knew it had nothing to do with my mood boards.When I got up to leave the Managing Director pointed at me and shouted from beneath her hard hat, “One eye sees, the other feels!” Like I say, insane.
When I got home Guido and I sat in the café and we dunked sourdough bread into each other’s meatballs. He told me his baked potato sales were up again and that his homemade caramel ripple cheesecake cups had sold out by 1.30 that afternoon. He’d even shown The Twins how to make a batch in the event of an emergency. What I did say to Guido was that personally I thought the recipe sounded far easier than making an interior design pitch to 20 guys in suits and a mad woman wearing a hard hat. But hey, judge for yourselves.
Crush 20 amaretti biscuits into large crumbs and divide between 4 ramekins or small glasses. In a bowl, beat 400g of soft cheese, 50g of golden caster sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add 6 tablespoons of caramel sauce (Guido uses Carnation). Beat until mostly incorporated but streaked slightly. Carefully spoon over the biscuits. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours. I am reliably informed that this recipe bulks up if you happen to own a café.