By Terry Trucco
Who needs bricks and mortar – or limestone and chisels – when you’ve got gingerbread? Or to rephrase, ever wondered what the Lincoln Memorial, Kyoto’s Toji Tower or the Sphinx might look like as edible holiday sculptures?
The answers, just in case we’ve struck a chord, are on view along with three other fanciful-but-recognizable gingerbread concoctions in the fourth annual exhibition of holiday gingerbread creations at Le Parker Meridien hotel.
As in previous years, the city’s top bakeries and restaurants cooked up clever brown-cookie creations, on view in the hotel’s 56th Street atrium through January 3. And perhaps inspired by the year’s theme of Landmarks Around the World, this batch – each example clad in protective Plexiglas and planted atop a podium — is nothing short of monumental.
Consider the Great Emancipator, gazing serenely from his gingerbread armchair.
Channeling David Chester French, the wizards at Baked Ideas, a SoHo specialty baker, captured Lincoln’s likeness down to the solemn features and trouser folds then frosted the 16th POTUS and his backdrop in white, just like the Washington, DC monument. (They thoughtfully added earmuffs and mittens to keep him warm.)
Gumdrops, peppermints and candy canes adorn Kyotofu’s remarkably faithful gingerbread replica of Kyoto’s sacred 17th-century Toji pagoda. The Hell’s Kitchen dessert bar even added an edible torii gate, planted atop a snowy base of icing.
Clad in green icing, the Loch Ness Monster, lolling in a lake next to a (deliberately) crumbling Urquhart Castle, calls to mind the Geico gekko (he’s cute instead of scary). Still, the rendering by the pastry staff at Battery Park’s North End Grill nails the details, like the shiny blue loch crafted in sugar and the wall studded with Jelly Bellys doubling as stones.
Pyramids inspired two creations. Chichen Itza’s signature Pre-Columbian ziggurat terraces are writ large in a magnificent creation by Butterfly Bakeshop, a specialty baker. And the witty team at Brooklyn’s Rolling Pin Productions with Apertivo Restaurant crowned their iconic sphinx with a Santa hat.
We love them all, but a special shout out goes to Hurri-Crane, baked by the home team at Le Parker Meridien’s Norma’s restaurant. On view is a towering likeness of One57, the luxury high rise under construction across from the hotel, and the infamous crane that dangled precariously over West 57th Street following Hurricane Sandy – and closed Le Parker Meridien (and Norma’s) for over a week. The added touch of confectionary reality? The congestion of cookie cops, firefighters, fire engines, taxis and flattened street signs at the base.
As in previous years, you can vote for your favorites for $1 a pop (or eight ballots for $5). Proceeds go to City Harvest, a local charity that collects unused food from restaurants and distributes it to the hungry. When the gingerbread comes down, expect two winners – best in show and one lucky ticket holder who scores five nights at the Parker Palm Springs, Le Parker Meridien’s left coast resort.
And for absentee viewers, here’s the complete line-up. Sweet.
Kyotofu’s Toji Tower with torii gate and snowflakes.
The edible version of Chichen Itza from Butterfly Bakeshop.
Urquhart Castle and the Loch Ness Monster from North End Grill.
The Loch Ness Monster — up close.
Holiday Sphinx — viewed from the rear.
Gingerbread bystanders suss out the damage after Hurricane Sandy.