No! No! No!
We had not endured a 12-hour drive, those detours, and that grueling midnight relocation to fail at what should have been the easiest part: presentation. It simply wasn't going to happen. At the same time, our eyes darted ahead and landed on a little van selling hot dogs. It was our very last hope.
Did we dare ask the vendor for a shot of electricity? Well, let me just say that Gale (the prince who was moments away from being elevated to the "King" of Dads) isn't a world-class salesman and stockbroker because he feared to ask. Next thing I knew, in the footsteps of the dragon-sowing Cadmus, Gale had somehow found a mysterious outlet coming out of the ground!
The plate seemed to take forever to come to temperature, but once it did, the sauce came into its own. Stirring, we reduced it, and this is where the magic happened. The sauce concentrated, and the heat melded the flavors together, binding the tangerine juice with the butter, the honey and the orange liqueur into an equation of pure heaven.
After a few secretive finger dips, we breathed another sigh of relief. At this point, it was all up to the judges because we knew that that sauce was indeed as good as we could make it.
As the judges made their way down the tables—thank goodness we were last—we plated our golden brown crepes and scooped out the sauce. We topped each crepe with a mound of ice cream and laid a slice of tangerine on the side. Hearts pounding, we watched the reaction of the first judge, Pam Brandon, local author of multiple cookbooks.
As she tasted our dessert, the most amazing thing happened. Her jaw dropped.
She immediately passed her plate to the next judge, Joel Reynders,
Executive Chef of the Longhorn Steakhouse. "You've got to taste this,"
she said. He nodded his approval. The other judge, the food editor of
the Orlando Sentinel, was a bit more reserved. We couldn't see her face.
Then they all walked away into a huddle.
Dad and I turned to each other, and at that point, we were simply grateful that the competition was finally over. The writer in me knew that the book had been written, the climax had passed, and all that was left was the denouement. We had arrived, we had competed, and we had done our best. If we lost, we could do so with dignity.
A prize basket and bouquet of flowers suddenly appeared. An envelope was handed to the deejay. There was a drum roll. Then the crowd fell eerily silent.And the winner is....
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