Thursday, December 13, 2012

Piped-icing dreams: Gingerbread Lane is open for viewing

Politicians get to kiss babies and food editors get to judge gingerbread houses. I can count on at least one annual stroll through Christmas creations with a clipboard in my hand. Late Wednesday afternoon, I threaded my way through the traffic to Ballantyne for a return visit to the Ballantyne Hotel's annual Gingerbread Lane contest.

We've got some amazing gingerbread artists in this area. A few of the creations on display are on par with the work you'd see at the Grove Park Inn's annual extravaganza in Asheville, and that brings entries from all over the country. Gingerbread Lane gets a combination of amateur and professional entries. ("Internal" entries are built by various teams of hotel staff and aren't open for judging.)

Winners are below, although you also can pay a $1 to vote on your favorite (benefits the Levine Children's Hospital) for a People's Choice award that will be announced after Christmas.

A few highlights:

Darin Cheney's "Christmas at Temple Square" (right) is serious eye candy  among the amateur entries. With glowing candy windows, it soars like a real cathedral.

Take a good look at the Budweiser wagon, "Here Comes the King." It looks like a toy wagon, but it actually is all made of gingerbread, right down to the beer crates and the sugar-sculpted Clydesdales. I was so fascinated, I forgot to raise my camera and snap a picture. You'll have to go see it.

One of my personal favorites was the Frederick Family's "Signs of Life," a gingerbread surface of  Mars, with the Curiosity rover encountering a gingerbread UFO unleashing an invasion of gummy aliens. Oh please, when the real Curiosity analysis is in, let Mars really turn out to be littered with French burnt peanuts.

And it's too bad there isn't a category for funniest gingerbread creation, because the zombie invasion "'T'was the Night of the Living Bread" by the Donkel Family really takes the ginger cake. Gingerbread men attacking and biting off pieces of each other -- sorry, but it made me laugh. Look for the one with bugged-out eyes after someone bit off the top of his head.

Gingerbread Lane is open for display through Dec. 25 at the Ballantyne Hotel, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.

1st place: Penny Cunningham, Peppermint House (the snowman in progress pictured at the top is a detail of that one).
2nd: Jill Delmastro (Cake Lady Jill), 12 Days of Christmas.
3rd: Mary Jayne Burris, Amelie's French Bakery, Tour de Eiffel

1st: Darin Cheney, Christmas at Temple Square
2nd: Alice Kerrigan, Home Sweet Home
3rd: Julie and Michael Andreacola, Here Comes the King.