The weather gods smiled upon the July Fourth crowd on Whitland Avenue, especially upon Nancuy Lipsitz, who entered an impeccably zesty lemon cake in the annual potluck contest. Her citrus confection, pictured above, piqued the judges' appetite and curiosity: How did that cake keep its pristine frosted integrity in the sweltering height of summer?
Indeed, on an unseasonably temperate day, Lipsitz's cake kept cool, with two layers of sponge that had just enough sturdy crumb to contrast with the layer of silky lemon curd and creamy whipped frosting. Tasting that balanced beauty of sweet and sour was like taking a swig of icy lemonade after so many sips of tepid soup.
Even judges Dan and Ellen Einstein from Sweet 16th: A Bakery in East Nashville were wowed by its calm cool, leading our potluck judiciary, including Elaine Wood and Nicki Pendleton Wood, to award Lipsitz the red ribbon. (First place went to Angela Sandoval's understated yet seductive offering of warm Jack Daniels candied apples, which were surprisingly delicious and which--I'm not sure--I might have caught Nicki daubing behind her ears.)
Other awards of the day went to Susan Trotman--whose blue cheese-bacon-tomato-basil tart tied for first with her own Parmesan-bacon-tomato-basil tart--and Cathy Brown, who put forward an oddly appealing broccoli salad with yellow raisins and sunflower seeds.
Out of 23 dishes this year, only one black-bean salad landed on the judges' table. Between that and the weather, it was a banner year for the Whitland crowd.