Best Gingerbread House - 2003
Sir Francis Drake Hotel
Every Christmas, in the grand tradition of our fathers and their fathers before them, we pull on the London Fog mackintosh, hop on the Powell Street cable car, and roll on down to Union Square. There, after feasting our eyes on the window displays and partaking of the Compass Rose high tea, we take it upon ourselves to compare and contrast the gingerbread houses that are as much a part of our yuletide hotel lobbies as a freshly butchered evergreen and the distant strains of a Vince Guaraldi piano medley. Every one of these sugary abodes is a triumph of confectionary architecture, with little placards proudly itemizing the tonnage of nonpareils and gumdrops utilized in the construction of the work. This past Christmas season, the Sir Francis Drake's was the best. Unlike the other entrants, which had a Currier & Ives uniformity about them, the Drake edifice, the creation of Scala pastry chef Mimi Young, was an urbane representation of the hotel itself. Given the deco-rococo aesthetic of the actual building, it was an inspired artistic subject, especially with the diminishing levels of the upper floors resembling nothing so much as a wedding cake. And the details throughout were perfect, right on down to the cable car struggling up Powell Street.