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Sea-FAT-tle Eatenings

OH SNAPPPPPP So when Kat and I travel, our meals go like so:

If you don’t have a seasoned sweet-tooth, I can’t exactly recommend a diet that consists primarily of sugary goods. It was almost too much for us, but the pastries were just DEMANDING that we eat them. So, thanks to the magic of Yelp and Cakespy’s ‘Seattle’ tag, we managed to hit up…

Twede’s Cafe–CONSUMED: Cherry Pie, Coffee

Kendra: As a Twin Peak’s fan, I couldn’t pass this up; the diner (and it’s ubiquitous coffee and pie) feature prominently in the series. The original place burned down, and the remodeled interior looked quite different (no more wood paneling, the red booths were now blue) but the central serving area remains. The woman who originally made the pie while the show was shooting (about oh, around twenty years ago) is also gone, but hey, when in Rome…

Kat: Worth it for the beautiful North Bend countryside. A rewarding stop after our hiking. Quite upfront about being a tourist trap.

 

Mon Hei Chinese Bakery–CONSUMED: Egg Custard, Coconut Bun

Kendra: Yelper’s liked it, we tried it–the egg custard was too eggy, but the coconut bun was sweet and satisfying.

Kat: The coconut bun was a meal unto itself, although not really my thing. Egg custard was definitely on the hearty side rather than the sweet side.

Fuji Bakery–CONSUMED: Orange Chocolate Brioche, Twinings Brioche, Pear Tart

Kendra: I initially mourned the passing of Unicorn Crepes (mochi in a crepe? yes!), but at least Fuji Bakery is a worthy replacement. A French-style Japanese bakery with immaculate presentation–everything just looks PERFECT. It tasted good too–everything was great, but the pear tart was flaky, creamy, and delectable.

Kat: Everything was presented impeccably, and the designs were sometimes quite unexpected. I was quite taken with the perfect cylinders of whole wheat bread. They have mainly dough-based offerings, covering savory through sweet. The Twinings Brioche, with quite detectable bergamot flavor, straddled the line between the two. With the cream cheese, although this pastry is lightly-sweet, it almost seems like an appropriate lunch item. Chunks of candied orange peel embedded in the dough of the chocolate brioche elevated it to above-ordinary. And the pear tart was outstanding, definitely A-plus material. I should also mention that the staff behind the counter were quite friendly.

 

 

 

The Confectional–CONSUMED: White Chocolate Lemon Mini-Cheesecake

Kendra: Usually cheesecake is too much for me, but these mini-cakes (almost like cupcakes, in a way) were the perfect size and ratio of cheesecake to topping. This lemon-based flavor was pretty refreshing!

Kat: Really, really good, and the individually-formed and garnished presentation was quite appealing.

 

Piroshky Piroshky!–CONSUMED: Oscar’s Star

Kendra: The line was so  long, and I was so caught up in wanting to get a marzipan piroshky that when I was informed they were out, I stupidly ordered something that WASN’T a piroshky. Whatever fried-dough pastry I got wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t worth finishing (!!!). Kat: Not quite as exciting as it appeared from a distance. Messy.

 

 

Cupcake Royale–CONSUMED! mini vanilla/vanilla, white chocolate blackberry chocolate chip, triple threat (chocolate^3)

Kendra: Pretty solid cupcakes here! The mini vanilla/vanilla turned out to be the dark horse, and I was kicking myself that we didn’t get a normal sized version. The chocolate blackberry and triple threat were still pretty tasty; I can see why this is Seattle’s  #1 cupcakery. NO FILLED CUPCAKES THOUGH ;_;

Kat: Dense, spongy cakes with airy frosting. I agree, the vanilla was the most satisfying.

 

strawberrrrry

Honoré Artisan Bakery–CONSUMED: Strawberry Danish

Kendra: This was quite off the beaten path, and doesn’t even have much signage to help you out–but the danish we split proved why it’s fun to explore.

Kat: The flaky crust of the danish was top notch. A good pick-me-up on the way between the Ballard Farmer’s Market and Larsen’s Bakery.

Larsen’s Danish Bakery–CONSUMED: Smorkage, Mazzarine, “Potato”

Kendra: SMORKAGE. Just say it out loud. SMORKAGE. An amazing name for what amounted to a breakfast sweet roll that was stuffed with almond paste. DELICIOUS. I have to say, this place was by far my favorite sweet-spot on the trip. This is due in part to the fact that ‘Swedish’ is shorthand for ‘stuff/cover everything with almond paste or marzipan. I LOVE MARZIPAN. The ‘potato’ was amazing–it’s basically an eclair that also has apricot jam, which is then wrapped in marzipan, coated in cocoa powder, and decorated to look like a potato. We ate it for breakfast, paired with ‘cupcake-flavored coffee’ from Caffe Lieto. The mazzarine was almond paste, chocolate, raspberry jam, pastry….need I say more?

Kat: So many baked goods. Cases after cases. And nothing has name cards, which makes for extra adventure. Toss-up between whether I miss this or Fuji Bakery more. The raspberry mazzarine thing was everything I want in a pastry, and extra-satisfying after 6 mile walk around Ballard. Definitely an A+. Smorkage is a big, ring-shaped coffee/breakfast-like thing. Tasty, but more snacky than satisfying. The Potato was a behemoth of a dessert. Quite nice, in that ‘will this kill me’ way. A heavy-hitter of the pastry league. Potatoes from Larsen's

The Crumpet Shop–CONSUMED: Crumpet with Maple Butter

Kendra: After three previous attempts to buy a crumpet from here ended in failure, we had a SUCCESS. Was it worth all the trips? Hey, cross an english muffin with a pancake, cover it in maple butter, and try to resist it! YOU CAN’T. It was delicious.

Kat: Quite nice, but not necessarily worth going early for.

Yellow Leaf Cupcakery–CONSUMED: Lavender cupcake, what was the other one…Dulce de Leche?

Kendra: This place reminded me of Lavender Moon back home; creative flavors, light cake base, cream cheese-esque frosting, tiny shop. Pleasant.

Kat: I actually can’t remember these cupcakes at all, but I did appreciate the range of flavors available.

 

In CONCLUSION… Miles walked: Many Calories consumed: countless Seattle: Only partially conquered!

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Factsheet & Review: Lavender Moon

lavender cupcakes more like, amirite?

Lavender Moon Cupcakery is slightly off the beaten path, since it’s not in D.C. proper (but it is near a metro!) and not even on the main street (King) in Old Town–but it’s definitely worth checking out. And hey, the owner used to be Donald Trump’s personal chef!

Location: 116 South Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Neighborhood: Old Town Alexandria

Transit: Closest Metro stop is King Street on the Blue Line; head east on King Street, down towards the Potomac. It’s a little less than a mile from the Metro.

part of the setup

Seating: It’s located in one of the old brick rowhouses, and has a few tables and chairs inside if you feel like hanging out. Otherwise, you could go next door to the Grape & Bean to get some coffee/wine with your cupcake.

Sweets: Since it’s just a cupcakery, all you get are cupcakes, $3.00 each.

Over two visits (6 cupcakes at once is a bit much, even for us!), we tried:

blackberry thyme

Blackberry Thyme!

Flourless Chocolate!

irish coffee cake!

Irish Coffee Cake!

lemon curd

Lemon Curd!

Green tea+Lavender!

…and ‘Butterscotch’, but I don’t think the cashier knew what she was talking about (it tasted like…nothing topped with a frosting that tasted slightly like peanut butter?).

Kendra: Lavender Moon opened a few years ago near my work, and initially it was a bit of a let down–a lack of consistent hours (half the time they were closed!) coupled with hit-or-miss flavors led to a shaky start. Since then, they’ve definitely improved–to the point where they are close to the top of my “Best DC-area Cupcakes” list. They’re willing to take chances with the flavors–roasted fig & basil, chestnut, and pomegranate have all made appearances. I appreciate this creativity, and the fact that the flavors are always rotating and different (coupled with a few tried n’ true mainstays) means that there’s always something new to try.

If there is anything to critique, it’s that an overwhelming majority of their flavors have cream cheese frosting–at least, from what my tastebuds can discern. While their cream cheese frosting isn’t bad at all (unlike Baked & Wired’s), it tends to overwhelm some of the more subtle flavors of the cake (like in the Green Tea Lavender). Also, as is the case with being creative–sometimes their flavors work (the blackberry thyme was refreshing and tasty tasty), and sometimes they don’t (their Tiramisu cake, while not bad, doesn’t really taste like tiramisu). Additionally, they don’t have a website, so you can’t check on what flavor will be available on any given day.

Kat: Lavender Moon is a top-tier cupcakery. They offer a lot of filled cupcakes and unusual flavors. The cupcakes are smaller than Baked & Wired’s, and the price is appropriate for the size. The cakes themselves are less sweet, with more emphasis on frosting and filling. The cream cheese frostings are light and delicious, though if you try several flavors in a row that use cream cheese they can be a bit samey. As Kendra mentioned, some flavors are more successful that others. The flourless chocolate cake and lemon curd are quite tasty, and I believe they are regulars. I have been seduced by the tiramisu twice, only to be a little disappointed that it tastes more like buttermilk pancakes (which is still a good taste of course!). If you are in Alexandria, you should definitely try Lavender Moon.

WE ARE SOOOO COOL

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RICHMOND-Frostings cupcakery

next to a steakhouse and Trader Joe's

Frostings

Suite 137

11331 West Broad Street

Glen Allen, VA 23060

ghost hand!

It took a while, but Richmond now has a burgeoning cupcake scene. We’ll see if they end up having any sort of ‘cupcake war’, but I’m placing my bets on Frostings.

Okay, technically it isn’t in Richmond, but Richmond’s one of those cities where almost everyone has a car anyway (and if you don’t, my sister’s friend* used to bike to downtown Short Pump every now and then, so IT IS POSSIBLE), so I’m considering it close enough. It’s next to a Trader Joe’s (♥♥♥), which means you can get the makings for an awesome party (cheap wine+delicious cupcakes).

Frosting’s definitely lives up to it’s name. Each standard-sized cupcake ($2.75, I love Richmond!) is topped with an almost equally-sized mountain of frosting on the top, almost like soft serve ice cream.

cupcake orgy!

They’re impeccably decorated (not that I’m biased**), and unlike some other cupcakeries (::coughSPRINKLEScough::) the decorations are all EDIBLE! The large decorations (that is to say, not the sprinkles or cookies) are made from white chocolate.

Kat and I ended up trying the Milk & Cookies, Mint Cookies & Cream, The Classic (vanilla cake+chocolate buttercream), and Peanut Butter Pretzel.

We’ll start with the order we ate them in…

cho-co-late chiiiips

Milk & Cookies

unhinge jaw like a SNAKE!

Kendra: This is the type of cupcake that you need to eat with your hands, so that you can taste all the components at the same time. Together, the chocolate-chip vanilla cake base+cream cheese frosting+chocolate chip cookie on top really shine–the flavors are nicely balanced, and the texture of the crunchy cookie adds contrast to the soft cake. Separately, the cream cheese icing is too much on its own. Overall, I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did! B+

Kat: Milk & Cookies was great. The presentation is genius, and also quite charming. And the flavor/texture experience follows through. Perfect balance of cupcake, frosting, and cookie. I have complained about too much frosting on cupcakes before, but I love it when it’s a really tasty frosting like this. The way the frosting sits on top of the cupcakes in a huge swirl, leaving the cake base partly exposed, is very appealing to the visuals as well. A

swirly frosting

Peanut Butter Pretzel

Kendra: Hrm, this one was more of a ‘miss’ for me, in spite of it being filled! It was mostly the icing that threw me off–the chocolate cake portion was decent, and the peanut butter pretzel filling was tasty (though I’m always in favor of having even more filling, heh), but the frosting…I guess I’m just not a fan of their cream-cheese icing. Didn’t really go along with the peanut butter. The pretzel on top was a nice touch. C

Kat: I love peanut butter bonbons, I love peanut butter cookies, but I never seem to like peanut butter cupcakes as much as I think I will. This was almost too salty. Does anyone make a peanut butter cake with chocolate frosting? C

frosting so fudgey...

The Classic

Kendra: We tried this one for breakfast the next day, so it spent a night in the fridge. It held up quite well! We wanted to try out a regular cupcake just to gauge how Frostings does the basics, and while the vanilla cake is a lot more subdued than the vanilla cake from Baked & Wired, it is still moist and pairs really well with the delicious chocolate buttercream–seriously, this frosting is DELICIOUS. I’m not sure if it was the fridge (though we ate this at room temperature), but this frosting was so thick and fudgey and perfectly chocolatey. So much better than the cream cheese frosting! B+

Kat: Mmmmmm… I don’t know if the refrigeration had anything to do with the texture, but the frosting was so good. Dense, fudgelike, chocolatey goodness. Frosting’s cupcakes stand out on two points: really good frosting (though I wasn’t crazy about the peanut butter one), and really good presentation. A

unf so good

Mint Cookies & Cream

Kendra: Oh my. “Chocolate cake, vanilla cream filling, crushed Oreo & mint buttercream frosting”? Delicious. Though I think the ‘vanilla cream filling’ is off–at least, the one we had was an intensely minty filling, and it was TASTYTASTY. While the chocolate cookie on top seemed a little bit extraneous (especially compared to the cookie topping on the Milk & Cookies cupcake), the rest of this was a wonderful pairing of mint and chocolate. It was pretty rich, almost like a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I’ve had it once again since then, and it was still perfect. A+

Kat: Yes, this one was fantastic. Everything Kendra said. If you like mint and chocolate at all, you must get this cupcake. A+

*not only was he biking this distance,  he was doing so on a FIXED-GEAR. HARDCORE.

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Factsheet & Review: Sprinkles Cupcakes

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Georgetown's got some cool old buildings

Sprinkles has opened their first East Coast location in Washington, DC, less than two blocks from Georgetown Cupcakes and Baked & Wired. If DC is the cupcake capitol of the East, Georgetown must be the executive residence.

Location: 3015 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Neighborhood: Georgetown

Transit: The nearest metro station is Foggy Bottom, though the walk from Rosslyn across the Key Bridge is probably not much longer. The Dupont-Georgetown-Rosslyn circulator brings you nearby, as do many other buses on K and M street routes.

Seating: With two tables, Sprinkles is primarily a take-out joint.

Sweets: Nothing but cupcakes, which are of typical size and priced at $3.50. Find the weekly flavor schedule on their website.

well, we do cast reflections, maybe we aren't vamps...

Drinks: Coffee, tea, bottled soda, and Sprinkles branded bottled water.

Otherwise Notable: Sprinkles sells cardboard and ribbon cupcake display kits, Sprinkles t-shirts, Sprinkles cupcake mixes, Sprinkles cupcake ziploc baggies…

::insert WTF Picard gif::

Kat: Kendra and I visited the day after their grand opening. We wanted to try a chocolate flavor and a lighter flavor so we ordered the Strawberry and the seasonal Irish Chocolate. The cupcakes are the typical mushroom-ish shape, baked in crinkly paper wrappers. They all have a brightly colored decoration on top. From the photos I imagined these cute little garnishes might be fondant, but when we opened our cupcake box I found myself staring dubiously at my pink disc suspecting it was made of plastic. With a good chomp, it shattered between my teeth releasing a faintly sugary and overwhelmingly unpleasant alkaline flavor. Recommendation: do not attempt to eat.

the strawberry looks like a boob! whuwha

The Strawberry cupcake is pink-flecked strawberry cake with pink strawberry icing. The icing was very light, more like a cream filling than a frosting. Both cake and icing were very sweet, with sugar as the overwhelming flavor component. The flavor all hit just one spot of tongue. B

Irish Chocolate is a special that will be running until Saint Patrick’s Day. Sprinkles describes it as ‘belgian dark chocolate cake topped with a Baileys irish cream cheese frosting.’ The cake did not taste very good. The frosting was creamy and custardy and sweet, though I could not taste Baileys and I definitely couldn’t taste any cream cheese. I did like the texture contrast of the crunchy parts around the rim of the cupcake, where it was unprotected by paper, with the main body. C

SEE THE TOP FELL OFF FAIL

Kendra: Wow, they sure do love their branding! Perhaps they ought to spend more time on their cupcakes…or at least make the cupcake decorations more edible! Like Kat mentioned, the decorations are completely wretched–I assume they’re sugarpaste, but they were like biting into a rock–and not even a delicious rock. Putting nigh-inedible things on something meant to be consumed is just a bad idea.

Strawberry was a pleasantly sweet deal, though the strawberry itself was fairly subtle. I tasted the strawberry faintly in the cake, but the frosting seemed more like straight-up buttercream to me. It was somewhat reminiscent of drinking NesQuik strawberry milk, and overall it was enjoyable enough, though not very memorable. C+

The Irish Chocolate was a big disappointment–the Bailey’s was undetectable, and the actual chocolate cake was completely underwhelming–tasted like box mix, which isn’t too surprising considering a.) Sprinkles is a chain and b.) they sell box mixes of their cupcake flavors. You do the math. The cupcake itself just didn’t taste like much of anything.

…also, the top of my cupcake fell off. 😦  D

Kat: I returned to Sprinkles on my own for an Orange Cupcake, which is only offered on Tuesdays. Sprinkles bills this as ‘fragrant orange cake with orange-vanilla frosting flecked with zest.’ The cake tasted like poundcake to me, but I did spot some orange flecks. The sweet frosting was also flecked with zest, and tasted lightly citrusy with floral notes. The frosting is very soft and giving.

This time I was eating a the whole cupcake by myself. Sprinkles cupcakes are more-or-less flat on top with a dome of frosting over half an inch thick. I liked it a lot at first but about half-way through the cupcake I found myself eating around the frosting as it became unpleasantly greasy (not unlike the texture experience of Cupcake Pebbles). The ratio of frosting to cake is much too high for me and I discarded the final gobs of it. I can imagine that some people would really enjoy it, though, the way I can really enjoy Cadbury Creme Eggs. C+

This time I asked the clerk about the colored circles that adorn the cupcakes. She said “they are for telling the flavors apart” and confirmed that they are sugar paste. Sprinkles provides flavor cards that index the cupcakes by their circle colors, and the circles also show up a lot in their branding, but I think the cupcakes would be much improved by making the decorations out of something that tasted good–and ideally something chewable.

TAPTAP

This time I was eating a the whole cupcake by myself.

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Bayou Bakery – Beignets

unassuming

Bayou Bakery

Location: 1515 N Courthouse Rd, Arlington, VA, 22201

Transit: Close to the Courthouse metro station

Seating: Clean, bright, and theme-y interior with full seating area

more exciting inside!

Sweets: A case of cookies, muffins, croissants, and so on, but the beignets are the star attraction at $3 for three and made fresh to order

Savories: Sandwiches and Louisiana fare, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus

Drinks: Coffee, tea, soda, beer & wine

Otherwise Notable: Bayou Bakery will be making King Cakes until Mardi Gras. They seem to sell out fast!

SUGARY PILLOWS

Kat: Before our first visit to Bayou Bakery, I had neither eaten nor even heard of beignets. I had no idea these sugar-dusted pillows of deep fried dough could bring so much gustatory pleasure. Simple flavors, perfect textures, eat them while they’re warm! A+

Kendra: Bayou Bakery is a fairly new establishment, but it’s already adding some flavor (hoho) to the otherwise staid Courthouse area. The name is a wee bit misleading, as it’s really more of a sandwich shop, and their signature item isn’t even baked–it’s fried. I may quibble about their name, but I won’t quibble about the deliciousness of their beignets. They’re so light and airy when you bite into one that you immediately forget that they’re basically donuts without the hole. The only downside is that people may confuse you for a coke addict when your face is covered with the powdered sugar that dusts the beignets, though this is a far cheaper addiction. A


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Bakery Factsheet: Baked & Wired

 

Baked & Wired, Fabulous DC bakery best known for its generously-sized $3.75 cupcakes

Location: 1052 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Neighborhood: Georgetown

Transit: The nearest metro station is Foggy Bottom, though the walk from Rosslyn across the Key Bridge and down the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal path is more fun. The Dupont-Georgetown-Rosslyn circulator brings you nearby, as do many other buses on K and M street routes.

Seating: Is often full, but you can walk twenty feet to benches by Lock 2 of the canal or go down the street the Potomac River Park and Washington Harbor complex.

Kat’s Must-Have: “Razmanian Devil” Cupcake – Lemon Cake with lemon buttercream frosting and raspberry filling

Kendra’s Must-Have: “Chocolate Cupcake of DOOM” – Chocolate cake with a dark chocolate satin frosting

Super-COMBO: Go with a friend, get one Chocolate Doom and one Razmanian Devil, cut in halves and redistribute to make two superflavor cupcakes

Sweets: Cupcakes, cookies, cookies bars & brownies, coffee cakes, hand-pies, muffins, dog treats, granola, and, on Tuesday & Friday mornings, donut-muffins (“When a muffin and a donut fall in love…”)

Savories: Quiche

Drinks: Coffee & Tea

Otherwise Notable: Baked & Wired is a full-service café as well as a bakery

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