>I hate to be grouchy girl. I designed this site to be a monument to all stuff good, all stuff delicious, and all stuff yummy. But once in awhile you have to get real, take the gloves off and do a little rant, make a little noise, get grouchy tonight.
I like DC, but I love New York. I can’t afford New York right now, so I am in DC, learning to love it and having a pretty successful go, except for one little thing. Cupcakes. The don’t do them right or often enough in DC and that just grinds my gears.
See this little beauty on the right? It’s from the one high profile shop we have: CakeLove. It’s raspberry frosted chocolate and after eating it you have to get a toothpick to get the darn seeds out of your teeth. You want to love it, right?
One problem- I eat cupcakes because whole cakes are too much of a committment when you are in the mood for a little something. I like instant gratification- a lil’ cupcake and I’m happy. Well, CakeLove is not for people who like instant gratification.
What the heck do you mean, you ask? That pic is simpy luscious! I want to eat the screen or just lick it repeatedly.
Simple. I go out to get a cupcake when I want something sweet and I want to eat it right then and there if I feel like it- just stuff it right in my mouth like the uncouth wench I am. Maybe I’ll take it home and eat it there. I want a choice. CakeLove puts their stuff in the fridge and suggests you wait until it reaches 72 degrees before you chow down. No, I’m sorry. In my experience that can take several hours. If I wanted to wait that long I’d go home and make them myself.
The refrigeration has the unpleasant side effect of dulling the flavor of the cupcake and turning the frosting into a thick, sodden lump of butterfat. On a recent foray I did an informal poll of fellow diners. We went to CakeLove then Ben’s Chili Bowl, the DC institution. After a long, leisurely lunch, bags were opened and CakeLove goodies were consumed. Jennifer was nibbling a bit of Anna’s cupcake- a brown one with white icing.
“Hey Jennifer, what flavor was that?” I asked.
“Dunno,” she said. “Maybe chocolate?”
“A-HA!” said I making Jennifer cringe. If you can’t tell you’re eating chocolate, why not just eat white chocolate? Seriously. In its favor she said the buttercream frosting was delicious.
The flavors are stunning in theory- German chocolate with toasted coconut flakes the size of toenails (ech.), raspberry and strawberry and lime over chocolate or vanilla. But what good is it if you can barely taste it? They are also expensive. A cupcake about the size of your fist is $3, which is unreal! So there’s two strikes- inconvenient, tasteless and expensive. Like having a mistress who lives in a trailer park.
That said, the crunchy feet are yummy and a better bet at $2.50. The name is not great though- who wants to eat “feet”? Is a single one actually called a “crunchy foot”?
Two times I go to CakeLove, twice I am disappointed and denied. But then I go to a gathering of girls and some wonderful soul brings cupcakes. From CakeLove. Look at this: don’t you want to live this? I do. So I sample one- German chocolate- and choke on it. Big BIG coconut flakes. Ech. At the end of the evening there are a few left, so they are doled out to those who are deserving (ie who want the darn things) and I pick up a strawberry and chocolate and a raspberry and chocolate. The strawberry and chocolate gets dropped and is inedible, but the raspberry goes to work, sits on my desk, gets its picture taken and is devoured at 1pm after thawing since 7am.
And it is delicious. But after waiting so long I am no longer excited and happy and it is, in fact, anti-climactic. But the frosting is good.
I usually hit Magnolia, but lately I’ve been feeling like Magnolia is not the be all end all and that I need to spread my sweet tooth’s wings and let it fly free, darn it! So we hit Crumbs and Alice’s Tea Cup.
Crumbs (no link- not sure why) has a cute lil’ guy that costs slightly less than $2 and is the same size as CakeLove’s finest. And they come ready to eat. And with sprinkles. One point for NYC. And look at the flavor selection- or at least the pretty colors. At the bottom there you can indeed see a “Hostess” cupcake complete with squiggle. Here’s Robyn about to clean the place out. Kidding…
Crumbs full sizers are about $3 but we are talking softball sized. The cake is good- I found it moist, flavorful, and perfectly complemented by the frosting. I’ve tried chocolate, lemon and strawberry and not found a dud in the bunch. The ambiance is nice too- light, bright and pleasant. I usually grab a few to take home for friends. Last summer I rode the bus with a few of these in a bag to share with family and friends and to brighten up the 4 hour ride.
My first time at Crumbs was great because it was a total NYC moment. The place was full and so some random guy, seeing me look around helplessly clutching my tray, invited me to sit. We had a great chat- he was a cabinet maker who came into the city from the outer boroughs to enjoy a cupcake once in awhile. It is a rare but enjoyable thing to conversate casually over a cupcake. And it’s just darn nice when folks are willing to share their table with you.
Alice’s Tea Cup is a new discovery for me. A tea house and cake shop with a nice selection and good atmosphere. We didn’t sit in the back (the wait was long and we had miles to go) but I’d go back just for that. Check out their menu- it will make you buy a ticket for some conveyance to transport you instantly to NYC to sample their wares. Or something…
Did you know that Red Velvet is chocolate? I didn’t. I bought two cupcakes and left one for Von- she said no chocolate and since the other was a chocolate chocolate I left her the red velvet. Whoopsie!
Anyway, tasty stuff. Fresh, creamy frosting, not too crumbly cake. The hint of chocolate in the red velvet is just that- a hint. The chocolate is not subtle- it is chocolate, hear it roar. Well worth the $2.50 for something that is the size of a softball. (Yeah, I was looking down at the case so the perspective is off.)
So the bottom line is, you can keep your fancy pants real ingredients, refrigerated, wait ’til it’s warm, bland-tasting, pricey desserts. I like my cupcakes artificial and ready to eat.
What good is instant gratification if you have to wait for it?
Come on DC, step up!