That was a lot of cupcakes. And the funny thing is, they wouldn't even make my list of top five baked goods.
Despite their new yuppie status, I'd be pretty happy with a box cake mix and some canned frosting. Actually, if I made cupcakes myself, I'd be apt to ditch the frosting and the little paper cups and just make one giant cake. Then I would cut off wedges of cake (probably squares since I'd want to use one rectangle pan and not two rounds since that's less dishes to wash) and eat them, possibly with ice cream after dinner, but possibly plain for breakfast.
Could it be that I'm not a yuppie after all?
I think the general standard of cupcakeries is woefully low, something that a friend pointed out to me after my first, astonishingly good, but never duplicated visit to Magnolia Bakery several years ago. When I went back a second time, it just wasn't as good as I remembered. She was honest. I was blinded by the nostalgia. Maybe the whole cupcake thing really is everyone chasing after a good memory. But I'll keep chasing.
There's something nostalgic about holding onto a little cake covered in frosting and sprinkles, making a mess as you try to tear the paper from the cake without getting frosting all over your hands. But is this acceptable in polite society? From my observations of many people over the age of five doing exactly that, I would say yes.
But I'd also like to go on record that eating with a fork is pretty fantastic. It eliminates the mess. It also eliminates the awkward moment of wondering if there's frosting your nose.
A red velvet and a classic vanilla cupcake. These came to me by surprise, and surprise baked goods always rank high in my books. The frosting on the red velvet was tasty, though the cake less impressive. As for the other, it was just a touch too sweet.
Can you tell that I'm running out of steam as the term paper nears its end?
It's not a bakery, but rather, a cupcakery. There isn't even a retail shop, but I lucked out and found myself able to sample random varieties this fall - a miniature chocolate on chocolate, gingerbread with a cream cheese frosting, and even a Halloween-inspired cake with a cute little ghost decorating the top. It really was love at first bite. Not only are they pretty, but the the cake and frosting are equally delicious. Without question, my favorite cupcake shop that isn't a shop at all.
I didn't make it to the food carts until my second Portland visit, and then I found myself at the carts on a daily basis. Besides savory spots that make a quick and tasty lunch, there's The Sugar Cube. Guess what it serves?
Cookies, composed desserts, and little cakes wrapped in paper than make an excellent portable treat. I didn't carry mine very far - just to the table on the sidewalk, where I ate dessert while soaking up the sun on an otherwise chilly day. What did I eat? Highway to Heaven - a rich chocolate cupcake, topped with chocolate ganache and a swirl of salted caramel. Bonus - a filling of salted caramel. An excellent balance of salty and sweet.
Most entertaining about this particular snack: talking passersby into having a snack too!
I met a friend for lunch in Dupont Circle. True, she works nearby, but we also planned our lunch so we could visit Hello Cupcake. The decor was pink with brown accents. The patterns stenciled on the walls and windows, along with the chandeliers, gave the store retro quasi-palace feel. While I didn't love the decor, I did love how the cupcakes were presented. We ate ours in the shop, so our snacks came served on doilies. For those carrying away dozens and dozens, each cupcake was cradled in a cardboard holder placed in the box.
Cute names made it impossible to guess what one was about to eat, so the line moved slowly as people asked what a Prima Donna was. For the record, it's a chocolate cupcake with strawberry frosting, a lovely combination, and a rare instance where I liked the frosting better than the cake.