0710 Spontaneous Dinner

Today was pretty much the perfect summer day.  I was up early, so while Shane slept in, I ran to the market and bought peaches! and corn! and lots of other stuff, then finished up our errands and was home with a donut before Shane rolled out of bed.  We spent the early afternoon at the Shadow Art Fair in Ypsi, where Shane purchased bespoke haiku I used the Cupcake-o-Matic to get a wee chocolate cake with peanut butter icing and coconut sprinkles.

Cupcake-O-Matic

Cupcake-O-Matic Success!

Shane spent the rest of the afternoon brewing with new friend and neighbor Karl, and I took a long nap and then spent a very happy hour and a half in the garden. At some point in there, however, we missed all normal mealtimes, and so found ourselves peckish as the sun started to go down. While the guys finished up the brewing stuff, Karl’s wife Cara and I threw together a spontaneous and casual dinner – sun-dried tomato couscous with raisins, beet salad with feta, slices of salami, sauteed greens, soda with a homemade berry-peach syrup, and the first incredibly sweet corn on the cob of the year. Everything was delicious, and we retired, full and happy, not long after.

So like I said, pretty much a perfect summer’s day.

0607 Buzz Bakery Love

I was going to tell you about the convenience food I had for dinner tonight after picking Shane up from the airport, but really, you don’t care about that. What you do care about it this:

Buzz Cupcake Love

This morning Shane texted me from DC to say that he was going to Buzz with Mike and Sipes, and did I want anything?  One of everything, please!  Except that would be difficult to carry for the rest of the day in DC, followed by airport security and the flight back to Detroit.  Instead I asked for my two favorite things from Buzz: their ham, cheese, and scallion scone and the Buzz cupcake (pictured above).  I’d show you the scone, but by the time Shane got home, it was a little on the flat side.  Not that I’m complaining.

The Buzz cupcake is the signature cupcake on the Buzz menu – chocolate, with espresso buttercream and a dusting of Oreo crumbs.  The cupcake is much taller than pictured, but I was too excited about this favorite treat to remember to take a picture before I started eating.  The cake is dense and crumbly – so good that I couldn’t let the crumbs that stuck to the paper go to waste.  The frosting was thicker and sweeter than I remembered, but that may have been that by the time I got to the frosting, most of the cake was gone.

Did the Buzz cupcake live up to my memories of it?  Definitely.  Am I glad that the 529 miles between our house and Buzz mean that this and other Buzz treats are sometimes foods? Mostly.  Do I still miss having Buzz in the neighborhood all the time?  Absolutely.

0423 Food Kryptonite



pizza & beer, pt. 1, originally uploaded by "Cowboy" Ben Alman.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am pretty much powerless when certain foods are around. I can’t help myself. The best I can do is set a limit and stick to it, but there’s not a chance of avoiding the food altogether.

Pizza is one of those foods. Ice cream is another. There are very good reasons that we don’t usually keep either food in the house – but there’s not much you can do about the food that comes into the office.

Today my office had a party for our graduating student workers, which meant that two dozen pizzas and four dozen cupcakes spent the afternoon on the OTHER SIDE OF MY CUBICLE WALL. Cruel and unusual treatment, I tell you! I had two slices of vegetarian pizza and one cupcake – more than I had planned to eat, but definitely not as much as I wanted to eat. It was all tasty in a greasy, free kind of way – the pizza was laden with things I like, and the cupcake was Hostess-esque – full of flavor and regret. I hadn’t planned on walking home from work, but after all of that, it seemed like the only responsible choice.

0206 Dinner at Quartino (and special bonus cupcake!)

I spent the weekend in Chicago with my mom, ensconced in the lovely confines of the Ritz-Carlton. As I’ve learned from previous visits, it can be really challenging when staying downtown to find places to shop, eat, and explore that are nearby and also aren’t totally overwhelmed with tourists.

In an attempt to break out of downtown, we took a cab to Lincoln Park for some shopping and wandering, took in a movie, and picked up cupcakes at Molly’s Cupcakes on our way back to the hotel for naps (we love naps).  Molly’s was sweet but a bit overwhelming, both in terms of choices and the crowd.  I settled on the mixed berry – like a delicious blueberry muffin, except with a thick layer of not-especially flavorful frosting on top.  Mom had the red velvet, which has apparently been voted best in the city.  She loved it, and said it was better than her previous favorite, the red velvet from Fox and Obel.  One thing we did both appreciate about Molly’s is that the cupcakes are frosted when you order them – at least according to Mom –  so your frosting, while excessive, is very fresh and lacks the sort of crispy staleness that often happens to cupcakes from a display case.  While I was a little underwhelmed, I’ll definitely give Molly’s another try when I’m in Chicago next.

Dinner, then, was the real challenge.  I was bound and determined NOT to go to a chain, or back to the food court at Water Tower (which is, I’ll admit, a nice option).  After much Yelping and calling the concierge a couple of times, we settled on Quartino – close enough to walk, modest enough prices, and options that ranged from simple to ridiculous – and were both really pleased with the choice!  We were seated promptly in the large but very busy dining room and, as with the cupcakes, were a bit overwhelmed by our options.  The menu focuses on small plates, so the server encouraged us to order a few things to share.  Mom had the tortellini with peas and prosciutto in a light alfredo sauce, which tasted like the macaroni and cheese of my dreams.  I hadn’t really considered pasta, but was convinced to get the ravioli by the magic words braised pork and speck.  I might be a bit hyperbolic here, but it really was some of the best ravioli I’ve had – like little pillows of savory goodness, complimented perfectly by a chianti and tomato sauce with the occasional fava bean.  We haven’t tried making pasta at home yet, but I’m going to file this filling away at the back of my head for future experiments – it was that good.  Mom and I split a caprese salad, an odd choice in the dead of winter, but just right with salty and soft slices of mozzarella, firm tomato, and a drizzle of a balsamic crema.

On the whole, a good day of eating – and a few happy new discoveries for future trips to Chicago!

mmm, cake

SB and I just got back from seeing The Darjeeling Limited, which was fine, but is ultimately not as important as what we did just prior to the movie.We had cupcakes.

A new cakelove location just opened in Shirlington a few weeks ago,  and I would say that I’m embarassed that we’ve been there three times already, but really, I’m not.  I like cake.  Who doesn’t like cake?  Wrong people, that’s who.

The whole cupcake deal seems to be that for $3, you get either chocolate or vanilla cake with one of a variety of fancy frostings.  So far I’ve had chocolate with German chocolate, chocolate with peanut butter, and chocolate with lime.  Shane has had chocolate with chocolate ganache, chocolate with straight-up chocolate frosting, and then tonight he branched out, going for chocolate CAKE with toffee something-or-other frosting.  We also had samples during last weekend’s Oktoberfest, but I can’t say that I really remember what they were.

The most torturous thing about cakelove is that when you buy your cupcake, it comes out of a refrigerated case BUT won’t actually be at its best until it’s warms up to room temperature.  Shane takes this whole cupcake-warming business very seriously, which lead to a great deal of teasing when I just couldn’t wait for German chocolate cake.  We let the second batch get all melty on our long beer-sodden walk home last weekend, resulting in a very sticky and very quick cupcake treat.  Tonight, just like Goldilocks, they were just right.

I’m really not at all interested in furthering this cupcake trend – I think it’s really pretty ridiculous – but at the same time you definitely won’t hear me complaining about fancy cake treats in my neighborhood.