Thursday, March 30, 2017

Porto's Bakery - Los Angeles, California

Over the St. Patrick's Day weekend, I decided to take a trip south to Los Angeles, California. I always loved Southern California...the weather, the beaches, the food...literally nothing to complain about! Most of the weekends activities included going to places I had wanted to go to, art museums and the Griffith Observatory. Traffic was definitely a buzzkill and made me realize I did have something to complain about LA! Overall though, everything was great.

On Saturday evening, I was treated to a surprise. I got a chance to go to Porto's, an apparent legend in the LA area. When I got to the bakery/restaurant, the line was out the door...that was just the line to get into the main line I later discovered. Once in the actual line to order, you're greeted with a huge placard listing all the goodies the bakery/restaurant has to offer. They have savory baked goods, sweets, cakes, and meals. To my happiness, they had a section of cupcakes. Of course, they had the famous red velvet cupcake. Clearly I already knew what I was having for dessert.



My excitement was unwarranted however. While the other baked goods I got were delicious (the guava cheese pastry was the best thing I've eaten in a long time), the red velvet cupcake was subpar at best. It was dry, clearly over baked, and there wasn't nearly enough cocoa flavor. I could barely taste any chocolate. The frosting was very good, however it didn't have that delicious cream cheese flavor I was looking for. Overall, I was quite disappointed. I would highly recommend their tres leches cake or the apple strudel over the red velvet cupcake.

Here's hoping my next cupcake adventure proves more rewarding!

Price $1.95
Cake: dry, not enough cocoa flavor
Icing: creamy, not enough cream cheese flavor
Decorations: simple rose petal
Overall Rating: 3/10
Website: Porto's Bakery

Friday, December 23, 2016

Nothing Bundt Cakes - Fremont, California

As the holiday season approaches, so does the dessert season. One of the perks of my new job is that there are many occasions which afford me to try new and delicious local treats.

This week, our office had a holiday party. Not only did we have a lovely array of food and beverages, but the dessert options were pretty stacked. One of the choices was bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

What's a bundtini, you ask? I had the same question. Here, my friends, is the answer:


Cute and ideally sized, this is what I like to call the cupcake version of a bundt cake. Of course they had red velvet, so I took this as the universe's way of telling me I need to get back to my adventuring.

The cake itself was delicious. Super moist with chunks of chocolate at the bottom. It wasn't your traditional red velvet, but it was really good. The frosting was creamy, smooth, and had the perfect cream cheese flavor.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the bundtini. Nothing Bundt Cakes is definitely a source of good desserts and I plan to take full advantage of their franchises all around Northern California.

I've also found some local bakeries specializing in cupcakes, so keep coming back for more as I follow the red velvet road.


Price $1.70/bundtini (sold by the dozen for $20.50)
Cake: moist, light chocolate flavor, chocolate chunks in cake
Icing: thick, creamy, good cream cheese flavored frosting
Decorations: simple
Overall Rating: 9/10
Website: Nothing Bundt Cakes

 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

fairycakes - San Jose, California

Well, I'm back after another, much shorter, hiatus. Big news everyone, I moved to California!!! Through a series of serendipitous events, I got a job in Northern California. Let the good times roll!

After a few weeks of getting my feet on the ground and re-centering myself, I was able to start exploring the baked goods available here in San Jose. I have to say, Northern California is pretty donut heavy. I think the west coast is pretty much all donut territory. I haven't seen much in the way of cupcake bakeries, at least not as many as I've seen donut shops. I tried not to let this get me down...worse case scenario, I start writing about red velvet donuts, right?

Well, lucky for me I don't have to switch over to the dark side yet. Through another series of serendipitous events, I happened upon a food truck rally in San Jose. One of the trucks just happened to be a cupcake food truck, fairycakes! Oh lucky day!

Image result for fairycakes truck


Also lucky for me, they had red velvet on the menu!



I was pleased with the cupcake overall. I do think it needed a bit more chocolate flavor, but overall the texture and moisture in the cake was great. The frosting flavor was very good, though it was thicker than I usually like.

I tried some other flavors from the fairycakes menu and I have to say, they were delicious. I highly recommend the hazelnut toffee and the salted caramel. The tiramisu is also reportedly delicious!

Overall I was happy with my first San Jose red velvet experience. It definitely left me eager to try out new places!


Price $3/cupcake
Cake: moist, light chocolate flavor
Icing: thick, creamy, good cream cheese flavored frosting
Decorations: simple
Overall Rating:6/10
Website: fairycakes
 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Hummingbird Cafe - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

On my way back from my yoga teacher training, I had a long layover in Dubai, UAE. I decided to explore the city a little bit, which mostly meant me going to the Dubai Mall for a few hours. I was feeling a little under the weather so I didn't want to eat too much, however when I came across the Hummingbird Bakery I had to indulge in a little red velvet cupcake.




The Hummingbird Bakery had the best red velvet cupcake I'd had in a long time. It was wonderfully moist and the cake had a good amount of chocolate flavor. Also, the frosting had a great amount of cream cheese flavor. It wasn't too sweet but it wasn't too savory. I'm not sure if it's because I was in Africa for so long or if it was because the cupcake was actually good, but I really believe the cupcake was very good. I'm happy to know that in the middle of the desert you can find a wonderful dessert.

Price $3.81/cupcake
Cake: dense, moist, good chocolate flavor
Icing: smooth, creamy, light cream cheese flavored frosting
Decorations: simple
Overall Rating:7/10
Website: The Hummingbird Cafe


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Noah de Bari - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

For my 30th birthday I went with a couple friends to DR for a weekend excursion. It was part of my bigger life plan to hit 30 countries by the time I turned 30 years old. Done and done.

During the trip, I didn't plan on actively finding any bakeries, I really just wanted to take in the city and enjoy my time there. The universe, it seemed, had a different plan for me! During our exploration of the colonial zone, we happened upon Noah de Bari, a small, quaint bakery. I was excited initially, because I was looking for tres leches cake and this bakery had it in cupcake form. While I was ordering, I also noticed that they had red velvet cupcakes...how serendipitous!


The cupcake looked pretty good. I ate the tres leches one right away and it was absolutely delicious. I had high hopes for the red velvet cupcake after that.



Sadly, the cupcake did not live up the my expectations. The frosting was very gelatinous, which turned me off. The cake itself was pretty good, it had a nice level of moisture and wasn't too dense. The chocolate flavor level was also pretty good.

Overall, I would definitely chose their tres leches over their red velvet, but if you could get the red velvet without the frosting, I'd take that too.


Price $4.78/cupcake
Cake: moist, good chocolate flavor
Icing: gelatinous, not great
Decorations: simple
Overall Rating:4/10
Website: Noah de Bari


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Wright's Deli - Tampa, Florida

Hello dear friends! I had to take a sabbatical from my red velvet cupcake hunt to accomplish some other life goals. I'm happy to report I finally acquired my yoga teacher's certification! Yes, not only am I completely obsessed with cupcakes, but I am also a certified yoga instructor. Big day! The process took a lot of my time and focus and during that time I really had to concentrate on eating and thinking healthy. That left little room for cupcake adventures.

Good news, now that the work is done, I'm back! The next few posts are some back logged adventures I haven't written up yet. Please enjoy while I return to frolicking about looking for the best red velvet cupcake out there!

During a work training, I got to try the red velvet cupcakes from Wright's Deli. I had huge expectations considering all my friends said great things about Wright's Deli. I have to admit though, I was pretty disappointed.

Image from Google Images
The cake was pretty dry, thought there was a decent level of chocolate flavor. The frosting was not a cream cheese base, at least not to my taste buds. It had more of an almond/amaretto flavor to it.

So I reported my disappointments to my friend who highly recommended Wright's cupcakes. He seemed surprised by my disappointments, but said I should try their cake rather than their cupcakes. While I don't really understand why one would be different, I suppose the size of the baked good could lead to differences in heat distributions.

Either way, Wright's definitely isn't at the top of my recommendation list. Their lunch menu, however, is delicious!

Price $3/cupcake
Cake: dry, good chocolate flavor
Icing: smooth, creamy, almond/amaretto frosting
Decorations: simple
Overall Rating:5/10
Website: Wright's Deli




Friday, December 25, 2015

Cupcakes and Cocktails - Epicurean Hotel

Christmas was always another holiday that wasn't consistently celebrated when I lived in Orlando. Of course, when I was younger we celebrated every year, giving gifts and having lots of family over. When I was in high school though it seemed that the level of celebration started dwindling every year. Once my brother and I were in university, it became more of a vacation for our family to get together rather than actually celebrating Christmas. Unlike Thanksgiving, I do love all the wonderful Christmas flavors. Eggnog, hot cocoa, gingerbread, and all the other wonderful Christmas and holiday flavors were always my favorite part (you know, besides the gifts). I couldn't wait to see what Chef Beth had in store for the December Cupcakes and Cocktails class.

Menu
White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
Hot Chocolate Cupcakes:
hot chocolate cake, peppermint bark, peppermint buttercream


The most exciting part of the December class had to be the hands on component. We got to make our very own peppermint bark! 

Peppermint Bark station

Melting the semi-sweet chocolate
Melting the white chocolate

The final product!
The making of the peppermint bark was so much easier than I expected. I had tried making my own a few times and it was quite the ordeal. I never perfected the double boiler technique, but with the tips from Chef Beth, I think I can do it at home now! After the hands on portion, we sat back at our seats to watch Chef Beth demonstrate the hot cocoa cupcakes with peppermint frosting.

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes with Peppermint Frosting 

 Even though the cupcakes didn't have alcohol in them, they were amazing. Peppermint is by far one of my favorite holiday treats and being able to not only make my own but to make a cupcake version was a delight. The cocktails during the class were a delight too. They had white chocolate martinis and spicy milagro hot chocolate. It was a wonderful night to kick off the holiday season, even if the weather here in Tampa makes it feel like summer!


This was by far one of my favorite classes, with the hands on component and the addition of white chocolate and peppermint bark...there was no way I wouldn't love this class! I look forward to celebrating my birthday month with Chef Beth, I can't wait to see what she has in store for us in the new year!