Thursday, February 14, 2008

One Vegan, One Fromagette, 4 Cupcakes ....

Paris has many delights. None of them involve cupcakes. We can all list the many reasons that cupcakes trump eclairs and macarons and even a Paris Brest, but for me, the main attraction is the icing. And so, with four days in New York and endless opportunities, Emily and I tasted four different vanilla cupcakes.

Babycakes. I was intrigued by gluten-free, sugar-free, etc. cupcakes. Having spent weeks and months overthree years avoiding food allergens, I am all about a place where you can get your cupcake on without stomach pain. I'm generally glad that I'm not allergic to aforementioned goodies because although the texture of the vanilla cupcake was amazing for a vegan one, I was disappointed with the flavor. I think that the other flavors (lemon, carrot cake) would've been better, but when I asked for the best one, that's what she gave me (the service was not the best there). A for accessibility, C for flavor.

Crumb. Emily and I embarked on a Sunday of cupcake fervor that started at Crumb. We were initially drawn in by their warm, sweet, cup-cakey air but when we saw behind the glass mounds of candied cupcakes, we weren't so sure. (Service aside: the guy was so taken with Emily, he could barely take my order) We did not have any desire for Reese's or Oreo and were glad to stuff large puffs of vanilla cake and cream in our mouths. Until we both began to chew and felt that sickly tannin-y taste on the back of our teeth, like the cupcake was from Safeway, but cost 10x as much. We put the other half back in the bag and two blocks later we dropped it in the trash. C.

Buttercup. More optimistic a few blocks over, we were welcomed by friendly ladies and a more chill, small-town bakery vibe. Despite bowls of flourescent icing hanging out catching the breeze, it seemed like a nice place to be (we tried to sit, but there wasn't room). This vanilla beauty had blue icing, but tasted really great - nice fat crumb and that buttercream sweetness that keeps you from eating too much but also calls you back again and again. There was still a depth of flavor that Teacakes gets in their icing that was missing, so I gave it a B+. (Emily was happy to finish it .)

Magnolia. Hopes were as high as the line was long. I spilled a large bottle of Smartwater on the floor while I held our seats and then cleaned up an end of a table for us to spread out our cakes and 2008 goals only to relinquish it to a trio who discussed cancer tests. Emily returned with two beautiful cakes (pictured above) and two teas and yes, Magnolia was the best by far. The cake was vanilla-y and even though it's crumb was smaller, I preferred it as such (Emily preferred the larger crumb) and the frosting was as close to Teacakes as I have gotten: sweet, vanilla-tinged, and leaving you wanting more (although I actually couldn't finish it). Pink is from red and no it's not a natural color, but it appealed to my aesthetic more than blue. A-

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