Ooh, my favorite!

Coolest cake ever
November 11, 2010, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Sweets

Super Mario Bros. cake

(Nerd alert!) This really is the coolest cake ever. Revealed during the Super Mario Bros 25th anniversary celebration in NYC earlier this week, this four-tier cake showcases designs from World 8, but honestly I couldn’t have told you that since I never made it that far without warping; maybe that’s why I would have guessed World 4 (there’s a glimpse into my lack of skill in the early Mario games. Super Mario World on SNES is a different story though!)

[via LikeCool]

Anthony’s Cookies
August 31, 2010, 1:48 pm
Filed under: Sweets

After a lazy Sunday morning in the Mission we finally made a stop by Anthony’s Cookies on the way home. I’d heard wonderful things about the all-cookie bakery, and since I don’t bake as often as I cook, it was the perfect excuse to get some gourmet cookies for an afternoon snack before naptime. Plus, anywhere that uses organic ingredients whenever possible always gets extra points in my book.

It’s a cute little raspberry and chocolate brown storefront with the drinks and cookies of the day listed on butcher paper.  The bottles of bottled organic milk that lined the wall to the kitchen were calling to me; there’s just something about jarred milk that reminds me of a simpler time, complete with milk mustaches.

I just ran in for the cookies, but there were a few small seats if you wanted to hang out. Anthony himself wasn’t there but I’m eager to head back to meet him as I’ve also heard he’s a really nice guy, (and a self-taught baker if I’m not mistaken). There was a fairly long queue but it moved pretty quickly, and when a couple came in behind me and talked about leaving everyone in line ahead of me whipped around and ordered them to stay: “Trust us, it’s worth the wait!”

We really only needed a half dozen, but of course I opted for a full dozen…you know, just in case. It was so fun running back to the car with a box full of cookies to show my Lova; I was completely giddy, and after he took a peek so was he.

In order of appearance: chocolate chip, Cookies & Cream, organic peanut butter, Ghirardelli white chocolate chip, whole wheat chocolate chip, toffee chip.

I stole a bite of the Cookies & Cream before I remembered to take a picture. It really was a miracle that I didn’t steal a bite from each one, but we decided to wait until we were cozy in bed to sample the rest. Once we were settled with our cups of tea we made our way through each one. They were all so wonderful; a nice crisp outer layer with the perfect soft and gooey center. I think my favorite was the toffee chip, which is surprising because I’m not a toffee girl.

Anthony’s Cookies is definitely a fun stop if you’re in the neighborhood and are craving something sweet. I can’t wait to swing by again to catch Anthony himself and sample a few more of his wonderful cookies.

Crixa Cakes – Berkeley
July 13, 2010, 7:20 am
Filed under: Food, Sweets

I mentioned last week that I had quite the food itinerary for the weekend with my soon-to-be-gone foodie friend Brian. We spent Friday night eating around Sunnyvale  with his roommate and all day Saturday on a sweets tour of Berkeley.

One of the favorite stops was Crixa Cakes, the cutest little Eastern European bakery with some of the best pastries and pies that I’ve had in a while. Very different from other styles of pastry, Crixa has mastered the art of avoiding the sickeningly sweet treat.

Inside is comfortable and homey with the lovely cases of cakes and pies giving way to the kitchen just beyond. Eight or so marble top tables line near the windows, or if you prefer there are a few tables and chairs just outside. It’s a great spot for a morning alone with a good book if you’re flying solo.

Since it was a farewell visit there was much to be tasted, and we didn’t even make it over to the cake side of the case. Since this was our second bakery stop (Arizmendi was first) I opted to start with a savory treat, so I ordered the dilled cabbage pirog. The cabbage was wonderfully tasty and had salt I was craving after my piece of coffee cake from the first stop. The pastry that encased it was perfectly buttery and flakey, and I only wish I had gotten there earlier so I could have enjoyed it piping hot from the oven. To accompany my pirog Brian ordered the cherry pie and the peach blackberry pie. Both were lovely, and without all of the sugar you’re able to appreciate the seasonal and perfectly ripe ingredients in each. Ah, what a concept

There was also a takeaway container for later, but we kinda got into that too. I believe there was an apricot cake, a cinnamon rugelach, and a peach blackberry pie. I had a bite of the rugelach and it was unbelievably good! Looking back I wish I’d gotten some to takeaway as well, but that would have been dangerous as I would have had to eat it all myself.

I’m already counting down the months until their pumpkin pie returns; my trip before Thanksgiving last year is still haunting me. Poor Brian, he will most definitely need some consoling when November rolls around. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful way to send him off, and an even better way to spend a beautiful Saturday in Berkeley.

June 21, 2010, 9:30 am
Filed under: Food, Smile, Sweets

I love Bakerella! She never ceases to amaze me with her gorgeous Cake Pops and desserts. I often dream about finding the courage to attempt to recreate these on my own, but my past experiences with cooking/baking disasters has me a bit weary; I can’t help it, I am a complete grouch when my culinary adventures don’t pan out. Her Pop Stars section does give hope since it showcases submissions from her readers. Another great resource (and confidence booster) will be her first cookbook that’s due to hit shelves in September. Hmm, maybe during Christmas cookie season I’ll set a goal to sneak these in the rotation.

Her latest creation celebrates the release of Toy Story 3 and once again she nailed it. How perfect do Mr. Potato Head and Hamm look in cake form?! Brilliant, I say.

Take a peek below at some of her other pops that I call my favorites. (Hello Kitty! and Winnie the Pooh!) And be sure to check out her wonderful site for instructions on each of the pops.

Toy Story 3, Mr. Potato Head

Toy Story 3, Hamm

Hello Kitty!

Sesame Street

Winnie the Pooh with a pot of Hunny

Frosty the Snowman

Vintage cake boxes
June 7, 2010, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Sweets

I adore these little cake boxes. I was instantly smitten with how charming they are, and I only wish I could think of an occasion to use them. Coming in only a millisecond after ogling the boxes I noticed the Christmas cake! Oh, how I love Christmas cake.

My sweet heart’s sister and her lovely family live in England, so we don’t often get to see them, but when we do it’s always an amazing holiday. A few years ago we all managed to get away for Christmas in Oregon and they introduced me to wonders of Christmas cake. It must be in my blood because I was instantly hooked. Fruitcake stateside has a bad rap–and for good reason, mostly–but this cake was different. It may be because I’m a sucker for marzipan, but that combined with the crumbly-moist cake was a little slice of heaven; with a proper cup of tea of course.

Ah, maybe one of these days I’ll get around to hosting a quaint afternoon tea complete with Christmas cake and vintage take-away boxes.

Check out the cake boxes at Cox & Cox.

Bluebottle Coffee Company
May 18, 2010, 7:06 am
Filed under: Green, Organic, Restaurants, San Francisco, Sweets

I’m not a coffee girl, but oh how I wish I was; just the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans makes me feel warm and cozy, and if I could wear it as a fragrance I totally would. Coming from the land of Starbucks you’d think I’d be a pro, but somehow, my love affair stops there as I just haven’t ever been able to drink a full cup of it.

If there was any place where I could be schooled on the delicacies of a proper cuppa joe it would be at Bluebottle Coffee Company – artisanal microroasters of organic, pesticide-free, shade-grown, coffee beans that are off to you within 48 hours of roasting. I love everything about this place, and I wish I could camp out at the Mint Plaza location everyday. I’m officially on a mission to earn some coffee badges.

One thing that could help me along with my coffee training is the Affogato, a generous scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso for drowning the ice cream with. (I don’t want to offend true coffee connoisseurs and loyal fans of Bluebottle, but I’ve got to start somewhere.) Oh my gosh, there are no words….

It was really big, so it’s perfect for sharing. I can’t wait to go back for an afternoon date so we can share this and sit by the window for some people-watching. I LOVE people watching, especially when it’s over something this good.

So, even though it may take a bit of time for me to appreciate all of the wonderful drinks they offer at Bluebottle, I’ll be be here every chance I get to pick up a bag as a gift or for an afternoon snack with visitors. This is an amazing company and I love what they do: not only are they experts at their craft, but they’ve truly infused environmentally-conscious practices into every aspect of their business. Check this out:

– All our coffees are certified organic, sustainable, and shade grown. We make occasional exceptions for beautiful shade-grown coffees grown responsibly without pesticides but not yet certified organic.

– We use cellophane-lined bags instead of plastic or polypropylene-lined. Cellophane is made from wood cellulose, so it is 100% biodegradable. Because of the slight porosity, cellophane is not used by roasters who are worried about shelf life, but because our coffee does not sit on store shelves for long periods, we can use this material with no trade-off in quality. Once the metal tie is removed from our bags, they are recyclable or compostable.

– We use food-safe stainless steel bins to mix our blends instead of the plastic bins which are standard in the industry. Your beans literally never touch plastic or aluminum from the time they are packed into burlap sacks at the country of origin to the time they are poured into your grinder.

– We compost coffee bean chaff (a waste product of the roasting process) and pay extra for paper (compostable) half gallon milk jugs, rather than plastic gallon milk jugs.

– All test batches, expired batches, or batches that do not meet our requirements are composted or donated to local food banks

– All inks we use are soy-based. All papers (except for our coffee bags – we’re still looking for cellophane-lined recycled paper bags) have post-consumer recycled content of 50% or greater, and are unbleached. All cleaning products are greenest non-toxic products we can find, and all appliances are the most energy-efficient on the market.

– All customer communications are done over the internet whenever possible.

They’re official!

[Thanks Ed for taking the Affogato pics. Still have stage fright with the camera.]

[Thanks Brian for leading the way.]

iPhone chocolates
April 29, 2010, 6:39 am
Filed under: Sweets

Cute! Gourmet chocolate iPhone or iPad app buttons on Etsy. Even made with organic and fair trade chocolate.

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