Friday, March 27, 2009

Tasty Bruchetta, Damn the Season! A Review of Cafe BellaLuca!

So I love good Bruschetta. I hate the pretentious way people say it - Bru-sketta- but putting up with snarky waiters and the 'Sam-u-el' crowds who can't get enough of Mediterranean-style Italian cuisine (as opposed to those hole in the wall mom-and-pop places that make the most delicious heavy pastas) is worth it if for no other reason than the simple deliciousness of toasted bread and tomatoes at peak freshness.

Now lots of places mess this up. Heavy, bursting-ripe tomatoes need nothing but a tiny bit of high-quality olive oil, a few bits of garlic and really fresh bread to make this perfect dish. As is often the case in life though, it seems restaurants can't control themselves, and add all sorts of additional spices, and, god forbid, even cheese. Its not that I don't like these things together in other forms, mind you. Rather, in the case of Bruschetta, they usually detract from the complex, weighty, and delicious flavor of perfectly ripe tomatoes.

Unfortunately, I am in the desert. And its March. So when I ordered the Bruchetta at Cafe BellaLuca in Truth or Consequences, I shouldn't have expected the 'perfect' celebration of the tomato I so love. What drove me to order something so obviously out of season? Perhaps the hot spring water I soaked in for an hour before dinner got to me.

When a plate of toasted bread heaping with not-so-ripe looking tomatoes and a bunch of other stuff, to include olive oil, balsamic, mozzerellla, basil, lettuce, and at least 2-3 other things was presented, I shouldn't have been surprised. I was decidedly unhopeful for my dinner, but given that I didn't want Mexican or Dairy Queen and am in the middle of nowhere, I was happy to find somewhere that even made a go at Italian food.

The amazing thing? It was DELICIOUS. Its all about the vinegar. It was just pungent enough to compensate for the lack of taste inherent in tomatoes out of season, and they were cautious enough with its application not to overpower the good-quality cheese. I was taken aback. I am going to return home, reexamine all of my fresh tomato-based dishes that I normally file away until June, and see what may be salvageable with the application of some fine vinegar (although I too have a tendency to overdo a good thing, and ruin it when it comes to vinegar; I think I would drink the stuff directly out of the bottle were no one looking).

I was suddenly very optimistic for the whole meal! Unfortunately, nothing else lived up to this early creative and well-executed dish. I got the lasagna, which I think used canned or frozen spinach. Now if there is a single ingredient for which there is no equivalent non-fresh version, it's spinach. You can taste the bitterness of frozen/canned immediately, and it completely overpowers a dish. Add large pieces of obviously canned tomatoes (or maybe just the bruchetta's more tasteless cousins), and it was not good. Even more painful was the $14 price tag for a small dish. For a small meatless pasta dish, made with primarily non-fresh ingredients, this was outrageous. There were a variety of other pastas, pizza, and a few steak/seafood options. Maybe I just choose poorly, but given the quality control on what I did get, I am not hopeful.

I hope dessert would redeem, and perhaps the lasagna was a one-off bad choice, but alas, the cannoli, for which I was initially excited as it was not covered in pistachios like most, was dry and tasteless. Now I like a cannoli that is a little sour on the inside with a sweet crunchy shell, or a shell that is flaky and strong-tasting with a sweet creamy filling, but these were the unfortunate combination of a sour filling with a bland dry shell. I didn't even finish them. Me. I didn't finish my dessert. Unheard of. Add the fact the expresso machine was broken, and the second two-thirds of this meal were profoundly disappointing. I should have tried the Gelato. Other deserts were your typical Olive Garden variety, although I imagine at least homemade- Tiramisu, Creme Brulee, molten chocolate cake. I was reluctant to go for them as the presence of all three made it seem a bit too chain-Italian generic. If only one were on the menu, and a few other more unique options, I would have felt more confident.

Now perhaps I am being judgy, given where BellaLuca is located. I am only here a night, but I get the distinct sense that Truth or Consequences is not brimming with culinary masterpieces. Given the choices, it seems like a pretty good option. The interior is warm, open, and inviting, , the initially overly cheesy aggressive approach of the waiter, once it was clear I just wanted to read in by the window and not make lame jokes the service was polite, effective and excellent. It took a long time to get my food, but I was there early, so it could have just been that the pan of lasagna wasn't ready yet. Fresh beats quick, and it wasn't too long (about 20 min).

Worth going, if you are in T or C, but mostly beacuse there are few other options. Even the attempt to have something nice and interesting is commendable here- I hope the chef keeps trying, and works on every dish count. For now, just order two plates of Bruchetta, and get some ice cream at Dairy Queen!

Cafe Bellaluca on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shady Dell and Dot's Diner, Bisbee Arizona

So I have been missing for 10 days, I know. Been on a road trip out to a work conference near Tucson, and have been delightfully out of contact. Conference started today though, so since I am back in work mode anyway, I thought it was time to post a bit. I have collected a huge backlog of places from this trip already, so beware a storm coming!

I am staying in Bisbee Arizona. Bisbee, in addition to being endlessly fun to say, is this incredible and unique intersection of hippies and libertarians, where everyone can agree that everyone can be however they want. It's up high in the mountains with lots of wonderful breezes, cheap prices, sunlight, and a fantastic and assorted amount of crazies to check out.

Shady Dell, where I am staying is one of the most delightfully odd places I have ever come across. Its a trailer park. Yes, a trailer park. Before you are overcome with worry that your favorite urban liberal has suddenly lost her teeth and looking for someone with a nice truck to make babies with, know that its unlike any trailer park I have ever seen.

I am staying in a 1957 El Ray. The whole park is full of these neat vintage, fully restored trailers from the 1950's. They are restored perfectly, down to every little detail, with working fixtures, stoves, bathrooms, etc. There are even period radios and TVs that broadcast programs and music from the era. Its amazing, nothing is out of place. I even have a little piece of astroturf and some bright blue chairs outside my trailer to call my own. Even the staff wears period outfits/makeup etc. Its a little creepy, and totally fun. Its so well done, so perfect and so comfortable that were it anywhere else, it would cost hundreds a night and feel fake. But here in Bisbee, the park serves the function it would have even in 1957- its a relatively cheap, relaxing, easy place to stay while exploring a great little town. For $85 a night, there is no better option around! There are few things in the world that make me as happy as weird Americana, and here it is in full force.

On site is this cute little diner, called Dot's. Now its closed on Wed and Thur, opens at 7:30 in the morning and isn't open for dinner. Since I am staying Mon night through Thur morning, and have to leave for work at 7am, this means that a rushed trip back at lunch time was my only chance. It was worth it!

I got a burger and chips (they don't have fries) which were good, and the most delicious chocolate malt ever. Their pies and cakes are glorious looking, which accounts for why I plan to head back in two hours, right before they close, and get some pie and more ice cream. Everything just tastes 'real', totally unlike fake diner food you get at chains. They had a black bean burger, which with mushrooms and cheese sounded delicious as well. Breakfast all day. Although frying an egg isn't rocket science, a willingness to do so with a ton of fresh butter and a local organic egg that actually tastes like egg would be delicious, I am sure. Alas, I only have time for one meal and one pie gorging that I am sure to regret tonight.

The service is half the fun too- everyone knows everyone from this little town, and locals are stopping in with standing orders all the time. Despite being a replica in the most obvious way (themed trailer park, costumed staff) the fact that it has 10 seats, is in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, and does a genuine local business mean that Dots Diner is something fundamentally different than a tourist trap or fake nostalgia. Rather, it, and Shady Dell in general, reflect a genuine desire to live in a different world from the modern one which is America today. Crazy little Bisbee is the rare unique setting in which such a thing can be genuinely done, with little irony or cheesiness. No one is denying the reality around them at Shady Dell and Dot's; rather they are enhancing it with their own unique choice of lifestyle. I am glad I got to join in for a few days (or even just a lunch, and pie!)

Dot's Diner (at Shady Dell) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nutmeg, I'm Fu@*ing Matt (car)Damon

Dear Nutmeg,

We had a great run. You taught me that peach pie could have some bite, you foiled the mice that would chew leaves in my garden, you even rubbed yourself on my turkey a few times (oh yea you did).

But someone new has come into my life, and I really need to give them a chance.

Yes, you know him, I believe he even works with you at Spicecabinet, INC. It doesn't matter what his name is.

Look, you know we haven't been getting along so well recently. Ever since the accident (and your unfortunate lid-cracking), you haven't been the same. You mess up the house, leak all over, and really, I think have been pretty bland and stale. A couple of times when you couldn't perform, I was forced to look elsewhere for love, and well, while cinnamon and anise were good flings, it was cardamon that made me see the light.

Shoot, well there, now you know his name. Its not his fault. If it wasn't him, it would have been someone else. I know I saw lemon zest looking at me a little too long last time I was around your place.

Cardamon just gets me. He's lemony without being sour, and is as comfortable in a sweet pie as he is in a spicy curry. He doesn't mind me spicing things up by bringing allspice, cinnamon, the cloves, or even thyme along with us when we get to it. You never wanted to share the spotlight.

Its not serious or anything- I hope that he also makes his way around my group of friends. He's so delicious, its a sin to keep him to myself. I hope they try him out.

I even heard that he has a black brother that is, well, even more talented. So maybe I might look him up.

Anyway, I digress.

I just need some space.

But, I will always think of you, and who knows, maybe someday, on a hot June afternoon, when the peaches are ripe, I might come calling back around your place.

In the meantime, lets just play our song one last time.

Love always,


Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms in Yogurt Sauce

So I came home from work with a hankerin (yes, hankerin, still thinkin about those Texans!) for something garlicky. In my quest to use all the veggies I got from my last shipment before I leave Friday for a trip, I noticed there were still a few packages of mushrooms in the back of the fridge. A few days past perfect, these were not meant for eating raw in salad or the like. Sooooo.....I harkened back to one of my favorite harrrrrible-for-you foods, and decided to go for some sauteed mushrooms.

Doesn't sound that bad for you you say? Well a little context- when I say 'sauteed mushrooms', I mean these butter and garlic covered fist-sized wonders we used to get at the renaissance fair (yes, I was/am a dork, nothing revelatory there) when I was a kid. My aunt would take my cousin and I, and we would get a cone full of these things that probably took 10 yrs off my life. There was no better warm up on earth for a whole day of whining about wanting to do things and looking for just the right opportunity to shove ones' little cousin in elephant poop (sorry Stephen, I can't believe you still talk to me!). From that moment on, I had a love affair with mushrooms.

Believe it or not, I was the pickiest eater in the world when I was a kid. The one somewhat commonly disliked type of thing I would dig into with abandon was mushrooms, the earthier and more fungus-like the better. My best friend from high school shared this love, and often, as we started inching out into culinary worlds beyond Olive Garden (probably more for love of the idea of being rich/fancy/sophisticated enough one day to regularly enjoy them vice any actual love of food), mushrooms were often the motivating factor for selecting a dish on a confusing and unfamiliar menu. Although I exercise a little more caution now (filled with breadcrumbs and cheese is reserved for sports bars and my living room), I still can't get enough of the little guys.

So here I am, freed from my food aversions and fear of trying things by a few years in a country where food was weird, I had no money, and my ability to grasp the subtle linguistic nuances between 'feet' and 'cabbage' was limited to say the least, nevertheless hankerin for some comfort food of my childhood.

2 cartons of mushrooms (white button are best)
1/2 stick butter
a TON of garlic- as much as you can stand to peel and squish really- I used about 1/4 cup of fresh stuff here
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup yogurt or sour cream. I like good thick greek yogurt, but any thick sour milk product will do
1/4 cup fresh parsley (roughly chopped)
2 tbsp fresh dill (roughly chopped)

Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the garlic (shallots are a good addition here too if you are in the mood) and saute for 2 minutes. Slice the mushrooms and add all at once. Put about half of the parsley in at this point. Add the salt and pepper, and saute until mushrooms are soft, but not totally cooked down (about 3 minutes on high).

Once mushrooms have cooked down, poor a little of the liquid from the pan into a bowl. Whisk in the yogurt (this will keep it from curdling when you add it). Then poor the yogurt mix back into the saute pan, add the rest of the parsley and dill, and simmer until hot all the way through.

Remove from heat, and serve! Delicious!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Move over England, the Texans are Invading Ireland!

So the title might be a little inflammatory.....but can anyone explain the presence of a 20 intensely Texan rancher looking dudes in Irish Channel today?

Irish Channel is about my favorite pub in Chinatown, not nearly as full of annoying happy-hour crowds as Fado, great bar food (if you are not up for food, Rocket bar is pretty great too, although a bit more full of fratties). So imagine my surprise when, as I gorged myself on a Chicken Quesadilla and Pot Pie (yea, nothing healthy about either of these, but delicious, especially when your earlier meals were some sort of crazy healthy-vegetable-worship nonsense - see, and a whole herd of coyboy-hat-wearing-wrangler-jean-buying-gay-marriage-opposing-hard-workin-stereotype-in-flannel Texans were enjoying a drink right next to me.

Not since the year I spend in glorious San Angelo west Texas, two hours from an interstate and ten times that from cheese not spelled with a 'z' have I been around such a large group of folks wearing coyboy hats unironically. It was great.

It makes me smile to be reminded that all joking aside there are still genuine cultures out there in America, especially since I live in a yuppified, often culturally (in the funny accents and interesting clothing way, not the tiny forks and raised pinky way) lacking eastern seaboard city. DC has lots of international stuff, sure. But sometimes I miss the ethnic neighborhoods of Chicago, and yes, it hurts me to say, the genuinely unique culture of West Texas.

So hooray Irish Channel, and hooray Texas. I had a drink for you. Well, a diet coke. But San Angelo was in a dry county after all......

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Joy of Fresh Produce- Washington's Green Grocer

From time to time I will post images of something just dirt-on-the-roots, tastes-like-sunlight fresh that I have been lucky enough to come across and add to my kitchen. The source of these culinary miracles?

Washington's Green Grocer -

This is a small local business that sources the freshest in local (as much as possible) produce and delivers it to your door. Far from a faceless grocery delivery service, there is the worlds easiest web interface where you can make last minute changes to your weekly/biweekly or other box. You choose the frequency and size of your delivery- everything from a few pieces of fruit for your work lunch to a large box suitable for a large family who loves their veggies. There is an organic box for those who lean that way as well.

Each week the owner sends out a personal email and newsletter. I love that it lets you know where your food is coming from, what is coming into season, and what to salivate over until your next box!

I recently read the "The Ominvore's Dilemma" on the advice of a friend (the same one who recommended Washington's Green Grocer in fact!), and have become mildly obsessed with buying food locally. Its not some psydo-hippie do-gooder desire to save the world- you don't even need to get into a normative discussion. Rather, local stuff just tastes better. As a kid who grew up in that mid-western culinary wasteland of canned vegetables and homemade dishes that combined things from packages in new, delicious, and high-fructose-corn-syrup-tastic ways, the revelation that fruits and veggies taste better when they haven't been on a plane for 2 days and when in season was salvation. I mean, I know I don't preserve well packed in a box (the seats are very small on UA4662) traveling for 20 hours from a farm in the Philippines, I don't know why I ever expected a melon to!

Washington's Green Grocer runs cheaper that buying items in a supermarket in the district, even the unSafeway near my home. The produce is just out of this world, the delivery reliable, and my order has been perfect every time, even when I insist on substituting out all the potatoes and greens for more delicious kiwifruits (by the way, anyone have a recipe for kiwifruit, I have alot of them :-).

It has changed the way I cook and eat. A desire not to waste the delicious food I get every other week makes me innovate in my cooking, and has taught me to make quickie veggie dishes that are faster than waiting for a pizza, and much much better for me.

So enough fawning for now, but expect more. I am leaving town for a few weeks, and have stopped delivery until I get back. Once back, I will post a pic of my latest box, and as always, let you know what I do with the contents!

Thanks again Green Grocer for helping me fall in love with food!

Below is a sample email they send each week- I love how easy it is!

"Good Morning, we hope everyone had a great weekend!

We're starting to work our way back up the coast...with Georgia and the Carolinas coming on first...we should start to see some Virginia and PA produce in a few weeks.

We had hoped for some local baby spinach (PA) but our co-op had a mishap with a cooler over the weekend, and everything picked over the weekend froze in the cooler...not good! We should have some local baby spinach and chard for next week.

We will also be posting a harvesting schedule from one or two of our growers/co-ops so that you can see ROUGHLY when items will become available thoughout the season. That schedule will be on the website, and we'll send another email once it's posted.

okay...this week's list...

Romaine lettuce (Boston for organic box)
Sugar Snap Peas
Carrots w/ greens
Grape Tomatoes
White Corn (Green Beans for organic box)
Vidalia Onions (Yellow Squash for organic box)

Mango (Kiwi for organic box)
Bosc Pears (D'Anjou Pears for organic box)

The newsletter is already up at...

the link for making changes...

We hope everyone has a great week, we'll see you on delivery day!

Zeke and Lisa

Cinnamon Rolls

I am an emotional eater. Not a my-boyfriend-frowned-at-me-eat-a-whole-pint-of-ben-and-jerry's eater mind you, but when I have had a tough day, when I feel the love for someone in my life, when I am celebrating, when I am mourning, I cook. My family doesn't hug and kiss, we feed. Food is affection to me, for better (my taste buds) or worse (my waistline).

Combine this with a rather strenuous need to have a system for everything and the result is a menu for every occasion, a specialty for every emotion.

Lately the occasion that has dominated my psyche has been travel, both mine and that of people I care about. And traveling brings with it certain opportunities that living downtown in a big city, eating out with fancy people often does not- namely, road food. Or airport food, as the case may be. And few things make me salivate and ignore the snugness of my pants more than the smell of Cinnabon across the airport after a long flight, usually from barbaric culture that does not know the joy of free refills, liberal use of deodorant, and gooey, sticky, teeth-crackingly sweet head sized cinnamon rolls.

I, however, will not be at an airport anytime soon, as most of my travel will be by car. Nevertheless, I woke up craving the taste. Helps that a certain man in my life shares my passion, and was coming over that evening for dinner. I've been slowly working my way through various breads, and thought that maybe the time had come to give cinnamon rolls another shot, after an epic failure a few years ago that resulted in a 4pm Sat binge trip to Cinnabon in the South Bend mall and some pretty hateful self commentary after finishing off a pack of 6.

If you want them for breakfast, make them the day before, refrigerate, and reheat in the oven the next morning. These are actually even better reheated, something about being in the fridge makes the goo even yummier! I accidentally cut mine too thin (3/4 inch thick, before rising), I recommend about 2 inches.

The rolls are easy:
2 packs of yeast
1 cup milk or water
4 cups of flour
1 cup Brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp nutmeg or cardamon
1 tsp salt

1 cup of brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter

equal parts cream cheese and butter
two parts powdered sugar to cream cheese and butter
lemon and vanilla extract to taste

Scald the milk, let cool to about 105 degrees, and then add the yeast and brown sugar and one cup flour. Fold together. Let the yeast sponge grow for 30 min or so in a warm place.

Once the yeast mix is a bit foamy, add the the butter (softened) and fold in the flour a little at a time. Use only enough to get the dough firm and just past sticky. Too much will dry it out. Fold in the salt and spices last. Kneed the heck out of it, 10 min in a mixer with a dough hook, 20 min by hand (if you are good at it, more if you are new to this). Form into a ball, and put into a greased bowl (roll it around a bit to coat the outside of the dough- this prevents a crust from forming). Cover with a loose towel. Let rise about 40 min in a warm place

Once dough has doubled in size, punch down and let rise an additional 30 min.

Once dough has again doubled in size, roll it out into a large rectangle. Cream together the filling ingredients and spread over the dough. The butter should be very soft, and using your hands works best.

Then roll the dough from the bottom long edge to the top. Once the dough is rolled, slice into 2in slices and place on a pan with plenty of room to rise and spread out. Put in a warm place and let rise for an hour.

I like to use an egg wash on the rolls, but this isn't strictly necessary.

Bake for about 1 hr, or until golden. I like to make additional filling on the stove by mixing another set of filling ingredients in a pan, adding just enough water to make things dissolve, and then poring it on top of the just-out-of-the-oven rolls.

To make the frosting, whip together frosting ingredients until fluffy, about 8-9 min in an electric mixer. I really like to add the lemon/vanilla extracts at this point (using lemon juice vice extract will negatively affect the texture of the frosting for this recipe by preventing it from getting a little bit of a butter-cream like shell on the outside). I put a LOT of this on the warm rolls, and viola, deliciousness!!

If you are refrigerating the rolls, you can make a simple glaze from powdered sugar and milk and poor it over the rolls (prevents them from drying out). Make the frosting and set aside. Once you are ready to reheat, add the frosting on top, pop them in the oven on low, and yum!

Le Pain Quotidien - Eastern Market Location - Review

So I have been to this place a bunch of times, with very mixed results.

On a weekday, it is a wonderful place to sit and read (although I agree with previous reviews- they really need blinds or curtains, the sun is scalding, and now that its getting warmer, its downright uncomfortable in there).

The food is top-notch- best muffins around, unlike anything I have had elsewhere. Avacado tartine was wonderful, and I am crazy for the apple cider. I like that the menu has the caloric values listed....keeps me from going too crazy :-)

The service though.....unbelievably awful. On a normal weekday, its pretty average, no complaints. But I went this past weekend, and it was prob the worst experience I have ever had. Ironic, since I thought the place it replaced, Bread and Chocolate, won that award for Eastern Market. Seems I was sadly mistaken.

We wanted to sit outside- they only have 10 tables or so out there. There was a sign to wait for the hostess to seat you (an nowhere to wait, which is annoying when it gets crowded on a weekend). We couldn't find anything that looked like a hostess, and the other door (front) had the same sort of chaos going on. We finally asked someone, and they just said to find a table on our own. Which was even more chaotic, but eventually, we waited out a table, chased off the other people who were about waiting (it was hard to see who was first, since there was no line or place to wait together, so people were scattered), and sat. And sat. We waited 25 min, and then I got up and got a menu myself. We waited 15 more min, and I asked a passing waitress (they have not making eye contact down pat, it was impossible to flag someone) if we had a waitress. She responded, visibly annoyed at me 'arugh, I'll tell someone inside'. A neighboring table overheard, laughed, and said that it took them 45 min to get served, don't hold our breath. Another table that sat down after us had similarly given up and retrieved menus themselves. We waited another 10 min, and no waitstaff came to our table, so I went inside. I spoke to who I think was the manager at the take-out counter, and asked if we could just order at the counter and eat outside, since we hadn't seen a waiter. He agreed, and I think yelled at someone who was supposed to be serving outside, but that's unclear. I asked for the muffin I had been craving, and of course, they were out of it. At that point, I was done. We left, having spent an hour there, and never having even been offered menus, much less food.

A shame, since when its not crowded, the food is excellent, and the service good. But I think they really need to work out some sort of system on weekends. I don't think I will be back.

Le Pain Quotidien on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Asia Nine Bar & Lounge- Review

I came to Asia Nine for a birthday, and was blown away by the service. My friend had neglected to make a reservation for her birthday, despite it being 20 people at a popular restaurant on a Sat night. I know. I was chatting to the bartender while waiting for her to arrive and mentioned this, and, after a look of panic, he jumped to it. Without my even asking (I was expecting to not get a table and be awkwardly crammed at the bar all night, only to give up at the first polite moment and go elsewhere), he managed to section off an end of the bar, set up a system for us to order efficiently from the bar, and tell the hostess to send everyone back to our area. Totally above and beyond, and I am so grateful- what luck!

The food was pretty good (standard Asian-fusion stuff), and the drinks were great fruffy things. Great Saki and Shochu selection as well. But what really made the place was the incredibly accommodating service.

Not as annoying trendy of a crowd either, surprisingly, given the decor and feel of the place. A great place to have a trendy night without it being over the top pretentious.

Asia Nine on Urbanspoon

Red Velvet Cupcakery- Review.

(thanks for the pics!)

So in my recent and growing obsession with tiny frosted cakes, I had oddly yet to get to the new Chinatown bakery, Red Velvet Cupcakery. Especially strange, since 50% of my social time is spent wandering Chinatown trying to figure out what to eat....Anyway, finally made it here last weekend with the boyfriend and his sister (also a cupcake fan). Now maybe its not the smoothest thing in the world when meeting the family of the significant other for the first time to buy four cupcakes in one shot, but I do have such a tough time choosing. Terror of commitment. Yea. That's the message I wanted to broadcast in this situation. Oh well, I enjoyed them!

I can't give any cupcake place less than a 4 stars it seems, cause I really do just love them. This place works if you choose wisely- the devils food frosting was too chewy- not nearly as tasty as it looks. The big winner- Peanut butter. sweet, but a little salt on top makes it not overwhelming, like most dessert peanut butter things. Delicious without being sickly, its about the best peanut butter cupcake I have ever had.

Also had red velvet, which was pretty tasty- good amount of cream cheese for my tastes.

Birthday cake- this was great as well- delicious cake. Its like most places just give up when making yellow cake- this was flaky and moist and yummy!

Overall, great place to hit up if you are in Chinatown anyway, and in the mood. Not the best cupcakes around, but a tasty, if expensive, diversion.

Red Velvet Cupcakery on Urbanspoon

Why Haochi?

I have discovered in my little life that deliciousness is in abundance in surprising places. No place taught me this as much as China, so my inaugural attempt at a blog dedicated to all things delicious bears the Chinese name. Be it the amazingly tender/spicy veggies in an otherwise offensive bovine lung hot pot, finding the hidden savory sweetness in an often bitter chewy world gets me up and out the door every morning. Well most mornings. Sometimes that sweetness is in my own kitchen. Enjoy!