Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Freeze

Spring. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

I am too fat for warm weather clothes;
My hair frizzes at the first sign of humidity;
I have allergies; and
It rains all the time.


It is a good thing that it has broken 50 degrees in NYC exactly 3 times since October. Today I woke up to rain and a healthy 40 degrees (and you wonder why I broke the diet I had been on for exactly 7 hours and 37 minutes by eating a vanilla-vanilla monstrosity...I was cold! I need layers of fat for warmth since I have very cold appendages.).

To be honest, I love the spring. The warm weather (ok, not yet), flowers (destroyed by heavy rain and spring frosts) and sunshine (clouds) really are a treat. The problem is that NYC's version of spring this year is really thwarting my motivation to get bikini ready. Instead, I wear a lot of black and eat a lot of baked goods. It seems like as long as the Dow continues to hang out below 8000 and big law firms drop associates just as quickly, the cold clouds will remain. What is a girl to do?

My solution? No, not antidepressants. Pharmaceuticals are expensive and I'm not sure I would be able to combine them with booze. Baking isn't a good idea because my cupcake roll is pretty out of control. I can't go to the gym more than 5 or 6 days a week (I'm told that is already excessive) and my days of spending $ on pricey personal trainers are gone (and, unfortunately, Jillian from the Biggest Loser doesn't run the vacation fat camp I dream about).

The solution is gardening. That's right, Home Depot sells seeds buy one get one free right now. 54 cents a pack! You don't need to worry about the cold when the only place your pots can sit is on top of your radiator! For $13 I bought pots, saucers, 5 seed packs and enough "seed starter" soil for all of them. Sure, I looked like a homeless person lugging my massive bags home across town, and yeah, I broke one of the pots before I got in the door (which I will attempt to return), but I am going to be a gardening machine! People are going to walk by my 2nd story apartment and instead of thinking "Why is that girl dancing around like that? Is she having a seizure?" they will ponder "I wonder where that girl having a seizure bought those beautiful pansies? Her pots of herbs are lovely!". I can just see it now. It is going to be glorious. Fresh mint for iced tea. Parsley and basil for homemade tomato sauce. Wildflowers galore.

Of course, I didn't actually plant anything yet. I mean, after lugging all that stuff home I was tired. There was also the broken pot. And I don't have a spade...or like to get dirty. But the plans that I have...big plans...for sometime next week or maybe the week after that. Definitely before summer.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cupcakes with a Side of Vodka

Someone very nice gave me the super cute Magnolia egg carton of mini-cupcakes for Easter. I know, pretty exciting (he must like me and think I can afford to eat a couple of cupcakes)! Of course, they were a little dry after a few days in an egg carton (egg cartons are not air tight), so by yesterday I was dipping them in my coffee with breakfast.

This got me thinking, what is the best combination with a cupcake? Is it wine or beer as the folks at Sweet Revenge would have us think? How about a glass of milk? Also, is it weird to dunk your cupcake in coffee? I mean, my Grandfather dunks every sugary carb in his coffee...including peanut butter and jelly eggo waffle sandwiches...but he is also 91 and mixes red wine and coca cola over ice, so perhaps his chewing ability/refined palate are not something I should be holding up as the gold standard. Personally, I usually have water with my cupcakes, or, if I am shoving it in my mouth while walking down the street, nothing.

Now, at restaurants it is pretty standard to have coffee or tea with your dessert, but I prefer to think of a cupcake as more of a snack. It is important to make that distinction since it is not appropriate to have multiple desserts a day. Snacks on the other had are an important part of a balanced diet. For example, a cupcake and a glass of milk contains calcium and protein! If you have key lime icing it also provides fruit. A cupcake with coffee has the added bonus of a sugar/caffeine combo. Nothing like a little red bull cake to add a spark to your day!

I know, I digress. The question is cupcake beverage pairings. The answer must be on Google. Except, when I went to Google and looked up "Cupcake drink" I did not find the survey of best beverage pairings that I hoped would be readily available (No, I am not sure why I thought that would be the case), instead I found this drink recipe:

1/2 cup Seagram's® Vanilla vodka
1/2 cup Sprite® soda

Fill a glass half full with cubed ice. Pour in 1/2 cup of Seagram's vanilla vodka (or other vanilla vodka). Pour in 1/2 cup of Sprite from 1/2 a foot above glass (helps make it mix better). Stir for 10 seconds, and serve.

Now, I have a few questions about this drink. First, what difference does the 6 inches make in the pour? Second, isn't that equivalent to about 2.5 shots of vodka? Does it taste like a cupcake because you are so drunk you don't notice that you are drinking a clear drink instead of eating a delicious buttercream confection? Finally, why can't I get an answer to my actual question, and after downing a half cup of vodka in one gulp, would I even care?

Of course, none of this will stop me from trying this "not that interesting or creative but strong" adult beverage this evening. Ever health conscious, I think I will use Diet Sprite...this snack doesn't cover many food groups.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Icing in your face

I have had enough.

Grub Street, you want to talk cupcakes? Let's talk.

Your bakery reviews stink. Your reviewer, from Gramercy Tavern, where I do not think the desserts are that great, stinks. At least Crumbs isn't on the list. They are busy taking over the universe.

Ok, now on to the cupcakes, in no particular order (except for Billy's):

Billy's Bakery - This is hands down the best cupcake in Manhattan. To be fair, the icing is a bit sweet. Guess what? That is why you get cupcakes! Because they are cute and sweet and taste/look like every 5 year-old girl and man in Chelsea's dream come true. And I am not just saying this because I want to work there...contrary to what my mother predicts every other day, I am still employed as a lawyer. (Grub Street rank: 11th...out of 15...)

- Maybe it is because the new Rockefeller Center location is so close to my office (Hello Al Roker, have another), but this mecca of cupcake consumerism and dry cake has grown on me lately. Seriously though, I still maintain Magnolia is (a) no comparison to Billy's and (b) the closest thing to eating chocolate flavored sandpaper that I can think of. (Grub Street rank: 7th)

Sweet Revenge
- I reviewed this one. I am not doing it again now. The cupcakes are good. The peanut butter frosting is not great. (Grub Street rank: 8th)

Cupcake Cafe
- The best thing about these cupcakes are the decorations, which are really spectacular flowers of every shape and color. The buttercream is a bit dense, but this is a truly amazing presentation. The chocolate cake is actually less dry than the vanilla, but both are basically poundcake. Grub Street got this one right. (Grub Street rank: 9th)

- Ew. Cake is made with eggs and flour. I don't know what made vegan/gluten free cupcakes sound like a good idea, but these prove they are not. (Grub Street rank: 15th)

- When I ordered these cupcakes they did not have icing. It was $2 a piece for little muffin turds. I guess the New York Magazine people rate a little higher than lawyers ordering cupcakes to the office on a Saturday (don't judge) because mine had a weird aftertaste and no toppings. (Grub Street rank: 3rd...drat)

I will save the Brooklyn cupcakes for another requires some commuting.

That's right, I'm back.