Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts

March 1, 2013


It’s here! It’s here! Day #1 of my St. Patrick’s Day countdown of Irish-y recipes. And ya’ll, I’m starting off with a great one! Who doesn’t swoon at the thought of Buttermilk Doughnuts? And these particular Buttermilk Doughnuts are filled with a Chocolate & Raspberry Jam that will bring tears to your eyes. Now I’m sure some of you folks out there in internet land are saying “Uh…How are Chocolate Raspberry Doughnuts particularly Irish?” Well now, keep your britches on for a just a minute and I will make the Irish connection clear.


The food scene in Ireland today is really changing rapidly. For such a long time when one spoke of Irish cuisine, bland boiled meat and potato was the unfortunate stereotype. But now a days I think most folks are aware that there is a real food renaissance going on in Ireland. The traditional Irish dishes, which were always rustic and filling but were for quite some time ignored, are being revived and served in the most hip restaurants to be found. You see, that wonderful mild climate that gives the country such gorgeous green vistas also produces an abundance of world-class fresh ingredients from wonderful grass-fed beef and dairy cows to gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables. There is an emphasis on seasonal, locally sourced, quality food. And this new-found emphasis on fresh and local has created a resurgence in artisan producers. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of farmers markets in the country. Now farmers markets are amazing because you often get to meet the actual people who grow and craft the delicious food you are purchasing. (Lets take another look at those doughnuts…)


Last October, Jay and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel over to Ireland to visit friends and family. Much to our delight, The 6th Annual Dingle Peninsula Food Festival was taking place while we were there. Now, if you are planning a trip to Ireland, let me just say, the Dingle Peninsula is a must see for your trip. National Geographic has declared it “the most beautiful place on earth” and it is ranked as one of Trip Advisors “Top 100 destinations in the world”.


So, if you can manage to plan it so that you are there during the Food Festival, it will just be icing on the cake. The little town of Dingle really turns out for the festival! They have a “Taste Trail” which encompasses over 60 locations from pubs to galleries to shops. Walking that food trail was incredibly fun and tasty! The way it works is that you buy a book of taste tickets and then set off on the trail. Each location has a sample of featured local cuisine. We had kangaroo skewers (betcha didn’t know there were kangaroos in Ireland huh?), Spinach and Gruyère crepes and charming butterfly cakes, a pint or two of micro brew, plus many other tasty delicacies. We could barely waddle back home! But in addition to the food trail frenzy,  there are cookery demonstrations, food workshops, live music, the Farmers Forum, farmer’s/food markets and the Annual Blas Na hÉireann (Taste of Ireland): National Irish Food Awards. Blas Na hÉireann is the biggest competition of its type in Ireland. The prestigious awards, given as gold, silver and bronze in over 60 categories, are considered to be the ultimate benchmark of quality Irish produce and its passionate producers.. That’s where the Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves that I used to fill my lovely Buttermilk doughnuts come in. (Ahhh…it’s getting clearer…) My friend Theresa and her family own The Green Apron,  a small artisan preserve company located Derryclough, Ballingarry, (overlooking Knockfierna – the famous fairy hill) in County Limerick, Ireland. She makes those stunning preserves, which won a silver award in the Blas Na hÉireann Jams, Marmalades and Conserves category! That in itself was fantastic, but she didn’t stop there. Oh no. Theresa also won the Gold in that same category for her Apricot, Orange & Almond Conserve,


Theresa & her daughter Athene accepting the Gold and Silver Awards

and she won a Silver in the Dips & Seasonings category for her Italian Butter Mix and last but not least The Green Apron won Best in Farmer’s Market for Small Producers for their stand in the Limerick Milk Market.


Four awards! Woohoo!!! Over that exciting weekend Theresa also taught a cookery class entitled “Preserving Your Harvest” and was able to man The Green Apron stall, with the help of family and friends. I tell you, she is unstoppable! I was lucky enough to bring a jar of the award-winning Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves, with a clear Irish pedigree, back home with me. Now, I must confess, I can’t tell you the recipe for it. No, no, no. Top secret and all. Well, I guess I could divulge it, but then would have to track you down and kill you all before Theresa was able to take me out. What I will say, is that if you are in Ireland, you simply must get ahold of a jar. You can find the Green Apron in the Limerick Milk Market every Saturday. They also do some other markets and fairs from time to time, so check their Facebook page for updates. Or you can email Theresa directly to discuss the possibilities of mail order. For all of you in other locales, if you’re in Ireland, try to catch her at the Milk Market, or you can find her at the next Dingle Peninsula Food Festival.


Otherwise, you’ll just have to find your own favourite, scrumptious jam to fill your doughnuts with. Check out your local farmer’s markets and I’m sure you’ll find some wonderful artisan producers. Or get busy and make up a batch of your favourite fruit. A quality jam will make all the difference in your doughnuts. I can remember I wouldn’t go anywhere near a jam or jelly filled anything when I was younger. It was something about the texture and that fact that the jelly tasted sort of plastic and not like any particular fruit. If it was supposedly strawberry or raspberry, it often just tasted vaguely “pink”. There was never any real fruit flavour shining through, just sweet goo. That is not the case with my Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts. Not only is the cake portion of the doughnut moist and tender, but it is also bursting with vibrant raspberry preserves, with a rich chocolate undertones.


For those of you who just can’t get enough chocolate, I dipped several of my doughnuts in a chocolate glaze. I also covered some with granulated sugar. Now you know how parents supposedly don’t favour one child over another, or at least would never admit to it? Well, I gotta say, whilst the sugar tossed doughnuts are lovely, but the chocolate glazed, Chocolate & Raspberry filled ones will make you go weak in the knees!


These doughnuts are baked, not fried, sooo….I guess that means they’re good for you? Alright, it probably means they are less bad for you than their deep-fried cousins, which you will not miss in the least, especially not the calories and fat part, after you get a bite of these much trimmer little devils. There is no yeast involved, so you don’t have to worry with rise times. And the recipe is flexible, if you don’t have a doughnut pan, you can make these up as muffins and stuff them full of the jam of your choice as well.


Easy and Delicious! Now that’s what I like to hear!


Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts

yield: 8 doughnuts

Recipe adapted from: The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book


For the doughnuts:

  • 7 Tablespoons (3 1/2 oz/105 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 Cup (5 oz./155 grams) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Green Apron’s Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves (or your favourite preserve)

For the toppings:

Sugar coated:

  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Chocolate Glazed: 

  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon hot water


Preheat the oven to 350° F (180°C). Grease Doughnut pan with butter or butter-flavoured nonstick cooking spray.

In stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating well to incorporate  until pale and smooth.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture in two additions, alternating with the butter milk and vanilla. Stir just until evenly moistened. the batter will be slightly lumpy.

Spoon batter into each doughnut cavity until it is 1/3 full. Place Green Apron’s Chocolate & Raspberry Preserve (our your favourite jam) in a pastry bag and pipe a line of the preserves in the center of each doughnut. Cover the preserves with doughnut batter until each cavity is approximately 2/3 full. Don’t overfill the individual doughnut cups or you’ll lose the doughnut shape during baking.

Bake the doughnuts for 10-12 minutes or until the top of the doughnut spring back when touched. Let them cool in the pan for 4-5 minutes before removing.

To add sugar-coating:

Place granulated sugar in ziplock bag. Dip the cooled doughnut in melted butter. Place doughnut in bag and gently turn until coated with sugar.

To Glaze with chocolate:

In medium bowl, microwave chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup on 50% power for 1 minute. Stir until completely melted. Add hot water and mix until the glaze is smooth. If glaze is too thick, add more water until it reaches desired consistency.

Dip doughnuts into chocolate and place on wire rack until glaze has hardened.


Happy 50th Anniversary Mom & Da!

December 6, 2012


So would you believe me if I told you I had caught yet another vile cold straight from the pit of Hell? I must admit, I almost don’t believe me, but right after I posted my last blog about how sick I’d been, Wham-O…I was afflicted with yet some new virus. Luckily I was able to kick that one sufficiently to make it to my Mom and Da’s big day. Back in 1962 they got hitched! 50 years together! You don’t hear of that much any more these days.


For the celebration, my self, my brother, sister-in-law and husband took them to the Inn at Little Washington. Located about 2 hours from Washington DC in the scenic little town of Washington, Virginia, The Inn is a 5 star restaurant which is ranked as one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the World. I’ve been hearing amazing things about it as long for as I’ve lived around here and always wanted to go, so I was very happy we could take our parents here to commemorate this special occasion.


The Inn At Little Washington

Though I must admit, with all the rave reviews folks were giving the place, I was a bit nervous it might not live up to all of the hype. As it turns out, there wasn’t any need for me to worry whatsoever. The Inn not only met, but quite simply exceeded all of my expectations. The entire staff from the valets on were warm, friendly and made you feel welcome.


The whole gang at the Inn

The service was incredible! It was as if you were dining in the finest French establishment, but without any stuffy attitude or pretension. There was a wonderful attention to detail. We were all quite pleased to see “Happy Anniversary to Russell and Joan” printed across the top of our menus. The decor was romantic and whimsical. Oh, and let me tell you about the food. Phenomenal! Without a doubt it was the best meal I’ve ever had! Chef Patrick O’Connell is amazing. His focus on using locally grown and organic ingredients and long predates the recent farm to table movement. He is so proud of all of the neighbouring farms from which he sources the outstanding ingredients that he features in his superb dishes that he notes them on the menu. Chef O’Connell’s creations not only look spectacular but you just can’t believe how incredible they taste. After eating our first amuse bouche, which was pork belly, my husband, who grew up in Southern Virginia said, “I’ve eaten a lot of pork belly in my life, but none of it can compare to that! It’s almost as if it were a different animal!”

Pork Belly Amuse Bouche

Pork Belly Amuse Bouche

Our second amuse bouche was called a Shot of Liquid Autumn. It was a shot of butternut squash and apple soup served with a Gruyère puff pastry.

Liquid Autumn

Liquid Autumn

Unbelievable! It really was like drinking in Fall. I could go on and on about this sublime dining experience! But I will simply show you the pictures of these exquisite dishes and tell you that the taste of each decadent offering far exceeded anything you can imagine.


Selection of delicious breads and a delightful amuse bouche

First Course: Lemon-Lime Lobster Largesse -Chilled Maine Lobster with Caramelized Endive and Citrus-Sake Gelee

First Course: Lemon-Lime Lobster Largesse-Chilled Maine Lobster with Caramelized Endive and Citrus-Sake Gelee

First Course: Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Caesar Salad Ice Cream

First Course: Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Caesar Salad Ice Cream

Second Course: Nantucket Bay Scallops Sauteed with Curried Cauliflower, Sultanas and Garlic Chips

Second Course: Nantucket Bay Scallops sautéed with Curried Cauliflower, Sultanas and Garlic Chips

Second Course: Aged Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham

Second Course: Aged Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham

Second Course: Grilled Breast of young Pigeon Marinated in Blueberry Vinegar on a Zucchini Crepe

Second Course: Grilled Breast of young Pigeon Marinated in Blueberry Vinegar on a Zucchini Crepe

Main course: Blackened Tenderloin of Beef with Bone Marrow Custard, Caramelized Fennel and Fennel Puree

Main course: Blackened Tenderloin of Beef with Bone Marrow Custard, Caramelized Fennel and Fennel Puree

Main Course: Pan Roasted Maine Lobster with Tomato Butter, Garden Spinach and Garlic Custard

Main Course: Pan Roasted Maine Lobster with Tomato Butter, Garden Spinach and Garlic Custard

Main Course: Juniper Crusted Venison Loin on a Tangle of Tart Greens with Caramelized Endive and Mustard Spatzle

Main Course: Juniper Crusted Venison Loin on a Tangle of Tart Greens with Caramelized Endive and Mustard Spatzle

Desserts: Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwich

Desserts: Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwich

Desserts: Lemon Curd Tart

Desserts: Lemon Curd Tart

Although this indulgent meal was a bit of a splurge, it was worth every penny and was the perfect way to celebrate a 50th Anniversary!

The Happy Couple!

The Happy Couple!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Middleton Inn, as it was a big part of what made this Anniversary celebration so special. When we made our dinner reservations, there were no rooms available at the Inn. (Seems apropos around Christmas, no?) Luckily I knew of a beautiful B&B, The Middleton Inn, which is just a stone’s throw away from The Inn at Little Washington.

Middleton Inn

Middleton Inn

They had rooms available, so my Mom and Dad and Brother and Sister-in-Law all stayed in the Main House. My husband and I stayed in the cozy Guest Cottage and were thus able to bring our dog along with us.

The Guest Cottage

The Guest Cottage

Our stay in this historic, elegant country Inn was utterly fantastic! The house sits up on a hill and commands gorgeous views of the Shenandoah Mountains.

View from the front porch

View from the front porch

The proprietor, Mary Ann, was very warm and friendly and  just embodied hospitality. She truly went above and beyond to make this weekend special for us. My parents found a complementary bottle of chilled Champagne awaiting them when they checked in to their room.



Because our dinner reservations were earlier, she set out some complementary wine and cheese for us to enjoy a bit ahead of the usual schedule. And she even went as far as to leave a little gift package for our pup, complete with two chew toys and bag of  chicken griller treats!

Gimlet guarding one of his new toys

Gimlet guarding one of his new toys

And then there was breakfast. After our indulgence at the Inn the night before, you’d think it would take a lot to get our attention. Well, that is just what we got! Breakfast was just delicious.  Light and fluffy Cherry Scones right out of the oven, fresh fruit and an amazing Italian Eggs Benedict.

The breakfast crowd

The breakfast crowd

A stellar breakfast!

A stellar breakfast!

Further culinary bliss in a weekend that already held so much! What can I say, if you’ve never considered splashing out at the Inn at Little Washington, start making plans. If you have, but haven’t acted yet, do so NOW! Life is too short. Everyone should experience this culinary nirvana at least once! And Happy 50th Anniversary to my wonderful parents! May they see many more!


Arwen 1994-2012

May 2, 2012

It is with great sorrow that I write that on Friday evening, April 27th, 2012, my darlin Arwen kitty passed away in my arms with Jay right by her side. She was 18 years old and had a very long and happy life. Arwen came to live with me when she was just a kitten.

Baby Arwen

Arwen & mouse

My kitty Aragorn had passed away when he was quite young, from a congenital lung defect.


I was shocked and heartbroken, but my other cat, Tierann,


who never seemed to like him much while he was alive, was truly bereft. She prowled the house endlessly looking and calling for him. I decided to go out and find another companion for Tierann and found Arwen in a pet store not far from my house. She was there with her littermate, a sister. As I took Arwen out of the cage, I dared one look back at that remaining kitten, who just look so sad I couldn’t stand it and turned right on my heel and took that one, my Mistletoe, as well. I mean, if you’re getting one kitten, what’s two? (the answer to that is twice the work…but never a regret here!)

Double Trouble!

Bathroom mischief!

Tierann seemed less than pleased with this development, but the kittens charmed everyone else (and I suspect, Tierann was secretly taken with them as well). Tierann was quite the legendary character among those that knew her and Mistletoe was also unique and spunky to say the least. Arwen was quiet, laid back for the most part, very sweet, full of purrs and always the lady. She had the longest whiskers imaginable and took great care in keeping her long fur appropriately groomed.

She was a great sport, unlike my other girls, about all of the various costumes in which I dressed her up.


Arwen Court Jester

Space Cat 'Wen

Arwen Bunny

Arwen Witch

Princess Arwen

Howdy Partner!

She even seemed to like wearing her Christmas collar.

Merry Christmas!

Tierann left us at 19 years of age in 2007 and Mistletoe passed away 1 1/2 years ago. I feared Arwen would be inconsolable, having been with a pack of cats her whole life. However, although I’m sure she loved her sister, she was ecstatic at being the only cat. Finally, she was the star of the show and Jay and I were happy to give her top billing. I can’t tell you how much we will miss her.

As it turns out, I am the one who is inconsolable at the loss of my pack.

Arwen, Tierann & Mistletoe

Rest in Peace Sweetness.

“Bon Voyage Fitz!” – We Toasted with Sapphire Con Diablo cocktails!

June 6, 2011

The other evening we had our friend, Fitz, one of our oldest and dearest friends, over for a “Bon Voyage” dinner. He is soon to leave for an approximate 3 month adventure. We are very sad to see him go and know we will definitely miss him, but are very excited for him as well as about his journey. (More on this later…continue past recipe for full story)

Fitz, our Best Man at our wedding.

To get the evening started off right, we began by sampling a new cocktail I’d been dying to try out – the Sapphire Con Diablo. Bombay Sapphire is the only gin my husband will drink, especially if it’s in a Sapphire Gimlet (Bombay Sapphire Gin, lime juice and tonic water). Indeed that particular cocktail is essentially our “house cocktail” and lots of folks have kind of grown to expect one when they come by for a visit. When I saw the recipe for the award-winning Sapphire Con Diablo at the Brave Tart blog (fantastic blog if you haven’t been there yet), I jumped at the chance to try it out! It was really pretty easy to make. You do need to prepare a Spicy Simple Syrup for one of the ingredients, but that came together quite easily. And let me tell you, my “Diablo syrup” had quite a lot of devil in it….whew! SPICY!!! There is also a raw egg involved in this drink which may make some folks nervous about salmonella. However, as was mentioned on Brave Tart’s blog, one should always expect to incur some risk when dealing with the devil. So if you think you’re up to it, give this killer cocktail a shake! “Vaya con Dios” – especially since you’re going to be drinking con Diablo!

Jay & Fitz after merely one sip of the Sapphire con Diablo!

Sapphire Con Diablo

recipe by Paul Borntraeger via Brave Tart


  • 2 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • 1 1/2 ounces Jalapeno simple syrup, strained (recipe below)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 slice lemon peel
  • 1/4 tsp. corriander
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg


Remove the spring from a Hawthorne strainer and have it at the ready. This will be your “whisk” when making the drink.

Fill a shaker 2/3 with ice. Crack the egg into the shaker, then pour in the gin and infused syrup. Add in the spring, and then shake all the ingredients until frothy. Strain into a martini glass.

Dust the lemon peel in the coriander and nutmeg. Then run it around the rim of the martini glass before floating it in the center of the drink.

Paul’s Sweet and Spicy Simple Syrup

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped finely, seeds included
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar


Combine all of the ingredients together in a small pot. Turn the heat to medium and stir occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bottle without filtering and store, refrigerate until chilled. Makes enough syrup to create 8 Sapphire Con Diablo cocktails.

But back to Fitz’s story…Fitz had been working as a web developer for many years. He had a well-paying, secure job. However, he yearned to do something else. He understood that the path of least resistance would be to continue on with his daily existence, merely hoping things would improve. However, he knew he didn’t want to wake up 10 or more years down the road, wishing he had undertaken the effort to turn things around. So, he decided to make a BIG change. He moved against life’s inertia, quit his job, has packed up a few meager belongings and will be hitting the road in his Honda Element to hopefully gain a little perspective and insight into what his next career move will be.

While soul-searching, he will be travelling, first exploring the Southern States and then possibly even moving on to Mexico, Central America and then perhaps even onto Southeast Asia! Along the way he will be continuing to record music while on the road. (Fitz is the singer and bassist with the Mesmers, the band with which my husband plays guitar) These new “road songs” of Fitz’s will be available on Bandcamp. This service is particularly cool because you can pay what you think a song is worth (including nothing if you want to download it for free). You can also find his compositions on iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.

This life decision certainly did not come easily for him. There are many logistical, social and financial hurdles to be overcome. Fitz is not independently wealthy, so will need to adhere to a strict budget lest his trip be shortened dramatically. Therefore, hotels are right out, and camping in his Element is in. He will also be doing some CouchSurfing.This is not the couch surfing you might have taken advantage of in college where you just call up your friends and ask to sleep on their sofa for a few days. This is a world-wide network which connects travellers in need of accommodation with locals who have a bit of extra room in their homes and are willing to offer strangers hospitality in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Pretty cool huh? Take a look at the CouchSurfing site and be amazed!

No doubt, Fitz’s adventures will be fascinating! He has chosen to take that road less travelled by, and lucky for us, he will be documenting his journey on his site CitizenFitz. Make sure you don’t miss his weekly updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also catch him on Facebook and Twitter. And please don’t forget to support him financially, if you are so moved, by purchasing the new music he will be making along the way. Exciting huh? The adventure starts Friday June 10th. Don’t miss out on the fun!

Back to New York-Finally!

May 27, 2011

Jay and I travelled up to New York a few weeks ago. Jay’s work is headquartered there and it had been quite some time since he’d stopped in. We were a bit nervous they’d forgotten what he looked like! To smooth his long absence over a bit, I made a batch of Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip cookies for him to take along with him into the office.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip cookies

We stayed at the Standard hotel as usual and as usual it was fantastic!

Standard King Room

While poor Jay slaved away at work, I strolled all around lower Manhattan. The weather was perfect. Once he finished up his day, we met back up and went out to Fig and Olive for a really wonderful dinner.

Truly it was great in every way. The food was delicious and for once, the atmosphere was great – beautiful decor, not crowded, not ear splittingly loud and no detectable attitude. Amazing! Jay and I have not had great dining history in New York in the past. One restaurant we visited previously had some of the best mexican food I’ve ever tasted, but was a nightmare of an experience – crowded (sitting butt-cheek to butt-cheek with strangers crowded- on the verge of a panic attack crowded – and loud to the point we even gave up trying to talk to each other, we just stared across the table at one another in disbelief. One other restaurant had made us wait for over an hour for very bland, yet very expensive dishes. How disappointing! So we were so incredibly happy to find Fig and Olive, which was such a breath of fresh air (another unique experience in NYC)! This restaurant serves Riviera and Coastal Cuisines from the South of France, Italy and Spain. You definitely feel the Mediterranean ambiance as soon as you walk into the restaurant -stucco walls, rosemary and olive trees throughout, lots of candles, olive oil and wine bottles. The restaurant was really quite spacious, but our table felt very warm and intimate. And let me say the food did not disappoint either. We started off with their crostini with three different toppings – mushroom artichoke truffle parmesan, eggplant basil and sundried tomato, and manchego fig spread and almond. They were all great but our favourite was the mushroom artichoke. Jay ordered Penne Funghi Tartufo with Grilled Chicken – cremini mushroom, parmesan, black truffle paste, fresh parsley and scallions with a white truffle olive oil. I had the Grilled Truffle Chicken Paillard – a free range chicken breast marinated with thyme and served with truffle mashed potato leek confit. We washed it all down with an Abruzzo Montepulciano wine. YUM!  Truly a spectacular dinner! I can’t believe we didn’t save room for dessert, but I have no doubt we will definitely be visiting this establishment again. Sorry I didn’t get any photos of the food. The candlelight contributed immensely to the mood but not so much towards any viewable food photography.

The next day, I dashed out to Chelsea Market first thing in the morning on a mission for coffee and some fabulous bread from Amy’s Bread in particular.

The mission was easily accomplished and I returned to the room with caffeine in hand as well a a mouth-wateringly delicious chocolate sourdough twist and a hunk of brioche toast. Sorry no photo of these item either, we ate them too quickly! What a wonderful bakery. It took amazing restraint on my part not to purchase one of everything they had. I’ve recently gotten very interested in trying to bake my own bread. I’ve been pouring over Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and scheming. Amy’s Bread in Chelsea market is fun because you can actually watch the bakers at work through these huge glass windows. I spent quite a bit of time gazing in the day before, so I knew I had to get over there for breakfast and get some of that awesome bread.

Bannetons Stacked-Up at Amy's

Before we left to catch the train we were able to grab a burger for lunch at the good old Standard Grill at the hotel. These burgers are the best! We always try to budget in some time for them!

The Standard Burger

All in all a great visit! Looking forward to the next.

Octopus iPhone Case

April 10, 2011

I thought I’d take a wee break from the cooking today and show you the other “crafty” things that I’ve been up to. My husband and I are now the proud owners of iPhones. We have waited quite a loooong time for this. I know iPhones have been out for a while and we could’ve had one years ago. However, Jay and I both have an extreme dislike, dare I say “hatred” of AT&T. It was actually one of the things we discovered that we had in common when we first started dating. AT&T had done both of us wrong in the past. I had vowed to never use their services, EVER again if I could possibly help it. Jay felt the same. So even though we own all things Apple and were drooling over all of our friend’s iPhones, we held out with our pathetic old mobile phones until the Verizon iPhone made its appearance. Joy!!! We actually got up at 3 a.m. so that we could do the pre-order with Verizon online, not wanting to go one more minute without that tech than was necessary. We now are proud owners and couldn’t be happier! We love our iPhones! Of course we needed cases for them to protect their pristine screens. We didn’t actually see any we were crazy about after a bit of a poke around online. Jay had mentioned he would love to have one with an octopus on it. (He may have a “thing” for octopi) So, I went ahead and made him one and am quite pleased with the results! It’s a hand-stitched, felt case with velcro closures, sporting an adorable appliqued octopus.

Front of case

Back of case

A bunch of folks who have seen it, id’ed the critter on it as Cthulhu. Not my intention. I think my guys looks a bit cuddly for one of the Lovecraftian Great Old Ones, whose mere visage is known to strike abject terror and insanity in those who are unfortunate enough to meet him, but I guess to each his own. Now I have to get started on one for myself. I’m still carrying my beloved iPhone around in a very undignifed sock! Stand-by for more yummy food coming your way soon-think home-made pizza!

Post Patrick’s Day

March 22, 2011

Whew! I’m still not quite recovered from our St. Patrick’s Day party and the cooking blitz that lead up to it! Don’t get me wrong, it was great fun. I got to see a lot of our friends who I had not seen in a while and all of our usual characters were here as well!  The food actually cooperated, no cooking disasters, and was quite tasty! My friends have kindly given me wonderful reviews on my efforts. I asked everyone what their favourite dish was and it was a tie between the Beef and Guinness Pies and the Pork Tart. The Curry Sauce I made to go along with the Chips was a big hit as well.

St. Patrick’s Day Party Menu

Mini Cheese and Onion pies (I wish I had gotten a picture of them, but folks gobbled them down too quick!)

Mini Boxty, stuffed with corned beef and cheddar

Mini Beef and Guinness pies

Celtic Pork Tart

Shepherd’s Pie

Brown Bread and Irish Butter

Home-made Chips served with choice of ketchup, malt vinegar or curry sauce

Drunken Irish Brownies

Car bomb Cupcakes

Chocolate Cups of Chruachan

Chocolate Cups of Chruachan

Mini Beef & Guinness Pie and Mini Boxty stuffed with corned beef and cheddar

Car Bombs and Drunken Brownies Galore!

In order to have all of that done, I started cooking Tuesday and evening and continued cooking right up to Thursday at party time. I have to really thank my husband Jay. He stood at the deep-fryer and fried a mountain of chips as well as a somewhat smaller hill of mini Cheese and Onion pies.

Mountain of Hand-Cut, Home-Made Chips

He was literally there for over an hour. Also, a big shout out to my friend John who was sous-chef extraordinaire, helping with last-minute finishes, plating and serving the food. I wish I had gotten more pictures, but it was getting dark when the party was starting and the food was ready, no light-and you know what flash can do to food pics! Not to mention, once the guests started arriving, taking pictures of the food was not a priority.

St. Patrick's Day Character #1

Character #2-Showing off his "Lucky Charms"

All in all, it was a great shindig! Good food, good music, great company. We are hoping to make it an annual event. Next year St. Patrick’s Day is on a Saturday so folks will really be able to let their hair down. Shenanigan levels should be high! However, I must say, cooking for 20 people was quite an undertaking! I’m a bit “cooked-out” at this point. I really haven’t even entered the kitchen since March 17th! But don’t despair, I haven’t forgotten about you. I will be back with another great recipe later this week. Think “pears”…..

Mistletoe 1994-2010

September 24, 2010

It is with incredible sorrow I write that on Wednesday September 22nd, 2010 my beloved Mistletoe passed away. “Mistle” or “Moo”  as we also called her, was quite a spunky little character. She and her litter-mate sister Arwen were born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1994. My darling cat Aragorn had passed away due to a congenital lung defect and both my cat Tierann and I were very sad. I thought Tierann might need some companionship and we were lucky enough to find the “bab-bies” -Mistletoe and Arwen. They were “Oh My God” Cute as kittens!

Baby Arwen & Baby Mistletoe

Baby Mistletoe

Although upon their arrival, T-Cat acted as if she was very “put-upon” and “long-suffering”, but I know she enjoyed and came to love those kittens.

Tierann "Bab-bie" Sits

Mistletoe was always very gentle and loving to her family. She adored her “big sister” Tierann, who was also quite a character in her own right as I’m sure those of you who knew her would agree.

Quintessential Tierann

Mistle would often tried to groom her. This did not ever go over too well with the T-cat, so Mistletoe would content herself to sit as close as possible to her idol.

Mistle & Tierann Lounge

Whenever Mistle thought there was danger, she would spring into action to defend the clan. There was a huge “tom” cat named Midrange who was our neighbour in Norfolk. He would often come by to peek in the sliding glass doors to see what we were up to. Mistle would literally launch herself at him, crashing into the glass all teeth and claws, until he left-I’m sure much more out of confusion than fear. Undaunted by her size, she was fearless, even ready to challenge Brain and Phil’s huskies when we made the move to DC. Mistletoe and Arwen moved with me five times-twice in Norfolk, twice in DC and finally became suburbanites with me in Falls Church. Mistle always took in stride, just happy to be with us, where ever we were.

Mistle ready to go!

Mistletoe was a water-baby. I know, that is exceeding strange for a cat, but she would always camp out near a sink in all of our abodes, just hoping somebody would happen by and turn the faucet on for her so she could get a sip of water- everyone knows its best right out of the faucet- and to play in the stream.

Sink At 9th St. SE

#20 Sink

Mistle in Falls Church sink

Sink Play Time

Mistle Sips

Later in life she decided that licking her fur to get clean was a horrible idea and she just wasn’t going to do it. Unfortunately, she was sporting 1/2 white fur, which really showed the grime. Luckily she did love water so every couple of weeks I would jump into the bath tub with her. She absolutely loved it, purring the whole time I sudsed her up and rinsed her off. She would even stand still while we blew dry her fur.

Sudsing Up!

Rinsing Moo

Rinsing Off

Mistle and Lea in tub

Bath time kisses

Strike a pose!

Jay styles Moo

Mistletoe first became ill last October 2009. She was diagnosed with complete renal failure. It was an incredibly fast onset-she seemed fine on Friday and by Monday we knew we had a very sick kitty. Her vet gave us little hope that she would recover and prepared us for the worst, but she bounced right back after just one night in the hospital. Everyone in the clinic called her “the Miracle Kitty”. Since that time, Jay and I have had to give her a daily I.V. of saline solution (sub-Q I.V.) to aid her failing kidneys. Quite the trooper, my sweet baby also took in stride, hopping into Jay’s lap and even purring every night when we came in to “administer her fluids”. (or inflate the kitty as we said) With her “extra” time she got to experience the great 2010 “Snowpocolypses” with us.


Snow Cat

Polar Cat braves the drifts

As well as endure another Easter.

Happy Easter!

I am grateful for many things surrounding Mistletoe. I am grateful I was lucky enough to be with her and share her life with her for the 16 years and 4 months that she was on this earth. I am grateful we had an extra 11 months with her once she became sick, that no one expected we would have. Finally, I am grateful that when her time came, she passed on very quickly, at home in my arms surrounded by Jay and Arwen, those whom she loved very much. She is already dearly missed and I look forward to a time when we can meet again.

View entire Mistletoe Gallery, View entire Tierann Gallery, View entire Aragorn Gallery

Crabbing Aboard the Riley Kat

September 12, 2010

What better way to experience Chesapeake Bay living than to spend a fun-filled day crabbing aboard the Riley Kat with Captain Russell Dize.

Although I helped compose those words for my father’s crabbing charter business website a couple of years ago, Jay and I had not actually headed out on the Bay with Dad until this past Sunday. We have really been missing out! I don’t know what we were waiting for? We had an absolute blast!

My father is originally from Smith Island, Md. and moved to Tilghman Island with his family when he was 13 years old. He is a sixth generation waterman and has spent his whole life working on the Bay. He has run a clam rig, been a crab potter, a trot-liner and dredged oysters as Captain and owner of the Skipjack Kathryn for many years.

He currently is Captain of his crab charter boat “Riley Kat” (named for his granddaughter),

Jason and Riley Kat

aboard which he teaches folks how the crab with a trotline. The video clip above shows this type of crabbing.  A trotline is a long length of rope which has weights or anchors and buoys attached to each end. It also has bait attached to it every 4-6 feet to attract the crabs. We were using bull lips on Sunday.

My brother Russ, sister-in-law Jen and their children Riley and Jason had driven down to Tilghman Island on Saturday to spend the Labor Day weekend with Mom and Dad, so Russ, a veteran trot-liner, was able to head out with us. Jen stayed home with the kids, who are a bit too young for the adventure yet. I must say, crabbing starts early on the Bay. Jay and I left Falls Church at 3:30 a.m

in order to catch the boat which was leaving the dock at 6 a.m. (This is actually quite a late start for Dad, who usually leaves the dock around 3:30 a.m. when he is crabbing on his own!)

We headed out into the Harris Creek and first “dropped the line” just off of Sherwood and began to crab shortly after the sun rose. The way this worked is that Dad dropped one anchored buoyed end of the trotline and piloted the boat forward so that the line was dispensed from the trash can in which it was stored.

Dropping the line

Once he reached the end of the line it was also anchored,buoyed and dropped into the water.

Anchored and buoyed line

We then traveled back to the beginning of the trotline. Dad hooked the trot-line to raise it from the water and slipped it over a roller which is attached to the starboard side of the boat at the stern.


Lowering the roller

Then he piloted the boat down the line which caused the line to rise slowly from the water and to run over the roller.  Russ, Jay and I would take turns dipping the crabs up with a net when we saw them hanging on the line and eating the bait.

Veteran Trotliners

Lea takes a turn

The crabs were a little difficult to see, especially first thing in the morning as the light wasn’t so good, so Dad would “spot” the crabs for us, literally pointing them out so that we could get our net under them.


Dipping the crabs was not only difficult because they were hard to see, but you also had to be fast and coordinated. Often you would end up with many crabs in the net, which could get a bit heavy. Then you had to figure out what the best time would be to dump the crabs out into a holding bin, which you had to do quickly so that you didn’t miss any crabs on the line.

Waiting to be culled

Once we reached the end of the line, Dad would pilot the boat back to the beginning and we would do it all over again.

During the time it took for us to get back to the beginning, Dad and Russ would “cull” through our catch, measuring each crab to ensure it was legal (a legal crab measures 5 1/4″ from tip to tip) and separating the different types,

Culling the Crabs

A keeper!

Too small…back you go!

“Sooks” or females in one basket, legal crabs in another, “peelers” in yet another. ( A peeler is a crab that is getting ready to shed and become a soft crab. We actually caught a peeler so far along in the process that she shed while we were on the boat.)

Soft crab

We “ran” the line about eight times or so there and were catching some crabs, but it was a bit slow. So we decided to move to another spot just off Barneck on Tilghman which was brimming with crabs. Almost more than we-I mean Jay and myself…the newbie crabbers- could dip.

A lot of crabs!

We caught about 7 1/2 bushels of crabs that day.

Back at the dock

Our catch

It was really a lot of fun! The weather was perfect, high 70’s, sunny and breezy. Fantastic! Book your charter today!!!

Crab feast

Crab feast

To see all of the photos from the day, take a look at our gallery “Crabbing”.

The Great Cupcake Crawl

August 17, 2010

That’s right! Bet I’ve got your attention now. How fabulous! I mean I’m always up for a good pub crawl, but a cupcake crawl! Really! Yay, oh YAY! I love, love, love cupcakes! Jay and I actually had a tower of cupcakes for our wedding cake. (they not only looked good, but were quite yummy as well)

Wedding Cupcakes

What with all the crazed interest in cupcakes now, I found myself with quite a few potential venues to visit on this cupcake crawl. This all started because my mom was coming to town for a visit. She had been telling me about a tv show called DC Cupcakes, which is about the folks who started Georgetown Cupcake. I thought she would enjoy going for a cupcake at their actual shop. But I knew that there were several other awesome cupcake stops in town. So, I dreamed up the idea of going around to all of the various cupcake venues and comparing their goodies. We decided that we wanted to judge both quality of the cake as well as the icing. To do so, we chose the most unadorned flavour as possible-a vanilla cupcake, frosted with vanilla icing. Plus, we figured all of the establishments would have a vanilla/vanilla offering. The venues in the DC/ Northern Virginia area that we chose for the contest were: Georgetown Cupcake, Best Buns, Cake Love, Baked and Wired, Stacy’s Coffee Shop, Natalia’s Elegant Creations, Lavender Moon Cupcakery, and Curbside Cupcakes. Since Jay and I were heading up to NYC, I decided to throw Sweet Revenge and Magnolia Bakery into the mix as well. Quite a lot of cupcakes! How will I manage?! Read on to see how it all unfolded.

Successful Cupcake Acquisitions

Lets get right down to it! The following cupcakes are ranked from “least desirable” to “most desirable“- thus saving the best for last…building excitement…..etc.

Magnolia Bakery: Magnolia Bakery, a very well-known and successful bakery in NYC, has several locations. I visited their Bleecker Street store and had high hopes. I had heard how legendary they were and that folks often had to battle long lines to procure their sweeties. That said, they are not a “cupcake boutique” per se, but an actual bakery. This location had no tables or seating, it was strictly takeout. Looking past all of their other goodies, I spied the cupcakes. There were maybe six or seven different flavours, including a vanilla/vanilla. I also purchased a caramel cupcake. The employees were not either friendly or helpful. There were cardboard bakery boxes sitting next to the cupcakes and customers had to pack their own purchases and then go to the counter to pay for them. Of course, when I looked in the box upon arriving back at the hotel, the cupcakes had gotten jostled about and lots of the icing was stuck to the sides and top of the box. The vanilla/vanilla cupcake was very disappointing. The cake was dry and somewhat flavourless. The icing was very sweet and disturbingly gritty…I mean like crunchy grains of sand. The dense, somewhat tough caramel cupcake, though not part of the contest, did not have gritty icing. What it did have was that type of buttercream frosting that left an oily residue in your mouth. Almost all of the cupcake venues I visited claimed they use buttercream icing, but some seem to have that oily quality about them. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is due to shortening/butter ratios. Unbelievable as it is for me, I actually left these cupcakes unfinished. Yup…thats right, I just put them down and walked away. Magnolia Bakery have the least desirable cupcakes of all that I sampled in New York, Washington DC, and Northern Virginia!

Cake Love: Cake Love, which started with a bakery on U St. in DC now has a total of seven store fronts. Cupcakes are not the only thing on the menu for this bakery. They create a variety of cakes and baked goods. For the purpose of our crawl,  we bought a Vanilla Buttercream cupcake from their Shirlington, Va. shop. The Shirlington shop is easy to get to, with ample parking. The shop was fairly small, but had several tables at which to sit down, should you wish. The cupcake we chose was a vanilla cupcake topped with a “signature Italian meringue buttercream flavoured with Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract.”

We found the cake to be somewhat dense. The vanilla flavour did not come through in the icing, which again tasted somewhat waxy or oily and also seemed heavy. Cake Love’s website specifically states that they do not use any lard or vegetable oil in their products, so I’m not sure what the reason is for that unappealing texture. I must say, I have tasted better cupcakes from Cake Love in the past. This was the first time I bought anything from the Shirlington bakery, though I don’t know if that could be a possible reason for the slide in quality. In fact, one of Jay’s all time favourite cupcakes is Cake Love’s “The King” which is a banana cupcake topped with peanut butter buttercream which is then dipped in a chocolate ganache. However, their vanilla/vanilla offering scored second to last in this contest.

Natalia’s Elegant Creations: Natalia’s Elegant Creations is located in Falls Church. It is not a cupcake boutique but a european style pastry shop and cafe. On the day I visited they had four different types of cupcakes. I purchased the vanilla/vanilla cupcake.

The cake was fantastic, very moist and light. The cupcake frosting was visually pleasing, with a little pastry flower decoration. However, once again the icing was quite oily and lacked any vanilla flavour. They did have a great cupcake transport device. No cardboard box, but an upside down plastic cup. It worked wonderfully.

Sweet Revenge: I have to admit, I was very excited about visiting this venue. I had seen Chase Bank’s Ink Credit Card commercials which featured this business. Sweet Revenge is a wine/beer/cupcake bar. Cupcakes, wine and beer! Yum! Some of my favourite things. So this place is not strictly a cupcake boutique either, there are other items on their menu. Nevertheless, they have a “pairings menu” on which they recommend the best wine/beer for you to drink with your yummy cupcake. Yay! I had checked out their menu online and was all ready to order. My choice: the Fleur de Sel cupcake-a valrhona Chocolate Cake, Salted Caramel Center and Salted Caramel Buttercream with Pecans and Salted Caramel Drizzle which they pair with Lunetta Prosecco from Italy. Of course I was planning on ordering our contest cupcake as well, the Pure-mexican vanilla cake with mexican vanilla buttercream frosting. However, I was going to take that one away with me so that Jay could taste it as well. While Jay was slaving away at his job, I needed to be doing something to occupy my time and drinking and eating cupcakes sounded dreamy. Once I arrived at the actual shop however, I was disappointed to discover that they don’t actually have every cupcake listed on their menu every day. They had their four signature cupcakes and a couple of others available that day. Pure was one of them, so the contest entry was secured. Fleur de Sel was sadly not available. So I decided to go with the Sweet Revenge – Peanut Butter Cake, Ganache Filling with Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting which was paired with Callia Malbec, from Argentina.



I was not disappointed. Very moist cake and great, creamy, whipped frosting, though perhaps a bit much of it.

The bar is much smaller than I thought it would be. There were only four tables and maybe room for eight at the actual bar. I guess it is in Manhattan, so I should know about space restrictions there by now! Anyhoo….I finished my wine and cupcake and then purchased the Sweet Revenge and the Crimson and Cream ( a Raspberry Red Velvet cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting prezzie for Jay…he’s a sucker for the cream cheese frosting!) to go. I was expecting the same old crappy, cardboard box to transport these treats in, but was so pleasantly surprized when they pulled out some ingenious plastic cups with little lids, even better than the ones from Natalia’s because they were the perfect size. These things proved awesome in protecting the cupcakes! Each treat slid into the cup quite snugly and was completely protected. Granted, I could not have turned them upside down, or shook them like a cocktail shaker, but for simple transport it worked out fantastically. It was SUPER, outrageously hot the day I bought these yummies and I had to travel back some 15 or so blocks through the swampy (and somewhat whiffy-see previous blog) heat of New York in August to my hotel. My cupcakes arrived relatively unscathed! I was quite impressed.

So…Jay loved his cupcake….very tasty! But on to the contest….The Pure cupcake was very good….moist cake. Great, creamy whipped frosting, albeit as I mentioned before, the ratio of cake to frosting was a bit off. Furthermore, I was hoping to taste a bit more vanilla in both the cake and the frosting. Overall quite good. I am still in love with the concept of beer, wine and cupcakes and looking forward to sampling some other flavours…hopefully I’ll make it there on a Fleur de Sel day!

Georgetown Cupcake: This cupcake mecca is currently dead center in the eye of the cupcake hysteria hurricane presently twirling through DC. It’s fame has been fueled on by the successful television show “DC Cupcake” which is about this gourmet cupcake shop, located on 33rd and M in Georgetown. As I had mentioned before, I took my Mom there when she was in town for a visit. I had heard that there was always at least a one hour wait to get in the door. Sure enough, even though we thought we had gotten there at an “off” hour-3 pm on a tuesday afternoon- it took us 47 minutes from the moment we got in the long line leading up to the door-which is… get this…actually manned by a “cupcake bouncer”….until we were able to pay for and receive our cupcake treasures.


LONG Cupcake Queue!

While we waited, the bouncer did come by with a menu of their offerings for that day. Georgetown Cupcake offers 14 different cupcakes everyday, plus five more flavours that change according to the day of the week, plus three more according to the month of the year….that is a staggering 36 different cupcakes per week!

Once we finally made it in the door…It was as if the clouds parted, the angels sang and a light shone down from heaven onto a sea of exquisitely decorated cupcakes as far as the eye could see. (n.b.-The previous vision could have also been due to heat stroke….this summer has been scorching!)

Faced with all of these beauties, we couldn’t just purchase our requisite vanilla/vanilla contest cupcake, we had to load up! I purchased the Vanilla Birthday (our contest cupcake),

a Red Velvet (their best seller) and a Salted Caramel. We also threw a Coconut cupcake into the mix. The Salted Caramel was my favourite non-contest cupcake of the entire cupcake crawl. The only cupcake I’ve had which was better was a peanut butter cupcake which Jay  had ordered for my birthday and had delivered to the cabin we were staying in on Willoughby Lake in Vermont. Those were stunning! Unfortunately we can not remember the name of the bakery who made them for us. Georgetown Cupcake’s Salted Caramel came dangerously close however. The cake was moist and flavourful. The frosting was creamy, whipped to perfection and had just the right blend of sweet and salty. I would have a picture of it here for you, but I gobbled it down much to quickly! But back to the actual contest cupcake…The Vanilla Birthday. I noticed immediately that cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake are the smallest of all of the cupcakes we sampled. That being said, the cake was very good, moist and flavourful. The frosting was also very tasty, creamy and whipped up to perfection. One criticism I do have is that the ratio of frosting to cake was off…too much frosting which left you with the impression of an overly sweet cupcake-if such a thing can exist. Also, they placed our hard-fought for cupcakes in one of those crappy, cardboard bakery boxes. Granted theirs was very stylish, like everything in their shop, but surely they could do better. Overall, Georgetown Cupcakes really are quite good. However, I must ask myself whether they are so irresistible that I would be willing to suffer Georgetown parking and then brave a wait in line for an hour again to get their brand of cupcake fix. The answer is a resounding “No!” Not to mention there are two places I’ve ranked higher.

Best Buns Bread Company: Best Buns is located in the Village at Shirlington. As you may have guessed, they are a full bakery and do not just specialize in cupcakes. The shop has some seating inside as well as outside and very pleasant, friendly staff. There is ample close by parking.They bake about six different flavours of cupcakes daily. This is where Jay and I have gone for all of our cupcake needs for the past couple of years. These cupcakes are absolutely HUGE! Talk about bang for your buck! So how did their Vanilla/vanilla cupcake measure up?

What can I say? The cake is delicious, moist, light and bursting with vanilla flavour. The buttercream frosting is creamy, sweet-though not too sweet, and light. Also, the ratio of cake to frosting is spot on. Sooo yummy! As I’ve mentioned, Jay and I have frequented this bakery for their cupcakes and can say that every single one we’ve tried-red velvet, chocolate/ peanut butter, chocolate/toffee-have held to the same superior quality! Highly recommended!!

Baked and Wired: Baked and Wired is my hands down favourite! Favourite cupcake and favourite cupcake destination…it has it all! This hip bakery is located in Georgetown between 30th and 31st St.s near the canal-look for the pink bicycle out front.

Even though it is not a cupcake boutique, it offers an amazing 20 different delicious flavours daily, along with many other scrumptious baked treats. I arrived early on a Sunday morning to make my purchases. Being there at an off hour, there were no lines, though friends tell me that it can be crowded at times, but never reaches the heights of hysteria that Georgetown Cupcakes achieves daily. The bakery has some seating outside as well as some comfortable sofas/chairs towards the back of their space. The staff was very fun, friendly and helpful. I picked up the required Vanilla on vanilla cupcake but also couldn’t resist the Razmanian Devil, the Strawberry and the Elvis Impersonator.

Wrapped charmingly in parchment paper, these cupcakes are generously sized to say the least. Not as big as Best Bun’s, but significantly bigger than Georgetown’s petite cakes. But how do they taste?  I’ll start with our contest cupcake-the Vanilla on vanilla. Delicious! Vanilla Bliss!

The cake was moist and flavourful-the vanilla really came through. It was not overly sweet. The frosting was creamy, again-sweet but not too sweet and just melted in your mouth. The cake/frosting proportions were perfect. Of all the vanilla/vanilla cupcakes sampled, this was THE BEST. The Razmanian Devil was Jay’s favourite cupcake that he tried throughout this crawl. He loved the raspberry jam center. The lemon cake and lemon buttercream frosting combined for a great tart/sweet sensation.

Jay wasn’t the only one who was pleased with the goodies from Baked and Wired. I brought some peanut butter Zilla bonez home for Gimlet to try.

Here was his reaction after the first taste:


Enthusiastic Baked and Wired Fan!

So there you have it. Baked and Wired rules supreme as my Cupcake Nirvana! Absolutely THE BEST!!!

Cupcake Acquisition Failures

I was not able to obtain the desired cupcake from the following vendors, for one reason or another…..

Stacy’s Coffee Parlor: O.k. This cute coffee shop, located in Falls Church was super frustrating! As you can see, their business card actually states that they have cupcakes.

Online I found reference to the fact that they stock cupcakes from Le Cupcake on the weekends. In their defense, I must say, their own website does not mention these cupcakes. However, I turned up there on a Saturday morning and found a small fridge with maybe six-eight cupcakes in it. They looked somewhat picked over, but there did appear to be a vanilla/vanilla on display. As I ordered my iced coffee, I asked if those were the Le Cupcake cupcakes. The rather frustrating conversation then unfolded:

The fellow behind the counter said, “Oh no. Le Cupcake doesn’t bring those here anymore.”

“O.k.”, I say, “Are the cupcakes made here then, or are they from some other supplier?”

Coffee House guy replied, “They’re homemade. Some woman brings them in here and we sell them on consignment.”

“Interesting” -I say-“who’s the woman?”

“Yeah, I don’t know” was his answer.

“Well,” I muse, looking over at the somewhat raggedy bunch of few remaining cupcakes in the display “How fresh are those? When did the cupcake woman bring them by?”

“Hmmm. I don’t know. Not too many days ago. It was fairly recent…. I think.”

I looked over to the only other person who appeared to be working there to see if she could provide any useful information. “Do you know anything about these cupcakes at all?”

“No. They look pretty good, don’t you think?”

Hmmmm……..So, thanks to the friendly, yet staggeringly clueless employees, I left without one of their mystery cupcakes.

Curbside Cupcakes: These cupcakes may be awesome. I’ve read great reviews. I also love the idea of a mobile cupcake wagon pulling up right in front of my home or business.

However, I live in Falls Church and work out this way. They serve DC exclusively, which I totally understand. They should go where the greatest density of people are to be found. I was willing to drive into the District to sample their goods. Yet on Saturday and Sunday, when I am available to run off in pursuit of a cupcake fix, their website gave no indication as to where I could find them. They brag that you can follow them on twitter for updates. So, I looked on twitter, and their last tweet was from early on friday morning. I had heard that they have been seen around my old stomping ground, Eastern Market, on the weekend. However, without any confirmation of this on their website/twitter, I wasn’t willing to chance it. I am looking forward to trying one someday.

Lavender Moon Cupcakery: This funky little shop is located in Old Town Alexandria at 116 S. Royal Street.

It has several tables where you can sit and comfortably enjoy your treats.Sadly, on the day I arrived, they had run out of vanilla/vanilla cupcakes. In their defense, I did not arrive until 4 p.m., and had not called ahead to reserve one. They had several other flavours available, but for the purpose of our contest, they would not have worked. I would definitely return to this location in the future, but am unable to comment on it today.

The Great Cupcake Crawl was a lot of fun. I must thank my fellow tasters, Jay, Mom and Dad. We’re already thinking that perhaps we should do another crawl-this time with a chocolate theme….YUM!

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