Sunday, March 10, 2013

16 Hour Sugar Rush in New York

About 10 years ago, I had my first encounter with the sugar economy. The Cupcake Royale in Ballard was where I was introduced to the idea that you could actually create a business around a single novelty item (and coffee), so long as it involved massive amounts of sugar. Today, we are well into the "Cupcake Bubble" and there is little sign that it is slowing down: Hip specialty shops, from ice cream to macarons, are popping up everywhere and thriving. Seattle loves its sugar, whatever the form.

New York is also awash in the sugar economy, but the players are both local and global. Tiny native New York shops like Empire Cake share the same city as Paris' Laduree. It is a city with everything, and I had to try as much as I time would allow. First stop after the break? Laduree.

Keep reading the rest of the post! Click the link below!

Laduree is very simply just about perfect. You really can't go wrong with your selections and the macarons are not as pricey as you might imagine. They are about $3 a pop, which is expensive but justified. Macarons are supposed to have a crisp (but not crunchy) airy shell around a dense nearly chewy almond meringue and then a perfect amount of filling in the middle. Laduree's macarons are exactly right and very flavorful. However, be prepared to wait in line: When I was there, the line was out the door.

Next up was Empire Cake and their magnificent super twinkie "Snack Cakes".

Everything in here looked amazing. The Red Velvet cupcakes (and snack cakes) were recommended by everyone I talked with. One person even said that her mother explicitly asks her to stop buy and pick up these snack cakes on her way home because she can't come into town from the Bronx any more. With a recommendation like that, how could I resist?

The snack cakes are moist with cream filling. It's what you wish a twinkie was and there are five different flavors to choose between: Chocolate Covered with vanilla filling, Red Velvet with cream cheese filling dipped in white chocolate, Brooklyn Blackout (Chocolate Cake, Chocolate pudding filling, dipped in chocolate), Lemon curd filling dipped in white chocolate, and (also pictured below) passion fruit curd filled with white chocolate. Of course, they also do cupcakes and regular cakes as well. The whole place is worth a visit and I was luck to stumble across it by accident!

Next stop? Minamoto Kitchoan.

Stepping into Minamoto Kitchoan is like stepping into a store in Japan. This store is right across the street from Rockefeller Center and sells "Wagashi", which are traditional Japanese treats for tea.  The big draw for me is that the flavors used in Japanese treats are slightly different from what we use in the US. Strawberry and melon in particular are simply more delicious in the Japanese flavor palette. They tend to be sweeter and richer than what we have in the US (We like big, but less flavorful strawberries. Other places like Japan and Sweden tend to grow smaller strawberries with more flavor).

My pick was the melon no ka wagashi. This is a melon jelly that is soft with a little grit from pieces of melon in it and a strong melon flavor throughout. Very good, if a little slippery.

My last stop of note was the complete opposite of Minamoto Kitchoan: Big Gay Ice Cream.

Unicorns? Check. Rainbows? Check. Suggestive treat names like, "Salty Pimp"? Check. I passed this by during the day and didn't stop in, but fate had me pass by it later at night and demanded that I give it a try.

What they do is soft serve ice cream with toppings, as well as sundaes in cones. All of them looked pretty good, but after hitting so many good places in New York, I decided to moderate with just the massive basic cone. This is a fun place to check out and if I had more appetite, the Bea Arthur sounded really good: Dulce de Leche, Crushed 'nilla wafers, and vanilla ice cream. Or the American Globs. Or the Mexican Affo'gay'to. Too much to try!

That's it for treats, but here's a couple other spots I tried:

 Third Rail Coffee brew up Stumptown coffee.

 Mamoun's Falafel serves up some really good falafel.

No comments:

Post a Comment