Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Let's Get Some Cupcakes in Beverly Hills!

Despite long standing predictions that a cupcake crash would follow the long developing (and internationally spreading) cupcake boom, cupcake shops seem like they are everywhere. Here in Seattle, we have the Cupcake Royale, Trophy Cupcake, and Yellowleaf Cupcakes, among others. In Beverly Hills, there is both Crumbs Bakeshop and Sprinkles Cupcakes within a block of each other right off Rodeo Drive. I have had Crumbs before on a previous trip and decided to try Sprinkles for a change.

Between the two, Sprinkles Cupcakes is the higher design concept shop. Everything here has been meticulously crafted by a designer, from the bamboo trays to the gift box packaging. The shop is small and is more cupcake shop than coffee shop (like the Cupcake Royale).Directly beside Sprinkles Cupcake is a Cupcake ATM (Seriously) and then Sprinkles Ice Cream, which is literally the other side of the same shop. If you walk from one to the other, the same thoroughness of design is here as well and the same song is even playing in both shops.

However, having high design with a crappy cupcake is far worse than excellent cupcakes with crappy design. In this particular case... the cupcakes were actually pretty good! The cake was nice and moist, the three flavors that I tried were all well balanced and without excessive frosting. All the cakes look like there is a ton frosting, but this is actually an illusion: The cake top is actually fairly domed, which gives the impression that there is more than there actually is.

Perfection? Not quite. Almost all of the cupcakes have a small colored marker on top that shows which flavor the cupcake actually is (again, design is everywhere) and there is even a special Beverly Hills shield cupcake, but these little discs are effectively inedible and just confusing. I am sure that they are non-toxic and safe... but they offer an unpleasant bite if you aren't aware that they are little sugar(?) stone disks.

It is a fun little shop, but my one regret? Not trying the ATM that constantly belts out a song of praise to Sprinkles. I will have to give it a try next time...

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Let's go to Beverly Hills!

About a week ago I had a super quick trip to Beverly Hills. There was a position that was open and I was invited to sit for the exam, so I took the day off and went down to throw my name in the hat. I had less than 24 hours there, but the trip ended up being good: I had a chance to reconnect with some friends and take a quick look around the famed Beverly Hills. 

My first memory of hearing about Beverly Hills comes TV, but not from what you're probably thinking of. I never saw Beverly Hillbillies and 90210 wasn't it either. The very first time I remember "Beverly Hills" being mentioned was this monstrosity:

Beverly Hills Teens. "Come live your fantasy in Beverly Hills. Come on and make your dreams come true..." Somewhere between Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Inspector Gadget there was this. The 1980s were something else and there was so many cartoons floating around. If you watch the intros to the cartoons that played on Saturday morning, I bet you'll recognize some that you've long forgotten.

But, on this trip I had a chance to take a look around the actual city of Beverly Hills. The city was established in 1914 and exhibits a rather beautiful design that takes advantage of the natural features of the area. The story is that after some oil prospectors failed to find any oil in the area, they decided to try to set up their very own city. The city was laid out by Wilbur D. Cook who was heavily influenced by the Olmsted Brothers and reflects an approach to planning called "City Beautiful". This was a movement that preferred organic shapes, placed emphasis on civic pride and monumentalism, and the need for nature near to where people lived. It was a softening of the geometric grids and the idea that cities could be better places than they were. It's a goal is still central to urban planning today, even if the terminology and ideas about how to get there have sometimes changed.

A lot of the places that we really like today came from this era and Beverly Hills is actually pretty nice. The streets north of Santa Monica Blvd curve elegantly without completely losing the efficiency that a grid system offers. The houses are mostly upscale and become nicer as you move into the actual hills. The city leaders built a very nice civic complex, starting with the city hall below. With about 35,000 people and a more geometric downtown core, it seems like they have actually done a good job at managing their growth over the past 100 years (which you can see in the image to the left). 
Of course, as beautiful as it is, with only 24 hours there's not much time to do anything... except perhaps to try some cupcakes!

Monday, December 02, 2013

250 posts!

This is the 250th post on this blog! It's been a looong time since I my first post where I set forth a modest agenda of cataloging my flights and some of my trips. It's been over three years, in fact!

Let's see where we've been!

  1. The very first post!
  2. Istanbul!
  3. Seattle!
  4. Berlin!
  5. Amsterdam! (and this post with one of my most popular pictures)
  6. Oman!
  7. Dubai!
  8. Istanbul again!
  9. Greece!
  10. Russia!
  11. Mongolia!
  12. Vegas!
  13. Portland, OR!
  14. Bainbridge Island!
  15. Los Angeles!
  16. Chicago!
  17. Rio de Janeiro!
  18. Iguacu Falls!
  19. Buenos Aires!
  20. New York!
  21. Sweden!
...and many more to come..

The 250 Dutch Gulden image is courtesy of Leftovercurrency.com