Sweet Spots :: Georgetown Cupcake

Sweet Spots :: Georgetown Cupcake

When my daughter groaned immediately after I told her of my upcoming work trip to DC, I thought her upset about it was due to my proximity to the president and Michelle and the girls. But no – though she’d like to visit the White House and say what’s up to likely homegirls Malia and Sasha, what she really wanted to do was head to Georgetown Cupcake to chat and eat with the baking stars of TLC’s DC Cupcakes. In earnest, she asked if I could please, please stop at Georgetown Cupcake and bring something back for her.

What I hadn’t exactly made clear was that, although my flight is to DC, the meeting will be held at a conference center in Leesburg, VA; and with no car to get around, I’ll likely be stuck my entire trip, relegated to the conference center bar each night. But I figured it would be a nice gesture to Google Map the place, see if I might be able to hitchhike my way after a day long of plenaries and breakouts and boxed food.

To our delight, we learned that there was no need at all for me to venture away from the conference facility during my trip, as LA has a Georgetown Cupcake of its own. So this became a mini-adventure for us, an evening getaway that without homework or volleyball practices or dance classes a Monday ago we could afford to take. I did have a run scheduled that day after work, but what better way to get your cupcake on than stinky and sweaty. Heading to LA in my muggy workout clothes made me feel like I earned a few cupcakes.

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I’d planned to purchase several varieties, bringing treats to my fro-workers the next morning for all to try. But at $3 a pop and cupcakes to purchase for my girls, I had to split samples at work with a choice few instead of sharing the wealth with my entire suite. The Coffee Cookies & Cream, the Strawberry, and the Red Velvet cakes I tried were tasty – moist and balanced with a frosting that any sweeter would have been cloying; but what I can’t get out of my head is the Salted Caramel, one I shared (slightly begrudgingly) that was joyously received by all. I could eat another couple-few of those pretty soon. If I don’t get back up to the LA location soon, I really may have to consider the whole hitchhiking thing.

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Georgetown Cupcake
143 S. Robertson Blvd. and other US locations

Sweet Spots :: Extraordinary Desserts

Sweet Spots :: Extraordinary Desserts

The last time I went to this place, I was on a diet. It was almost three years ago – I’d given up carbs in want of a quick slim down that didn’t require physical activity (during what I call my sedentary years). As proud as I was to resist letting anything at San Diego’s Extraordinary Desserts touch my lips (with the exception of a few sips of cold water), the concoctions lining their display have shown up in my daydreams and fantasies ever since.

Last weekend when I was in San Diego once again to celebrate my 2nd oldest’s 21st birthday – remind me to bring up the nose ring later if I forget; actually, I won’t forget – I was once again in the middle of a no/low-carb thing in preparation for my Vegas trip. However, the birthday girl earlier wanted Italian and I was so close to vacation that I figured I might as well eat like I was on vacation; and even if I managed to lose another pound or so before getting to MGM’s lazy river, my bikini wouldn’t know the difference. So I said what the heck, and got the fam to head a few blocks away from our lunch spot in Little Italy to Extraordinary Desserts.

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It’s a good thing there’s no place like this near the LBC – otherwise, I might get the hankering to quit my civil service job and fill out an application to wait tables or work behind the bar; that way I’d have daily access to incredible (extraordinary) sweets with a discount. And booze too!

It was hard to make a selection once we were seated. I’m not a chocolate person. But I am a chocolate CAKE person. Because of this fact, I finally opted for a slice of their Viking cake based on looks alone. All I noticed were stacked layers of dark brown cake. Little did I realize the chocolate creme brulee and milk chocolate cream padding these layers, nor the crushed chocolate almond praline crust pushed into the frosting. It was ridiculously decadent and effervescent and palatable and crunchy-smooth if there’s such a thing. It was truly a sensual experience. We probably could have used a room, my cake and I.

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Also tasty were my husband’s Dulce de Leche cheesecake – with caramelized pecan edges, a hint of sea salt, and whipped cream – and the birthday girl’s berries and ice cream (not the raciest choice for a 21st birthday, but it fit her; she did enjoy her first official, card-wielding drink at ED, a sangria made at the bar; as a non-wine person, she was a little disappointed at the taste so I had to explain the complexities of true sangria; how the fruit sits and ferments a bit with the alcohol from a liqueur, which isn’t commixed with the wine until later, along with a clear fizzy soda and a sweetener; she was likely only half-listening).

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Now about the nose ring. Those two words coupledĀ  together usually don’t cause any bother for me – people should feel free to pierce any ol’ hunk of cartilage they’d like. But when my husband and I picked up our new 21-year old to find her with not a teeny sparkingly nugget pierced delicately through one nostril, but rather a thick and rounded rod of metal reminiscent of something you might find on a bull drilled through her nasal septum, we got a little itchy. We were honest about our initial dislike (in particular, our 11-year old). We did our best to look away, to avert our eyes. But it’s her nose and she’s been an adult now for three years. And, as she told us several times, she could always tuck it in (ewwww!).

I’ll get used to it, I’m sure (though I don’t think my hub will anytime soon).

At least there were desserts.

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Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego’s Little Italy
and one other location
1430 Union Street

Sweet Spots :: Duff’s Cakemix

Sweet Spots :: Duff’s Cakemix

I’d heard that it was way overpriced. I’d read that the cakes weren’t delicious – dry and crumbly and lacking flavor. Some reviewers on sites I checked out called the staff inattentive and unfriendly, questioned the store’s sense of customer service. Yet, I hauled my birthday kid and her friends to West Hollywood anyway to give them the chance to decorate cakes in the studio helmed by television’s Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman – Duff’s Cakemix.

Even before leaving Long Beach, I knew at least one of the sentiments about the do-it-yourself cake shop was true – the place isn’t cheap. But for a special occasion, I didn’t mind overspending, especially if it meant I didn’t have to clean up afterward.

Regardless of word on the street (that being the information super highway), this place is fun! Sure, there was disappointment in myself that I hadn’t arrived with an idea in mind for my cake, which made choosing colors, shapes, and sprinkles a bit of a chore; but still – whenever I get into that artsy dimension, I bubble over with endorphins.

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Really, it wasn’t about me – it was about my daughter and her friends, who weren’t just high off the sprinkles and fondant but the energy in the place, which started with the staff. Perhaps the crabby, snappy ones complained about by others were off the day we went. Or had been fired or were taking their meds; those we dealt with were nothing but pleasant and helpful. And patient, as my pre-teen crew was composed of dancers who among them did several hundred second turns on Cakemix’s polished cement floor.

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The biggest test for me was the taste – I waited until home for that, not wanting to show the disappointment (or disgust) on my face should I hate it. I made the mistake of leaving my cake in the warm car when dropping off one of the girls, and when I opened it up to show her mother, I’d found that the top layer had slid off. After trying to repair it, I had no choice but to lick my fingers and was thrilled to taste the non-cloying, buttery frosting. After fixing it as best as I could, I placed my cake in the fridge to help it set some but could only wait about ten minutes before cutting a slice. Perhaps my palate is unrefined, unable to identify a terrible and drab cake when it meets one, but I quite enjoyed my red velvet treat from Cakemix. Expensive, yes – but you can’t put a price on some experiences. Actually, you can – but this was a price I happened to be willing to pay this particular day.

If you ever do the same, know that the place gets busy on the weekends. You can make a reservation, or take advantage of discount prices during their weekday happy hours. But do go, with a goal of creating, rolling, squeezing, and just going for it.

Duff’s Cakemix
8302 Melrose in LA