un petit gâteau…

Another cupcake entry.  I know… I knowanother one. How many does it make… 5 in a week?  But I can’t help it.  I have to blog about this one.  This one is extra-special.  It’s actually extraordinary. In fact… this cupcake is…

The. Very. Best. Cupcake. I. Have. Ever. Tasted. For. Realz.

I have to thank Marianne for it.

You see, as we wandered through the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Marianne spotted Miette – the cutest little bakery.

It’s bright.  It’s retro.  It’s hip.  I fell in love.  I’m not just hearting this shop – I love it.

I wandered from display to display, mesmerized by everything I saw – lime meringue tartlette, buttermilk panna cotta with fresh strawberries, macarons, raspberry and rose geranium tartlette, lemon cloud cake… you see everything was a delight to the eyes.  Especially the cupcakes.

Particularly the old fashioned chocolate with Italian meringue cupcake.  The cloud of meringue sitting atop the chocolate cupcake was… impressive.

Yes… this particular cupcake was so spectacular that both Marianne and I decided it worth sampling.

It was purchased

It was halved

It was consumed

Once we’d finished enjoying our halves… we both agreed – – this cupcake was perfection.  It was exactly what a cupcake should be:  the cake was dense, moist, pure chocolate.  The meringue was thick and smooth, and it didn’t increase the sweetness factor.  It was a bubble of goodness.  A million sighs of pleasure.

and two VERY enthusiastic thumbs up… way up (and yes… that was the view we enjoyed while tasting)

for the love of pork

I am in pork heaven.  Seriously.  I never thought that I could love pork this much… until I got to San Francisco that is.  They do pork well.  Really well.

Actually… Chef Chris Cosentino does pork really well.   As soon as I booked my trip to San Francisco I went online and made a reservation for dinner at Incanto. Best decision EVER.

I’ve been carrying a copy of the menu in my purse since I arrived in San Francisco (yes… a little obsessive, I’m fully aware) and have been eagerly awaiting this meal.  Number one reason… the heirloom tomato risotto.  I LOVE risotto (yes, love with all caps); and am known for ordering it whenever I see it on a menu.

With that in mind, Marianne (my travel companion for this adventure) and I made our way to the restaurant: we were immediately seated in a quiet corner – large butcher block tables, comfortable banquet seating, softly lit – a low key, unpretentious atmosphere (although we were scolded by the maitre d’ when we arrived 5 minutes late… he threatened to give away our table… drama a little??? – especially since there was no line up, nor were the other empty tables filled once we had arrived)

Presented with the menu (again), Marianne and I made our way through our options – agreeing on the risotto and the handkerchief pasta & rustic pork ragu as shared mains (best way to dine… share lots!).

Our dilemma… how to start????

That’s when we looked at the diners seated next to us , staring open-mouthed at their plates.  Holy… it looked ridiculously delicious.  But what was it???  When in doubt… lean over and ask :0)  It turned out to be the salumi platter – piglet.

Done.  We knew what our starter was going to be.

We placed our order – the food accompanied by a mystery flight of wine (3 Italian wines), and eagerly awaited the starter. First up… the bread basket.

It’s not just your regular bread basket – this one was filled with freshly baked focaccia, slices of baguette, taralli (Italian breadstick), and fresh, salty olive tapenade.  A million sighs.  I enthusiastically piled tapenade atop the bread… yes… I closed my eyes in appreciation.  Delight.

Midway through our bread basket we were served the salumi platter.

I think I moaned my way through the starter –the soppressata di Calabria was perfection.  It was the highlight of the dish – served with a salsa verde is was light, slightly sweet.  Just imagine baguette, a clove of roasted garlic, fresh grainy mustard, a piece of salumi…. a million signs.  Or even better… head cheese with pickled onions piled atop the fresh focaccia.  Moan.

It was the perfect starter – definitely meant to be shared.

Once the dishes were cleared away we were presented with our mains.  OMG.

handkerchief pasta & rustic pork ragu

The ragu… smooth, fresh, light handmade pasta.  The pork ragu was peppered with sage, and perfectly salty.  Topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Amazing.

heirloom tomato risotto

Creamy risotto, fresh toy box tomatoes, drizzled in tomato oil – – a taste of sunshine.  The box tomatoes burst in my mouth… the entire dish was a symphony of flavours.  I was in food heaven.

Everything tasted as fresh, local and as delicious as any meal I’ve had in Italy.  Authentic Italian food – simple flavours, perfectly flavoured, properly executed.  Beautiful.

Time for dessert.  How about rose geranium panna cotta & strawberries?  Sounds delish doesn’t it?

This was probably the low point of the meal (for me… Marianne was disappointed with the mystery flight of wine)… the panna cotta was a little too intensely infused with rose geranium.   But as you can see… we still ate the entire  thing.

If you’re ever in San Francisco – I highly recommend hitting up Incanto.  You won’t regret it… I promise.  Please don’t forget to try the piglet salmui platter… it was pork-a-licious.

cupcake crawl continued… @ kara’s cupcakes

I have become obsessed.

Last weekend I underwent my NYC cupcake crawl with Abigail and KatieRemember how much fun that sounded? Yeah… me too ;0)

Then, when I got back to Ottawa, I continued the “crawl” with Tonya – taste testing two more cupcakes from Spot dessert bar.

And now… a few days later, I find myself in San Francisco, California at Kara’s Cupcakes eyeing the passion fruit cupcake.  That’s right… I’m back on the road, back on the West Coast and still walking into cupcake shops eager to sample the goods.

I walked into Kara’s and was immediately excited: first, there is a wide variety of cupcakes (including a gluten-free option), second, they are adorable – uber creamy buttercream frosting, topped with little fondant stars or flowers or circles.  Simple, pretty, fun… screaming for me try one.

Obviously as soon as I saw the passion fruit one – especially since it was one of the “filled” options, I knew, just knew that I had to try it.

kara’s cupcake:  passion fruit

OMG.  It was… sigh, moan worthy delicious.  Well…. To be honest – the cake and filling were.  The frosting… not for me.

birds eye view… cute fondant circle eh?

the curd… moan.  for reals.

The cake – moist and fluffy, it was a light yellow cupcake – – perfectly baked.  It melted in my mouth.  And to top it off… they filled it with a tart, bright passion fruit curd – thick, creamy, a pop of flavour.  DELISH.

both of us agree… cupcake gets thumbs up (frosting does not)

I’ll admit it… I tasted the frosting and then wiped it off the top of the cupcake.  In my opinion (as always, very humble and very personal), it was too creamy, it almost tasted as if it was half lard / half butter… a little too creamy for my liking.  Beautiful to look at – not so yummy in my tummy.

However… I would still go back and sample another one.  I hear their vanilla vanilla will change my life – – and the kara’s karrot looked delish… and has a cream cheese frosting to boot!

This seems to be the cupcake crawl that never ends…