saturday’s post: cupcakes in LA

This entry isn’t mine.  It’s actually Abigail’s.  You remember Abigail right?  Maybe you’ve even read her book:  yep.  my friend is a published author… awesome eh?  She was part of my NYC cupcake crawl (the best crawl ever)… and while I was in San Francisco eating pork (and some cupcakes), Abigail was driving from L.A. to Portland, Oregon. 

abigail driving along the coast (photo by nat garnick)

While in L.A., Abigail decided to do her own little cupcake crawl.  The best part… because yes… even better than simply tasting the cupcakes… Abigail decided to do her own little write-up.  AND she even sent me pictures! (thank you Nat Garnick for taking the pictures and then sharing them with me)

Yummy Cupcakes

by Abigail Jones (with Abigail’s permission, I’ve include the cupcake descriptions… as per the website)

vanilla vanilla in pink, green, yellow, blue and purple

old school and vanilla rolled sprinkle

southern honey bbq and strawberry shortcake

There were so many intriguing cupcakes here.  I wanted to try the Old School, a nod to the hostess cupcake, and the Strawberry Shortcake, which was topped with a mountain of pretty white cream.  Had I been armed with my cupcake enthusiast friends, Frappalicious and KT, I might have ordered one of each (plus a Cupcake in a Jar and a Cupcake on a Stick!), but I only had so much room in my stomach, so I chose two classics: Vanilla/Vanilla and Red Velvet.


vanilla bean cupcake frosted with a pastel vanilla bean buttercream

“Cake was dry but not too dry, with a bite of corn bread.  It was a nice match for the sweet-but-not-too-sweet icing, which comes in a pale palette of pink, green, yellow, blue, and purple.  (I chose pink.)” 

Verdict: Tasty but skippable.
Red Velvet

traditional southern red velvet cupcake topped with a cream cheese frosting

“Who really cares what cake tastes like when you’re confronted with such lush, thick icing?   Lynne probably does, but for me, icing is everything — and the delicate swirl design and creamy cream cheese taste were a great combination.  And the cake….that was good, too.”


Verdict: Addicted.

thetwistedchef’s comment:  Check this out.  Now scroll down.  Stop when you get to the Cupcake Pie.  OMG.  I want that.  I don’t just want it.  I want to make it.  But not with chocolate.  With lemon.  A lemon meringue pie cupcake.  Yes… bliss.  And Abigail… I would totally have ordered Cupcake in a Jar with you… it looks disgustingly delicious. 


the best pizza in napa… for realz.

Pizza.  Everyone loves pizza – especially when it’s done right…  In my personal opinion (and Marianne’s), doing pizza right means two things:  thin crust and wood burning pizza ovens – – put those two things together and (fingers crossed) the result is mouth-watering delicious.  Case and point: our final lunch at Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa.

I have to admit something… the pictures below are from our second meal at Don Giovanni’s…. yep, that’s right – within a 72 hour time frame, Marianne and I hit up this little restaurant in Napa TWICE.  It was that good!  Every time we drove by our mouths would start salivating… thoughts of thin crust pizza filling our heads.  We couldn’t resist going a second time… it was that good… Marianne is convinced that it is the “best pizza… outside of Italy.”  That’s saying something.

A good pizza doesn’t need to be complicated – we both ordered the Margherita (tomato, basil, mozzarella di latte) – the crust was thin, the ingredients were fresh… perfection.

a view from our seats… the pizza dough in action

the margherita… a million sighs of happiness

the base of the crust was über thin

Nothing was left at the end of the meal… on either of our plates.  In my opinion… the true sign of a good meal.

No regrets about going back for more… a pizza this good deserves to be eaten as often as possible ;0)

too much of a good thing… can be a bad thing…

The cupcake crawl continued.

I started my San Francisco crawl by hitting up Kara’s CupcakesRemember how much I loved the passion fruit cupcake? Moist cake and tart filling.  BUT horrible frosting.  Well… I went back for more.  It was a DISASTER.  Seriously…the following two cupcakes were carefully selected… they looked appealing, their descriptions elevated them even more, and well… I needed to see if Kara’s could redeem itself (at least frosting wise).

fleur de sel (chocolate cupcake with caramel filling, chocolate ganache frosting, fleur de sel)

blackberry cream (chocolate cupcake filled with blackberries & cream, blackberry buttercream frosting)

YAK.  Both chocolate cupcakes tasted like a cake mix… and the frostings… the ganache was too thick, the caramel filling was burnt.  The blackberry buttercream was overwhipped again… and I’m convinced… absolutely convinced that they use lard.

Kara’s Cupcakes are not recommended if you’re partaking in your own San Francisco cupcake crawl.

At this point I’d already sampled the best cupcake evermiette‘s old fashioned chocolate and Italian meringue frosting. So I went back and grabbed their gingerbread cupcake (gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting).

OMG.  It was delish!  The gingerbread was nice and spicy – full of nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice.  It was full of flavour – cut by the simple cream cheese frosting – nice and tart.  Complimentary to the spiciness of the cake.  Not as good as their old fashioned chocolate but a close second.

At this point Marianne told me about another little bakery – that takes the cakehand frosted memories.  Sounds cute eh?  We both thought so too.  Off we went to the other end of town… ending up in a charming little bakery, full of beautiful cupcakes.  It was a little overwhelming… we narrowed it down to a few… but still couldn’t decide between:

funky monkey (banana cake, filled with pecans & chocolate chips, chocolate frosting)

gentlemen prefer reds (traditional red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting)

razzle dazzle (chocolate cupcake, topped with raspberry buttercream frosting)

prom queen (strawberry cake, topped with fresh strawberry buttercream frosting)

We ordered one of each :0) We immediatley sampled the prom queen – delish.  The cake was filled with fresh strawberry goodness, was super moist and the buttercream was creamy and smooth.  Excellent!  We then sampled the gentlemen prefer reds – red velvet cake.  YUM.

We waited before sampling the other two… and were… disappointed.  Marianne loved the frosting for the razzle dazzle, according to her, “the best frosting so far – exactly what a frosting should be: thick and smooth.  And pretty.”  But both of us weren’t wowed by the cupcake… it was blah.  Nothing outstanding about it…. especially after having sampled the first two cupcakes (which were so excellent).

The funky monkey was… not a winner either.  The cake was a little dry and was too heavy.  I really wanted to like it… but I just didn’t.

If in San Francisco I would recommend a stop at that takes the cake – if only for the friendly service (we met one of the owners – super nice, great customer service) and to try their red velvet.  It was good.  Really good.  Plus… all the cupcakes look so pretty in their display.

inside the bakery – co-owner Brian Williams behind the counter – GREAT customer service

After several days of cupcake sampling my stomach is finally on revolt… I think I hit my limit (hence the title of this blog… too much of a good thing isn’t always great)… but then again… give me a couple of days and I’m sure I’ll be ready to hit up another cute, retro, fun little bakery and sample their baked goods… especially in the cupcake form.