There's been a lot of talk lately about companies being environmentally conscious, and making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. But what's a carbon footprint, exactly? No, it's not an unfortunate choice in footwear--rather, it's defined as the measure of the impact our activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, and measured in units of carbon dioxide. Basically, a leaving a big footprint is bad news--and in Seattle, that granola-fueled place that we call home, it's very much affecting the food industry, with companies striving to use more local ingredients and contract with more local vendors, while also trying to use less material and less of our nonrenewable resources in their production.
And while certainly these are noble goals, we had to wonder--is this local food--to be more specific--are these local desserts, any good? In an effort to find out, we recently hit up Eat Local, a new-ish company at the top of Queen Anne, which is something of a poster child for the movement, selling ready-made meals which are made locally, using local, organic ingredients (read more about their mission here). We stocked up on several of their most popular desserts with some help from their uber-friendly owner Greg Conner, who along with a team of enthusiastic employees, was very helpful and more than willing to share their vision for a green earth with us. Leaving the store with a bag (canvas, not plastic, naturally) full of goodies, we already knew we felt good about supporting the store...but would we love the desserts? While on the one hand the desserts are dreamed up by a pastry chef we love, North Hill Bakery's Tracey Peterson, we're not scared to admit that we were a little nervous that the desserts were made with only natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup and agave nectar, evaporated cane juice)--hey, we like sugar. But for one working week we gave it a go, cakewalking through their dessert-case; here's what we tasted:
Monday: Flapjack Bar and Apple Crisp. We figured we'd start out the week virtuous, starting with the British-inspired Flapjack bar, a hearty and dense oat bar. Paired with a happy clementine (clementine not from Eat Local; but it made a cute photo, above), this made a very sweet start to the week, filling our spies with enough vim and vigor to take on the Queen Anne counterbalance by foot (damn!).
By the end of the day, the apple crisp (sufficient for two) was an
almost-healthy finish to the day after dinner, with crisp, buttery crumbs and a rustic, hearty filling of thick-cut apple slices within. (Cakespy Note: We suggest letting the crisp sit for a half hour after baking to allow
it to "set"--the texture will reward you for it. Of course this is largely conjecture, as we are saying this without actually having waited ourselves. As a result it was a little soupy--we blame ourselves--but still tasted good).
Tuesday: The Highland Brownie. Having eaten all of that fruit the previous day, it was time to pull out something a little more serious, so we went for the Highland Brownie, featuring Washington Walnuts. It elicited this remark from Mr. Cakespy: "This is not just a brownie. This is a brownie experience". And with a dense, nearly fudgy texture, it indeed was no mere mortal of a brownie--this was the type of brownie that inspires sonnets, if not epic poems. Highly recommended.
Wednesday: Honey Lemon Cheesecake. We went into this dessert experience cautiously. Indeed, honey, lemon and cheesecake all by themselves can be strong flavors--was it really to be a flavor love match? We were pleasantly surprised--the natural sweeteners really worked in this dessert's favor, allowing the tangy, creamy cheese and tart lemon to shine, and resulting in a surprise hit for these Cake Gumshoes. We would certainly buy this one again.
Thursday: Rugelach. With many of our spies hailing from the East Coast, where rugelach reigns, we were curious to see how the West Coast (organic) version would stack up. While it lacked the sinful salty-buttery-omigod-richness of the rugelach from our East Coast Memories, this was nonetheless a respectable cookie, flavorful and probably much better for our bodies and souls than the ones we have known in the past. Curiously though, we loved this better the next morning, as a breakfast treat, than we had as an after-dinner dessert. Go figure.
Friday: Chocolate Decadence. It was difficult to save this for last, but we were glad we did. Have you ever tasted Decadence? Well. If yes, perhaps you'll know what we mean when we say it's a dangerous dessert indeed. A bad one can leave you feeling heavy, sluggish and induce promises of treadmills and daily yoga; a good one fills you with a sort of take-over-the-world euphoria, elated, simultaneously energized and relaxed--and completely fulfilled. Happily, this one was the latter, with a smooth as silk, velvety texture, an overwhelming chocolatey mouthfeel and absolutely
pleasurable (or perhaps we could coin a new word, pleasure-full) aftertaste. Oh yes.