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Entries in europe (3)

Saturday
Jul162011

Cakewalk: Two Sweet Shops in Ireland

Photo: Purple House DirtCakeSpy Note: Seeking sweetness in Ireland? Cake Gumshoe (and CakeSpy Buddy) Jenny of Purple House Dirt recently found a couple of sweet spots on the Emerald Isle--if you have a trip coming up, keep them in mind! Visit her site for more info about her trip.

When we were tooling around Ireland last month, I noticed old fashioned candy shops seemed to abound in these tiny towns up and down the country. Of the two I stopped in, I discovered later that one was a franchise of Victorian-style sweet shops, while the other was an old-fashioned original, but both stores were lined with rows and rows of sweet (and eye) candies. 

In Kilkenny we wandered down a dark little alley called Butter Slip. (CakeSpy Note: OMG! BUTTER SLIP!)

We went up and down that way because of the name and because it was a shortcut between two main walking roads in Kilkenny. Along Butter Slip lives the Slip Sweet Shop, and it was filled with locals and tourists, the kids so young they had no teeth and the grannies so old they didn't either. The Slip Sweet Shop had a dazzling display of jelly sweets, crisps, and boiled candies, and I came away with acid drops, butter nuggets, rhubarb and custard candies, and cough drops, their black Dublin-made anise candy. I wish I'd spent more time admiring their selection of gummies - they sported confections called giant foam bananas, red eye skulls, milk gums, foam teddies, and munchy maggots. At least I snuck away with a giant sour apple cable that was coated in sugar and citric acid for a tart burn.

The next day we stopped in the seaside town of Dungarvan and I wandered into a shop called Mr. Simms Olde Sweet Shop. Their displays were even more impressive - it was everything I imagined a candy shoppe to be. Tall wooden shelves, wood floors, glass displays, scales and samples of everything. Along with the more modern options (every flavor of Cadbury chocolate you can imagine) they had a few candy flavors I hadn't seen in Kilkenny. I grabbed a big bag of bon bons, which turned out to be such a grab bag of tastes it was like Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans from Harry Potter. Some bites were great, while the others were grimace-inducing, tissue-grabbing nastiness. Along with the bon bons, I got a small bag of dandelion and burdock pips, which seems to be a common enough flavor in Ireland and the UK, though the only place I've seen it stateside is in cocktail bitters. They're sort of anise and grass flavored, not sticky sweet, and certainly unlike any candy I'd had before (except perhaps cough drops).

I'm definitely hooked, and I'll be buying more of these weird candies online when I run out of the supply I brought back with me!

Slip Sweet Shop
The Butterslip
High St
Kilkenny
Tel:++353 (0)56 7790996

Mr Simms Old Sweet Shoppe Dungarvan
63 Main Street
Co. Waterford 
Dungarvan
Ireland

Tuesday
Oct132009

Cakewalk: Sweet Oktoberfest in Munich From Cake Gumshoe Megan

Prinzregententorte c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan

CakeSpy Note: This is a special guest entry by Cake Gumshoe Megan, a home baker who likes to find sweetness in food and in life. She has a good news blog and recently visited friends in Germany for Oktoberfest. In Munich, she found out it's the same wherever you go - good things abound, you just have to look. Here, she chronicles her sweet finds in Munich:

Admit it. If someone says the words “Munich” and “Oktoberfest” to you, images from the movie “Beerfest” come flying into the front of your mind. I for one was completely unaware there was more to Oktoberfest – Wiesn to the locals – than the beer tents. But my trip to visit friends last month proved to me once you get past the beer steins and lederhosen, there are some decidedly sweet cakes and pastries to Munich’s name. And some of them actually taste good with beer! 

Zwetschgenkuchen c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan

Thursday, Sept. 24:
Fresh off the airplane (and the car trouble that seems to mark my trips to Munich), I headed to my old roommate’s family apartment to meet his parents and sister. This visit foreshadowed all the sweetness to come. My friend’s mother greeted us with zwetschgenkuchen. Germans today honor the custom of afternoon coffee and cake whenever they can fit it into their schedule, whether in a café or at home. The zwetschgenkuchen, or plum cake, was just what I needed after spending seven hours on a plane going from Boston to Zurich to Munich. Flaky and well-balanced between the tartness of the plums and the sugar sprinkled on top, my friend and I ended up splitting what you see in the picture above. Oops.

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Apfelstrudel c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan

Friday, Sept. 25:
Scarfing down a typical Bavarian breakfast of salami, ham, brie, croissants, fruit, bacon, eggs and orange juice (please don’t ask me where I put it all) kept me full until a trip to Olympic Park that afternoon. The promise of the delightful apfelstrudel at Restaurant 181 convinced me to get on a stomach-flutteringly fast elevator, which zoomed myself and two friends to the top of the Olympic Tower for expansive views of Munich. After circling the viewing platform, I headed down a flight of stairs to claim my reward for conquering my fear of heights. Restaurant 181 rotates, giving diners a 360-degree view of the city (if you sit there long enough). You barely notice the motion while eating, but it is a bit disconcerting to go to the bathroom and come back to find your food has moved without you.


The apfelstrudel was totally worth the possible vertigo. Straight out of the oven and plated with homemade whipped cream and a vanilla bean sauce, the dessert practically split itself in advance of my fork. I think I slightly alarmed my friends with the snail’s pace at which I ate and the frequent “mmmmmmm” sounds I made. I did briefly consider licking the plate.

 

(Restaurant 181 in Olympiaturm, Spiridon-Louis-Ring 7)

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Kaiserschmarren c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan

Saturday, Sept. 26:
Today we spent all day at Oktoberfest, and I returned with edible (and photographic) proof there is more to Wiesn than exceedingly drunk people and roller coasters (which is really not a good combination when you think about it…). Café Rischart, a chain restaurant and bakery found all over Munich, sets up a tent at Oktoberfest comparable in size and scope to any brewery tent. Decorated to the hilt and dubbed Castle Kaiserschmarrn, this temporary treat trove has all sorts of cakes and sweets on offer. I was entranced by the delectable desserts on the trays and the walls, but since I was with a pair of guys, I had to make do with some kaiserschmarrn from the Schützen Festzelt tent.
My Schokofruchte c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan
Translated to mean “emperor’s little something,” this may be my favorite German dessert. Kaiserschmarrn is a pancake made of eggs, flour, sugar, salt and milk and baked in butter. While baking you break up the pancake into pieces and add things like raisins, apples and almonds and then serve the hot pancake pieces with compotes of plum, lingonberry, or apple. We topped off the day with lebkuchen hearts (gingerbread decorated with icing sugar) and chocolate-covered fruit slices (schokofrüchte).

 

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Sachertorte c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan

Sunday, Sept. 27:
On a whim, we decided to leave the country today. Salzburg, Austria is only about an hour and a half away from Munich, so my host, a friend in town from Berlin and myself piled into the car and trundled down to the city that Mozart and the Sound of Music built (well, not really, but you know what I mean.) Unfortunately on Sunday Austria shuts down, so most shops and konditorei were closed. That didn’t mean, however, I did not get more than my fair share of yumminess.

eisschokolade c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan
We stopped for lunch at an open-air café in Universitätplatz, where I decided to test my diplomacy skills. Despite having both Café Demel and the Hotel Sacher in town, I decided to try the café’s Sachertorte and was not disappointed. Rich chocolate cake lined with apricot preserves and coated in ganache sated me until a stop at Café Tomaselli after an afternoon of touring Hohensalzburg Castle. Overlooking the old town square, I enjoyed my himbeerkuchen (raspberry cake) and eisschokolade (iced hot chocolate) and my vantage point over a festival featuring pint-sized rides and stalls selling food and hand- or locally made goods.
Himbeerkuchen c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan
(Café Tomaselli, Alter Markt 9)

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Monday, Sept. 28:
In retrospect, my breakfast of prinzregententorte at Café Münchener Freiheit may not have been fortifying enough for the 20-kilometer bike ride that followed, but I regret not a single bite. Prinzregententorte, or Prince Regent’s Torte, is named after Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria in 1886, but beyond that, its history remains cloudy. A mainly Bavarian dessert, the cake consists of at least six thin layers of sponge cake alternating with chocolate buttercream. Mine had a delightful bittersweet chocolate ganache covering which contrasted nicely with the milk chocolate buttercream inside. (pictured top)

(Café Münchener Freiheit, Joseph-Dollinger-Bogen 10)

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Joghurt torte c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan

Tuesday, Sept. 29:
My last full day in Munich yielded some pleasant surprises. Breakfast at Bodo’s Conditorei Café presented me with the opportunity to try joghurt-torte. Two vanilla cake layers sandwiched with yogurt whipped with gelatin gave a terrific wobble when the plate was tapped. The slice was topped with a clear sugar lacquer, which held the currants in place even after the cake split and fell over after a few bites.

(Bodo’s Conditorei Café, Herzog-Wilhelm-Straße 29)

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Fidelio torte c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan
Several hours of doing my part to boost the German economy had me ready for a late lunch at the Café Rischart in the Viktualienmarkt. Without really knowing what I was ordering I picked the Fideliotorte off the menu.

Fab. U. Lous.

Shaped a bit like a Swedish Princess Cake, this spongy cake is wrapped in marzipan and topped with raspberries or strawberries in a red gelatin. I assumed I would be able to look this cake up when I returned, but unfortunately the Rischart site, Wikipedia, Google and Bing all failed me. All I can tell you is my slice had a sponge base and was swirled with raspberry crème and fresh raspberries, studded with cacao nibs and was just a mouthful of heaven. This is definitely on my list to try again during my next trip.

(Café Rischart, Viktualienmarkt 2)

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Lebkuchen heart c/o Cake Gumshoe Megan

Final Thoughts: I focused my attention on the konditorei (pastry shops) among the city, but it was very hard not to nip into all the bäckerei (bread bakeries) and chocolate shops I passed on my search for cake. Guess I know what to look for next time!

Keep updated with Megan's adventures via her site.

 

Tuesday
Apr292008

Cakewalk in Berlin, Germany: Vegan Sweets and Major Treats from Two Cake Gumshoes

 

Recently, not one but two of our favorite people went to Berlin on separate occasions: Melisser, perhaps better known as the Urban Housewife (visit her site now!), was able to report back on the vegan baked good scene (though for the nonvegans, some of the establishments listed below have dairy options as well); below that, Cake Gumshoe Bridget weighs in on her thoughts on Berlin's overall baked good scene in her signature sweet style. Here's what they saw and tasted on some seriously delicious-sounding trips:


Cakewalk in Berlin Part 1: Seeking Vegan Sweetness in Berlin
By Cake Gumshoe Melisser

TemptationBerlin is a big city known more for its sausages than Vegan-friendly sweets, but after a bit of sleuthing I'm happy to report there's many places to get your dessert on with no animal products involved! From Prenzlauer Berg to Friedrichshain, then down in to Kreuzberg, take a walk down vegan lane in vibrant Berlin, Germany!
(Cakespy Note: The following are arranged from West to East, with the route that you might walk in mind)

 

Maja's Deli: Adorable cow banners declaring, "Holy Cow, it's Vegan!" hang from sunny yellow walls, while tulips in bottles adorn every table. This tiny all vegan cafe serves delicious food, but also has a large rotating selection for baked goods coming fresh from the kitchen all day. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, brownies, & tarts: they're all there! While I can't recommend the cheesecake, the Apple Raspberry cake I had was lovely & many of the other baked goods looked to die for! Maja's Deli, Pappelallee 11, 10437, Berlin; online at majas-deli.de.


Hans Wurst Vegancafe: Just a few blocks from Maja's, Hans Wurst scraps the sunny vibe in favor of a sleek one with hardwood floors, large windows, & modern seating. While the main focus is on 100% organic, 100% vegan food, Chocolate Mousse & other desserts are available daily. Hans Wurst Vegancafe, Dunckerstrasse 2a, 10437, Berlin; online at hanswurstvegancafe.blogspot.com.

 

Cupcake: A dreamy retro styled bakery in Friedrichshain, Cupcake is one of the most gorgeous cupcake shops you'll find anywhere! The owner Dawn is an American gal who moved overseas & opened her shop, the first of its kind in Berlin! A daily rotating Vegan cupcake or two is available alongside the non-veg versions. Additionally, they've been known to have vegan pie! To wash everything down, grab yourself some soy milk or coffee with soy. We still think about the awesome Chocolate cupcake with fluffy Peanut Butter buttercream; so dreamy! Cupcake, Krossener Strasse 12, 10245, Berlin; online at cupcakeberlin.de.

Caramello Eis: Not feeling like baked goods? How about some vegan ice cream? Caramello Eis will cure your craving with a large selection of fruit flavors or options made with soy milk such as Latte Macchiato, Hazelnut, or Walnut! Just be sure to ask which options are vegan, so you get what you came for! Caramello Eis, Wühlischstraße 32, 10245, Berlin; online at caramello-eis.de.

Cakespy Note: We know that sometimes you need something savory to work up an appetite for cake--if that's the case, Melisser says run, don't walk, to Vöner, located at Boxhagenerstr. 56 for some Seitan Döner fresh from a rotating grill placed in freshly baked bread filled with veggies & spicy sauce! 

Veni Vidi Vegi: An absolutely animal-product-free haven for vegans! Veni Vidi Vegi is a small, all vegan grocery store with tons of sweets & other goods for sale! Here you'll find the Nutella-like spread Chocoreale, White Chocolate bars, Rice Milk Chocolate bars, Gummies, cookies, brownies, & other prepackaged delights. They also have a freezer with lots of vegan ice cream bars & pints. Be prepared, they only accept cash. Veni Vidi Vegi, Pücklerstr. 32, 10997, Berlin; online at veganladen.de.

Yellow Sunshine: Known as a vegetarian & vegan fast food spot, amongst the veg*n burgers & seitan currywurst you'll find options for your sweet tooth as well! Tiramisu is made in house daily, although it's not always ready when you are, so call ahead if you're insistent on consuming it. They also have chocolate & caramel soy puddings, plus other grab & go sweets. It's a great place for a quick bite before heading next door to Wild At Heart to catch a band or a beer (or both)! Yellow Sunshine, Wiener Straße 19, 10999, Berlin; online at yellow-sunshine.com.

Cakewalk in Berlin, Part 2: A Love Letter to the Baked Goods of Berlin  

by Cake Gumshoe Bridget

 

Pastries in BerlinCake Gumshoe Bridget goes to Berlin

What do you think of when you hear Germany? Schnitzel? Steins of Bier? Well, that's what I thought too until I arrived in Berlin where the air is filled sweetness and the streets are paved in chocolate. Okay, so I may be exaggerating a tad, but Berlin is Germany's hidden treasure trove of pastries and sweets. Bakeries line cobble stone streets offering every sweet you can imagine. From the Berliner Doughnut (a chocolate creme and black cherry jam filled pastry) to the Apfelstrudel, an almost sickly-sweet flaky pastry with caramel apple filling. But heed my advice and bring a friend along to share because all of the sweets that I came across were of unearthly proportions. On my second day in Berlin feeling fatigued from the Fredrichstrasse boutique-y shopping district and in need of a afternoon pick me up I stumbled across a baby blue building with a sign reading Cupcake Bakery (not to be confused with Cupcake from above). To my surprise the cupcake trend has gone transatlantic. Inside the bakery looked like a scene from a fairytale, pastel colored plates and bowls and baking ingredients filled the shelves and a pleasantly plump woman behind the counter with a toothy smile. After a few minutes of awkward translations I walked out with a chocolate cupcake with pink frosting and a Tobias, a chocolate German ale, which the woman insisted I have. Beer and chocolate? I was a bit skeptical but after my first bite along with a sip of Tobias I couldn't remember a time when I thought beer and chocolate didn't go together. Moral of the story? Next time you take a trip to Germany skip the Oktoberfest and go straight for the pastries.
Sweet advice indeed. 

 

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