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Entries in oakland (2)

Friday
Oct292010

Sweetness by the Bay: 50 Sweet Moments from a California Adventure

Well, well, well. Did you know that a couple weekends ago I went to a totally sweet and magical land called San Francisco? The adventures didn't take place solely within the city limits: I ventured out of the city to Oakland and Santa Cruz as well, and well, I would love to share some of the sweetest moments from my travels with you, because if they made me smile, surely they'll make you smile too.

Ready? Set? Let's go:

  1. First off: finding my artwork at Fireworks in Seatac on my way out! Way to start the journey feeling like a big deal.
  2. First stop after arriving in San Francisco? Oakland! I ventured over to visit CakeSpy customers (and buddies!) Jane and Rick, owners of Good Chemistry Baking, which specializes in baked goods which are devoid of gluten, but full of delicious.
  3. First item tried: chocolate cookie
  4. And a cupcake
  5. ...aaaand, a Lemon bar
  6. The reaction of Anya, who does follow a gluten-free diet, to said baked goods.
  7. Happiness: Dorie Greenspan was reading at Omnivore Books while I was there!
  8. BTW, I would like to mention that while this place (Hometown Donuts) may seem like it has it all--liquor, beer, Chinese food, and (though not visible in this pic) psychic readings--the fact is, when I walked in, they did not have any donuts.
  9. A sweet walk with coffee and an SF-themed Cuppie postcard.
  10. Dessert at Magnolia: chocolate chess pie a la mode. Ohhh yeeeah.
  11. The baked good case at Reverie, where we went for breakfast the next morning.
  12. OMG! NY Style crumb cake, at a hippie health food store on Haight Street!
  13. A visit to the always lovely Miette Patisserie.
  14. Sadly, Paulette was not open when we visited, but we did get to peek in the window.
  15. OMG! We drove by the Its-It Headquarters!
  16. Whale City Bakery!
  17. Chocolate covered potato chip, anyone? From Marinis on the Beach, Santa Cruz.
  18. ...no, clearly the choice is chocolate covered bacon! Also from Marinis. You can tell that Phil is taking his duties as Cake Gumshoe very seriously.
  19. A delicious cookie, from Cafe Delmarette.
  20. This cupcake, also from Cafe Delmarette.
  21. What is it? Not a cannoli. From Hoffman's, Santa Cruz.
  22. A Russian Teacake from Original Sin Desserts, Santa Cruz.
  23. Spied in Santa Cruz: my artwork, at Bookshop Santa Cruz!
  24. A chocolate mint cookie from Pacific Cookie Co, with vibrant green chips.
  25. Pies made from beads, outside of a bead store.
  26. Discovering The Penny Ice Creamery, Santa Cruz.
  27. Bonbons from Penny Ice Creamery
  28. Philip got the fennel ice cream.
  29. Yam (!) ice cream, enjoyed by my incredibly good looking sister, Bridget
  30. Another Russian Teacake from The Buttery
  31. This cake, from The Buttery
  32. Finding my totally sweet buddy Erin in Santa Cruz! (Yes, she's really, really tall. AND I'm really short)
  33. Delicious beverages at 515, Santa Cruz.
  34. The "Goodfellow" from Kelly's French Bakery
  35. This little tart (Olallieberry?) from Kelly's French Bakery
  36. Anjalena roll, Kelly's French Bakery
  37. Pinching deer from a distance in Santa Cruz
  38. From Gayle's Bakery in Capitola: the Christopher Bun.
  39. From Gayle's in Capitola: Potato Chip Cookies
  40. This sign brought me joy.
  41. Finally, I met my Maker.
  42. Cool street art!
  43. California Suncakes! Made for hippies, but enjoyed by CakeSpy.
  44. At the Ferry building, savory macarons (with mushrooms!)
  45. Discovering the California Coffee Cake Company.
  46. Um...getting to visit the Twitter offices!
  47. Cuppie came too.
  48. This sign, which I suspect was put in place when they saw me coming.
  49. Bathroom Cake Graffiti!
  50. General observation: the houses in San Francisco kind of resemble petits fours. Yay!

 For more pictures of pastry adventures past and present in San Francisco, visit my Flickr page!

Wednesday
Nov282007

Batter Chatter: Interview with Trilly Nguyen of whiskie bits Bakeshop

They say that while cooking is an art, baking is a science. Well, we don't know who "they" are but obviously they've never tried anything by whiskie bits Bakeshop. This Oakland-based special-order bakery's (no retail storefront at this point) menu has possibly the most avant-garde yet dazzling menu we've ever seen, with cupcakes available in flavors like Horchata (horchata cake, almonds with horchata cream cheese frosting) and Curry Carrot (carrot cake, curry spice, pistachios, almonds with cardamom-curry cream cheese frosting); cookies come in flavors like Wasabi and Black Sesame with White Chocolate and Thai-basil Lemon. They even have a series of "intoxicating" cupcakes, a naughty collection of adults-only boozy treats; all in all, we'd call it an artistic and delicious array. Cakespy was able to catch up recently with the eclectic, fearless head baker Trilly Nguyen; here's what we found out about creative baking, keeping your cakes seasonal, and why pie just might be the new cake:

Cakespy: Are you formally trained as a baker?
Trilly Nguyen: No, my experiences come from my mother (a former pastry chef who specialized in wedding cakes), working professionally in the industry, and spending most of my free time baking and experimenting.

CS: You don't have a storefront...other than by special order, can individual customers buy your baked goods at any stores or coffee shops?
TN: Right now, unfortunately no. But within the next year, whiskie bits products can be found at some local specialty retail stores and shops in the Bay Area.

CS: You have such unusual flavors...have you ever had a combination or recipe that just didn't work out?
TN: Yes, of course. Not all of my ideas and recipes work out perfectly. I am always testing out flavor combinations and using friends and families as my tasting guinea pigs.

Cakespy Note: We'd be her guinea pigs any day.

CS: What is your personal favorite cake flavor from your offerings?
TN: It depends on my mood and the weather. Sounds slightly odd, but if the weather is too warm, I like to eat a flavor that is light in texture, and vice-versa. That is why I offer seasonal flavors. So, during the summer time, I love the Hong Corn (a combination of fresh corn with coconut and salted peanuts). It reminds me of childhood and is a tribute to my mom, who would make one of my very favorite Vietnamese tapioca desserts with fresh corn and coconut. Right now, since it's fall, I am loving the Persimmon Penuche and the Bourbon Oat.

CS: You offer "intoxicating" alcohol-laced cupcakes. Will they give customers a buzz?
TN: Depends on the flavor. But overall, yes. You will get a slightly sweet buzz from all of the intoxicating flavors.

CS: Some people say that pie is going to be the next cupcake-type baking trend. What do you think?
TN: Sure, why not? I love pie as well, and I could see the endless possibilities in flavor combinations...

CS: What is the most important aspect in making a good cupcake?
TN: Quality ingredients and good technique. Baking is never worth it if you do not have the best quality ingredients. To me, baking is so time-consuming that it is only worth it if you start out with the finest ingredients. That's half the battle. The other half is learning good basic baking techniques.

CS: What is the best time of day to eat cake or cookies?
TN: Any time, of course. But instinctively, I would say breakfast time and late at night (right before bed time). What's better than waking up in the morning and ending the day with a sweet treat.

CS: What's next for whiskie bits?
TN: More new and unusual yummy flavor combinations.

CS: Any TTA (Trilly's trusted advice) for budding bakers?
TN: Read my answers for making a good cupcake (above). Also, trust your instincts and judgment. Sometimes things work and sometimes, they don't. Just accept that and move on. In the end, things always have a way of working out.

For more information on whiskie bits Bakeshop, visit whiskiebits.com. If you're in the Bay Area and would like to place an order, give them a call at (510) 658-8284.

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