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Entries in seattle (182)

Thursday
Mar272008

Cakewalk in Queen Anne, Seattle

Cinnamon Roll, Nielsen's, Queen Anne, Seattle
Queen Anne is a neighborhood in Seattle which is defined by a few things: its killer views, its killer "Counterbalance" hill, and of course, the fact that it is the neighborhood in which the Cakespy Headquarters is located. And what a sweet 'hood to call home: from the lower part of the hill with its Danish-inspired pastries, to the top of the hill, where doughnuts and carbohydrates reign, there are plenty of places to get your dessert on in Queen Anne. Here are some of our personal favorites:


Caffe Ladro: Though mostly known for its coffee, Ladro is an established bakery in its own right: they have their own commercial bakery in West Seattle, at which baked goods are made daily for all of their Seattle locations. Ranging from dense vegan oat bars with a tart rhubarb layer to buttery scones and a gorgeously crumbly cardamom coffee cake, it's worth a visit even for non coffee drinkers. Two Queen Anne Locations: 600 Queen Anne Ave. No., and 2205 Queen Anne Ave. No.; online at caffeladro.com.
Crow: Though we don't frequently feature restaurants (we don't feel as comfortable talking about the meal before dessert), this one is an exception. When Head Spy Jessie moved to Seattle on a whim and found herself jobless, she waited tables at Crow in lower Queen Anne. Though no longer waiting tables there, we all still enjoy their house-made desserts which will range seasonally--offerings might include a house-made strawberry ice cream, rustic cobbler à la mode or a sinfully rich chocolate cake. We like to sit at the bar where it's OK to order dessert only! 823 5th Ave. No., (206) 283-8800.
Eat Local: Desserts made with no artificial sweeteners, no refined sugar, and all-local ingredients? Sounds suspect, we know, but as proven by our recent week-long Eat Local Challenge, sometimes local is a good thing: ranging from the surprisingly light honey-lemon cheesecake to crumbly shortbread and toe-curlingly delicious chocolate decadence in their "takeaway" dessert case, Eat Local offers some treasures on Upper Queen Anne. 2400 Queen Anne Ave. No., (206) 328-3663; online at eatlocalonline.com.

El Diablo Coffee Co.: Aside from serving a spicy mocha made with Mexican chocolate that would make even a black coffee drinker a believer, they've got some killer desserts--Tres Leches Cake, Red Velvet, and a rotating cast of tarts, pots de creme, and other delectable treats. The desserts are supplied by another Seattle Bakery, Bella Dolce, but the ambiance is far better at El Diablo, with a warm, lived-in interior and cute hipster employees. 1811 Queen Anne Avenue N.,  (206) 285-0693; online at eldiablocoffee.com.

Macrina Bakery: Macrina can be a strange beast, inspiring either fierce love or instense disdain amongst Seattleites. It's an acquired taste for certain--their cakes aren't as sweet as some of their other commercial counterparts,  and their "short" scones do tend to crumble differently than the sweet ones you'd find at say, Starbucks. And to put it bluntly, their coffee is...not good. But while our Cakespy crew doesn't love everything at Macrina, the good stuff is truly, genuinely good: rich cupcakes that blur the line between cake and truffle; beautiful iced shortbread, and perfect buttermilk biscuits with jam in the morning. Queen Anne Location, 615 W McGraw St., (206) 283-5900; online at macrinabakery.com.


Metropolitan Market: Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and Metro Market is that place for us. Located one block away from Cakespy Headquarters, this is the place that fuels our immediate sugar needs, with a surprisingly good on-site bakery, and also a large selection of pastries, ranging from local bakers like Alki Bakery, EATS Market, Essential Baking, Macrina--to baked goods and pastries from the likes of Poilâne Bakery and Cheesecake from Junior's in NYC. Swoon. Two Queen Anne Locations: 100 Mercer Street, and 1908 Queen Anne Ave. No.; online at metropolitan-market.com.
Morfey's Cake Shoppe: True, Morfey's is a special-order cake bakery (alas, no rows of cake slices or cupcakes for those just walking by), but is certainly worth mentioning. They've been around forever, and it shows, with light-as-air cakes topped with whipped buttercream frosting which invoke instant taste nostalgia. Just walking inside will give you a buzz--with just a tiny meeting area in front of the large commercial ovens, the air is thick with the smell of cakes baking. 110 Denny Way, (206) 283-8557; online at morfeyscake.com.


Nielsen's Pastries: Though this one can be hard to hit due to their bankers hours (7:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Mondays,  7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. the rest of the week, 8:00 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday, and closed on Sunday ). Nonetheless, if you find yourself here during a trip or if you're local taking a "mental health day" from work, it's worth a visit, with rich, cream filled pastries, Danish specialties and cookies like mom made--but better. Our picks are the oozy, glazey, fantastic cinnamon rolls (picture top), and the "Potato"--think of a creamy, rich, custardy eclair, then top it with a marzipan jacket and a dusting of cocoa. One Sweet Potato indeed. 520 2nd Ave W, (206) 282-3004; online at nielsenspastries.com

Pasta + Co.: When you see the the gorgeous pasta displays and splendid array of olive oils just keep on walking--they'll only divert you from the wonderful (made in-house!) lemon tarts, as well as creamy, dreamy cupcakes and sweets supplied by excellent local baker T.M. Dessert Works. 2109 Queen Anne Ave. No., (206) 283-1182; online at pastaco.com
QFC: Yes, QFC is a grocery store chain and part of the Kroger family. But we're not scared to admit that their bakery has what in our opinion is a surprisingly toothsome and tasty nanaimo bar. You'll also always be able to find a pink frosted cookie here, but not much else in their baked goods case is worth a mention in our opinion. Queen Anne Location, 500 Mercer St., (206) 352-4020; online at qfconline.com.
Teacup: This bulk tea shop is a mecca for tea lovers, ranging from tame Northwest Mint to exotic (and expensive) Pu'Erh blends and exquisite green teas. However, tea isn't the only thing that keeps us coming back--we also love their tiny tea cookies and homemade scones--supplied by Blue Dog Baking; biscotti from Dilettante is also on hand. 2207 Queen Anne Ave No.,
(206) 283-5931; online at seattleteacup.com.

Top Pot Doughnuts: Continuing their slow but steady quest in taking over the doughnut world, Top Pot just opened a new location on Upper Queen Anne, which can be teeming with families on the weekends, but is rather pleasant on weekday afternoons. While we won't say they're the best we've ever tasted, they are very, solidly good, and very dependable; also, their displays, with doughnuts like the "Pink Feather Boa", never fail to brighten our mood. But if you prefer Mighty-O's vegan donuts, they have them across the street at Caffe Fiore325 West Galer St, (206) 728-1986; online at toppotdoughnuts.com.

Uptown Espresso: Like Ladro, Uptown Espresso's baked goods are their own creations. While we can take or leave their scones, we've had very good experiences with their iced "loaf" cakes (try the pumpkin if it's available) and with their buttery, shortbready sugar cookies. Good Americano too--in the mornings, barista Kelly (on the right side) always makes us smile. 525 Queen Anne Ave No., (206) 285-5663; online at uptownespresso.net.

 

Thursday
Mar202008

Green, But Sweet: Cakespy Eats Local (Sweets) For a Week

Eat Local's Flapjack bar with a happy Clementine
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.
So, week finished, how did we feel? Truth be told, we felt pretty freakin' good. Not only do we love this movement and what it does for the environment, but it turns out that even self-proclaimed sugar freaks can love natural and organic desserts--while we liked some better than others, at no point did we feel like we were settling. Indeed, we couldn't imagine a sweeter way to help save the earth.
If you're in the Seattle area, consider yourself tres lucky--you can visit Eat Local yourself! They're located at 2400 Queen Anne Ave. No., (206) EAT-FOOD; online at eatlocalonline.com. Even if you're not in Queen Anne, they're available by for home delivery from Everett to Olympia via spud.com. (Cakespy Tip: Use promo code: Eatlocal8 to save $25 with your first deliveries.)

Eat Local in Seattle

 

Tuesday
Mar042008

Pretty In Pink: A Sweet History of the Pink Frosted Cookie

 

The Pink Frosted Cookie

Regional Specialties--what's up with them, exactly? Sure, you have the big famous ones--New York bagels, Chicago deep dish pizza, San Francisco sourdough. But what about those not-quite-as-famous ones, existing just a little bit under the radar? Those ever-present little food items that you might even stop noticing simply because they are ubiquitous--it might take a trip or a move from your hometown to raise your awareness. But why is this, exactly? Why is it that kolaches about in Texas but are sparse elsewhere, that black and white cookies reign in the Mid-Atlantic, but don't seem to exist in the Pacific Northwest? Yes, these are the questions that fill our minds and color our days here at Cakespy--and right now, that regional bee in our bonnet is The Pink Frosted Cookie.

 

If you don't live in Seattle, you might not even know about this cookie (while it exists elsewhere, we've never seen it in quite the same proliferation in our assorted travels); even if you do live in Seattle, you might not have stopped to question why it is that this confection is always around--gas stations, delis, grocery stores, drugstores--everywhere! What makes this relatively simple cookie, comprised of a rich shortbread base and a very generous, very sweet frosting topcoat, so popular? Luckily for you, we found out about its history so you don't have to.

On our path of discovery, the first thing we discovered is that the "original" pink frosted cookie was sold under the name Uncle Seth's Cookie--while various takes on it exist (including a company we like, Bite Me, Inc.), this Uncle was the Founding Father. The company (and recipe) was sold to Seattle wholesaler Mostly Muffins in 1996, and this is where we discovered this story:


Uncle Seth’s Cookie was a concept developed from a passion of fun and feeling good. From the high mountain tops of Bali came the inspiration for the feel good cookie. Danny Brown, the originator and inventor of the Original Pink, also known as an Uncle Seth Cookie, found a kindred spirit in a man named Seth. Seth moved from a crazed urban setting better known as the City, to live his dream of peace in the mountains. The namesake of the Uncle Seth Cookie gave tribute to this man named Seth who changed his life for the sake of fun and happiness. To bring a bit of that passion and fun to light, Danny created a cookie that says eat me because you can. This cookie has a good aura. After nine years of hand rolling this Danish Shortbread, Danny too, decided to head for the hills. Mostly Muffins purchased Uncle Seth’s Cookies in 1996 and Danny was off to live in Hawaii!

 

Mostly Muffins now proudly carries on the tradition of fun and feeling good by serving the Original Pink to the entire Northwest community. Eat one of the Original Pink Cookies and you can’t help but smile!

Okay, so it proves that fact can be stranger than fiction--without, of course, explaining why the cookies are so popular, or why they thrived in the Seattle region. Our theory? So happy you asked. In our minds, the first aspect is timing: the cookie got its start being sold in coffee carts just as the coffee business was starting up in earnest in Seattle; naturally, they would appeal for the same reasons that coffee is so popular in the area--the climate just begs for rich treats and coffee during those rainy days that take up oh, eight months of the year. The second and perhaps more important aspect? Duh--The frosting color. there's no secret that pink frosting tastes better than any other color.
See? You've learned something new today! And while the pink frosted cookie itself seems to be a Seattle phenomenon, we do believe that the concept behind the regional specialty is universal, so approach your local treats mindfully; whether it's strange, cute or plain scary, there's bound to be a story behind that confection!

For more information on the pink frosted cookie, visit mostlymuffins.com. Not in the Seattle area but want a pink frosted cookie? We hear you: similar-looking products can be found online here and here, or--even better, we found a recipe which is said to yield a very similar taste to the original Uncle Seth's Cookie, right here at allrecipes.com.
Cakespy Note: Want our Cake Gumshoes to research a particular baked good in your area? Let us know! Feel free to leave a suggestion for us to sleuth in the comments or via email to jessieoleson@gmail.com.

 


 

Wednesday
Dec192007

Beautiful Fusion: Columbia City Bakery's Doughnut Muffin

 

Recently, we took a journey to the Columbia City Bakery. Though we'd tried their pastries at some of the various coffee shops which they supply in the Seattle area, we wanted to see the source.

 

Now, anyone who has ever taken the bus from Queen Anne to Columbia City will understand that not just any pastry would be worth the trip. But what made it all worthwhile was our newest obsession: the Doughnut Muffin.

What is a doughnut muffin exactly? In terms of appearance, it looks more like a muffin than a doughnut, but without a cup. But instead of the slightly craggy muffin-top, this one was smooth and more cake-like, and coated with a cinnamon-sugar coating that did kind of resemble that of an old-fashioned doughnut. Its surface had a slight sheen, which made us wonder if it was fried (it's not; it's coated with a layer of butter which gives it that dewy, just-kissed-by-a-fryer look). The texture is not unlike a cake doughnut, but with a denseness that speaks more to the muffin side of things.

But most importantly, what does a doughnut muffin taste like? Well. Upon first bite, Mr. Cakespy's first words were "it tastes like a muffin...and a doughnut...all at once!". To us, this is a beautiful fusion: for one beautiful moment, as the buttery coating, crunchy cinnamon-sugar topping and cakey inside melt together in your mouth, everything else disappears.

Doughnut Muffins can be found at the Columbia City Bakery (call ahead for availability), 4865 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle; (206) 723-6023.

Happily, non-Seattleites need not despair! We located a wonderful variation on the doughnut muffin recipe (inspired in part by the above ones!) on one of our favorite Seattle foodie blogs, Orangette. Click here to see the post and recipe!


Columbia City Bakery in Seattle

 

 

 

Thursday
Nov222007

Cakewalk in the Pike Place Market

The Pike Place Market: we think you've heard of it. If you've visited Seattle, undoubtedly you dropped by; if you are planning a visit, likely it will be on your agenda. But for locals? The response many Seattleites will give is "oh, I haven't been there for a long time!". This is a truly lamentable response: this place is a treasure trove of good pastry. So whether it's your first trip or a return visit at long last, come along with Cakespy for a guide to what's what in the Pike Place Market, listed alphabetically:

Cafe Campagne: This one is a sit-down restaurant, but if you went mid-day we'll bet you could just order dessert. They keep it seasonal; choices might include a tarte tatin, hazelnut crème brûlée, or a dreamy pear clafoutis with walnut ice cream. 1600 Post Alley, (206) 728-2233; online at campagnerestaurant.com.

Chukar Cherry Co.: OK, so we always thought these looked sort of gimmicky and never tried one until someone gave us a free sample...at which point we were converted. These things are good: chocolate covered cherries, nuts and berries, and all preservative-free to boot. They're available for online purchase too. Main Arcade, just north of Athenian/Lowells restaurants; online at chukar.com.

Cinnamon Works: With a bent toward organic and vegan baked goods, the pastries here are large enough to share and they have a great open kitchen so you can watch them work. For us, the standout is their pumpkin cookies, which are really more like scones or small cakes, with a glaze frosting that might make your eyes glaze over with happiness. 1530 Pike Pl.; (206) 583-0085.

The Confectional: These people know what they're doing. Their cheesecakes (in various sizes as well as truffle versions) are rich, velvety and have an absolutely perfect cheesecake-to-crust ratio. But don't dare leave without trying the spicy Colombian hot chocolate, which is akin to liquid gold. 1530 Pike Pl., (206) 282-4422; online at theconfectional.com. (Check out our Batter Chatter interview with owner Paul Verano too!).

Crepe de France: We like it when a pastry can go either sweet or savory, and crepes are just such a dish. Why not have their popular salmon, cream cheese, onion and dill with Bechamel sauce for lunch or dinner, and then try owner Nany Price's favorite for dessert: a sweet crepe filled with fresh strawberries, nutella and whipped cream. 93 Pike St., Ste 4; (206) 624-2196.

The Crumpet Shop: We are always surprised but charmed by the constant state of disarray here: with just a few regular kitchen toasters to complete a mass volume of orders, it's always a jumble...but we love them anyway. Their crumpets are just the way they ought to be, craggy and toasty; scones are buttery, biscuity and delicious, but often sell out well before teatime. 1503 First Ave.; (206) 682-1598.

Daily Dozen Donut Co: Cute punk rockers frying up sweet treats and shaking them with powdered sugar to order...we think that says it all! If it doesn't though, check out our Doughnut Guide to Seattle. 93 Pike St. Ste. 7; (206) 467-7769.

DeLaurenti: Their bakery is largely comprised of goodies from good local places (Le Panier, Essential Baking Company, Macrina); however, the cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and butter) and brownies, which are a rich delight, are made in-house every day. 1435 First Ave.; (206) 622-0141; online at delaurenti.com.

La Buona Tavola: Mostly a truffle (not chocolate) cafe, but don't pass it by. It's worth a visit for their gorgeous chestnut spreads: either sweet chestnut cream, or chestnut with almond, honey and hazelnut. They'll brighten up your toast at breakfast for sure. They're available online too! 1524 Pike Pl.; (206) 292-5555; online at trufflecafe.com.

Le Panier: Translated, this means "bread basket"; the bakery was started by a Frenchman who missed his daily baguette and croissant. It's very Frenchy, combining elements of both boulangerie and patisserie: racks of freshly baked loaves flanked by alluring cases of charlotte citron, eclairs, charlotte framboise, macarons and palmiers. 1902 Pike Pl.; (206) 441-3669; online at lepanier.com.

Local Color: When you walk in here, you remember how cool Seattle was in the 90's. Vita Coffee and decent (but not excessively memorable) pastries...but excellent people-watching. Sneak in a cookie from Cinnamon Works and you're golden. 1600 Pike St., (206) 728-1717.

Matt's in the Market: Another sit-down place. We once asked the waiter "what dessert's good here?" and when he said "Oh, the bread pudding," his voice became...softer. Dreamy. And this is a dreamy pudding: custardy and carbohydratey, and very much worth saving room for. 94 Pike St., Ste. 32; (206) 467-7909; online at mattsinthemarket.com.

Mee Sum Pastry: Even though they have savory ingredients like pork and chicken, the hombows are sweet enough that they blur the line between dinner and dessert; but we go there for the almond cookies of varying sizes, from thumbrint-sized to big-as-your-head. 1526 Pike Pl. at Post Alley; (206) 682-6780.

Mr. D's Greek Delicacies: Sometimes, you want the taste of honey. At those times, go straight to Mr. D's, where they have a classic baklava and greek pastries. They are kept close to the falafel and meats though, so we think they taste better earlier in the day. 1518 Pike Pl.; (206) 622-4881; online at mrdsgreekdelicacies.net.

Pappardelle's Pasta: Pasta for dessert? Okay. Don't miss this homemade pasta stand; one of their bestsellers is their dark chocolate linguine. Make it as you would regular pasta, but then top it with ice cream and strawberries for an unexpectedly sweet treat. Happily, it's available for purchase online too (also check out the web site for some recipe suggestions and where to find Pappardelle's Pasta at Farmer's Market locations throughout the US). 1501 Pike Pl., Ste. 8; (206) 340-4114; online at pappardellesonline.com.

Pike Place Bakery: They have an amazing array of baked goods, from divinity to enormous donuts to exceedingly rich (and exceedingly delicious) iced brownies. Their cakes are big and homey looking, and remind several of our spies of the cakes from neighborhood Italian bakeries from the East Coast. 1501 Pike Pl.; (206) 682-2829; pikeplacebakery.com.

Piroshky Piroshky: The lines stretch long on the weekends in front of this Russian bakery, and why not: the view from their small streetside window is very engaging, with doughy yeast pastries waiting to go in the oven, as well as strangely appetizing and fascinating shellacked samples of what's available inside. But what will really get you is the smell as you walk by: the buttery, cheesy, yeasty air that emanates is very hard to resist. 1901 Pike Pl; (206) 441-6068; online at piroshkybakery.com.

Starbucks: Call them the big bad corporation, but we've always found their drip coffee to be hot, strong and consistent, whereas (it has to be said) at some other coffee locations, your coffee might only be as good as the barista's mood. But don't go here for pastry: they don't have a bakery case, only a small selection of impulse-buy cookies by the register. So do go in for a coffee, but you've got bigger and better cakes to seek. 1912 Pike Pl.; online at starbucks.com.

Three Girls Bakery: On one visit, Head Spy Jessie asked for "just a chocolate drop", to which the response was "they're not just chocolate drops." How true. The cookies and pastries look like standard fare here, but when you bite into them, they're a step above. There's a reason why they're one of the oldest businesses in the market. 1514 Pike Pl.; (206) 622-1045.

Honorable Mention: Beecher's Cheese Because this is a pastry blog, we're putting them as honorable mention, but their cheeses are a treasure in their own right; and hey, you need protein to counter that sigar high, so why not get it here? Some days, you can even see the cheese being made in enormous vats, which are visible through large windows. It's hypnotic. 1600 Pike Pl.; (206) 956-1964; online at beechershandmadecheese.com. For more information on the Pike Place Market, visit pikeplacemarket.org.

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Wednesday
Nov212007

Out, Damned Speck!: Cupcake Pendants by Dottyspeck (Via Cakespy Seattle)

At Cakespy, we like to think that we wear our love for cakes like a badge on our sleeve.

However, now we want to wear it like a necklace around our neck, having spied this awesome necklace by Dottyspeck, the company run by Seattle-based metalsmith Kim Williamson. Williamson's work is cute but manages to run more toward sophisticated and slightly tongue in cheek than "cutesy". This pendant, which retails for $68, could just as easily dress up, adding a little bit of fun to a little black dress, as it could dress down, proclaiming your cupcake love in a hoodie and jeans.

Either way, it's going to make life a little sweeter.

Available at Fancy, Fancy 1914 2nd Ave., in Belltown, Seattle. For non-Seattleites, they'll do mail order too; contact them through fancyjewels.com.

Thursday
Nov152007

Doughnut Stop Believin': A Doughnut Guide to Seattle

Picture this: a drizzly, foggy, and grey day in Seattle. Oh, wait: it's November! We have at least five more months of this to look forward to. But no need to hightail it to the Aurora Bridge quite yet. We know what will cheer you up: sweet, hot, cakey doughnuts. No matter where you are in Seattle, surely one of these places will beckon.

Cakespy Note: Doughnut or Donut? Both are valid in our mind, so we've tailored it to reflect what each establishment calls their version of this holey, wholly delightful treat.

Countryside Donut House: If you like Krispy Kreme's lighter texture, but want more flavor, this is your place; it has an extremely dedicated following and couple of locations, although none directly in the city. 11613 124th Ave NE Ste E at NE 116th St., Kirkland; 21919 66th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace.

Dahlia Lounge / Lola: Both of these Tom Douglas restaurants, perched on either side of Fourth Avenue at Virginia, have beautiful mini-doughnuts on their menu which are unexpectedly rich and delicious; they're like doughnuts on a higher plain, served with sides like vanilla marscapone and seasonal jam. Call ahead to confirm availability. Dahlia Lounge, 2001 Fourth Ave.; Lola, 2000 Fourth Ave.; both at the corner of Virginia St; online at tomdouglas.com.

Daily Dozen Donut Co.: Watch cute punk rockers dole out cute mini donuts? Yes please. These lilliputian donuts are simple and unpretentious, usually available in plain, cinnamon-sugar or "fancy" with sprinkles--they're best hot, and we'll admit to a certain thrill when they shake the brown takeaway bags open with a snap. 93 Pike St., Pike Place Market (right across from DeLaurenti).


Family Doughnut:
Perched near the freeway exit and next to a 7-11 in Northgate, it's not going to win for ambiance, but the doughnuts are so good, they will frequently sell out early on Sundays. Ridiculously cheap: most doughnuts are under one dollar. Cake Gumshoe Allison suggests the "old fashioned" doughnuts. 2100 N. Northgate Way, Unit S (at Meridian).

Mighty-O Donuts: They're vegan, so basically they're health food, right? Sure, if that's what you need to tell yourself. Get a donut here, vegan or not; they have a delightful denseness which is very comforting on a cool day and lovely with warm (soy) milk. Our favorite is the lemon poppy cake donut, although we hear that they've got killer pumpkin donuts too around this time of year. 2110 N. 55th St.; online at mightyo.com.

Pike Place Bakery: Although they are a full-service bakery, one of their signature products is their "Texas-sized" donuts, which are so big that you wouldn't dare finish one in front of someone (although at home, alone, you might). We recommend the maple donut. 1501 Pike Place; online at pikeplacebakery.com.

Top Pot Doughnuts: It's true; Top Pot supplies doughnuts to Starbucks. Does this lessen quality? Not so, as proven by our recent doughnut experiment. We favor the Belltown location for its coziness and quirky building, but Capitol Hill and Wedgwood both have their loyal followers (hipsters and families, respectively). They have a great variety of flavors; whether it's the chocolate sandcastle or a Homer Simpson-worthy pink frosted cake doughnut, be sure to try an ovaltine latte too; they're amazing. Various locations; online at toppotdoughnuts.com.

Winchell's: Sometimes, we've been known to just go in here and sniff the sweet air, and then leave just as quickly. While we don't think their donuts are the best in Seattle, we wouldn't say they're terrible. And if we have to buy one every once in a while just to preserve that sweet smell along 45th Street...then so be it. 211 NE 45th St.; online at winchells.com.

Bonus Buy: Need a mascot for your tasting adventures? Invest in a felt doughnut made by Seattle-based Sew Dorky. Available at Bluebottle Art Gallery, 415 E. Pine St.; online at bluebottleart.com.

Also: a must-visit for any doughnut/donut lover is theblognut.net. Just go, you'll see.


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Saturday
Nov102007

Out, Damned Speck!: Cupcake Necklace by Dottyspeck

At Cakespy, we like to think that we wear our love for cakes like a badge on our sleeve.

However, now we want to wear it like a necklace around our neck, having spied this awesome necklace by Dottyspeck, the company run by Seattle-based metalsmith Kim Williamson. Williamson's work is cute but manages to run more toward sophisticated and slightly tongue in cheek than "cutesy". This pendant could just as easily dress up, adding a little bit of fun to a little black dress; or it could dress down, proclaiming your cupcake love in a hoodie and jeans.

Either way it will make life a little sweeter.

Available at Fancy,

Jewelry designed and handcrafted
by seattle based metalsmith
Kim Williamson

http://www.dottyspeck.com/

Saturday
Nov102007

Cakewalk in the Pike Place Market


The Pike Place Market: we think you've heard of it. If you've visited Seattle, undoubtedly you dropped by; if you are planning a visit, likely it will be on your agenda. But for locals? The response many Seattleites will give is "oh, I haven't been there for a long time!". This is truly lamentable, because this place is a treasure trove of good pastry. Whether it's your first trip or a return visit at long last, come along with Cakespy for a guide to what's what in the Pike Place Market, listed alphabetically:

Cafe Campagne: This one is a sit-down restaurant, but if you went mid-day we'll bet you could just order dessert. They keep it seasonal; choices might include a tarte tatin, hazelnut crème brûlée, or a dreamy pear clafoutis with walnut ice cream. 1600 Post Alley, (206) 728-2233; online at campagnerestaurant.com.

Chukar Cherry Co.: OK, so we always thought these looked sort of gimmicky and never tried one until someone gave us a free sample...at which point we were converted. These things are good: chocolate covered cherries, nuts and berries, and all preservative-free to boot. They're available for online purchase too. Main Arcade, just north of Athenian/Lowells restaurants; online at chukar.com.

Cinnamon Works: With a bent toward organic and vegan baked goods, the pastries here are large enough to share and they have a great open kitchen so you can watch them work. For us, the standout is their pumpkin cookies, which are really more like scones or small cakes, with a glaze frosting that might make your eyes glaze over with happiness. 1530 Pike Place; (206) 583-0085.

The Confectional: These people know what they're doing. Their cheesecakes (in various sizes as well as truffle versions) are rich, velvety and have an absolutely perfect cheesecake-to-crust ratio. But don't dare leave without trying the spicy Colombian hot chocolate, which is akin to liquid gold. 1530 Pike Place, (206) 282-4422; online at theconfectional.com. (Check out our Batter Chatter interview with owner Paul Verano too!).

Crepe de France: We like it when a pastry can go either sweet or savory, and crepes are just such a dish. Why not have their popular salmon, cream cheese, onion and dill with Bechamel sauce for lunch or dinner, and then try owner Nany Price's favorite for dessert: a sweet crepe filled with fresh strawberries, nutella and whipped cream. 93 Pike St., Ste 4; (206) 624-2196.

The Crumpet Shop: We are always surprised but charmed by the constant state of disarray here: with just a few regular kitchen toasters to complete a mass volume of orders, it's always a jumble...but we love them anyway. Their crumpets are just the way they ought to be, craggy and toasty; scones are buttery, biscuity and delicious, but often sell out well before teatime. 1503 First Ave.; (206) 682-1598.

Daily Dozen Donut Co: Cute punk rockers frying up sweet treats and shaking them with powdered sugar to order...we think that says it all! If it doesn't though, check out our Doughnut Guide to Seattle. 93 Pike St. Suite 7; (206) 467-7769.

DeLaurenti: Their bakery is largely comprised of goodies from good local places (Le Panier, Essential Baking Company, Macrina); however, the cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and butter) and brownies, which are a rich delight, are made in-house every day. 1435 First Ave.; (206) 622-0141; online at delaurenti.com.

La Buona Tavola: Mostly a truffle (not chocolate) cafe, but don't pass it by. It's worth a visit for their gorgeous chestnut spreads: either sweet chestnut cream, or chestnut with almond, honey and hazelnut. They'll brighten up your toast at breakfast for sure. They're available online too! 1524 Pike Pl.; (206) 292-5555; online at trufflecafe.com.

Le Panier: Translated, this means "bread basket"; the bakery was started by a Frenchman who missed his daily baguette and croissant. It's very Frenchy, combining elements of both boulangerie and patisserie: racks of freshly baked loaves flanked by alluring cases of charlotte citron, eclairs, charlotte framboise, macarons and palmiers. 1902 Pike Pl.; (206) 441-3669; online at lepanier.com.

Local Color: When you walk in here, you remember how cool Seattle was in the 90's. Vita Coffee and decent (but not excessively memorable) pastries...but excellent people-watching. Sneak in a cookie from Cinnamon Works and you're golden. 1600 Pike St., (206) 728-1717.

Matt's in the Market: Another sit-down place. We once asked the waiter "what dessert's good here?" and when he said "Oh, the bread pudding", his voice became...softer. Dreamy. And this is a dreamy pudding: custardy and carbohydratey, you'll find room.

Mee Sum Pastry: Their hombows are sweet enough to almost be pastry; but our favorite thing here is their almond cookies of varying sizes, from thumbrint-sized to big-as-your-head. 1526 Pike Pl. at Post Alley; (206) 682-6780.

Mr. D's Greek Delicacies: Sometimes, you want the taste of honey. At those times, go straight to Mr. D's, where they have a classic baklava and greek pastries. They are kept close to the falafel and meats though, so we think they taste better earlier in the day. 1518 Pike Pl.; (206) 622-4881; online at mrdsgreekdelicacies.net.

Pan Africa Cafe: Owned by Mulugeta Abate Yes, this one is a restaurant, but their cornbread is excellent. Plus they offer classes in African cookery.

Pappardelle's Pasta: Pasta for dessert? Okay. Don't miss this homemade pasta stand; one of their bestsellers is their dark chocolate linguine. Make it as you would regular pasta, but then top it with ice cream and strawberries for an unexpectedly sweet treat. 206-340-4114

Pike Place Bakery: They have an amazing array of baked goods. Their cakes are big and remind us of Italian neighborhood bakeries. but we love their divinity , brownies and crumb cakes. 1501 Pike Place; 206.682.2829; pikeplacebakery.com

Piroshky Piroshky: The lines stretch long on the weekends in front of this Russian bakery, owned and operated since 1992 by Oliver and Olga Kotelnikov and why not--you can see the doughy yeast pastries waiting to go in the oven, and the buttery, cheesy smell that emanates is near irresistible.

Starbucks: Call them the big bad corporation, but we've always found their drip coffee to be hot and strong--sometimes that coporate consistency is nice. But don't go here for pastry--they don't have the normal display like most starbucks stores, only the impulse-buy cookies by the register. While we do like their shortbread cookies, it's the Pike Place Market, and you can do better.

Three Girls Bakery: On one visit, Head Spy Jessie asked for "just a chocolate drop", to which the response was "they're not just chocolate drops." How true. The cookies and pastries look like standard fare here, but when you bite into them, they're a step above. There's a reason why they're one of the oldest businesses in the market.

Honorable Mention: Beecher's Cheese Because this is a pastry blog, we're putting them as honorable mention, but their cheeses are a real treasure; and hey, you need protein to counter that sigar high, so why not get it here?

Monday
Nov052007

The Land of Bread and Chocolate: The Bread and Chocolate Bar by Theo Chocolate (Via Cakespy Seattle)

 

What is it about bread and chocolate? Mireille Guiliano (author of French Women Don't Get Fat and French Women for All Seasons) cites them as her biggest weaknesses. For Cakespy? More like biggest pleasures. And we've found a great way for carb lovers to combine these desires into one taste experience: The Bread and Chocolate Bar, a 3400 Phinney Chocolate Factory imprint of Theo Chocolate.

We first learned about this bar while taking the tour of Theo Chocolate on a Sunday afternoon. Well, to be more specific, Mr. Cakespy, Danny, learned about the bar; our head spy Jessie, who couldn't take the heat, had to leave the tour after nearly fainting. Not the chocolate company's fault; she hadn't eaten lunch and that much of a chocolate smell wafting in the air would probably make anyone swoon.

However, the Bread and Chocolate bar was just the thing to bring her back to life: a rich dark chocolate bar with little buttery bits of toasted bread and crunchy cocoa nibs. Sound weird? Well, not really. Just think of it like the crunch of a Nestle Crunch bar, but much, much higher quality. Take a bite, and stop doubting altogether.

Total carb heaven.

These bars, as well as several other flavors and chocolate products, are available for purchase at theochocolate.com, as well as at several nicer grocery stores; you'll recognize the
unique packaging.

Are you in Seattle or visiting soon? Public tours are available seven days a week at 1pm and 3pm, with an additional 11am tour on Saturday and Sunday. The tour is $5 per person ages 5 and older. Reservations are recommended. To make a reservation please call (206) 632-5100.

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