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Entries in washington (29)

Saturday
Apr022011

Just Ducky: Mallard Ice Cream, Bellingham WA

Ice cream is not my kryptonite.

Don't get me wrong, I like ice cream. But it's usually something that I enjoy along with a baked good: cake or pie a la mode. But for whatever reason, while making a trek to Bellingham to deliver artwork for my solo show at The Paperdoll, with about 43 miles to go to Bellingham, I got an odd craving for the cool and creamy stuff.

Happily, I was headed into good hands: Bellingham boasts Mallard ice cream, the type of place that locals love and others will travel especially to taste. In fact, while paying the parking meter outside, I heard no less than three people walk by and remark "I love this place!".

When it came to choosing, I evaluated the choices carefully. They had a variety of flavors, including classics, unexpected twists, and even vegan flavors. They also had a pony on the wall, which was slightly distracting (in a good way).

Ultimately I settled on a childhood staple: Oreo Mint. 

It wasn't green (I do love me some green ice cream) but I was able to forgive them, because it was very, very good. The ice cream was rich, luxuriant, and very creamy; the mintiness was ably backed by the creamy cookies which were mashed up this way and that, with plenty of sizeable chunks rendered soft and lick-able by virtue of being surrounded by ice cream.

While standing outside with my cone, no less than three more people stopped to commend me on my good choice, saying "I Love that place.".

Well, I can see why.

Visit them next time you're in Bellingham. 1323 Railroad Ave, Bellingham, WA; online here.

Mallard Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Friday
Mar252011

Sweet Farm: Farm to Market Bakery in Bow, WA

Remember how I told you about my favorite farm in the world, Breadfarm, in Bow, WA?

Well, right down the street there's another farm-themed purveyor of delicious baked goods--Farm to Market Bakery.

It is a very hippie-looking place when you walk in, and you can tell that they are probably very responsible about things like composting, recycling, and sewing their own clothes and stuff.

But what really drew this spy in was the impressive array of freshly baked goods, mostly quite large in scale (what can I say, size does matter sometimes): cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, bars and cookies, and so on. They were, oddly, out of bread on the day of my visit, but were being good neighbors and suggesting that customers seeking bread venture over to Breadfarm. (Good form, in my opinion). 

The spy's pick? A black-bottom cupcake, featuring a deep, dark chocolate base and a chocolate chip-studded cream cheese top. The texture was on the dry side--but not to a fault, more in a "you want to pair it with coffee" sort of way. The taste was not over-sweet, making it a nice choice for a decadent but not sugar rush-y type of breakfast, but it didn't quite venture into after-meal dessert territory.

A very sweet find, and a very charming establishment--this spy looks forward to a return visit!

14003 Gilmore Avenue, Bow, WA; find directions here.

Farm To Market Bakery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Mar092011

CakeSpy Undercover: Breadfarm, Bow, WA 

They say (and by "they" I mean "I") that bad things happen when you leave the city.

However, I was proven delightfully and deliciously wrong on a recent jaunt outside of the city limits to Bow, WA (I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I don't know how it's pronounced), when I was rewarded with the sweet carbohydratey bliss that is Breadfarm.

First off: Breadfarm. The very word is just gorgeous! I don't know about you, but I find the idea of a Breadfarm far more romantic than the idea of some regular farm with chickens and cows and manure and stuff.

What to expect when you walk in: you will be hit with a wave of warm air redolent of bread baking with a soupcon of something sweet. It's really quite pleasant. You'll see a bunch of hippie-hipster types in the back cutting scones, kneading bread, and mixing batter. This is also quite a pleasant sight.

But there's something even more interesting right in front of you: a gorgeously stocked bakery case, full of homemade bread in various forms: boules, baguettes, buns, and other types that don't start with the letter "b" , in a variety of flavors ranging from the expected hippie wheat and multigrain to more unexpected flavors like apple, ginger raisin or fig anise. But even more importantly, there are plenty of sweet treats. Breadfarm boasts a full baked good menu including Babka, cupcakes in chocolate and gingerbread, and an impressive array of cookies. 

The spy selections included a variety of said cookies: a peanut butter sandwich cookie, a cacao nib cookie, and a Fredonia Fig Bar.

The peanut butter was the favorite of the bunch, with a crisp, peanut buttery crunch on the outside giving way to a soft and creamy peanut butter filling. Lightly salty and nicely buttery, this cookie was definitely a winner.

The cacao nib cookie was also quite nicely appointed: crisp on the edges, soft on the inside, and with a unique, nutty-buttery-slightly bittersweet chocolatey flavor from the nibs. Nom. Above, it is pictured with what appears to be a lightpost with a sweater knitted around it (how sweet!).

The Fredonia Fig bar was tasty, but erred slightly more toward health food territory in this spy's opinion, falling somewhere between a granola bar and fig newton. I would say this would be an excellent breakfast cookie, but fell a little short for mid-day sugar cravings.

Breadfarm, 5766 Cains Court, Bow WA; online at breadfarm.com.

Wednesday
Dec222010

Oh Mia Word: Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes by Mia's Cupcakes, Bellingham, WA

Photo of cupcakes by Mia's Cupcakes (not the ones I ate, but similar in appearance)Bad news for cupcakes: Red Robin has added them to their menu. I have to say, I'm filing this as a "jumped the shark" moment.

Happily, on the same day I heard aforementioned news, I also received a surprise delivery of delicious cupcakes to the store from Mia's Cupcakes of Bellingham, WA. Now, you must know that I was primed to like the cupcakes made by someone was so passionate about their baking, and about sharing their baked goods, that they trekked to Seattle with them and hand-delivered me a batch. And someone who shopped at my store too. Yeah!

But you know what? The cupcakes were really amazing, and not simply because of the circumstances mentioned above (though, you know, it didn't hurt).

So, let's talk about the goods: vegan dark chocolate cupcakes, with (dairy) peppermint frosting. A beautiful marriage of dark and light, these cupcakes hit the perfect contrast in both color and in flavor, with a dark, moist (yet not oily or over-dense) cake paired with a light yet decidedly buttery swirl of subtly peppermint-y buttercream. It's the kind of flavor that somehow goes down very easily after a rich meal (as we found after the first annual CakeSpy employee dinner party at Cheeky Cafe in Seattle) and yet doesn't leave you with a sugar-hangover sort of feeling. 

If you're in Bellingham, seek out this special-order bakery, toute-sweet. Yes, I said that.

Mia's Cupcakes, Bellingham, WA; find 'em on Facebook!

Thursday
Jan142010

Do or Donut: The German Chocolate Cake Donut from Rocket Donuts, Bellingham WA

Every so often, a donut comes along that can only be described as a holey experience.

And this baby is worth a pilgrimage to Rocket Donuts in Bellingham, Washington: The German Chocolate Cake Donut. 

Now, the whole theory behind Rocket Donuts, which boasts a cool, sci-fi inspired interior, is that "donuts just ain't serious business"--the idea being that donuts are an indulgence, something fun, and something to be enjoyed. No, they're not healthy, but they do you good. 

But while they claim not to take themselves seriously, the donuts are indeed serious business. With a gorgeous display filled with varieties including a perfect Homer Simpson pink frosted cake donut with sprinkes, pretty crullers, several vegan options, and even a devilish maple bacon bar (not one of the vegan options), deciding on just a couple of flavors was difficult. 

Ultimately, we (myself and CakeSpy buddy Nicole) chose several cake varieties, including the chocolate frosted cake with coconut on top, the Homer Simpson (my term, not theirs), and the donut of the month, the German Chocolate Cake.

While all flavors had a dense and flavorful crumb, the flavor of the month really took the cake. The donut itself had an understated chocolate flavor which wasn't overpowering, but rather perfectly balanced by a thick slathering of traditional coconut-rich German chocolate cake frosting, which added moisture and richness to every bite. The sweet little cherry on top not only added an extra dose of sweetness, but it sure was cute too (and cuteness cannot be underrated in baked goods).

To sum it all up? When classic cake flavor meets cake donut, each bite is like a little jaunt to Bliss City. Of course, if you don't like coconut, bet you wouldn't turn away one of these:

Rocket Donuts, 306 W. Holly St. (Corner of Holly and Bay, Downtown Bellingham), 360.671.6111; online at rocketdonuts.com.

Rocket Donuts on Urbanspoon

Monday
Oct192009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Kath Mitchell and Winter Niemeyer of Samudra Yoga, Coffee, Tea and Treats

Samudra, Photo used thanks to Rakka
CakeSpy Note: This interview is a special guest post from Cake Gumshoe Kris, who also happens to be a pretty swell artist!


Kath Mitchell and Winter Niemeyer are a mother daughter powerhouse of incredibleness. They recently opened their bakery/yoga studio, Samudra Yoga, Coffee, Tea and Treats near Evergreen Park in Bremerton, WA and have quickly become a neighborhood staple. I recently sat down with these lovely ladies to get the scoop on their shop.

Cakespy: I realize that you must be tired of this question but, for people who are being introduced to Samudra Coffee, Tea , Treats and Yoga, what made you decide to include yoga as a part your business?
Winter: For us it was a perfect combo because we're into both food and yoga. Mom (Kath) has been interested in yoga for the last six years and has been a certified yoga instructor since 2006. We'd always talked about opening a bakery/coffee shop together. Some people don't get it at first but, for us, it melds together really well. It seemed really natural.

 

CS: Another thing that I feel sets you apart from other bakeries and coffee shops is your commitment to sustainability. Could you elaborate on what you've done to your shop to make it green?
WN: Structurally all the surfaces inside were repainted with zero VOC paint. The walls in the yoga studio are insulated with recycled denim. All of the yoga mats are recycled rubber and all blocks are either buckwheat filled or cork.
Many of the light fixtures and the tiki bar reception desk are repurposed as are all of our chairs.
Our pastry case was donated to my dad. It's over 100 years old and originally from a country store. We redid the entire thing spending many 12 hour days sanding it before eventually repowdercoating it.
Additionally, all of our baking equipment is energy efficient. Our coffee, teas and syrups are organic and fair trade certified. During the summer we had tons of local produce, apples, pears, berries.
All of our "to go" materials (coffee cups, napkins, etc) are all compostable and made of recycled materials. Except for the coffee cup lids but we are looking for a source.

CS: Let's get to the sweet stuff: do you have a favorite item that you love to bake?
WN: Marionberry breakfast bars are my own recipe and they're pretty popular. I could make bacon cheddar scones in my sleep! They're a family recipe and I've been making them forever. Cupcakes are fun too. I can ice a cupcake like no one's business!
Kath Mitchell: It's not a favorite item but I just love coming in to bake when it's dark, the moon's up and I make myself my first coffee in peace. It's meditative to me to get up that early in the morning. It's very quiet. I really love it!

CS: What are some of your most popular baked goods? Can you recommend a beverage to pair with them?
WN: Our bacon cheddar scones are usually gone by noon! I'd recommend a cup of coffee with one of them. It's kinda' like breakfast, hearty and like a meal unto itself. People get mad if we don't have bacon cheddar scones!
Irish carbomb cupcakes go well with a glass of milk. You don't want anything heavier than that.


KM: Maybe a regular irish carbomb? Or just drop the cupcake in a glass of Guinness!

 

WN: Three of our most popular cookies are salted oatmeal cookie with white chocolate which I'd pair with a plain vanilla latte,
KM: or a cup of tea!
WN: honey molasses cookies with chipotle. If you're gonna go spicy, I'd say go with a Costa Rican latte with cinnamon and chipotle.
Oh! And our ginger bread biscotti. I just had that with a capuccino. It's fantastic to dunk it!

CS: Has owning a bakery changed your view of baked goods? Are you able to enjoy, say, a slice of pie or a cookie or do you find yourself professionally critiquing it while you're eating?
WN: I'll be honest, I'm not gonna' just go to the grocery store for cake but I've never been that way. When I'm working, I don't find that I have sweet tooth any more. I now crave something like a carrot raisin muffin or granola. I eat our granola every day.
We still love going to Seattle bakeries. We fully appreciate what other people come up with that's new or different. It's fun to see what other people make!
KM: I've never bought baked goods unless it was from an awesome place. I really appreciate it when it's done well. You have to pay attention to detail and have some enjoyment in what you're doing. It really comes through. People can't believe that we make everything here on site and we're, like, "where else would be make it?!"

CS: Do you have any advice for someone who is considering opening their own bakery?
WN: Don't skimp on ingredients! We always knew from the beginning that we would have to pay a little more for high quality chocolate and different butters or for soy products for our vegan pastries. But you have to make that commitment. Even though it'll be a little costlier, it works out in the end.

Also realize that you'll make mistakes. Don't take it too personally when things go wrong. Next time you'll know better!

Don't be afraid to diversify a bit. We've had good luck with special orders. Lots of people have been ordering from our bakery for birthday parties and get togethers which is something that we didn't expect!


Facebook and other social networking sites are also important. It's great to see people say "That's my fave!" when we post a picture.

 

CS: You've recently hosted both a Green Drinks event and an Environmental Film Festival. Do you have any more upcoming events?
WN: September was insane! We're trying to catch our breath before the holidays.
But speaking of holidays, on Thanksgiving we're having a free yoga class with a canned food or monetary donation for the food bank. You can stick a turkey in the oven and take yoga for an hour and half before the holiday madness sets in!

Want more? Naturally. Samudra Yoga, Coffee, Tea and Treats is located at 1223 McKenzie Avenue, Bremerton, WA; connect with them online via Facebook and Twitter too!
Samudra Yoga, Coffee, Tea & Treats on Urbanspoon

 

Friday
Sep182009

CakeSpy Undercover: A Cake Gumshoe's Thoughts on Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes, Renton WA

Peppermint Patty Cupcake, Common Ground, Renton
CakeSpy Note: Since it had been a while since I sampled the cupcakes from Common Ground, I was delighted to see a new review on their current offerings via this guest blog post from Cake Gumshoe Roxanne Cooke. Check out her website here!

Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes in Renton offers a variety of interesting cupcake flavors and uses fresh, local ingredients—the perfect recipe for a small downtown cupcakery.

Mini cupcakes cost $1; large are $2; and “Special Occasion” cupcakes cost $2.50 to $3. The shop produces its homemade cupcakes on-site and uses locally produced cream and sweet butter, according to its Web site. Common Ground uses Caffe D'arte in their espresso offerings—and even makes a Caffe D’arte cupcake with latte-flavored frosting. Smoothies and bubble teas are other tasty options, especially the avocado bubble tea.

Inside Common Ground, there’s plenty of seating and even a corner with children’s toys. Though it was usually full, there was never a long wait to order. The décor and atmosphere seemed hip and yet homey. Baristas were friendly and prompt but not pushy. The mini cupcakes sit on a tray near the main display case, where the large cupcakes are presented neatly and labeled clearly.

On my first visit, I went for one of my favorite combinations: chocolate and mint. Once I took a bite of the Peppermint Patty cupcake (pictured top), I savored everything about it. This was one of the most delicious I’ve had. It felt heavy in my hand, and the cake was very dense, moist, and flavorful. The frosting wasn’t too sweet, but instead complemented the cake well, with just the right amount on top. I could have done without the nonpareils, though they look cute.

My second visit took place on a very warm day. I bought a Strawberry Fondue cupcake and “The Smoothie” cupcake to go. Unfortunately, the beautiful strawberry banana frosting on The Smoothie didn’t fare well in my hot car, so I won’t be reviewing it. However, the Strawberry Fondue cake fared just fine. The frosting was a tad too sweet, but the cake was still moist and yummy. On a later trip I noticed real strawberries on these cupcakes—I bet that would have added an extra oomph.

"Sweet Sixteen" Cupcake, Common Ground Cupcakes, Renton
On my final trip to Common Ground, I tried the Sweet Sixteen and Double Dutch. The Sweet Sixteen, covered in pink frosting and flaked coconut, had a great texture, but the frosting was too sweet for me. The white cake was fine, though a bit plain compared to the topping!
"Double Dutch" Cupcake, Common Ground, Renton
Dutch chocolate frosting and chocolate cake—how could you go wrong? Well, I was spoiled by the Peppermint Patty, and so I was slightly disappointed that this cake wasn’t as rich and dense. It was still good and chocolaty, though, with flavorful frosting.

Since this shop offers seasonal cupcake flavors, I plan to go back and check them out this fall. It’s a cute place with nice staff and a wide variety of drink options and cupcake flavors. Hard to resist when it’s only a few miles from your office!

Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes, 900 South 3rd St., Unit A, Renton; online at commongroundcupcakes.com.

For more of Roxanne Cooke's work, check out her website here.

Do you want to be a Cake Gumshoe too? Feel free to submit bakery reviews or great baked good related finds (with pictures, please) to jessieoleson@gmail.com.

Sunday
Jul052009

CakeSpy Undercover: A Cake Gumshoe's Thoughts on Indulge Cupcakes in Puyallup, WA

Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke
CakeSpy Note: This is a guest blog post from Cake Gumshoe Roxanne Cooke. Check out her website here!

Live life one cupcake at a time.
Keep calm and have a cupcake.
Are you checking out my cupcake?


Inside Indulge Cupcakes in Puyallup, you’ll find a variety of cupcake sayings, as well as a variety of cupcake flavors. Indulging here is simple.

 

Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke
The bakers at Indulge have the classics covered: vanilla with chocolate or vanilla buttercream, chocolate with vanilla or chocolate buttercream, and red velvet with vanilla buttercream.

Indulge also offers chocolate chip mint, lemon with lemon cream cheese frosting, cinnamon swirl, caramel macchiato, and orange dreamsicle. The lemon and orange dreamsicle cupcakes have freshly squeezed juice in their batters.

The shop sells a few specialty cupcakes, including carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, coconut with coconut buttercream, cherry chip, and strawberry shortcake.
Regular cupcakes cost $2.80 and specialty cupcakes are $3.75. The rest of the menu is devoted to drinks: espresso, tea, and smoothies. There’s a shelf full of cupcake-themed items, including cards and cupcake-shaped ceramic containers. Indulge also rents its space for events, such as baby showers.


On two separate occasions in June, I visited the downtown Puyallup shop with a friend. On our first visit, it was near closing time, and we ordered the chocolate chip mint and red velvet. Both were a bit dry, but we chalked this up to the late hour. The frosting, while beautifully done, was a bit sugary for our taste buds.
Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke
Before leaving, I bought a cherry chip cupcake to go and kept it in my fridge for a few days before tasting it. The cupcake was yellow on the outside and pink on the inside. It was moist and sweet, but not overpowering.

 

Cupcake from Indulge Cupcakes, Puyallup WA

On our second visit, we arrived early in the day and tried the caramel macchiato and carrot cake cupcakes. The caramel macchiato (pictured directly above), featuring a coffee bean on top and caramel syrup swirled over the frosting, had a delicious coffee flavor, but the frosting was still on the too-sweet side. The carrot cake (pictured below), now my favorite at Indulge, was just about perfect. The ratio of cake to frosting was more manageable, the frosting felt smoother and tasted less sugary, and the cake was rich, moist, and flavorful. Plus, it’s just cute!

 

Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke
I’ll definitely be going back to Indulge Cupcakes to try their other cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and to see what other specials they come up with. The people running the shop are always friendly, there’s interesting art on the walls, and their beautiful cupcake creations are fun to try.
Indulge Cupcakes, Photos and Writeup by Roxanne Cooke

Indulge Cupcakes, 207 N. Meridian, Puyallup, 253-904-8234; online at indulgecupcakes.com. For more of Roxanne Cooke's work, check out her website here.


Do you want to be a Cake Gumshoe too? Feel free to submit bakery reviews or great baked good related finds (with pictures, please) to jessieoleson@gmail.com.

 

Sunday
Oct052008

Cakewalk: Mostly Doughnuts in Sultan and Monroe, WA

Homer Simpson Donut, Fresh + Fancy Donuts, Monroe, WA
No doubt about it, it was a dark Monday this week, what with the financial crisis and all-time stock market lows. Needing a bit of reprieve, we took to the road to clear our minds and get some sweet relief by way of sugary carbohydrates. Heading a mere 45 minutes out of Seattle, it was if we'd escaped these urban worries: with a pastoral backdrop including ponies, cows, farms and mountains, we set to tasting some delicious baked goods. Without consciously seeking it out, we ended up gravitating toward doughnuts on most of the trip. But in retrospect, doesn't it make sense? After all, when you split it in half, sharing a doughnut is like sharing a smile. Here's a recap of our adventure:


We walked up to our first stop, Sky River Bakery, only to meet disappointment--apparently, they're closed Sunday and Monday. Now, will you allow us a slight rant? (Thank you). These are awful days for a bakery to be closed--Sunday being the perfect day for a leisurely morning cinnamon roll, and Mondays being a day on which we could all use a sweet lift. That aside, we will grudgingly admit that it looked like a cute place from the outside. Sky River Bakery, 117 1/2 W Main St, Monroe, WA 98272, (360) 794-7434; online at skyriverbakery.com.

 

Delicious Concha, La Talpita
Luckily for us, before we pulled away we spied the word "PANADERIA" across the street; while we don't speak Spanish, we know that this vital word means deliciousness awaits. Though it was a dimly lit grocery filled will all sorts of Mexican groceries and sundries, they had a surprisingly full case of Conchas, pan dulce, and other hispanic specialties. The concha, while perhaps not the best we've ever tasted, certainly did soften the blow of our first stop being closed. La Talpita, 118 W. Main St, Monroe, WA.

Sultan Bakery DonutSultan BakeryBig Foot, Sultan BakeryFruit bars and cream puffs at Sultan Bakery

Our next stop was the wonderful Sultan Bakery, which doubles as a cafe-diner and was well attended at 11 am with early lunchers and laborers taking coffee breaks. This place moves at a slower pace than urbanites might like, but ultimately your patience will be rewarded. We chose the "bigfoot"--a maple bar shaped like, well, you know, as well as a few iced cake doughnuts. While the maple icing on the bigfoot was delicious, it was the cake doughnuts that really shone--cakey, and with just the slightest, very delightful, bit of "bite" in the icing. Sultan Bakery, 711 W Stevens Ave, Sultan, WA 98294 (360) 793-7996.


Old School BBQ
At this point, if you'll allow, we'd like to give a shout-out to one place for savory fare, just because its very presence astounds us: Old School BBQ, a roadside barbecue joint housed in an old school bus. As if that wasn't cool enough? It's right next to the Reptile Museum (at which, in case you were wondering, you can get espresso too). If that doesn't sound like a recipe for complete awesomeness, we don't know what does. Read about one foodie's experience at Old School BBQ here. We couldn't find the address or phone number, so we'll include the contact info for the Reptile Museum: 22715 State Route 2, Monroe, WA - (360) 805-5300‎.


Buttermilk Maple bar, Fresh + Fancy Donuts, Monroe, WAFresh + Fancy Donuts
Our final stop was Fresh + Fancy Donuts in Monroe. Nestled in an unassuming strip mall, the yeasty, sugary doughnut smell embraces you the moment you walk in; the employee was adorable, friendly and as sweet as the doughnuts. We picked up some pink frosted doughnuts that would make Homer Simpson proud, as well as a buttermilk bar with maple frosting and a sweet glazed cruller. The doughnuts were absolute perfection, with the oil seeping in just enough for a tantalizing crunch in each sugary bite. 19983 State Route 2, Monroe, WA 98272 (360) 863-0782.

 

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