4.04.2006

Big City Cupcakes

It's funny. Before making the acquaintance of Cupcake Planet, StinkyLulu barely knew of the gastronomic drama (gastrodrama?) instigated by the recent cupcake frenzy in Manhattan. Now cupcakeries are popping up hither and yon. The Cupcake Fetish has even been felt in the ABQ. So, a week ago today, while on an unexpected & super sad jaunt to NYC, the Stinkys went whimsical for a day and undertook to sample some of the city's more notorious cupcake delights.


'Twas a bright & crisp Tuesday morn.
Things started with a quick pop into City Bakery for MrStinkys beloved hot chocolate (complete with homemade marshmallow -- to die for. The Marshmallow, that is. The hotchoc's a little sweet).

Then, 'twas off to:

Definitely the kindest cupcakerie of the day. The counterfolk were nice -- busybusybusy but friendly and quick with a dash of cuteness and a smile. Lulu enjoyed listening to them banter and giggle while they dolloped & smoothed the frosting on tray after tray of fresh cupcakes. Good vibe in Billy's.

As for the cakelets:
MrStinky believes that yellowcake with chocolate frosting is the definitive cupcake combo & was a touch miffed that the Yellow Daisy Cupcake was only available with Vanilla Buttercream frosting. Lu got the Chocolate Cupcake with the same Vanilla Buttercream. Oddly, the frosting was delish on the Yellow Daisy cake while nearly too sweet on the chocolate. Both cakes were goodish -- not real moist, but not too dry either. (The clear taste-test winner was the interloping wedge of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, which rings up under "pie" on the register. Yeah, yeah -- it's 'sposed to be a Cupcake Day, but StinkyLulu just lurves Pineapple Upside-Down Cake & Billy's was nearly ideal. Dense & moist but somehow light, perfectly sweet -- turned out to be one of Lulu's favorite tastes of the day.)

Then 'twas off to do some shophopping in what is ostensibly still called the Meatpacking District. That neighborhood now just freaks Lulu out. It's just wierd that the site of Lulu's youthful dissipation is now an upscale restaurant/nightclub....

But not quite as wierd as the next cupcake stop, the most notorious, much loved/loathed:

Magnolia can be a bit insane

What's sad is that the insanity shows on the faces of the staff. They stagger through the teensy tiny shop, visibly stunned -- hollow features, vacant eyes, nary a hint of a smile. StinkyLulu's first thought: "So this is what a cupcake sweatshop looks like."

Little did Lulu suspect that the sweatshop vibe would extend to the taste of said cupcakes. MrStinky thought his Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream was fine, nearly good. But Lulu's Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream? Ew. Ew. A 1000 times ew. Gunjiliganga says he loves how sweet Magnolia's frosting is; Lulu, on the other hand, nearly spat it out upon first taste. The texture of both cake and frosting was nearly perfect. Too bad it all tasted like sugarpoo.

Then 'twas time for a cupcakebreak -- some lunch, some more shopping, some time in StinkyLulu's favorite place in all NYC-- before the Stinkys made their way to the cusp of the Lower East Side & Chinatown for the final cupcake destination of the day:

This vegan upstart caused something of a scandal when 'twas recently named NYC's Best Cupcake. Honestly this was the cupcake StinkyLulu was most looking forward to: vegan, cute lady, frosting shots, excellent signage? What's not to love?

The vibe was -- in a word -- stressed. 'Twas clearly a long day -- the kind of long day that may well have stretched back a month or more. The phone was crazy (mostly press from what Lu could overhear). Delivery dudes were all over the place. The owner and the one staff person seemed to be more exhausted than pleased by the Stinkys' presence in the shop. Plus the water for MrStinky's tea was ridiculously hot (it was still hot -- not warm, hot -- when we hit the Ferry back to Staten Island nearly a half-hour later). StinkyLulu wanted the energy to be a more fun, so 'twas a little disappointing. (But still none of The Jungle vibe of Magnolia.)

MrStinky got a wheat-free Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting; Lulu opted for the Gluten-Free Carrot Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting. Lulu was in love at first bite. The cake was great -- tasty, rich, sweet -- but the frosting? Lu just wanted to buy a bucket and drink it through a straw. MrStinky was a little cupcaked-out by the time he bit into his, but even he had to agree about the uncommon magic of the frosting. Ever the surprising food snob, MrStinky dismissed "carrot" as a flavor for cupcakes: "That's no cupcake -- that's a muffin with frosting." So, Lulu was forced to get another sample, one that would more evenly match the previous tastes: Gluten-Free Chocolate with Vanilla. Again: delish-delish-delish. (Also, expensive-expensive-expensive. Roughly twice the price per cupcake as Billy's and Magnolia -- you pay for the pleasure of Babycakes.)

So, by day's end, MrStinky had no real favorites -- though he did seem genuinely impressed by Babycakes frosting. As far as the cupcakes go, the only cupcakes StinkyLulu would seek out again would be those from Babycakes. Given a choice though, betcha StinkyLu'd go for another slice of that PineappleUpsideDown from Billy's & MrStinky'd opt for a cookie & hot chocolate (with marshmallow) from CityBakery.
Old habits die hard.

All told, 'twas a fascinating bite of the the Big City Cupcake.

1 comment:

ModFab said...

Billy's provided the cupcakes for my wedding last year, and they were unbelievably easy to deal with. Love love LOVE their icing.

I detest the Magnolia. I'd rather eat sandpaper, and the wait in line is so hipster-ridiculous.