Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No. 147: Thankfulness for Cupcake Tour around L.A.

Photo courtesy of TaraMetBlog

As I have confessed before, cupcakes aren't on my top list of sweets -- with my fair share of "misses" from an off-ratio of frosting to cake, and more than one instance where the cupcake isn't finger-friendly, defeating their purpose as a portable dessert. Even after judging 40 or so of them at the Cupcake Challenge earlier this year, I was left with an ambivalent aftertaste.

Bloggers outside Pacific Design Center
But thanks to bloggerprom committee comrade Tara (of TaraMetBlog and LA Cupcakes Meetup) and GM Chevrolet, I was invited check out four of L.A.'s finest cupcakeries as part of their "Best of Tours" campaign to promote their vehicles.

Needless to say, with the unfortunate rain, we bloggers were lucky that we got to be driven around -- if it was up to our less-than-professional driving skills against the torrential rain and the other extra-rabid L.A. drivers, we'd probably just park our butts at Crumbs (our first cupcakery stop) and scrounge for food around that area, like 9021Pho! Come to think of it, that sounds pretty good for rainy weather, but I digress...

Shortly after entering Crumbs, we were greeted with smiles and, more importantly to a bunch of lunch- and maybe breakfast-skipping foodbloggers, bags of cupcakes in a myriad of flavors, generously offering coffee and "any cupcake flavor not in the bag" to boot, to which Caroline eagerly replied "ELVIS!" (because she wanted the PB & banana cupcake, not because she saw an impersonator or apparition.)
Crumbs Cookies 'n Creme Cupcake
I opted for a cookies 'n creme-style cupcake with chocolate cake and topped with half an Oreo, which def. taste like one of my fave ice cream flavors. Sweet but not sickening so, and the frosting:cake ratio was pretty spot-on, though I wish the cake itself was less crumbly after I peeled off the wrapper. But what I can say, the bakeshop IS called Crumbs!
Sprinkles Cupcakes
After a good 15-20 minutes enjoying our cupcakes and hot coffee, we made the two walk block down to the infamous Sprinkles, where Tara and her colleague picked up the cupcakes while we stayed outside since their shop interior is so teensy-tiny. Feeling a bit chocolated out from the previous half a cupcake, I opted to balance things out and got the vanilla one here -- even though the Red Velvet, with not-so-signature dot, seems to be first to go.
SusieCakes Cupcake Selection
Next stop, SusieCakes, which I remembered from the Cupcake Challenge as being too sweet for my liking, but willing to give another try since Tara said it's her fave. I got the Strawberry cupcake to-go after Tara mentioned that Martha Stewart endorsed it, saying it was "DA BOMB" (Ok, maybe not in those exact words.) Being sugared out, I didn't eat this on the spot, but when I did get around to it later, I do have to concede to the frosting's deliciousness. And I agree with Natassia from Let Me Eat Cake in that it tastes a like a yummy strawberry starburst, minus the annoying teeth-stickiness of that chew.
Lindsay w La Salsa Burrito
I'm also glad to find out I'm not the only who's overloaded with sugar. Lindsay of the LAist relented to a La Salsa burrito to get some much needed salt and proteins--smart girl!

Last, and I will say least, was Vanilla Bake Shop - which I had prev. positive moments of, most recently from their being featured at the Casa Del Mar dessert buffet brunch. But that quickly turned sour when we entered and started bringing out our cameras ready to take shots, when an enraged-looking manager stormed out from the back and screamed "NO PICTURES!" Now, I'm aware, and have respected, no photo policies at other places (see: Bourbon & Branch in SF) particularly when *politely requested* instead of angrily-demanded to do so.
But, whatevs -- maybe she had a stressful day or a bad run-in with a photographer in the past. However, just as I was about to mentally forgive and forget, she comes back out again to say "NO SAMPLES EITHER!" . . . which we didn't even ask for, so needless to say it made for a WTF moment. So I placed my order and was read to just get out of the store when I heard a toilet flush and noticed the restroom door! The mischievious gremlin in me took over . . .
Vanilla Bake Shop Cupcake w Toilet
. . . and I took a photo of their cupcake with the toilet in the background, partly to show them what I think of their policy and how they're enforcing it, but mostly for hilarity's sakes. Extra funny points that I just happened to have ordered, by pure coincidence, a dark brown bittersweet chocolate cupcake!

But despite that bummer of a final stop, overall it was a great experience to taste and compare so many cupcakes. Right now I'll say Crumbs and Susiecakes tie for my faves, but hard to compare since it was a chocolatey vs. fruity cupcake (which of course means I gotta make some return trips to do a little more R&D.) And of course, thankful to be participant of such a cool idea, all the while wishing with other bloggers that they'll take this "Best of Tours" idea for a multi-stop drinking excursion, when having a driver would really be a boon.
BLTA at Golden State
And following Lindsay's lead, Caroline, Shelley and I swung by The Golden State some much needed real food in the form of sandwiches and burgers, and they served one of the better BLTAs I've had in a while (w arugula, aioli, avocado and lots of glazed applewood bacon) w a refreshing cabbage slaw lightly dressed with a vinaigrette . . . and some beers too.

Other reports on the Cupcake Best of Tour:
Caroline on Crack whose "Elvis!" screams I'll take with a grain of saltLet Me Eat Cake fell into a cupcake comaBurrito-eating Lindsay pits these four with two more local cupcakeries for the bestPretty sandy feet tried on her wedding dress AFTER the cupcake tour... bravo!Happy Go Marni loves the cakes and the ride (Transformers edition Camaro,) only thing missing for her: Shia LaBeoufAnd of course, organizer Tara's got it down in her blog too!And more photos from the trip on my flickr here.Crumbs Bake Shop9465 S Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA(310) 550-9811Sprinkles Cupcakes9635 Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA(310) 274-8765SusieCakes Bakery11708 San Vicente Blvd.Los Angeles, CA(310) 442-2253Vanilla Bake Shop512 Wilshire Blvd.Santa Monica, CA (310) 458-6644The Golden State426 N Fairfax Ave.Los Angeles, CA(323) 782-8331


bagnatic said...

that's a whole lotta cupcakes! can't believe vanilla bake shop did that...and with such rudeness too!

Bianca @south bay rants n raves said...

I cant get over the cupcake in the bathroom pic! I'll be sure to check all these places out, except for Sprinkles & Crumbs... been there!

Diana said...

I've always been partial to SusieCakes too, but the Sprinkles eggnog cupcake has totally won me over. It's a lot of frosting, but I can handle it. :)

Unknown said...

Cupcakes look awesome delicious!

Khoi said...

Man, I need to finally go to Crumbs. Sorry to hear about the Scrooge at Vanilla Bake Shop... bahh humbug!


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