Category: When I’m Not Eating Sweets…

Enjoying Vancouver One Sweet Bite At A Time

Vancouver is a city that will instantly capture your heart. Fresh air, clean streets, flowers blooming all around you. There are spectacular mountain views from every angle and a sea that seems to encircle you, with big beautiful buildings and gorgeous parks for miles and miles. What isn’t there to love about this city?

Vancouver is the perfect city for visiting gastronomes with a culinary concept of terroir that will satisfy any palate. Each meal is an adventure around the world from Japanese gyozas to Indian curries to Pacific Northwest seafood. The multicultural influence of produce and cuisine are astounding and refreshing. The abundance of fresh, diverse seafood is inspiring. Beyond the savory selection, Vancouver offers an impressive selection of sweet options. We are not talking your average cupcake or tiramisu, there are extraordinary desserts from across the globe, with more choices then one would know what to do with. Dining in Vancouver is a complete, well-rounded and gratifying experience.

Here are a few unassuming places to find great sweets in Vancouver:

Salt Tasting Room

45 Blood Alley Square

vancouver, BC V6B 0C4, Canada

(604) 633-1912

Among the magnificent array of charcuterie and cheeses, Salt Tasting Room offers one seasonal dessert that is impossible to forget. On my visit to Vancouver, rhubarb was in season and available in abundance. It was the star ingredient in Salt’s dessert tasting, a stellar trio of rhubarb cheesecake, rhubarb pudding and a rhubarb crumble. The presentation highlighted the beauty and creative genius of the menu at Salt Tasting Room.

My favorite of the desserts was the rhubarb cheesecake. The graham cracker crust was moist and crumbly. The cheesecake was lush and silky. The rhubarb compote top was unfailingly juicy and vibrant. The combination was an explosion of flavor. If not just for the dessert, I highly recommend a visit to Salt Tasting Room if you are in Vancouver.

Pourhouse

162 Water Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2, Canada

(604) 568-7022

We came to Pourhouse for some after-dinner cocktails, however after glancing over the menu to find our drinks of choice we discovered a dessert menu that included house-churned salted caramel ice cream. Warm chocolate cake with house churned salted caramel ice cream to be exact. Full as I was, I could not pass it up.

The chocolate collapsed under my fork to reveal bittersweet liquid gold! Ribbons of caramel sauce danced across the plate. To the side lay the salted caramel ice cream. It was magical, buttery to no end with an undeniable salty presence. Paired with a nice artisan beer, this dessert is sexy!

Medina Cafe

556 Beatty Street

Vancouver, BC V6B2L3, Canada

(604) 879-3114

Since the moment I first discovered the ‘true’ Belgian waffle known as a liege at Le Pain Quotidien in Los Angeles, I fell in love. Perfectly golden brown, with a gooey doughy center, these waffles have sugar pearls hidden inside each fold and square of dough. I haven’t found another liege since – that is until this visit to Vancouver.

Café Medina in the Gastown district of Vancouver specializes in liege waffles. A steaming cup of coffee and a waffle in the morning – what more could you ask for? Café Medina offers an assortment of accompaniments to the liege from white chocolate pistachio to mixed berry compote. I gave a few toppings a try, but I have to admit I am a purist at heart and I enjoy my liege unsullied and unadorned. The sugar pearls give you all the sweetness you need. Take note: just one waffle won’t be enough – they are so good you will need to order two or three!

class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-family:georgia;”>New Town Bakery

158 Pender Street EastVancouver, BC V6A1T3, Canada(604) 689-7835

One of my all time favorite desserts are sweet sesame balls. Imagine my delight when walking down the quiet streets of Vancouver’s Chinatown on my last Sunday in the city I stumble upon a window full of hot, fresh (and may I add gigantic) sesame balls. I had stumble upon New Town Bakery a Chinese Filipino bakery with a dessert case of sweets that will make your mouth water.

A sesame ball is mochi rice flour that is deep-fried and rolled in sesames. The crust is so crisp, almost like a brulee; one delicate touch and it folds into itself revealing a sweet, sticky, starchy inside. Dig even deeper and you reach a center of sweet red bean paste. The combination of ingredients is idyllic, not too cloying, just pure soul satisfaction.

Big Things Are Happening…

photo credit: Burnt Lumpia www.burntlumpia.typepad.com

I know I haven’t been posting much lately, but I have a GOOD reason for it. Unfortunately I cannot tell you the reason yet, but trust me, some big things are in the works. So please stay tuned because you are not going to want to miss what I have coming! For now you can take a peek at this (and maybe guess what it is). The big news will be announced in a little less than two weeks. I can’t wait to tell you!



xo,


LetMeEatCake

And The Winner Is… #51


Elle of Elle’s New England Kitchen you are the lucky winner of this beautiful bottle of Macallan 10 Fine Oak Scotch. I hope you enjoy making that Scottish Honey Cake, but have a glass before you start baking!


Elle said…And now following @EdenAlgie on twitter. Thanks for the opportunity to win this!MARCH 24, 2010 9:55 AM


* I chose the giveaway winner using Random.org here are a copy of the results:

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1

Max: 62

Result:

51

Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Xiomara: Foodies Beware!

I drive by this restaurant all the time. The name grabs me. I wonder what kind of food they serve and who goes there. I decided finally to give it a try during DineLA week. My reservation was made for Xiomara (See-o-mara), a Cuban fusion restaurant on Melrose Avenue just past Highland.

The reservation was for four people at 9pm. The restaurant was quiet on this Monday night with only four other parties seated. Having looked over the DineLA prix fixe menu before arriving, we were all hungry and eager to enjoy the food at Xiomara.

Then the waiting game began. Our party was promptly seated at our table, but no menus were given. A server came to our table and took our drink order. Four tantalizing mojoitos arrived at our table, but still no menus. We sat for 20 minutes before receiving a menu.


Our appetizers came out relatively quickly and we thoroughly enjoyed them, however the rest of the meal dragged on. Our plates were cleared, our drinks finished, and no entrees in sight. By the time our entrees were delivered, only one other party remained in the eerily quiet restaurant. By the time we received dessert, even they were gone. To make matters worse, the ice cream accompaniment to our tres leches cake was half melted. Our friend’s three-gelato sampler turned out to be three samples of mango. Our server told her that this was the only gelato they had. Suffice it to say she did not order mango at all and did not eat her dessert.

At this point we were ready to leave. We waited for our check and had trouble even finding one of the two servers to bring it to us. Did I mention that it was already 11pm! The bill was presented and we immediately put down our payment. I could see one of the servers behind me cleaning silverware while the other server was at the front of the restaurant setting tables. No one was acknowledging us. I would have asked for a manager, but it was very evident that there was no manager working that night. Finally in our frustration we called for the server across the room. We waited another 19 minutes for the bill to return and watched as the two servers struggled with splitting our check. The check returned manually written and the server explained that the Micros system had crashed. Fine. Yet, another problem occurred- we had been overcharged. Imagine how frustrated we are at this point, tired from all the waiting and ready to go home. I again flagged down a server and tried to explain that we were charged incorrectly, but rather than understanding their error and fixing the mistake, the servers argued over it in front of us.

We left Xiomara upset and completely disappointed. From the minute we sat down to the minute we left, we received poor customer service. Throughout our dinner we were kind and tolerant, but we should not have spent $200 on a dinner that took 2 hours and 20 minutes. What disappoints me most is that we enjoyed our meal and were looking forward to sharing a positive experience, but after receiving such completely horrible service we will certainly never be back.

I wrote to the General Manager to explain what happened on our visit. It took her almost a week to send this response:

Xiomara had a meeting with all the employees that worked on Monday night to discuss the service your received.

According to the servers the reason you did not receive menus as soon as you were seated is that your group did not all arrive at the same time and they waited until your group had completely arrived before giving you the menus.

The problem with the melted ice cream was that it literally had just finished churning and had not had time to freeze- it should not have been served. it seems that the server did not put the sorbet order in with the flavors that were requested. the server should never had told you that we only had mango, since we did have all the flavors on the menu.

The disagreement on how to split your check happened because our pos
system was not processing credit cards, the filter on our water heater had burst over the weekend and shorted out several different electronic systems and the hardware to process the credit cards had not been replace yet. However, they should not have disagreed in your presence nor should they have double charged the sales tax, that was someone not understanding how to fill out the credit card slip.

The service you received was not our normal standard and Xiomara would like to send you a gift certificate for 2 mojitos and 2 appetizers.


I cannot believe that a restaurant would be so apathetic to this situation. I expected a sincere apology and acknowledgement of what went wrong on our visit. Instead Xiomara’s General Manager passively justified all of the evening’s mistakes. In a sense she validated the poor customer service we received. Her offer of 2 mojitos and 2 appetizers hardly compensates for our four meals. Take my advice: there are many fantastic restaurants in Los Angeles – do not waste your time or your money on Xiomara.

Things To Do In Denver Before You Die: D Bar

photo courtesy of Dbardesserts.com

After my lovely experience at Nomelie Cupcakes, I began a culinary conversation with Nomelie’s owner through Twitter. She is as sweet as her cupcakes and gave me more than a few fantastic recommendations on the best eats in Denver. Per her advice, R and I headed to D Bar in the Uptown area of Denver where we were joined by our friend Neil.

D Bar is a restaurant devoted to desserts. Upon arrival it was very clear that D Bar was the place to be on a Saturday night. Every Saturday night chef and owner Keegan Gerhard can be found behind the bar preparing his sweet masterpieces right before your eyes. Inside D Bar the lighting is dim, the room is packed, and the energy is electric. After a long wait in the cramped heated doorway of the restaurant we were finally seated. The prime seating is along the L shaped bar – this is where all of the action can be experienced first-hand. We sat along the counter facing the window, which turned out to be a comfortable spot with the windows serving as mirrors to the bar behind us.

D Bar offers a well-stocked wine and beer list. We started our meal with my favorite wine: Layer Cake Primitivo. Layer Cake is a well-balanced and jammy wine that lends itself well to both sweet and savory dishes. It was the perfect accompaniment to our food.

We ordered four desserts to try to get the full spectrum of D Bar’s offerings. The desserts $8-$10 each. The Palmond is an almond cake with a caramelized pears and almond ice milk. The cake was dry and crumbly with a crisp almost pasty almond layer on the top. The pears were soft with a deep rich flavor. The almond ice milk was a light and cool compliment to the caramel tones of the pear. While this was a pear dish I would eat again, I did not enjoy the mild and dry flavors of the cake.

I have a special place in my heart for donuts. When donuts are on the dessert menu at a restaurant it is often hard for me to pass them up, so I was sure to order D Bar’s Brioche Cinnamon Sugar Donuts. The order comes with three fluffy, sweet brioche donuts dusted in cinnamon sugar and served with vanilla dipping sauce with a chocolate swirl. When the donuts were dipped in the subtle combination of vanilla and chocolate, it added a sweet gossamer casing that enhanced an otherwise average donut.

After watching waffle after delicious waffle pass by, we had to order the Warm! Mit Waffles. This is an ice cream sandwich unlike any other. Let go of your preconceived notions of ice cream sandwiches because this dessert is nothing like its predecessors. Vanilla bean ice cream is packaged between two warm rock sugar waffles that are adorned with a three-cherry compote and amaretto cream. The waffles were ideal: a gentle, firm exterior that gives way to a warm, doughy bite. The cherry compote added a pleasant tartness that paired harmoniously with the other sugary flavors.

Our final dessert was not on the menu, it was the night’s special: Baked Alaska. I’ve often heard of this fabled dish, but I’ve never seen it on a menu. This was my favorite dish of the evening. This Baked Alaska consisted of a tart shell filled with coconut ice cream covered by a baked meringue. All of this was lying atop slices of pineapple, which were brushed with a vanilla bean caramel sauce. Each dense mouthful was permeated with vanilla bean. The pineapple was sweet with no hint of tartness. The meringue top was baked to perfection with toasted edges and a gooey, spongy bite.

I have an unyielding penchant for sweets and D Bar satisfied my proclivity. Whenever I am in Denver I will be sure to make a stop at D Bar.

D Bar
1475 E. 17th Ave.
Denver, Co 80218
(303) 861 – 4710

Things To Do In Denver Before You Die: Nomelie Cupcakes

I have a contagious passion for cake. On my recent visit to Denver, it was evident that R and his mom had caught my affliction. On our second day in this winter wonderland we discovered the cupcake shop of our dreams.

Tucked away in the sleepy town of Parker, just outside of Denver, is Nomelie Cupcakes. It is your quintessential cupcakery, pink and precious. Warm smells of sugar and sweetness greeted us along with vibrant and welcoming smiles from the staff.

Nomelie Cupcakes is a family owned bakery. They make their cupcakes on site in small batches baked fresh daily. They have a small rotating selection of cupcakes. On our visit they offered Vanilla Love, Chocolate Love, Coconut Dream, and Salty n’ Sweet. We got three of each!

Under a carapace of fluffy frosting, delicately sprinkled with translucent flakes of salt, lies the best cupcake I have ever had. A bold statement I know, but no doubt once you’ve enjoyed a Salty n’ Sweet cupcake from Nomelie Cupcakes you will agree. It might just be the best thing on earth!

The Salty n’ Sweet is a moist chocolate cake with salted caramel baked inside. The burnt sugar of the caramel is visible through tiny glistening caverns in the chocolate cake. The caramel creates a buttery, slightly sticky bite. It is prudently frosted with a caramel frosting that has an almost airy consistency. This cupcake from top to bottom is dessert heaven.

It is just sweet enough, without being tooth-achingly sweet. The salt is a perfect compliment to each bite. I have a penchant for caramel so this was the ideal cupcake for me. If I close my eyes I can still taste the rich filling, fluffy frosting, and chocolaty essence.

Nomelie Cupcakes
19751 E Main Street R5
Parker, CO 80138
** If you are planning a trip to Denver I suggest picking up an Eat/Shop guide, it is an invaluable resource. Or email me theletmeeatcake@gmail.com **

Things To Do In Denver Before You Die : Smash Burger

It has become a winter tradition to visit Denver with R. I generally meet him after the holidays just before the New Year. Unlike Los Angeles, Denver is a true winter wonderland. The cold biting weather, the snowy ground, the clear skies, and the mountains all around, let’s just say we’re not in LA anymore. It is the perfect mini break from the hectic pace of the city and the holidays. If you haven’t been to Denver before it is a beautiful city with bountiful gastronomic pleasures.

Since I have been back in LA, I haven’t stopped thinking about all of the memorable meals I enjoyed while in Denver. When I left I was satiated and eager for my next visit. Here is some of what I enjoyed.

I am not a regular patron of chain restaurants. I tend to prefer the mom and pop cafes, or the charm of a restaurant that only has one location. However, when I was in Denver a few weeks back, it was a chain restaurant, of all things, that stole my heart!

Known as the hometown of Chipotle, Denver is a city that is not lacking in chain eateries. My favorite of their local chains was Smash Burger. This is a restaurant the guide books are not going to direct you to, but you want to be sure not to miss.

Smash Burger is a burger joint with a modern feel. What sets a Smash Burger apart from other burgers is the plump, crisp, perfectly cooked beef. Not all patties are created equal; some are too thick, or too seasoned or just dry hard disks of meat, but Smash Burger is not any of these things.

I ordered the BBQ Bacon and Cheese. It had thin crunchy fried onions, thick slabs of apple wood smoked bacon, tangy BBQ sauce and the perfect beef patty. The flavors blended together collapsing with each bite. The bun was nicely buttered and grilled. It had a soft exterior with perfectly toasted edges. At $6 a burger, Smash Burger is the ultimate burger. A burger so good you ingest it in 30 seconds and then beg for more.

Smash Burger

S. Parker Rd & Yale Ave

2630 S Parker Road

Aurora, Colorado 80014

720-213-0012

Open 10am-10pm Daily


** If you are planning a trip to Denver I suggest picking up an Eat/Shop guide, it is an invaluable resource. Or email me theletmeeatcake@gmail.com **


A Dosa or Two…

What is a dosa? A dosa is a South Indian crepe made from rice and lentils. It is typically filled with South Indian ingredients and served rolled almost like a burrito. In a city as ethnically diverse as Los Angeles, I was surprised to find myself unfamiliar with dosas. With an unyielding need to eat everything, my stomach and I were on a mission to find the Dosa Truck.

Dosa truck is owned and operated by Brooklyn born Leena Deneroff. While the menu focuses on dosas the truck also offers Masala fries, salads, and samosas. All dosas are priced at $6 each, a bit steep for food from a truck.

On my visit one dosa was not enough. Several dosas later I was full and happy.

The Mumbai Madness (Masala) dosa is filled with smashed curried Indian potatoes. The potatoes were tucked into the lean rolled crepe and it remained surprisingly crunchy top to bottom. The flavors were mild and creamy. With hints of fennel seeds sprinkled throughout, this dosa was crisp and light.

Sita’s Surprise is a dosa filled with sweet potato masala. This dosa was sweet and rich with a delightful buttery aftertaste. The rice lentil crepe was crispy yet soft and snugly sandwiched the potatoes. This was my favorite dosa.

The Shiva Shakti is a dosa comprised of 1/2 sweet potato and ½ malsala dosa. From end to end the flavors transitioned smoothly.

The Goa Goodness is a dosa filled with spinach, mushroom, and cheese. It was ooey-gooey good. The fresh spinach wilted slightly under the melted cheese with thick meaty slices of mushroom, the rice lentil crepe lending a subtle sweetness to the flavors.

Brahma’s Boon is a dosa filled with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and cheese. My least favorite of the dosas it was somehow too juicy and required the assistance of multiple napkins. The onions overpowered all other flavors and it felt uninspired. I could not find the South Indian influence in this dosa.

Dosas make a great lunch. They are crispy, light, quick and satisfying. On my next visit I will be sure to order the Slumdog rubbed with pesto and filled with paneer, spinach and masala potatoes, but for $6 a pop I will try to restrain myself to just one dosa.

A Cheeseburger Wednesday Edition– Umami Burger Los Feliz

My friend Mike likes to eat cheeseburgers on Wednesdays. I have grown to love it too. While I enjoy a burger any day of the week there is something so special and satisfying about eating a cheeseburger on Wednesdays with Mike. Wednesdays will be henceforth known as Cheeseburger Wednesdays.

This post is dedicated to Mike and to cheeseburgers – It is the Cheeseburger Wednesday edition of LetMeEatCake.

Last Wednesday we enjoyed our cheeseburgers at the recently opened Umami Burger. Umami Burger resides in the former home of the late Cobras and Matadors in Los Feliz.

Living in Los Angeles, the burger capitol of the world, it is not hard to find a burger joint at every corner. Formerly relegated to the domain of fast food, the cheeseburger has now acquired an elevated status. Cheeseburger components now include gourmet condiments, organic greens, and artisan cheeses. Cheeseburgers are now bigger, more exotic, and even more stylish.

Umami Burger demonstrates how a seemingly ordinary dish such as a cheeseburger can be magically transformed into something magnificent with a few well-selected ingredients.

Umami Burger offers a mouthwatering selection of cheeseburgers.

The Manly Burger is a perfectly seasoned ground beef patty with gooey melted beer-cheddar cheese atop a pillowy bun, and sprinkled with smoked salt onion strings and bacon lardons. The bun was so delicate with each bite it became one with the burger. Need I say more?

R and I gave Umami another visit this week to try more of their delicious burgers. This time we chose the Port & Stilton Burger with Stilton blue cheese and Pocas port-carmelized onions, and the signature Umami Burger with a parmesan crisp, roasted tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms and carmelized onions.

Nothing beats the Manly Burger. While the eponymous Umami Burger was good, the bun got soggy too fast, the parmesan crisp lost it’s crunch, and the roasted tomatoes dominated the other flavors.

The restaurant also offers a variety of fries to accompany your burger. I tried all three versions- Hand Cut Fries (triple-cooked), Sweet Potato Fries, and Thin Fries. The
Hand Cut fries were thick wedges of potato reminiscent of biting into a hot mashed potato. The Sweet Potato fries were no different then any other variety of sweet potato fries at other gourmet burger spots. The Thin Fries were too salty on both occasions. My side dish recommendation is the Malt Liquour Tempura Onion Rings. They were thick, flavorful and understated. They we consumed so rapidly by the table I did not have a second to photograph their glory.

Happy Cheeseburger Wednesday!

Los Moles


In an effort to enjoy everything LA has to offer, R and I decided to spend our Sunday afternoon exploring Olvera Street, a historic marketplace reflecting Mexican and Lation culture and traditions. Olvera Street is located in Downtown Los Angeles, at what is known as the general site of the birthplace of the city of Los Angeles. Fortuitously, today at Olvera Street it happened to be La Feria De Los Moles- a fair celebrating the moles of Oaxaca. Mole means ‘sauce’ or concoction’, it is a complex thick sauce of spices used as the base for dishes around regions of Mexico. La Feria De Los Moles celebrated the most popular moles, those of the Mexican states of Puebla and Oaxaca. The streets were alive with people enjoying the crisp Fall weather, the live Oaxacan music, and the countless food stands eager to serve all of the hungry mouths. I wanted to eat everything in sight, I wanted to try it all, but my feeble stomach would not oblige. I enjoyed a small taste of the plethora of foods at the fair.

There are a multitude of mole variations. We tried two dishes with mole negro from La Guelaguetza. The mole negro is a blend of chilies, nuts, seeds, spices, and Oaxacan chocolate. We enjoyed a mole negro con pierna de pollo which was chicken covered with mole negro over rice. We also tried the taquitos covered in mole negro and topped with fresh onion and queso fresco.

The mole had a rich bold fl
avor. The sweet, smooth chocolate married well with the subtle heat from the chilies and spices.

We were too full to enjoy the giant tortas filled with seasoned meats but we enjoyed watching them being made.

The traditional clayudas con todo tipo de carne was an incredible site to behold. The sheer size of it was astounding. It is a giant flour tortilla served open faced and topped with a black bean paste, cheese, and crowned with grilled meats and fresh radishes.

There were endless variations of aguas frescas and an array of sweet breads from churros to conachas.

The half moon shaped pastillito was soft, sweet, and delicious with a subtle milky flavor.

For dessert we enjoyed platanos fritos with sweet cream sauce. Hot and fresh, coated in sweet cream, it was the perfect bite.

For the road we grabbed a candied lime stuffed with shredded coconut. For $1 I had to know what this confection was. It is called fruita cubierta and there are many variations on this candied treat. Nibbling on this chewy candy I realized that this is what it would taste like if you could bite into a Sprite. It was sweet but still tasted fresh. I loved it and I will be coming back for more.

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You can visit Guelaguetza at

3014 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

M-F 9am – 10pm. Sat 8am – 11pm.
Sun 8am – 10pm


* for more Los Angeles activities or restaurant recommendations please email me theletmeeatcake@gmail.com