I know I ranted against Slow Food only a few months ago, but I am terribly excited about Slow Food Nation. This is the first big meeting of the Slow Food organization in the US. I attended the first big meeting of Slow Food in the world, in Turin, Italy, in 2004. I didn’t go out of my way to be there, but rather accidentally was exposed to an amazing culture of food-obsession.
Yes, I think Slow Food has a lot of goals that are opposite to ours, and it bothers me to hear about bringing back an heirloom chicken in the face of all those overbred, beakless wonders whose lives are only pain, and Slow Food people are generally big jerks about veganism. Yes, yes. There are tons of reasons why I shouldn’t be excited about this.
But they have a youth convention intended to start a dialogue about the future of food culture in the US, and I think there should be a vegan there. A vegan who loves good food, old techniques, and new science. (Me!) If this is about starting a discussion, we weirdos should be at the table, and we should be searching the Ark of Taste booths for delicious heirloom foods which even we can eat. While there is clearly a natural tension between their old-worldiness and our new-fangled morals, I still want to be there to glean whatever I can and act like a good example of what I am… vegan and food-loving.
For Memorial Day, I wanted to express a leftist’s frustration with our complete lack of attention to the war, and I wanted to do it via pastry. I am undecided on whether the medium is offensive to the message (as it certainly isn’t the message here), but my attempt was only moderately successful, so the point might be moot.
I was going to do the POW/MIA logo on a cake. Unfortunately, I realized about two minutes into decorating that most of my piping tips were in storage, so the detail work was going to be impossible. My father thinks the resulting cake still looks like the logo (he’s an ex-Marine), but I think it looks more like a strangely pointy penny.
Filed under: cake, pictures | Tags: grape sugarpaste, vegan cake, vegan gum paste
This one goes on the list of my all-time worst icing jobs, but I have to put it on the internet because I spent all kinds of time thinking about making it. My stepmother gave me a glass cake stand with a grape cluster motif stamped into it, and I made a cake tribute to its cartoony pattern.
I spent all my cooking time today making surprisingly labor-intensive Myanmarese tofu, so when it was time to actually assemble cake, frosting, leaves, stems and millions of grapes, I was well down the road from Meticulous, near the turn-off for Throwing-It-All-Away-Right-Now. I had intended to transfer the cake to the stand itself, but when I made my attempt, the cake threatened suicide at the end of the spatula. So be it. You can see the stand in the bottom bit of the photo. The cake is white with grape jelly filling (of course), and the frosting is thoroughly mediocre. Which isn’t stopping me from eating it right now.
Filed under: cake, pictures | Tags: spring cupcakes, vegan cupcakes, vegan gum paste, vegan sugar flowers
My body thinks winter’s on the way. I left for South America in late November, and I could feel my shoulders curving into the stooped posture of wintry wind even as I was landing in 80 degree Lima. I left South America in late April, just as my short jacket and long underwear started to fail in the post-autumn freeze. I’ve deferred two winters now, and my body disbelieves even the sunniest day. I spent today reading a Murakami book in which the rain lashes down incessantly and I had to read it under flannel sheets. Even wrapped up to my chin, I still was cold. Finally I got up and got dressed. To my great shock, when I looked outside it was spring.
I made some cupcakes to annoint with sugar flowers. My gum paste is improving, but I have to point out how fake my flowers look next to the real thing. I’ve got a ways to go.
Filed under: cake, pictures, review | Tags: sweet avenue bake shop, vegan bakery review, vegan cupcakes
This afternoon I drove about 25 minutes north to Rutherford, NJ to visit Sweet Avenue Bake Shop, a totally vegan cupcake and sweetshop that’s been around since the fall. This was my first visit.
I had two cupcakes, one of which was the Little Cutie: chocolate cake with a chocolate pudding filling and chocolate frosting. As you can see, it had a little pink dollop on top, which I was pleased to discover actually tasted of strawberry.
I also had a Sexy Sadie, which was a fairly traditional red velvet cupcake with knockout frosting. This is apparently their most popular flavor.
I have to make an embarassing admission: I don’t really love cupcakes. I think they’re difficult to eat because they upset my OCD. (It is hard to get the same ratio of frosting to cake in every bite.) Yes, I do realize that I am crazy. But, given that I am crazy, this is still a awesome new place to go and it is actually in Jersey.
The storefront is adorable, all pinks and browns, and the painfully cute counter girl was the right kind of nice without bubbliness (I’ve worked as a clerk for too long to be patronized by other clerks.) They had Latin in the window, which appealed to my inner nerd (“Love Conquers All”), though I took Greek, not Latin. I like that I talked directly to one of the owners, who was washing dishes himself. I really liked the brown wrappers on the cupcakes, which showed an attention to detail that was charming. They have other sweets in addition to cupcakes, and the prices are pretty decent. What am I saying here? You should go. You should go eat cupcakes at this place if ever you are in Bergen County, NJ and need a sugar fix.