Monthly Archives: August 2010

A Weekend in Atlanta

Just arrived home from my weekend jaunt in Atlanta. This was the view from our hotel room at the Marriott Marquis. Thank you, Priceline.

The gastronomic pinnacle of our weekend was at Babs, a teeny basement restaurant with a small patio and a rustic interior. The owner is this fantastically flamboyant middle-aged man who berated us mercilessly and helped us burn up most of the calories we’d consumed with his hilarious one-liners. He gave us sweet potato fries for making us wait five minutes past our 1 p.m. reservation. (Devoured too quickly for me to snap a photo.) I ordered a pomegranate lemonade punctuated with pieces of fruit. The ideal solution for a hot summer day.

Our meals were insanely generous, just like the owner himself. Sausage, potato wedges, cheesy scrambled eggs and fruit slices overwhelmed my plate. And the sweet potato waffles, oh my. Light, fluffy, but not intensely sweet. Perfect with the homemade peach honey jam. Everything was served with a side of snark.

Perhaps because we fed his ego, the owner fed us a free lemonade tart. We attacked it with an impressive fervor considering our meal portions. The tart truly tasted like the dessert embodiment of a glass of lemonade. Refreshingly tart and the sweetest ending we could’ve asked for.

If you’re ever in Atlanta, go to Babs. Seriously. But bring your Big Girl panties, because the owner will make fun of you and your waistline will grow to previously unknown proportions.

Being back in the South has renewed my adoration for Sunday brunch. Since seven hours is a long way to drive for a meal, I’m wondering: What do you think the best brunch restaurants in the Triangle are?

Food-Friendly Books

There is truly no better way to start a weekend than with a package from Amazon, particularly one including a cookbook full of food porn and a food writer’s memoir.

I’ll be in Atlanta this weekend celebrating a dear friend’s birthday and getting nostalgic at Something Corporate’s reunion tour, so expect some Atlanta restaurant reviews come Monday. (Any last minute recommendations?)

In the meantime, inspired by my new food-friendly books, I’m wondering: What are your favorite cookbooks and books about food? I’m craving some additions to my bookshelf.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

As I mentioned, I set aside a few chocolate cupcakes on which to perform experiments of a sweet ‘n’ sinister nature.

Well, consider this second post a crucial feature of any food blog: food failure.

I envisioned a chocolate-covered strawberry in cupcake form, a la Hello Cupcake‘s “Prima Donna.” My results were more akin to a faintly pink, sugary, semi-liquid mess. Like my face at our midnight breakfast, post-prom.

I used the same buttercream recipe, but substituted the mint and milk with a few tablespoons of pureed strawberries. Too much liquid, not enough thickener. (I added meringue powder, to no avail.) And yet, despite the puree overload, the flavor wasn’t nearly intense enough. I’ve tried strawberry jam in the past, but it’s equally disastrous and even more sweet.

Does anyone have a strawberry frosting recipe that doesn’t melt under pressure?

A New Blog with an Old Recipe: Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s appropriate for me to begin my new blog with an old recipe.

Almost a year ago, my mint chocolate (chip) cupcakes won the title of “fan favorite” at the 2009 Chapel Hill Cupcake Competition. They won over my classmates last fall. They earned me the potentially ominous nickname of “Cupcake.” (I enjoy a good cupcake, but I don’t aspire to look like one.)

So, as I embark on my senior year of college and a brand new blog, I want to start with a recipe that’s sweetly optimistic. Unless consumed in large quantities, leading to a diabetic coma.

My tastebuds rejoice in the refreshing flavor of sweet mint combined with the intensely dark, fudgey chocolate cake. It’s one of my absolute favorite combinations in candies and ice cream. So why not translate it into everyone’s favorite food trend–the cupcake?

The chocolate base I use is from Cupcakes Take the Cake. I let them cool for at least an hour.

Then I whip up a simple mint buttercream frosting. Helpful hint: Use store-bought frosting to stick tile to your floors. Make homemade frosting to top your baked goods.

Mint Buttercream:
1 stick of softened butter
4 C. confectioner’s sugar
2 TB or so of milk
1 t. peppermint extract
A few drops of green food coloring, if desired

1) Beat the butter. Slowly combine confectioner’s sugar.
2) Add extract and food coloring.
3) Add a bit of milk at a time, until frosting reaches a whipped consistency.

I like to dump the frosting in a Ziploc baggie and cut one corner diagonally, about 1/2-inch in length. That creates the bakery-style swirls without necessitating the purchase of a pastry bag.

Now I’ll spend the rest of the evening perfecting this year’s cupcake entry. What flavor combinations are your favorite? If it’s a sweet recommendation, I’d love to incorporate it into a future cupcake concoction.