Archive for September, 2009

B&O Espresso

September 28, 2009

One of the best places to go in Seattle for a sit-down-and-savor-it dessert is B&O Espresso, which is so much more than its name suggests. Yes, they have coffee, but they also have breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, beer, wine, cocktails… and of course, dessert.  And what a wide selection! In the mood for something grown-up? Try the chocolate martini or espresso mousse torte. Feeling like comfort food? There’s apple pie and bread pudding. But before you decide, check out the display case so you know exactly what you’re getting:

counter

Since it was a cool, cusp-of-fall evening, I decided to warm up with the brioche bread pudding, which is made with a whiskey sauce – perfect for getting that toasty feeling all the way to your toes!  At first I was a little surprised: their bread pudding is very milky, and you feel like you’re drinking bread soup rather than eating a pudding. However, after a few bites, I was won over.

bread pudding

It tasted a lot like this amazing dessert I had when I was in Egypt – I think it was called Om Ali. Anyway, the excess liquid didn’t bother me at all, and the flavor was divine.  But… as I was getting ready to leave, I began to mourn the lack of chocolate in my meal, and in the end, could not resist getting a chocolate rum ball to go. I downed it the next day at work:

rum ball

The rum flavor was just a tiny bit intense, but other than that… oh my! The texture was perfect – not chewy or gooey, it was almost the texture of cheesecake.  The outer shell had a perfectly strong chocolate flavor, and wasn’t too sweet at all.  Overall, this place remains in my top ten Seattle dessert destinations… a nice atmosphere + something for everyone + delicious dessert = the perfect place to put on a few pounds.

Volunteer Park Cafe

September 26, 2009

For being a small, hidden, neighborhood cafe, the Volunteer Park Cafe does a brisk business, especially on sunny Saturday and Sunday mornings. To avoid the crowds, I decided to order at the counter and take my treat to – where else? – Volunteer Park for a Sunday morning picnic. If you’re visiting on a summer day, it’s best to eat outside (there are sidewalk tables if you don’t feel like taking it to the park) because it gets very hot inside the restaurant.

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Despite the heat, I do like the interior of the cafe – the building is over 100 years old, and was a small grocery in the early 1900s. The owners have tried to preserve the nostalgic atmosphere with furniture and decor that feels homey and venerable, with a long communal table taking up much of the interior space.

inside

But, on to more important things: the food, the coffee, and the dessert (all are good, but let’s just focus on the latter). When faced with a counter full of cookies, pastries, scones, and cakes, I had a hard time choosing, especially since the breakfast menu also included a nutella-strawberry panini.

counter

As usual, I ended up asking the staff for help.  The girl at the counter steered me away from the nutella panini and toward the muffins. I eventually decided on a berry-nut muffin, and set up shop at a picnic table in the park. I started eating and almost forgot to take the picture:

muffin

The muffin was satisfying in the way that only butter and sugar can be, but I felt it was missing something. Now, I know, that I often complain about things being too sweet or too rich, but in this case, I thought the muffin could have used more streusel topping (butter and sugar), and just more top in general (don’t you like the top of the muffin best?). I know I’m being picky, but to tell the truth, I’ve had trouble getting just the right treat at VPC, and every time I go there I leave wanting a little bit MORE.

I’ll just have to go back and try again.

Trophy Cupcakes

September 20, 2009

The cupcake competition in Seattle has definitely gotten hotter in the last few years, with several local shops and chains vying for customers (think Royale, Trophy, and Yellowleaf). I have yet to declare my allegiance – after all, why choose one when you can just have them all? However, I do have a soft spot for Trophy Cupcakes as it was my first Seattle cupcake experience after moving here from New York, the cupcake capitol of the world.

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Trophy has several locations, including Wallingford, the U-Village, and Bellevue. I think one of the best things about Trophy (besides the actual cupcakes) is the revolving selection of flavors. There’s always a flavor of the month,  special cupcakes available only on certain days of the week, and seasonal creations. The fact that you never know what’s going to be waiting for you makes cupcake hunting even more exciting!

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A few of the more interesting flavors include snickerdoodle, peanut butter and jelly, chai cardamom – and once I had a margarita cupcake! This time, however, we decided to stick to more traditional flavors, starting with carrot cake and cream cheese frosting.

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Very delicious, although I would have liked a little more cake with all that frosting. Trophy puts a great deal of emphasis on ingredients, with their website mentioning Valrhona Cocoa and Pure Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. To test the quality of the latter, we moved onto Vanilla-Vanilla (vanilla cake, vanilla frosting):

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Again, a little less frosting would help balance the textures, but the cake had an intense vanilla flavor and wonderfully buttery texture. One of the reasons I like Trophy is that their cupcakes are not overly sweet, and the Vanilla was perfectly sugary without being sickeningly so. Finally, we gave into our peanut butter craving with the chocolate cake – peanut butter frosting combo.

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This was my favorite of the cupcakes, but I only managed a small bite before it was devoured by one of my football player students. However, he pronounced it delicious and I agreed. It seems that Trophy, which has only been around for two and a half years, is already a winner.

Kingfish Cafe

September 16, 2009

There are lots of restaurants in Seattle with amazing desserts, but there is only one that makes me want to weep with joy. The Kingfish Cafe is my favorite restaurant in Seattle not only for it’s soul food (their mac n cheese is the best I’ve ever had) but for its cakes, which are traditional Southern-style indulgences.  The drink menu is also divine, with several cocktails that could serve as a drinkable dessert (try the Two-Sista’s Cocktail).  The restaurant atmosphere is lively but casual, and on the weekend you should be prepared to wait for a table.  Also be sure to check their hours before you go – they are not open between 2:00 and 5:30.

outside

There are several things that set their desserts apart from other places – one is the size. The cakes are HUGE – generally too much for even two people.

lemon cake

The dessert menu varies from day-to-day, but the quality remains high. Pictured above is the lemon cake, served with strawberries and cream. I loved the texture and flavor of the cake, although it could have had a tad less frosting. Since I was with a group of people, I was lucky enough to sample (and photograph) their desserts as well, including my absolute favorite, the strawberry shortcake:

strawberries

This dessert uses fresh strawberries, making it a seasonal addition to the menu. If you’re a fan of strawberry shortcake, make it a point to visit Kingfish in the summer when the strawberries are at their fullest. I liked this dessert so much that I saved some for dinner (yes, dinner) the next night! And then we have the obligatory chocolate cake:

chocolate

The strawberries aren’t always a star ingredient, but the cream topping is (it’s not ice cream, but is sweeter and creamier than traditional whipped cream). Even though I love chocolate cake, I liked the lemon and shortcake better – they seemed to have a more intense flavor. I need my chocolate cake to be super intense, and although this one was good, it was not “edgy” enough for me.

Wow, just writing this entry was enough to get my mouth watering… time to go eat!