Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Babycakes NYC

I rarely go to NYC and over this past long weekend while I technically flew in and out of JFK, I didn't spend much time in NYC proper. Instead, I was there to pace my friend Glen at MMT100 (yes 100 miles, actually 102) in Virginia. He lives in Inman Park and we drove the 5 hrs down to VA on Friday and returned to NYC on Sunday afternoon, soon after Glen had run an amazing race and come in second place in 20:44. I paced him for the last 6 hrs (27 miles) and endured lots of wet, wild, painful, technical running (and falling). It was awesome! Needlesstosay, running that far makes you hungry. Really really hungry. We stopped somewhere in PA somewhere to grab lunch, but by 4pm were ravenously hungry again and ready to head out to eat a huge plate of sushi at Glen's favorite spot on the lower eastside.


Sushi sounded like just the thing, but I was thinking on to breakfast the next day (and dessert after sushi) and was really hankering for a gluten free treat. We all deserve a treat now and again, especially after such hard running. As I drove us to the lower eastside, I was hit with a stroke of genius: Babycakes!!! I follow the Babycakes blog and suddenly I realized that we might just be in the right part of town to go try some out. I quickly found Babycakes on my iPhone and jumped for joy when Glen told me that the address was literally right around the corner from where we were going. Yesssssss!!!

After a bit of misdirection, we found our way and I illegally parked across the street, leaving poor, tired, debilitated Glen in the car with the hazards on (you would be debilitated too if you ran 100 miles). I popped in the shop and was instantly in heaven. They had a ton of gluten free agave sweetened cupcakes, different kind of frosted and unfrosted loaves, breakfast pastries, skinny buns and cookies. Not to mention Stumptown coffee. They had me at Stumptown.

On the glass of the pastry case they have written which items are gluten free and what they contain (i.e. agave sweetened, etc). I was very pleased to find out that while they do use spelt in some pastries, they do a strict seperation in the kitchen to avoid contamination of the gluten-free items. I mean what is the point in having a gluten-free bakery if the entire world of gluten-intolerance/celiacs aren't going to be able to enjoy it! I was just happy to know it was egg-free, since half the time I can actually locate a gluten-free item, they still have eggs, dairy or soy (all of which I can't have). I just stood there, going back and forth, back and forth about what I wanted. Deciding on items for Glen was easy, he had been mentioning wanting blueberry pie (he is a man after my own heart on that one and he doesn't even know it) and he really likes cinnamon rolls. I ordered him a slice of frosted banana blueberry "loaf" and a skinny bun. For myself I ordered a small carrot cupcake and a banana muffin for breakfast the next morning (on my early early morning flight, concluding a weekend of no more than 4 hrs of sleep a night for 5 days). By the time I had ordered Glen had hobbled into the shop and approved of my purchases. We stopped for a quick photo of the shop and were off to sushi (or maybe Glen just needed a seat before walking back to the car).

After dinner we headed back to his apartment and I broke out the dessert treats, handing over his frosted banana blueberry loaf (not before swiping a bit of the very light, intensely blueberry frosting from between the two layers of load and tucking into my own carrot cupcake. The carrot cupcake was light, moist and very flavorful. Of all of the gluten-free, everything free, etc cupcakes/ dessert treats I have ever had, this was the one that tasted so "un" anything free (i.e. it tasted like the "real" thing), it blew my mind. This did not taste like alternative baking at all texturally.  The frosting of both items was not heavy or overbearing, it just added another layer of flavor and texture. We gobbled our treats, looking at each other wide eyed and saying, "wow that is good, that is really really good."

The next morning we were up early, again before 5am and Glen took me to the airport. I carried in my bag some fruit and the precious BabycakesNYC muffin. I couldn't wait to eat it, but I made myself wait. I wanted to be good and hungry for it. I wanted to let the anticipation build a bit. Plus I was still full from all that sushi! After the plane took off and I was chatting with the couple seated next to me, I was hungry enough to break out the muffin. I opened the box, peeled off a small piece and put it in my mouth to savor. It had the texture of a full gluten muffin, light and airy. The banana flavor was understated but balanced. Not too sweet, perfectly satisfying. I was in love with that muffin. I ate slowly. I closed my eyes. "Wow, that smells really good", my neighbor to the right said, "if you don't gobble that up, I may have to steal it from you". It is a serious compliment on how good it smelled, after all, not many people threaten to steal a perfect strangers food for nothing. It was delicious. And it gave me hope that I too could create baked goods that were satisfying and wouldn't sit like a brick in my stomach. I went home and immediately bought the Babycakes cookbook and am eagerly, enthusiastically awaiting its arrival. Frankly, I can't wait.


Babycakes NYC on Urbanspoon

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