Sunday, April 25, 2010


Okay so after Charlie and I wrapped up lunch at Santa Barbara Shellfish Co., we headed to Crushcakes where we were greeted by a QTpie behind the counter and a jaw-dropping display of cupcakes. To be honest, I didn't even really notice her until after I gave the display a good once-over...

Gotta prioritize, ya know?

Got a bunch of stuff. Not all are pictured or listed:

Buttermilk Crumb Cake - moist buttermilk cinnamon swirl cake with brown sugar cinnamon frosting.
Strawberry Blush - fresh strawberry cake topped with rosy pink strawberry frosting.
Peanut Butter Cup - chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter frosting topped with ganache.
Chocolate Chocolate - rich dark chocolate cake smothered in dark chocolate frosting.
XYZ(I forgot) & a better version of the
Hostess' CupCake

With a 2.5hr drive back to LA, I dunno how I made it without eating them all. For real, I show zero constraint when it comes to desserts. Will of Eclipse Chocolat fame can attest to can my UCSD pals who've all seen me destroy a dozen donuts, a whole choco-cake, a whole batch of brownies, or big bag of Oreos in a single sitting.

It's a wonder I can still see my abs. Not that I'm bragging, of course. I'm just sayin'.

Alright, so two of them didn't make it home for an afternoon tea photoshoot:


I anticipated the Peanut Butter Cup to be my favorite:

I mean, how could it not blow you away? I never pass judgment based on presentation when it comes to food, but this little guy totally had me sold. That is, until I took a chomp out of each of the four. PBCup was good, but nothing terribly remarkable, though the chococake was almost on par with my man Will's. The biggest weakness the PBCup has is the lack of PB flavor. If Crushcake can fix it, then we have a definite winner whose taste would match its perfect construction. On the other hand, Buttermilk Crumb Cake is a real sleeper. I did not expect such rich and decadent creamy/milky flavor from the cake. Holy **** it was like licking an angel. Choco-choco, however, did not wow me as much. It was a pretty standard chocolate cake/frosting combo. Maybe if some ganache were thrown in (kinda like Will's @ Eclipse) it would win more points.

Yes, the Buttermilk Crumb Cake blew my mind, but the winner of the tasting is Strawberry Blush. Almost too close to call, though. Stawberry blush packed a big whallop of fresh strawberry taste. I really dig that. Each bite tasted of the sweet aroma of fresh berries. Seriously. The cake is almost as rich as the Buttermilk Crumb Cake, but had a good touch of strawberry to it. Slap on that delectable strawberry frosting and Crushcake's got a signature cupcake. (No idea why their actual signature cake is the red velvet Crushcake. The thing was so unremarkable.)

I'm all for big bold flavors, but the thing is, I eat desserts in massive quantities. The Buttermilk Crumb Cake is just too heavy in such binging sessions and palate fatigue would creep up way too early. Out of a potential dozen Crushcakes, I'd likely buy three of their best flavors in sets of four. Four BCCs would just be too much even for me. Lastly, Stawberry Blush is just such a refined cupcake. It's "light" and yet it'll smack your mouth around with strawberry. A real culinary marvel. When the weather turns cold, though, I'd bump the BCC to #1 and wolf them down with some city+ roasted coffee.

Will, you've finally got a worthy competitor!

Crushcakes Cupcakery
1315 Anacapa STreet
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

From the Lompac return trip. Location is right on the pier and parking (validated) was no problem at all.

Beer boiled FTW!

G'damn these were so sweet. As sweet as fresh amaebi from a sushi bar. Can't decide which I like better: these or the monster sea prawns at Hong Kong Palace?

The Dungeoness and her onion ring crown.

Last crab season was the best ever and I hope you all took advantage of it. They were just about four bucks a pop at 99 Ranch Supermarket. If you live near a 99 and missed it, then you fail @ fooding, I'm sorry. This Dungeoness was more expensive, but somehow tasted a helluva lot sweeter than the live ones I took home from 99. Shoot, I even watched the kitchen folks prepare the order and it seems no different than what I do.

We also had an order of fried clam strips and some chowder. Clam strips were unremarkable. Can't remember the last time I've been impressed by them so I suppose I'll just stop ordering 'em now. Chowder, on the other hand, is terrific at SBSC. Charlie's gal supposedly is more than content to work on her own bowl of chowder, leaving clayfu to finish all the seafood by himself.

Sure prices are high here, but what do you expect? It's right on the pier with a spanking good view. If you know a better place for seafood nearby, I'm all ears. But, it'll be tough to top SBSC's quality and execution.

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company
230 Stearns Wharf
Santa Barbara, CA 93101-3571
805. 966-6676

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Marche Moderne

Every once in awhile I find "surprise money" neglected in the pockets of rarely worn pants. Woohoo! I have cash to spend again! Similarly, after a heavy session of Korean BBQ, I find a "surprise meal" between my teeth a few hours later. Deliciously mmm-yoso! Another one of my favorite surprises comes when sorting through my portfolio.

This was from a catch-up last year with one of my dearest gal-pals who was briefly in town. Figured we'd choose one of the best restaurants Orange County has to offer--Marche Moderne.

Seared Foie Gras w/ Apricots & Toasted Brioche

"Foie gras" means "order me" in French. People who say otherwise are just pretending they know how to speak French....even the French. This was a great dish. Poached apricots packed a surprisingly big whallop of flavor despite being sliced so thinly. Wish there was a bit more acidity to cut through the fat, but who am I kidding? It was good enough for me to horde.!

Mixed greens, mozzarella, & stuff.

Rabbit food. But for a $30 prix-fix lunch menu, it was a good value. For sure kicks Nine-Ten's ass in freshness and taste. Nine-Ten just throws together greens, salt, and oil, while Marche they do the same thing, but add cheese, nuts, and tomatoes. Did I mention better quality greens than Nine-Ten? (Alright alright I'll stop the bashing now.)

Pork loin with...with...oh who the heck can remember after half a year?

Jeebus Christ my entree was huge. Thick slices(5) of pork placed on top of some sauteed mystery greens (again, who the heck can remember?) then topped off with a bright fruity salsa. That green guac lookin stuff at the bottom is actually some funky cream with like...cumin, cilantro, and yeah okay maybe some guac too. In terms of flavor, I really dug my entree. Big, earthy, meaty flavors contrasted with a feisty salsa that just lights up your tongue. The only shortcoming was the texture of the loin. I mean c'mon, guys. Even I can cook up a more tender loin. Seriously, fellas.

"Trout" risotto with calamari + shellfish and stuff.

Gal-pal ordered the "trout" risotto. Pardon my ignorance, but that looks and tasted more like an Arctic Char to me. Best dish of the day. Miles ahead of the foie gras. Everything about the entree was impeccable. The Char walked a fine line between medium-rare and medium-well while the broth soaking the risotto slapped your face around yelling "Hey! I taste like seafood! *slap* Oy!" For realsies, that broth was the biggest and most aromatic combo of seafood flavors I've ever had. A Bouillabaisse on 'roids.

I ate 35% of her entree. What? Don't look at me like that. She's a light eater. ahem.

Yay! Sweets! Simple, light, and refreshing. I wouldn't have been able to handle anything heavier, though we did tear through a bag of chocolate covered strawberries and truffles from Godiva ten minutes later.

Oink oink.

What a steal at $30/person. Very very interested in their dinner menu now.

Marche Moderne
3333 Bristol St
Ste 3001
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

(That's the 3rd floor of South Coast Plaza, FYI)