February 14, 2014

A Little Escape from Winter

I've been MIA from the real world lately. I've seen a total of like 2 minutes of the Olympics, got a chance to forget about the most brutal winter ever, and had some time away from my kitchen. I escaped to Florida for the past 8 days for a work trip. While I wasn't cut off from the world, I kind of just let myself stay inside a very comfortable bubble of work, boxed wine and palm trees.
obligatory feet by the pool shot
I had a tour of the east coast of Florida with some central Florida mixed in. The beginning of our trip started with some rain and cold but I finally felt the warmth of the sun in Palm Beach and it was glorious. 

Life on the road can be hard to get good meals, but with the help of Yelp and an organized friend, my friends and I were able to find some gems along the way. Usually my way to find good restaurants is reading articles on foodie sites but Katrina's trick was using Yelp and finding at least 4.5 starred restaurants with a good amount of reviews (The Floridian, Coolinary Cafe and Hong Kong Deli were my favorites). We ate well and now I'm coming home with a little rounder belly and tighter fitting pants.

And of course I ate a couple of cupcakes...

My first stop for cupcakes was in our first city: St. Augustine, where the first four days of my trip were spent in somewhat chilly weather. But a stop at a the cupcake bakery, Luli's Cupcakes, brightened up my day.
located at: 82 San Marco, St. Augustine, Florida
The bakery by 4pm was depleted of most of their flavors. I resorted to their Chocoholic cupcake: a chocolate cake topped with chocolate frosting and chocolate bits. Each cupcake is $2.75.
Their lack of cupcakes at that time of day was a pretty good indicator of how good their cupcakes are. I totally gobbled mine up, enjoying every bite of it. Delicious frosting and a super moist cake. It wasn't up to the amazingness of the many gourmet cupcakes I've eaten, but it was simply a great cupcake.

An extra bonus: the bakery has cupcakes-to-go in jars. Each jar has the equivalent of two cupcakes and lasts up to 7-10 days. I should have bought one to take on the road since my next cupcake stop wasn't quite as stellar...

The second cupcake of my Florida tour was in West Palm Beach. Sugar Chef Cupcakes is located in the heart of downtown. They offer classic and signature cupcakes. I settled on the classic offerings since the signature ones were jumbo-sized and a little pricey ($4.75 each). The classic cupcakes are $3.75 each or $3.50 each if you purchase 4 or more---which is what I did. I got a Caramel Gorilla cupcake, which was a banana cupcake topped with caramel buttercream. I ordered a few more for friends so we also sampled 24 Carrot, Vanilla Bean and Peanut Butter Cup.
located at: 600 South Rosemary Street, West Palm Beach, Florida
All of the cupcakes fell victim to the same issue: a little dry, dense but fluffy texture, kind of in the realm of poundcake. My banana cupcake was pretty bland while the carrot cupcake tasted heavily of real carrot flavor. It also lacked a cream cheese frosting, which Katrina says, "A carrot cake cupcake without cream cheese frosting is an abomination." Agreed.
Peanut Butter Cup was probably the tastiest since it had the best flavor but overall, these weren't that wonderful. While beautifully decorated, it wasn't enough to mask a mediocre cake.

So now I'm back in Buffalo. Back to winter boots, my puffy coat and a DVR filled with shows calling my name.

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