Couture Cupcakes

Food Decor Service Cost
5 n/a n/a $5

I figured that, in order to partake in this “Cupcake War” happening in the Washington Post, that I’d have to stray from my top-seeders and try some of the other local cupcake flavor. I’ve tried Couture Cupcakes twice. These cupcakes, from a wedding caterer in Maryland, are sold at two places in the District: Cafe Tu-o-tu in Georgetown and ACKC Cafe in Logan Circle/Alexandria (there are two locations).

First taste was the “Sophie”, a chocolate cake topped with a cookies & creme buttercream frosting. Of course, this description was on their website. If you walk into Cafe Tu-o-tu, you have to ask about the cupcakes. They say this one is an “oreo” cupcake with no mention of its makers. This cupcake had an under-whelming frosting (I expect much out of my frostings after Baked & Wired, Georgetown, and Hello). and the cake was so dry. I hate to say this, but the cupcake was so bad that I couldn’t even finish it–half of it went to the birds.

Now, I thought that this was might, might, be attributed to the fact that the cupcakes were sitting on un-covered trays by the register for who knows how long. So I made it my mission to visit ACKC (a formidable hike from the Dupont metro) and see whos fault it was: cupcake or re-seller.

ACKC itself is an amazing place (and will have its own review soon), but I was also let-down by the cupcakes here. No excuses here since the cupcakes were fresh from the back in closed boxes and were then transferred to a closed plastic container. The flavor options here were more expansive, and I settled on the “Bella Lucia” (vanilla cake with Nutella center topped with a stracciatella Buttercream) and the “Mrs. Kimery” (pumpkin spice cake with pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting). I chose these two because I love stracciatella and Nutella and have been having my own Pumpkin Spice and Carrot Cake Cupcake Battles on the side. Like Cafe Tu-o-tu’s “Sophie”, the “Bella Lucia” went half/three-fourths un-eaten and went into the trash. The frosting was like nothing I had ever tasted–it had the consistency of lotion, and did not taste like the yummy stracciatella truffles that I often find myself craving in the winter months. The nutella center was quite lacking, and all around it was dry dry cake that grated against my tongue. I had to wait until today to eat the pumpkin cupcake, and it wasn’t any better. While the cake was moister, the frosting was worse! The cake had no particular flavor and the frosting tasted chemical-esque, like soap. I kept expecting my mouth to be filled with the great wonderful fall flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, and cream cheese that is all a pumpkin spice anything should be, but it never was. This cupcake was also un-finished.

Unfortunately, the descriptions of all of CC’s cupcakes are amazing. I dont know what goes wrong between the thinking-up and baking steps of the process, but there IS something wrong. I would be ashamed to have these cupcakes catered to my wedding/shower/birthday, and would rather eat Costco sheet cake anyday!

From the Washington Post ‘Cupcake Wars’

About: Paola Domenge started this Potomac-based venture as a hobby with her mother, Silvia, but formalized it as a business in April. At a leased kitchen in Gaithersburg, they bake primarily custom orders and sell at two cafes in the District: ACKC in Logan Circle and Cafe Tu-o-Tu in Georgetown. 301-926-7333; ACKC, 1529C 14th St. NW, 202-387-2626;; ACKC Alexandria, 116 E. Del Ray Ave., Alexandria, 703-635-7917;; Cafe Tu-o-Tu, 2816 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-298-7777;

The Range: We bought the cupcakes at ACKC, where the selection is wider than at Tu-o-Tu, and there were six varieties: lime, red velvet, vanilla/Nutella, Boston cream pie, chocolate/raspberry and brownie.

Price: $3.50

Size: Standard, with the perfect amount of frosting. (Average weight: 3.4 ounces.)

How do they taste?: For the most part, these were very nicely done, with creamy frostings, moist cakes and vibrant flavors. The vanilla cakes tended to be on the dry side, and the brownie cupcake was gummy and underdone, but many of the others won us over.

Best of the Bunch: Red velvet (a.k.a. Savannah, shown above), with a beautiful deep color and light cocoa flavor, topped with a truly lovely cream cheese frosting, was just about everything a cupcake should be. (Score: 8 out of 10.)

Price Per Ounce: $1.01

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Washington Post Magazine 2008 Dining Guide

Thats right folks, the 2008 version of the Dining Guide (courtesy of Tom Sietsema) is out and about! I stole mine from the beau’s newspaper last weekend, but was too busy with the goodness that was “Taste of Georgetown” to read all of it and narrow down the list to restaurants I would like to try. You can see the full online version of the dining guide here.

2008 Dining Guide Restaurants I would go to:
Central Michel Richard ★★★☆
CityZen ★★★★
co co. Sala ★★½☆ (Would like to re-visit)
Comet Ping Pong ★★½☆
Corduroy ★★½☆
Cork (Wine Bar) ★★½☆
Et Voila! ★★½☆
Great Wall Szechuan House ★★☆☆
Inn at Little Washington ★★★★ (This is just an un-realistic hope though)
Majestic ★★½☆
Marcel’s ★★★☆
Marvin ★★½☆ (Only if I were at U-Street already)
Me Jana ★★½☆
Michel Richard Citronelle ★★★☆
Minibar ★★★½
Oyamel ★★½☆
Palena ★★★☆ (Would like to try non-Cafe)
Proof ★★★☆
Rasika ★★★½
Restaurant Eve’s Tasting Room ★★★★
Saigon Cafe ★★☆☆
Sushi-Ko ★★½☆
The Source ★★★☆
2941 ★★★½ (Would like to try the new chef)
Volt ★★½☆

Ratings are based primarily on food quality but take into account service and ambiance. Restaurants that earn no stars are rated poor. * Satisfactory: Restaurants that are useful to know about if you are nearby; they may have only a few dishes or a single quality, such as a view or atmosphere, to distinguish them. ** Good: Restaurants with generally appealing cooking, service and settings; they tend to be worth driving across town for. *** Excellent: Rewarding destinations, no matter where you’re coming from; they typically blend high-quality cooking with the environs. **** Superlative: An unsurpassed dining experience; these restaurants do what they do extraordinarily well.

Other restaurants in this edition of the Washington Post Magazine I would like to go to:
Two Amys (Pizza)
Good Stuff Eatery (Burgers)

Psuedo-Chop Suey Bento

– Chicken & tofu Chop Suey – Grapes – Yogurt covered raisins
– Vitamin Water

This is a slightly un-conventional chop suey. Usually, its just some chicken and broccoli cooked with chicken broth over rice, but since my partner doesn’t like rice or broccoli that much, and is afraid of lack of flavor (never a problem for Cantonese cooking ^^), it got turned into something else.

– kung pao tofu
– chipotle marinade chicken
– orange pepper <– new favourite veggie
– mushroom
– green beans
– mian
– baby spinach!
– flax seeds

Flax seeds are really good for you, and taste like nothing! At home, I would prefer to grind up flax seeds and put them in oatmeal or smoothies (or anything!), but here I sprinkled them on top of the vegetables while cooking. You can get some flax seeds (whole) to try at Whole Foods in the bulk section (a few cents) and either eat them whole or grind them in your blender. You can also buy a huge bag of Ground Flax Seed at Whole Foods for about $6.

Baby Spinach is a great vegetable that doesn’t have a strong taste (for those that don’t like the taste of greens) and can be eaten wilted or not-wilted. Its great to always have spinach laying around to throw in omelets, fried rice, stir-frys, fajitas, nachos, and anything really! I like mine cooked with other things so it wilts down, and Dan likes his heated up, but added in at the end so it still has its leaf shape.

Orange Peppers are really flavorful and keep their crispness. These are really sweet and juicy and are a great fresh burst of flavor for any dish that needs it. One pepper sliced is enough for a dish of four and half a pepper is more than enough for two people (with other protein or vegetables).

These vegetables, in true chop suey style, were cooked with only chicken broth. You can add as much chicken broth as you want, and/or add as you go because the chicken broth cooks right off. Its a great way to cook vegetables (and meat or tofu) because its natural and not oily. Plus its full of yummy chicken flavor. I find that chicken broth works best, but you could try vegetable or beef as well.

Mid-October Bento

Here are some not-so interesting bentos as of recent:

– Fajitas (Peppers, Steak, Tortilla) – Pistachio chips – Pineapple Nat de Coco fruit jelly

Leftovers from a super-yummy dinner I made with Danny! The peppers and grilled onions in these fajitas were so delicious — I never knew I liked vegetables so much!

– Pizza – Strawberry yogurt
– Grapes
– Rice
– Oatmeal Cookie

Um.. the grapes were old and soft, and the pizza was leftovers. Nothing too great here. Its a friday afterall.