Ode to SusieCakes: A Quarter Into 2010

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , | Posted on 3/31/2010

 
so many to choose from!

Gastronomically-speaking, 2009 was merely the amuse bouche to this year's foodie endeavors. I spent my free time chasing after food trucks, scouring the planet for cupcakes, tweeting my meals, and well...starting this blog. I have several posts lined up, but I just can't get myself to press the "publish post" button on Blogger!

Why? I don't like writing a bad review and I think my palate has become hypocritically picky. During the week, I'll stuff just about anything down my pie hole! My sweet tooth used to cash any form of payment, but now my mind butts in and I won't take milk chocolate over dark. It won't, can't, and most importantly, shouldn't happen (unless its a bar of Theo chocolate or belgian chocolate from Chocri).

That was then and this is now! 2009 meant dropping pounds, fifteen to be exact. I dropped all my "couple weight." When my boyfriend and I started dating three years ago, we were new to the kitchen concept. We were too used to living in the dorms sans kitchen. The only kitchenette available was disconnected due to a fire the year before, which burned down an entire floor of my building. Too used to fast food joints and unhealthy-healthier TJ's food, I gained a substantial amount of this so-called "couple weight!" My boyfriend put on a few pounds too, but he was so scrawny to begin with!

Anyway, this year I have decided not to cut out sweets completely, because that's too drastic. Instead, I've decided to only eat what will truly satisfy my taste buds (in smaller amounts, of course)! Also, it'd be great to drop those last stubborn 10 pounds, the result of picking heels and martinis over running shoes and quinoa!

I challenge everyone to go to SusieCakes if you haven't already! If you have, please go back and remind your senses how orgasmic their cupcakes truly are!

I visited the SusieCakes in Newport Beach not too long ago for my friend's twentieth birthday. Instead of opting for an early dinner, I pleaded that we must, must, must have cupcakes from SusieCakes. My girlies and I ordered three cupcakes: the mint chocolate, mocha, and red velvet.

We weren't disappointed. All three cupcakes were moist and the frosting on each was superb. The cupcakes were Goldilocks-sized, not too small and not too big.


fluffy white peaks of cream cheese frosting

The red velvet was very different from, but ranked equally with to Sprinkles. The cream cheese frosting was just divine and you could actually taste the chocolate of the cake. The best part about the frosting of all three cupcakes is that the outside of the frosting doesn't create that thick layer you sometimes taste at Sprinkles. As you can see, it's also not so toxic-red!


chocolate mint with just the right amount of sprinkles!

The chocolate mint didn't taste like toothpaste and didn't overpower the palate. Instead, it coupled perfectly with the richness of the moist chocolate cake.They clearly don't skimp on the quality of the chocolate. The mint was a very light green and emphasized the mint green walls of the bakery.


#1 cupcake of 2009
mocha cupcake from SusieCakes

My cupcake, the mocha, had the perfect balance of coffee and chocolate. The mocha was a rich, chocolate-lover's dream. Queen Anisha officially dons this cupcake "the best cupcake of 2009." The cupcakes are made in all-American fashion and don't look overly contemporary. Homemade is the name of the game!


My besties already took a mental note that this is where Anisha wants cupcakes for her future bridal/baby shower. More sweet reasons to love your best girlfriends. Post-gorging, we ogled at their collection of cards, candles, and gift boxes.

After trying so many cupcakeries over the past year, I was finally pleased with myself and thrilled to report to everyone -- SusieCakes' cupcakes rank equally with Sprinkles! Every time I visit a cupcakery with my friends, I always take one or two home to my parents. After several failed cupcake deliveries, my parents instructed me to never bring cupcakes home again. They had scoffed at Dots Cupcakes and told me to "never again bring us cupcakes from Crumbs!"

Everyone agreed that SusieCakes makes the cut -- that's three picky girls, an "oohing" and "aahing" father, and a chocolate-loving mother who cleaned up all the frosting from the doggy bag with her forefinger in one fatally delicious swoop!

I implore you to head to SusieCakes. I know it's a difficult task, eating cupcakes and all, but please do it. And when you do, please comment here and let everyone know what you've tried and how your jaw sunk to the floor in awe of its flavor and moistness! There are five locations, meaning no excuses!


love how the cakes are frosted, homemade touches fly well
ordering my nani's birthday cake from here
I spy an USC cake!

 thanks for the tasty memories!

Locations & Menu

SusieCakes in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

SusieCakes on Urbanspoon

Fugetsu-do Sweet Shop, Little Tokyo

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , | Posted on 3/31/2010

Around two weeks ago, my friends and I decided to explore Little Tokyo with our taste buds. We ventured through markets and small stores, oogled at takoyaki stands, and had the opportunity to taste these adorably-crafted pieces of mochi from Fugetsu-do:

 a trio of mochi from Fugetsu-do

Fugetsu-do Sweet Shop is a family-owned, Japanese confectionery that has been around since 1903, making it the oldest business in Little Tokyo. It truly is a family affair, as owner Brian Kito is prominently in the midst of his team creating these sweet treats. With twenty-one years of mochi-making experience under his belt, Kito also pounds out newer creations, such as strawberry peanut butter mochi. It's a small, old-fashioned store that has not been remodeled in order to preserve "what his [Kito's] customers remember" and the history of Little Tokyo. On wooden shelves lie dusty fortune cookie molds, as it is claimed that Brian's grandfather is the creator of the fortune cookie. Heck, they even supply mochi to swirling yogurt shops around Los Angeles. There is no doubt that Fugetsu-do makes the best mochi in Los Angeles, but what is mochi?

Mochi is a Japanese confection that is made from pounding steamed glutinous rice. The rice used is mochigome, as it is sweet and sticky. This mochi is eaten with condiments such as manju, seaweed, and kinako. What are these foreign-to-me terms? We'll get into that a bit later...

display case at Fugetsu-do, each piece is about $1.20

Googling away the night before heading to Fugetsu-do, I came across a post about the sweet shop by Wandering Chopsticks. In a post dated almost three years ago, she blogged about the sakura mochi and noted that it is only available for during the Cherry Blossom Festival, until the end of April. I considered myself a lucky girl and snagged some sakura for the road.

tried the pink sakura mochi!

there it is!

The cherry leaf of the sakura mochi was a bit salty and the texture reminded me of betel leaf, which is used in paan supari and stuffed with a concoction of chopped areca nuts, masala, and mint. While the leaf of the paan found on the streets of India is usually paired with mint to act as a mouth freshener, the cherry leaf resembled Mediterranean dolmas. The salty exterior coupled well with the sweet, glutinous red bean interior.

 my favorite: Uguisu mochi

My favorite mochi of the three is the uguisu. According to Fugetsu-do's website, it is a "manju filled with koshi an," which is pretty much gibberish to me, as I'm not at all familiar with Japanese mochi. I did a bit of research and called Fugetsu-do back, because I just had to know. Manju refers to a type of mochi with sweet red bean paste. Sometimes manju is flavored with green tea and given a green exterior like this one; in that case, it is called matcha manju. "Koshian" is just one variety of many of red bean paste. On the outside is kinako, a roasted soy bean flour. The interior was not as sweet as some red bean pastes I have tried in other Chinese desserts and paired well with the subtle matcha flavor and kinako.

inside-out mochi, kawaii!

I don't remember the name of this mochi, but it's pretty easy to spot with the pink flower! It is an inside-out mochi; the red bean paste surrounds the white square glob of mochi. I remember picking this one solely on its looks, but it was a fair contender against the other two pieces. 

 add mochi to your Easter egg basket!

If you're not a fan of the traditional red bean-filled mochi, don't fret! There are several fruity flavors available, such as lime, strawberry, and pineapple. Also, Minty tweet-formed me that people try to achieve a Reese's PB cup effect by sandwiching the peanut butter-filled and chocolate-filled mochi. The packs of peanut butter mochi were only $4.00 for about six pieces!

I highly recommend checking out Fugetsu-do if you haven't already (probably when you're waiting in line for Daikokuya Ramen). The staff was friendly and helpful and the history behind the store is touching. This Easter, I will definitely add it to my basket... will you? Let me know!

315 E. First St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213.625.8295

Fugetsu-do Sweet Shop in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Fugetsu-Do on Urbanspoon

Dark Chocolate Covered Goji Berries

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , | Posted on 3/27/2010

I can't believe it's not bad for me -- thank you Mother Nature!
only $4.99/lb 

I'm a goji berry fiend. Heavenly in trail mix, but even better when covered in dark chocolate. I can't say I'm a fan of the superfruit marketing trend of açai and goji berries, but if they taste good and are packed with antioxidants... why am I complaining?

make sure to tie your bag and write the code!
photo credit: life is a feast

Check out Henry's Farmers Markets' bulk bins for a great selection of coffee, flours and grains, nuts, dried fruits, chocolate, and other confections. I love that I can purchase a handful of my favorite nuts and fruits and make a trail mix tailored to moi. Also, I like testing out different flours when baking and Henry's bins allow me to do just that, without the one pound commitment! Not a fan that the word bulk is associated with it  ̶  reminds me of Costco and that's not very chique, is it?

Henry's Farmers Market
http://www.henrysmarkets.com/ 

 "Health food makes me ill" 
̶̶  Calvin Trillin

Pamper Me Fabulous: March 28, 2010 -- The Foodie Edition

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in | Posted on 3/22/2010

 Pamper Me Fabulous - March 28, 2010, Vibiana, Los Angeles

I love attending foodcentric events! Whether it's a wine tasting or the immensely successful flustercluck known as the First Annual LA Food Fest, or charitable bake sales, you'll probably find me chowing and snapping pictures of my latest bite! Pamper Me Fabulous is another great event focused on pampering the mind, the body, and surprisingly, the palate!

I will be attending Pamper Me Fabulous on 3/28 and covering the culinary aspect of the event. To get the inside bite, I contacted the event coordinator and through email, we bonded over our love of cupcakes and chocolate. More information about the event and how to purchase tickets is below, but here are some of the vendors I'm looking forward to taste:

ChocoVivo
 
A bean-to-bar chocolatier that manually grinds the cacao bean as the ancient Mayans and Aztecs did over 2,000 years ago. They only make dark chocolate and dilutive ingredients such as soy powder or additional cocoa butter. I love that they praise their ingredients as "natural as Mother Nature intended our food to be."

L.A. Bento 
As a girl who's been brought up on pb & j and sack lunches, I'm a fan of any company who's slogan is "redefining lunch in a box." This particular, chef-driven company delivers box lunches all over Los Angeles to your doorstep or cubicle! The bread is baked daily and imported from Breadbar and meats are hormone-free and sustainably farmed (huge plus!). Sandwiches can also be deconstructed and made into salads! These gourmet box lunches can be purchased at the event for only $11.

My Sweet Cupcake
I was a bit shocked when I heard this cupcakery is located in South Pasadena, very near and dear to my 'hood! I can't believe I haven't tried their cupcakes, which are rumored to taste very homemade and extremely moist! Can't wait to put the rumors to rest and report back about these frosty, trendy treats!

Room Forty
A food and wine catering company, Room Forty, is all about cooking with your heart. They hold their own private dinners in addition to catering for private events. VIP members can look forward to appetizers featuring local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. Here's a sneak peek of three appetizers:
        - Autumn Soup Shooters: chestnut soup, fried sage demi glasses
        - Endive Cups: endive, bing cherries, candied almonds, juniper berry gastrique
        - The Spa: heirloom tomato, meyer lemon, Panzenella salad


These are only a few of the amazing food vendors at Pamper Me Fabulous! Other dessert and "free-flowing" drink stations will be pampering your palate at the event including HintMint, Mignon Chocolate, Cabot Cheese, Barefoot Wine, Pop Chips, POM, Luna Bar... and the list goes on!

Now that you're drooling, would you like a spa and beauty treatment to go with that?

Full Press Release from Pamper Me Fabulous:

Need a break? Pamper Me Fabulous – the spa, beauty, shopping, eating, relaxing event of the year – is almost here!  Makes you want to sigh with relief, doesn’t it?

This year, Pamper Me Fabulous takes place on Sunday, March 28th, 2010 at the Vibiana in Downtown Los Angeles.  The event gives sophisticated (read: overworked and stressed-out) women the opportunity to relax and get the red-carpet treatment.  More than 10 top-notch spas and beauty companies from Los Angeles and Southern California will be offering Pamper Me Fabulous guests mini spa & beauty treatments including brow shaping with Romãn Salon, hand massages from Bliss Spa, facials from Lierac Paris, to name a few.

In addition to the luxurious spa and beauty treatments, guests will enjoy free-flowing drinks and attend pro-led breakouts covering topics from beauty to health & wellness at the expert corner.  The Fabulous Finds Bazaar will allow women to participate in some “retail therapy,” and all attendees will get a swag bag filled with beauty and other fabulous goodies. 

VIP Ticket: $100
General Ticket: $25

The best news is that 10% of each ticket purchased will go to Step Up Women’s Network, a national network of women dedicated to strengthening community resources for women and girls. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.PamperMeFabulous.com
Email: comments@PamperMeFabulous.com 
Call: 626.799.8010

Chocri Customizable Chocolate: One Word -- Swoon.

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , | Posted on 3/15/2010

okay, maybe one more word -- drool!

'Twas the morning of my twenty-first birthday and I was getting ready to head out to Vegas. Before I threw my suitcases into the trunk, I had the urge to check my email. A weekend sans email is torturous, especially when I'm stranded in Sin City. As I was scouring my inbox, I came across an email from Carmen, a PR representative of a German chocolate company. In the email, she was wished me a very happy birthday, thumbs-upped my blog, and presented me a gift certificate for three customizable chocolate bars, including free shipping! That was the start to a very, very sinful birthday weekend.

love the see-through packaging and customized labels at the top!

Chocri customizable chocolate is one of the neatest confections you can gift a chocoholic. I was lucky enough to create and taste three of my very own chocolate bars, compliments of Chocri.

don't you wish you could swim in pools of chocolate? I do.
[screen shot from chocri.com]

There are three types of chocolates to choose from:
  • white chocolate, base price of $5.90
  • 32% milk chocolate, base price of $6.90
  • 64% dark chocolate, base price of $7.90
All of the Belgian chocolate is organic and fair trade. Chocri offers over 100 toppings to choose from, which means a whooping 10 billion possible combinations. Although I'd like to list out the amazing toppings to choose from, looking at the toppings on your chocolate base is even more enticing. The toppings range in prices from $0.10 [sea salt] to $2.10 [real gold flakes]. Some interesting toppings include: goji berries, bacon, pink and purple candied lilac, flax seed, marzipan carrots... and the mouth-watering list goes on. Check out the complete list of toppings here.

Just in time for Easter, Chocri has added eight themed toppings. The following two are my favorite:

you're going to need an extra-large plastic Easter egg for this bar of chocolate
[screen shot from chocri.com]


not too shabby for milk chocolate

The first bar contained blueberries, cashews, gold flakes, and honey chocolate drops on a 34% milk chocolate base. The milk chocolate was very creamy and took a while to melt in my mouth (and in my hand). The honey chocolate drops (smack dab in the middle of the picture above) was my favorite part of the chocolate, as it paired well with the rest of the bar. The blueberries and cashews added for a nice, chew and crunch texture. 

crunchy goodness, my favorite of the three!

The second bar was hands down, my favorite of the three bars! The dark chocolate bar was topped with toffee pieces, cappuccino drops, roasted almonds, sour cherries and coffee grounds. The coffee grounds and cappuccino drops added depth of flavor and paired well against the roasted almonds and sweet toffee. The bar was very thick, as the toppings added more width to it (scroll up to the first picture)! I unfortunately, shared this bar amongst my parents and two roommates. This bar alone would prompt me to purchase Chocri chocolate. I cannot stress enough, how awesome it is to pick the toppings on your chocolate bar!

best line ever: "it makes your poo sparkle"

The third bar was a whimsical choice on my part. I fondly named it "the Bling bar." I'm a girl who is enamored by both jewelry and chocolate and the idea that I created a bling bar isn't farfetched. I choose the shiniest toppings available: gold flake, golden pearls, silver pearls, and a star decoration on dark chocolate. The goal of this chocolate bar, in my boyfriend's tongue, was to "make your poo sparkle!" I won't confirm or deny if it did just that, but I pretended that my chocolate bar was akin to Serendipity's famed $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae.

The Chocri concept is well-developed and there is something for just about everyone. Say you loved your chocolate bar creation and want to reorder it? Easy! Each bar has an unique code on the back of each chocolate bar's package. Just type in the code and bam, it's in your shopping cart! What if you can't decide on the toppings? Visit their gallery of chocolate bars that have recently been created, popular, and recommended bars.

The chocolate is slightly on the pricey side, but Chocri demolishes other customizable chocolate competition, such as M&M's customizable candy messages. My only recommendation to Chocri is to create a fourth chocolate base, a dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa mass over 70%.

If you have the dough and you want an unique gift to woo your loved one, impress your boss, or simply indulge, Chocri should be at the top of your list!

Visit their website to order your customized chocolate bar: http://www.createmychocolate.com
& follow them on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/chocridotcom

 thanks for the chocolate!
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