Thursday, March 11, 2010

TBG Eats: Batter Up Cupcakes

Current Weight: 165.2 lbs.

Batter Up Cupcakes Website

I'm now at the age where all the latest fads make no sense. For instance, someone I work with told me that watches were "coming back" for men. I haven't worn a watch in 25 years and back then, we didn't abbreviate…we called them by their FULL name – Swatches. Besides, I've got a fancy new cell phone that I'm using to nearly 2% of its capabilities and included amongst the small handful of features I actually understand: a clock.

The cupcake trend ranks right up there for me.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that – given a choice of desserts – I'll take pie over cake any time, any place. A slice of pie has substance…as evidenced from the presence of the plate and fork that always accompany pie. Cake, meanwhile, is a glorified finger food.

We lick the batter from a bowl off our fingers. We use the very same digits as a means for absconding with a little icing. If we cut the cake into small enough pieces, it magically becomes "coffee cake" and can be eaten on the commute into the office with the other hand on the steering wheel.*

*-- For those of you in New York, feel free to substitute "that unsanitary subway holding bar thing" for "steering wheel".

My top five favorite pies, in order, are: (1) key lime, (2) Mrs. Bootleg's sweet potato**, (3) lemon meringue, (4) banana cream and (5) pecan. These are indulgent desserts made for savoring -- perhaps out on the deck, after a sumptuous meal, as the sun sets in the distance or at a 24-hour diner, after a night of drunken debauchery, as the sun rises in the distance.

**-- Not a euphemism.

So, with my psyche's pie bias ever-cooling on the windowsill of my soul, I was intrigued by the recent opening of a cupcake shoppe (NOT pronounced "shop-PAY", as I embarrassingly learned during an unfortunate "reading aloud" moment in fourth grade) next to my regular dry cleaner.

Batter Up Cupcakes is located in one of those sprawling outdoor business areas that fall somewhere between "strip mall" and "mall mall" on the spectrum of retail relevance. (And, for the sake of argument, let's all pretend that malls are still viable business models in this era of and other e-commerce. Cool? Cool.)

The theme of Batter Up is baseball – a sport I've written about and watched a little in my lifetime. The d├ęcor of the bakery is exceedingly sparse (two small tables, a few chairs and some artsy baseball pictures on the wall). The wall-mounted menus are written on two large chalkboards that cover the "home team" (everyday cupcake flavors) and the "visitors" (a rotating assortment of specialty flavors).

Since I'm all about supporting local businesses – and NOT because I'm a dessert hypocrite – I've visited Batter Up several times over the past few weeks.

The red velvet (pictured above) was deliciously not-too-dense and not-too-light, while nailing the off-chocolate flavor that so many bakeries can't quite get. The German chocolate – in all honesty, my favorite cake flavor – was full of cocoa goodness and light on the coconut, which is too often overused in others I've tried. The carrot cake had a true carrot flavor – not the "spice cake with carrot flecks" made in many places, such as Costco's bakery – and wasn't smothered in frosting, while the bananas foster had a mildly sweet taste with a cinnamon-y kick at the end.

Mrs. Bootleg – a self-styled dessert expert – called the vanilla cupcakes the best she'd ever had, while the Strawberry Lemonade((!) - pictured above) cupcakes had the same refreshing citrus finish as the summertime beverage that shares its name.

The last time I was there, I think I met the owner. He was working the counter and noticed the Oakland A's lanyard (oh, shut up) I wear at the office. I showed off my knowledge of the 1970s A's teams and, specifically, Gene Tenace's
World Series feat. He one-upped me by name-dropping his golfing buddy Blue Moon Odom.

Sorry, pie…I still love you, but I'm officially a dessert adulterer.

Grade: 5 (out of 5)


veronica said...

I would like to suggest you keep Jalen home from school at least once a week from here on out if it gives us more posts like this. Love the blog!

SHough610 said...

I'm a cake guy over pie. But you have to try chess pie, think pecan pie without the pecans.

Store bought cakes, with the exception of a chain here in Richmond, has too much lard or fat or transfat or whatever it is that leaves a film on the top of your mouth after eating the icing in it.

Joe said...

**-- Not a euphemism. -- I gotta stop reading you at work, Cam. My coworkers just asked me what was so funny.

I've never seen a cupcake shoppe before I took a trip to Raleigh, NC. It was if it was pulling my fiancee & I into its doors as we leisurely strolled by, and they had the best red velvet cake I've ever had.

And now I'm hungry

That Bootleg Guy said...

@Veronica - (in my best "Big Momma" from Soul Food voice): Awww, thankee, baby!

@Sam - In another lifetime, I dated a girl who made a pumpkin/walnut pie. Same concept as pecan (nut covered top, pie-y goodness underneath). I'm not even a pumpkin fan, but this was glorious.

@Joe - Of course, now I'm noticing cupcake shops everywhere here in San Diego. There's also a place that sells mini-bundt cakes which I'm pretty sure I'll be hitting up next.

Joe said...

I see they have the "cupcake schedule" online. That's just dangerous information to know, as I would be scheduling all of my errands on a day where they had something I really wanted.

"No honey, I'll take the stuff to Goodwill TOMORROW. I don't know when you thought I said I'd do it today."

Michele "Michiewah" Toro said...

Here's some NYC cupcake goodness...