Cupcake Caught My Eye

Cupcake Caught My Eye

After getting my fill of Mediterranean food for lunch on Saturday, I couldn’t help but make a pit stop…for cupcakes!

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Big Man Bakes

Big Man Bakes is a cupcake store I used to pass on some Sunday long runs when I lived near DTLA. I would sometimes run past it before turning right, back to Figueroa. This time however, I was walking straight towards it.

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Just FYI…

Once I got to the small storefront, I gazed into the display case of perfectly frosted cupcakes, and didn’t even know what to pay attention to first.

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Cupcakes and gear

The young lady behind the counter was eager to share a bit about Big Man Bakes, and some of their classic and seasonal flavors that were currently available. I was thinking I’d go for the Red Velvet or Oreo…

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Utensils and things

…but in the end, I went with a seasonal flavor—strawberry!

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Ready to eat!

It was called an “XL” cupcake, but it really wasn’t that big. To me, it seemed like a standard-sized cupcake.

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The Strawberry XL Cupcake

The cake itself was moist, but it didn’t stand out in regards to flavor. I was also hoping for a generous serving of cream filling on the inside, but sadly, that wasn’t the case.

At least it was pretty photogenic:

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Views of a cupcake…

Are you picky when it comes to cupcakes?

Big Man Bakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

In the 7 Days Before 26.2

In the 7 Days Before 26.2

After running my fastest 8 miler to date (and gaining new 5k and 10k PRs in the process!), I had a lot of my morning left since my run with the team was close to home, and time wasn’t wasted with managing a carpool.

I was able to get on the bus around 11am, and make it to my destination for lunch around noon. Seeing that I already paid Café Gratitude in Venice a visit some time ago, I thought it would be fun to stop by the Larchmont location…and grab some dessert from one of the nearby bakery/shops in Larchmont itself 😉 !

cafegratitude_larchmont (1)

It was beautiful and sunny outside, but I opted for a table inside. At least I got to sit by the window though.

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The bar was packed with people, but I was there long enough for the groups to leave.

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I was also near the baked goods case which I eyed from time-to-time, but I knew dessert plans were going to take place elsewhere!

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My waitress was a sweet woman with glasses, and after taking my order, left me with the question of the day: who can you acknowledge? I could have spent my time waiting for my food to ponder this question, but I was starting to feel hungrier as time passed, and obviously this was my excuse for losing concentration 😛

But eventually, this beaut of a sandwich did arrive at my table:

 Extraordinary house BLT – grilled panini bread, coconut bacon, romaine, tomato, avocado, chipotle cashew aioli, and a side of spicy coleslaw.
Extraordinary house BLT – grilled panini bread, coconut bacon, romaine, tomato, avocado, chipotle cashew aioli, and a side of spicy coleslaw.

I ate this sandwich with a fork, layer by layer. My favorite “layer” was the slice of bread topped with coconut bacon/cashew aioli filling, only coming second to the fat slices of avocado! In reality, I actually ate the side coleslaw first, but then realized it would have been great within the sandwich. Oh well, I have no regrets.

Extraordinary house BLT cocobacon closeup

For dessert, I walked back down to Beverly Blvd. while staying on Larchmont. LA’s BabyCakes NYC location was nestled right in the heart of Larchmont Village, and things were swingin’ this Sunday afternoon.

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The bake shop itself is very small, and after looking at their offerings, I was somewhat disappointed with how small there desserts were. I was thinking I would be greeted by gargantuan cupcakes like seen in the Crumbs next door, but that was not the case. There were some unique items though like cupcake tops (just the top part of the cupcake with ice cream) and sweet bread/cake loaves.

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I took a while to decide, but eventually chose to get a donut and keep with my coconut theme for the day. Despite being housed in a small space, there were still some areas to sit down and munch on any sweet goods you bought.

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I found a seat by the front window, and managed to make every bite count of this small donut.

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Even though Babycakes NYC didn’t meet up to my fullest expectations (and I was almost tempted to leave and buy a giant Crumbs cupcake, but decided against it so I could “try something new”), I do like the fact that they offer a wide selection of sweet treats for customers with intolerances and dietary restrictions. I even saw the employee at the counter offer some potential customers samples since, like me, they were overwhelmed with the choices and couldn’t make a firm decision on what to order!

And to end on a positive note, how can you go wrong with coconut?

Cafe Gratitude on Urbanspoon BabyCakes NYC on Urbanspoon

Walking The Loop

Walking The Loop

My last interview was this past weekend, and while I enjoyed jet-setting somewhere each weekend this past month for the sake of school, my body is exhausted, and is telling me so through cyclic fevers (every night!) and I most likely have a bacterial sinus infection…great.

Even though I wasn’t feeling my best, I did my best to enjoy some good eats in Chicago, which included the following…

When I landed, got myself to the hotel, and by the time I reorganized myself, it was 2PM local time. Even though it was raining outside, that wasn’t going to keep me from getting to Native Foods in The Loop.

After walking across the River Walk, I did my best to follow a picture of a map I saved on my phone. It took some time, but about 45 minutes later, I found the entrance I was looking for…

Native Foods Cafe Chicago
Native Foods Cafe in The Loop, Chicago

To say I was excited would be an understatement. This location was smaller compared to the Culver City one I ate at last year, but I liked the cozy feel it had. And for being a rainy Thursday at 3PM, there was still a moderate crowd.

InsideNativeFoodsCafe_Chicago
table for one | fun posters | display case

I ordered the Chicken Run Ranch Burger with a side of veggie gumbo. I didn’t come in knowing that that was what I was going to order, since if I went with what I knew would be tasty, I would have ordered the nuevo native nachos. But I did want to try something new, and ranch seemed to be appetizing at the time.

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I just got water, but their drinks are refreshingly good too :)!

The wait was about 10 minutes, and then my waiter brought this over:

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Chicken Run Ranch Burger – Crispy battered Native Chicken, ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, and onions. What everyone would eat if chickens ran the ranch!

Hard to see, but the bun with the “chicken” was coated with ranch underneath it—YUM! The veggie gumbo had the right amount of rice mixed in, and I loved the earthy green hue it gave off (though it looks brown in the photo?)!

demolished all of that gumbo | full bowl of gumbo topped with brown rice | close-up of burger
demolished all of that gumbo | full bowl of gumbo topped with rice | close-up of burger

After consuming my late lunch, I layered up and braced the rain once again. I made my way to West Madison to find, and try, my first cupcake from a Chicago Crumbs Bake Shop. Obviously the cannoli one I had in NYC did not annihalate my Crumbs cupcake craving—it only made it stronger!

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Walking on West Madison in the late afternoon.

I finally found it, and was not attacked by falling ice:

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Crumbs Bake Shop, West Madison – Chicago

This shop was smaller than the location I visited last, and there was no seating.

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Back of Store
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Front of store—lack of seats

The selection was smaller as well. Notice the featured cookie dough colossal ;).

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The smallish cake display.

I decided to go with the Milkshake flavor, and it was packed in a box and bag for to-go consumption.

I didn’t want to risk losing a single crumb, so I knew that eating on the go wasn’t going to be an option. Instead, I found a huge glass-walled building with benches near the walls (or windows?), and thought that would be the perfect place to enjoy my cupcake, as I could people watch at the same time.

Crumbs Milkshake Cupcake
The Crumbs Milkshake Cupcake—cream-filling!

It figured to be an awesome decision, and choosing this flavor was a success as well! After scraping up the very last chocolate sprinkle, I headed back to the hotel since recruitment weekend was starting with an event that evening.

If I said that my foodie adventures ended there, however, that would be a blatant lie. Along with being well-nourished by the program I was interviewing with, I knew I could not avoid making a second Crumbs Chicago stop—the Water Tower Place location was steps away from the hotel I was staying at, and had to be visited.

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menu sign | shoppers getting their sugar fix with cupcakes | people ahead of me making an order | counter for pick-up

I went with the red velvet cupcake for no specific reason, and it took me about ten minutes to find a place to sit down and dig in! Water Tower Place was extremely busy on Saturday afternoon, and even though I wouldn’t have usually given any mind to it, I was starting to get warm and feel sick, so finding a seat somewhere was an unpleasant task.

When I finally found a spot on the fourth floor, I ate my way from the center out, hoping that there would be a cream filling in addition to the mountain of frosting. Unfortunately there wasn’t, and this cupcake wasn’t anything special compared to the milkshake and cannoli flavors I tried previously. Oh well, 2/3 isn’t so bad.

How to eat a crumbs bake shop red velvet
How to eat a Crumbs cupcake…

But then again, I probably couldn’t taste the true flavor due to my sinus infection.

Do you seek out unique places to eat when visiting some place new, or do you seek out “chain-like” places and compare them to other locations you’ve visited?

Native Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon Crumbs Bake Shop on Urbanspoon Crumbs Bake Shop on Urbanspoon

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