Tourist Home in Flagstaff

It’s summer vacation! That means travel, barbecues, family time, and days off. If you live in Phoenix, you’re probably dying to drive up north to get away from the heat. Flagstaff is popular in the winter, but there is plenty of hiking and other natural attractions to draw tourists in the summer. As a result, downtown Flagstaff has been developing a more trendy food scene.

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On National Doughnut Day this year, Boyfriend and I did some research while up in Flagstaff. A Yelp search brought up Tourist Home downtown. The name comes from the origin of the building – an old boarding house for tourists in Flagstaff. Located conveniently next to a city parking lot, you can use one of multiple entrances to go inside. Though the outside building design is loyal to the older, brown, cabin-style architecture you would expect to see up north, the interior is well-designed and trendy. Take a seat at the bar or head to the bakery counter to order.

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There is a vast array of pastries, but given the “holiday,” we focused on the doughnuts available. Tourist Home is famous for their cruellers, so of course we had to get one…. followed by two other doughnuts because they were having a special, okay?

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My favorite was the ?

 

Boyfriend liked the creuller, but he enjoyed the

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I promise we ate food other than doughnuts for breakfast. I ordered a slice of the quiche of the day, expecting a small slice for a healthier contrast to the doughnuts I’d had earlier. Instead I ended up with a piece that puts Chicago-style pizza to shame. The dense, massive slice was accompanied by a very fresh, lightly dressed salad. The salad was a acidic and light contrast to the heavy and salty quiche.

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Boyfriend opted for a local favorite – huevos rancheros. Homemade tortillas were topped with black beans, an egg with a runny yolk, cotija cheese, and a smooth, spicy tomato salsa. This was served with a side of crispy home fries. This is still his favorite, despite trying huevos rancheros at other restaurants since our visit to Tourist Home.

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I’m not sure if the breakfast was the greatest I’ve ever had, especially since the price of food seemed higher than in Phoenix. I enjoyed eating outside in the cool breeze, watching people pass by walking their dogs. I was impressed by the variety of the menu. Breakfast at Tourist Home can vary from juices and protein-rich options to coffee and doughnuts or other rich pastries. After breakfast, enjoy a walk around the city, hit up an event on campus, or head over to the famous Riordan Mansion.

Price: $30-$40 for 2 people
Atmosphere: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Food: 3.5/5

Hearty Beef or Venison Stew

Fall is around the corner, which gives me an excuse to start fall recipes. Stews and soups are one of my favorite types of dishes, because they’re simple to make. There’s also an incredible variety of flavors for the same basic idea. Throw a bunch of food and spices into a pot and you’ve made something tasty! I tend to eat lots of gnocchi so this beef stew recipe looked to good to pass up!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 lbs. chuck roast, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 3/5 cup frozen peas
  • 1 package gnocchi
  • 2 carrots

Instructions:

1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Coat with the olive oil. Brown the meat in a pan over medium heat. Transfer the meat to a bowl.

 

 

2. Add 2 Tbsp butter and some olive oil to the pot. Saute the onions for about 5 minutes, until they’re translucent. Add the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for about a minute.

3. Stir in the flour and paprika. Cook about 1 minute. Be careful not to let the flour burn!

4. Pour the water into the pan. Bring the water to a simmer. (This is called deglazing the pan.)

5. Add the beef cubes, bay leaf, cloves, and thyme. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer 2.5 hours.

6. Add the potatoes and carrots. Turn the heat up to medium low. Simmer partially covered for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through. Add the gnocchi 5 minutes before the end of the cook-time, then remove the pot from the heat.

You can test the potatoes by pushing a fork through them. If they’re relatively soft and easy to puncture, they’re ready.

7. Add the peas and stir. Cover the pot with a lid and let sit for a few minutes.

8. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Final Thoughts: This was such a hearty and delicious stew. I looked forward to eating leftovers every day. This recipe may be more suited for wintertime, but I truly enjoyed the mix of textures and the strong flavors. The cloves in particular were a nice surprise! Give it a try and comment with your results!

Venison Roast with Mushrooms

Have you ever watched a movie or a TV show where the family sits down for dinner, so they can feast on a beautifully cooked roast? I was always a little envious of the giant home-cooked meal. My family saved those kind of meals for holidays like Easter and Christmas. Sundays were usually what my mother called “scrounge night,” which meant we plundered the leftovers from the week or enjoyed a bowl of cereal. My father made simple meals of spaghetti and steam broccoli. I wanted to have a classy home-cooked meal like the Sunday roast.

I found this recipe for a roast. I used venison, but this recipe was originally designed for beef. Don’t be daunted by the thought of cooking a giant hunk of meat. It’s actually simple and amazingly delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4-5 lbs.) whole beef tenderloin
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 16 oz. cremini mushroom, halved
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • kosher salt and pepper

Instructions:

1)  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2) Rub the beef with the mustard, and season with salt and pepper.

3) Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.

I cut the mushrooms incorrectly! This is why you review your recipe. Cutting them this small made them shrink. There was definitely a smaller ratio of mushrooms to meat, which was unfortunate since the mushrooms were so delicious.

4) Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and into a cast iron skillet.  Place the roast over top of the mushrooms. Add butter to the top of the beef.

5) Transfer to the oven and roast for about 35-45 min. The roast is finished when the internal temperature reaches 120-125 degrees.

 

6) Remove the beef and mushrooms from the skillet to a serving plate. Cover with foil and let rest about 10 minutes.

Resting is super important! If you cut into the meat right after it’s been cooked, you’ll lose all of the juices that keep the roast moist.

7) Place the same skillet over high heat on the stove. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pain. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add butter and thyme, then continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

See how much thicker?

8. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Removing the skillet from the heat when adding cheese keeps the sauce from breaking.

Final Thoughts: I was shocked at how simple this was. The idea of a roast always seemed like a time-consuming, daunting task. It’s a beautiful looking dish. Also, smother that amazing sauce over everything. I need to get my hands on another roast. Just typing this made me want to make it again.

Black Bean Brownies (GF)

A lot of people try gluten-free or vegan treats as a healthier alternative to desserts and sweet treats. I don’t know if it makes them healthier, but it’s good practice for friends and family with food allergies or dietary restrictions. I made brownies for a coworker, so another coworker requested an additional pan of black bean brownies. The idea is that the beans make the ingredients “stick” instead of flour. It’s a gluten-free option that keeps the brownies moist.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish.

2. Place all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor (or blender) and process until smooth. Scrape the batter into the baking dish and level the top.

 

 

Honestly there’s nothing easier than shoving everything into a food processor. If you’d like, taste it and see if it needs a bit more cocoa.

3. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the batter. Bake for 25-27 min.

4. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

If you don’t let them sit, they’ll be too soft to cut and just fall apart.

Final Thoughts: This was a 50-50 dessert. It’s easier to make than regular brownies, plus it’s gluten-free with extra protein! While I enjoyed the dense texture, it’s obvious it’s made with beans. About half of the people who tried mine really disliked them. The other half went crazy for them! To each their own, I guess. Which one do you guys like better – regular or black bean brownies?

5 Ingredient Strawberry Breakfast Pastries

When I first started cooking I began listening to the advice of the pro chefs. There’s a general disdain for products like pie crusts or processed cheese. I made my own pastry crusts, my own chicken broth, and tried to make everything from scratch. Naturally this led to several #foodiefails .

One day while watching Jacques Pepin’s cooking show on TV, I saw that he was using Sara Lee pound cake from the freezer section. He was cooking with his granddaughter. They made a lovely fruit compote from scratch to go with it. Since then I’ve questioned my prejudice toward more convenient options, especially when you’re just getting started in your cooking journey.

I will never shut up about how amazing recipes with less than 10 ingredients are for beginners. There’s less prep, fewer preps, and lower cost. Everything about these recipes is easier, and often you don’t sacrifice flavor. Puff pastry is available in the frozen food aisle. It is incredibly difficult and time consuming to make from scratch.  On a particularly productive Sunday morning, I bought some pre-prepared puff pastry for these strawberry breakfast pastries. It’s almost like making homemade toaster strudels.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp strawberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 large egg
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silipat (re-usable silicon baking covers for pans).

2. Cut the puff pastry into 6 rectangles by following the folds in the dough. First, cut the sheet into 3 long rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half.

3. Transfer the pastries to the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.

4. Lightly score a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the dough. Prick the center of the pastry with a fork.

Scoring means lightly marking the dough with a knife.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and strawberry jam. Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the centers of the pastry and spread it. Top with slices of strawberry.

 

Make sure your cream cheese is close to room temperature or else the cream cheese and jam will not mix easily and consistently.

6. Whisk together the egg with 1 Tbsp of water. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until golden and puffed.

 

I think it might be easier to put on the egg wash before the cream cheese. Also, I didn’t use all of the egg wash.

7. Remove the pastries from the oven. Dust with powdered sugar over the pastries if desired.

 

The best way to deal with powdered sugar is to use a sieve. Pour it in, then lightly tap the sieve over the pastry. It spreads a light layer with less mess.

 

Final Thoughts: These were a lovely sweet treat that I would consider serving for brunch or breakfast with friends or family. The best part is they look so fancy! They may not taste like the most incredible pastry in the world, but I was still impressed with the results. I would recommend these be eaten within a few hours of being baked.

Mushu Asian Grill: Stir Fry Destination

If there’s one type of cuisine I’m picky about, its Chinese food. Since I lived there for over a year, I learned about and ate many, many Chinese dishes from a variety of cuisines. China, as a large and ancient nation, has dishes varying by region. Traditionally there are 8 major cuisines: Anhui, Fujianese, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuanese, Zhejiang, and Cantonese. Each correlates to a specific geographic region; furthermore, each area has unique flavor profiles and ingredients. Sichuanese food (or Szechuan in the US) is well-known for fiery, tongue-numbingly spicy dishes, often deep red in color. Fujian province is located on the coast, so seafood is highlighted in this region’s dishes.

Most often, I eat Asian food in East Mesa, where I can read Chinese menus and speak Chinese to my servers. However, recently I started taking a summer class (ugh OChem) at Phoenix College. My high school football team used to play their Friday night games at the stadium there, so I had frequently visited Hamburger Works. Across the street is a small tan building with a bright red door. I had passed by Mushu Asian Grill for several years, but never actually stopped in to try their food. Boyfriend and I took the opportunity to test it out.

The restaurant is a member of the Arizona Chinese Restaurants Association, often supporting local Chinese organizations and events like the Dragonboat Festival. Their Yelp reviews are consistently positive. Pictures online showed fresh food. Apparently, their menu changes occasionally to maintain variety.

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The inside is clean and organized, thankfully not kitschy. It was also empty. Boyfriend and I were the only diners seated at a table. Though several people came in, they ordered stir-fry to go. We enjoyed a very quiet meal on an early Thursday evening at a small table in the corner. The only noise came from the boss, who sat at her desk in another corner jabbering away in Mandarin.

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We started off with some potstickers, a light appetizer to give me an idea of what kind of flavors to expect. I enjoyed the crispy dumpling skin (the result of the dumpling sticking to the pot). The inside flavoring was juicy but a little bland. This was easily improved with some soy sauce or chili oil.

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I chose a classic dish often mistaken for “Americanized Chinese” food: Kung Pao Chicken. I used to eat it fairly regularly at a small cafe near my campus in Nanjing. You should expect a chicken and vegetable dish with thick sauce, slightly spicy, and topped with peanuts.

Boyfriend does not particularly care for Chinese food. Fortunately, Mushu is well-known for their Make-Your-Own Stirfry. You have even turn your stir fry into a burrito. Choose your protein and sauce. Step up to the vegetable bar, take a bowl and stack your bowl with fresh, bright vegetables. They’ll cook your stir fry, then serve it to your table.

Without any other guests in the restaurant, I was surprised it took as long as it did to serve us, but I assume that was from the different cook-times between a main dish and a simple stir-fry. I did appreciate that our food was served at the same time. Stir-fry is served in an individual bowl, while the food on-menu is served traditional Chinese “family-style.” Our waitress disappeared once she served the food, only to return once it was time for the bill.

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The Kung Pao Chicken was served on a larger platter with a side of rice. I served myself some food onto a small plate. I was surprised at the appearance of the dish. All of the components were there, but the sauce was thin and light as opposed to the dark, thick sauce to which I’ve become accustomed. Each common ingredient was present: chicken, spicy peppers, bell peppers, various veggies, and peanuts. The celery seemed as if it hadn’t been cooked, only tossed in at the end. Though this added crunch, the raw celery flavor didn’t seem to mesh well with the other components. Perhaps this is a lighter version from a different area.

The DIY stirfry was the star of the meal. Though my boyfriend chose fewer vegetables than I would, the meat, noodles, and sauce were all flavorful. There were a variety of options for noodles. We opted for a thin wheat noodle, and we were given plenty of it. The noodles and other ingredients were all well-coated with a thick, garlicky, savory sauce. Next time I’ll make my own packed full of the fresh veggies, and maybe try another sauce.

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Overall, the place has a nice atmosphere where you can work on homework or read while you enjoy a quiet meal.  Take-out is, of course, an option – and apparently quite popular based on the number of people who left without ever sitting at a table. While it’s not the best Chinese food I’ve ever had in the Valley, the stir fry is a quick, delicious option, especially if you’re attending classes at Phoenix College. Check out their website for more information.

Service: 3/5

Price:  $10-$15 per person

Food: 3.5/5

Durant’s: A Phoenix Institution

The growing food community in Phoenix often focuses on new, trendy restaurants offering a variety of fresh flavors. Often overlooked is the classic steakhouse in downtown Phoenix – Durant’s. The pink steakhouse off Central Avenue serves the freshest steak in the state, usually to an older crowd that loves this Phoenix gem.

The small pink building’s facade can be deceiving. My boyfriend was surprised that I would choose to make reservations (on Open Table). Then we drove around back, since diners enter through the kitchen. The parking lot was full of cars, as was the dining room.

The decor may seem old-fashioned, particularly the velvet walls. But you know what they say: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Durant’s has been serving the best steaks in Arizona for decades. The pink hue to the lighting doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to their menu and service.

We were seated in a cozy booth in a corner. Our server dropped off their usual starter, cold, raw vegetables served over ice. The service was, as always, incredible. Our servers were attentive without being overbearing. My water was always full. Boyfriend was served a nice glass of scotch. Durant’s has a full bar with an extensive wine list. You can find any drink to pair with your meal.

Our appetizers were quite large. I ordered a jumbo shrimp cocktail. The shrimp were large, fresh, and ice cold. I enjoyed the tart horseradish flavor of the cocktail sauce. Boyfriend ordered Kobe sliders, which I thought would be smaller. The sliders might as well have been an entree. Three huge, juicy umami sliders were served on a simple platter. I don’t know if they were truly Kobe beef, but the meat was obviously fresh and high-quality. Boyfriend refused to leave them uneaten despite ordering a massive steak to follow.

Steak is really the way to go at Durant’s. This is not the place to order chicken, though you may be surprised by their seafood selection. Choose a cut then choose sides to go with them. Boyfriend ordered a 20 oz. Delmonico steak. He prefers his steak rare, and Durant’s is really the only place that I trust to cook a steak rare. His steak was served with crips, flavorful waffle fries. It seems an odd choice to serve with such a classy meal, but was a nice crunch compared to the soft, buttery steak.

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Sorry about my pictures. I was way too preoccupied with the meal.

I ordered my usual, the lamb chops. I despise the mint jelly served with it because it takes like toothpaste. However, I could eat those lamb chops every single day. As classless as it was, I picked up those lamb chops to eat every piece of meat off that bone. I focused on the tender, spiced lamb and was unable to finish the delicious, garlicky mashed potatoes I chose for my side.

When I booked our reservation, I let them know that it was Boyfriend’s birthday. They let us choose any one of their desserts from their long list. I know Durant’s is well-known for their cheesecakes, but Boyfriend has never turned down a brownie. Our server brought us a massive tower of brownie with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce, and chocolate shavings. Even though we were both incredibly full, we couldn’t help but eat the whole gooey, rich, chocolatey dish.

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After eating over dozens of meals together, I finally succeeded in finding a meal that rendered Boyfriend speechless. There’s a special awe to having a meal that is so delicious that it makes you think of your favorite meals from your childhood. Boyfriend grew up on a cattle ranch with access to the fresh beef on a regular basis. For a restaurant to serve him a perfectly cooked, fresh, and juicy steak that reminded him of home, it’s something I will never forget. Thank you Durant’s for an amazing experience.

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For more information, you can check out their website.

Price: Expect between $50-$100 per person.
Atmosphere: 3.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Food: 5/5

Foodie Fest Food Truck Festival

Every year, food lovers gathered at Tempe Diablo Stadium to pig out on fare from food trucks. These food trucks from all over the US, from local Phoenix trucks, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and even Maine and Alaska, drive to the Arizona desert to share their unique takes on classic favorites.

In 2015, I managed to grab a multi-day ticket for $12. This may seem like a deal, but keep in mind you have to pay for your own food and drinks individually. This can add up, so I’d recommend going with a group and splitting food between your family or friends.

I was so excited after I read the description. The ad claimed that people from the Food Network would be there, so I had expected more than just food trucks. Despite the fact there was delicious food, I wanted a little more variety in the event. I would have given anything to see a cooking demonstration from Bobby Flay, or be in the audience for a special episode of Chopped.

It felt like less of a “Foodie Fest” and more of a food truck gathering, similar to the one in Gilbert. Or maybe it was comparable to the Arizona State Fair. There was a stand with every kind of fried food, a live band, and carnival rides. Regardless of my disappointment, I did get to enjoy new foods.

Many of my friends know this, but Katsu Curry is my favorite Japanese food. An adorable anime-themed food truck from LA has figured out how to make Katsudon into a sandwich, which frankly is the greatest thing anyone could ever do to my favorite. The curry was delicious, but I would have preferred food slathered in curry. The cabbage served on the sandwich was also cold, making an unpleasant contrast with the hot meat and curry. Fortunately, the brioche did not get soggy.

We had some small snacks from around the Foodie Fest, including hush puppies, grilled cheese, and fried cheese curds. These were fairly basic fried foods, so I didn’t take any pictures. The quality was good, but I can get the same foods all over.

A highlight of the day was getting food from Middle Feast, the food truck that won Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. If you haven’t seen the show, aspiring food truck owners join the show to compete against other teams as they drive across the country selling their dishes. The winner gets to keep the food truck that the show provided them at the beginning of the competition.

Though it wasn’t staffed by the original competitors, the food was divine. I shared a falafel: something akin to a Mediterranean meatball served with tomatoes and tzatziki sauce on a pita. The pita was delightfully fluffy, instead of stale and flat like store-bought pita. The falafel held together well, and crumbled once you bit into them. They were spiced without being overpowering, even without the tzatziki. Without the sauce, they were a bit dry, but that’s, of course, what the sauce is for.

My favorite food of the night was a dish I had never tried before. An adorable married couple runs a Venezuelan food truck. After fried and heavy food, it was refreshing to eat the fresh veggies of an arepa. It was like a broccoli taco. I expected heavy spices, but the spices really accentuated the natural flavor of the veggies.

I don’t think I’ll be going next year. If I wanted to eat food truck food, then I would go to one of the food truck courts around the valley or find them when I’m traveling. It’s up to you to try for yourself, but if you need me I’ll be at the Martha Stewart Food & Wine Festival next year.

Is Urban Cookies Worth the Hype?

IMG_4768Every foodie is always on the lookout for the best local treats. The best ice cream, cookies, cupcakes, and pastries are listed or featured on television specials. Some chefs and bakers are known for their wins in food competitions. Phoenix is home to many of the places featured on Food Network shows and foodie blogs.
According to Business Insider, Urban Cookies is the best bakery in the state of Arizona. They made a name for themselves after winning Cupcake Wars. Urban Cookies serves cupcakes without artificial colors or flavors, which probably won them points with the judge Florian.
As I revise this old review, it is important to note that the bakery moved locations. I visited the tiny storefront on the corner of Highland & 7th Street. Even on a Sunday afternoon there was a long line for one of their famous sweet treats. The old location was a tiny, cramped space, forcing us to stand outside in the heat while we waited in line. Most, if not all, seating was outside the building. Fortunately, the staff worked to assist customers as fast as possible. The staff is friendly and willing to explain the choices. They worked as fast as they could without making the customer feel rushed. The new location is still on 7th Street, but closer to Thomas. I assume they realized the need for a space large enough to accommodate their popularity.
The Cupcakes
Urban Cookies offers cookies, cupcakes, baked doughnuts, and ice cream cookie sandwiches. My focus was on their award-winning cupcakes. I purchased four cupcakes, a nice mix of classic and new flavors. None of these use artificial flavoring or coloring. The “Brown Velvet” cupcake, a red velvet cupcake without red food coloring, embodies this mission. These simple and neat cupcakes are presented in a plain brown box.
The classic cupcakes were $2.99, but for $3.49 per specialty cupcake, though the prices may have changed. The price may be inflated due to the prestige of a Cupcake Wars winner. Still, I wouldn’t consider the price exorbitant. A dozen is almost $40, and I remember that being a factor in not purchasing them for a family event. There’s a large selection of flavors: from classics like chocolate to their “fan favorites” like cherry cheesecake.
According to their website, they also have some seasonal flavors and change the decor to suit the season. For example, in the fall, they add a pumpkin cupcake to their menu. They also offer vegan and gluten-free options.
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Cupcake #1: Mint Chocolate
This was my favorite cupcake of the day. Mint chocolate is one of my all-time favorite flavors, so I was looking forward to trying this one. The chocolate cake was moist and not too rich. It was a little dense for my tastes, but that’s more an issue of personal preference. I prefer a light texture, less like a traditional cake. I didn’t quite like the color of the frosting, but I can only assume they colored it naturally. I’m also not a fan of this particular swirl (It’s a swirl I call the “poop swirl” and I hate it on Georgetown Cupcakes too). The cool, refreshing mint flavor was kept in check by the chocolate shavings on the outside.
Cupcake #2: German Chocolate
I’m not sure if Urban Cookies uses different chocolate cake recipes. This cake tasted suspiciously like the same cake as the mint chocolate cupcake. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At the very least, they get points for consistent bakes. The topping was the star of this cupcake. There were several flavors (coconut, caramel, and pecan) that mingled well together. The subtle caramel frosting allowed the coconut and nuttiness to come through. I was in love with the almost toffee-like crunch and chewiness.
Cupcake #3: Orange Blossom
This was the worst cupcake I have ever eaten. I was trying to find a nice way to say this, but I legitimately could not even finish it. The olive oil base cake was moist but too dense. I could not taste any orange flavor, even without eating the frosting. The frosting was the issue. The thin frosting began to slide off the cupcake (despite all the others remaining intact). The flavor was the biggest problem. A heavy-handed use of rose water made the frosting virtually inedible. It was so strong my brother said it tasted like “floor cleaner.” I’m not sure if the baker didn’t taste it, or if this is how they prefer the flavor. Regardless, I don’t even think I’d be willing to try this on another day.
Cupcake #4: Churro
This was most certainly the heaviest cupcake I’ve ever held in my hand. I was most impressed by the technique of this cupcake. They had to distinguish between a regular cupcake and a churro. Through some baking sorcery, they blended both desserts to create a churro-like exterior with a soft, moist interior. Instead of creating a churro-flavored cupcake, they made a fusion of two delicious desserts.
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Unfortunately, the light cake was weighed down by the overly sweet cream cheese. Don’t get me wrong; I love sweet, but it was too much for a mild flavored cake. The cinnamon sugar on the cake and frosting helped draw away from the cream cheese.
These were not the greatest cupcakes I’ve ever had, even here in the Valley. However, I appreciate their all natural approach to flavors and baking. Most of the cupcakes were sweet and tasty, so I can understand why they have such a wonderful reputation. Overall, I enjoyed the creative flavors, rich cakes, and strong flavors. If you’d like to try for yourself, stay far away from the Orange Blossom cupcake. Urban Cookies also makes cookies and other desserts. Now that they’ve moved, it may be worth returning to try some other desserts offered on their menu.
For more information about Urban Cookies, check out their website.
Have you been to this bakery? Did you enjoy your experience? Do you agree with my review? Comment below!
Price: $3.59 – $3.79 each / $43.08 – $45.48 per doz (+ tax) for cupcakes. See their website for complete pricing.
Atmosphere: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Food: 3.5/5